An Instructive Example on Gender

This industry is rife with misunderstanding. There are important debates to be had about the way things are handled in the industry, and some of those issues touch on contentious gender-based ideas. Women in this industry experience extensive harassment, or large career obstacles, or are simply ignored outright, where their male counterparts see relatively little problems. This industry’s issues are clouded by the simple lack of understanding and communication about different experiences for different genders, regardless of the urgent practical issues which need to be addressed.


What industry am I talking about?

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Hashtag: Gamer, Hashtag: Harassment

Anybody paying the slightest bit of attention to games-related parts of the internet will have heard, at least in passing, of the “gamergate” hashtag on Twitter. You may even have followed or supported it. I’d like to say that, regardless of ones personal opinion, I don’t and can’t get upset that someone else holds a different opinion to myself. Anybody reading this is entitled to hold and express their own opinion, and I shan’t begrudge you that right.

Nevertheless, I have steered clear of hashtag gamergate for one important and serious reason: harassment. This whole saga started by the toxic accusations and actions of a small (and, later, much larger) subset of people on the internet. Originally, it centred around shaming a female game developer for personal and inherently private actions. Private is where those things should have stayed, but people (not “gamers”, or “the internet”; people) took an active decision to harass and threaten other people with whom they disagreed. Not only do I disagree with the original complaint, but I disagree with the methods by which some people have decided to effect change.

Some people (a lot of people, perhaps) have made this issue about the ethics of journalism relating to games. While I feel that this is a very important subject with interesting things to be discussed, the current campaign is so tainted by its roots that the nuggets of useful conversation are almost impossible to separate from the vortex of abuse. The important messages have got lost in the vitriol. When harassment like this happens, nobody wins.

So I don’t support hashtag gamergate, and I won’t ever. But this has come to signify more than “just harassment” (how fucked up is that phrase?). No; as a result of the commotion, reactions, and re-reactions, the community of people who enthuse over videogames (“gamers”) has supposedly lost something. “Gaming is dead”, “Gamer culture is dying”, and so on – some people have told me gaming has “lost its innocence”. I personally find my own feelings on the matter too complex to discuss adequately, but I do know that gaming – as a pastime and a culture – has been centrally important to me for many years now, and the shitstorm has questioned something fundamental about how I view the community.

This brings me to the article which inspired this post; “Why I Still Call Myself a Gamer” by The Escapist’s Editor in Chief, Greg Tito. In a concise and touching essay, Greg discusses the main issues central to the recent fuss, and the steps he’s taken as part of the editorial team there to address the key learning points from hashtag gamergate. Greg has obviously made an effort to express his personal feelings, but as I read the article I couldn’t help but think that he was refraining from saying something. Then, right at the end, it becomes apparent quite how much this has weighed on Mr Tito’s mind;

I do not support harassment by gamers or of gamers. Abuse is wrong, no matter what you believe or who you support. Engaging in debate is important. Publicly stating ethics policies is important. Encouraging all voices to participate in the discussion is important. Insulting, abusing and harassing those who disagree with you is bullshit.

Please stop.

This paragraph is one of the simplest in the essay, and is cunningly disguised as a closing statement of the topics at hand. I think, though, that this is all Greg really wanted to say – it’s like an outlet of feelings, almost a rant. It’s almost as if this paragraph was written first and the rest of the article built around it. It feels as though the author wanted more than anything to just make the whole article more of the same thing.

The article struck a chord with me. It resonates with the same struggle to express a whirl of different thoughts and feelings that I have suffered from of late. I identify with that difficulty of having a nuanced opinion on a polarized and very personal matter, and I want to say that I’m very glad Greg wrote the article. I’m thankful that I could read it.

It restores a chunk of my faith in the community, simply because it’s concrete evidence that other people are wrestling with strong and nuanced opinions in the midst of this shit storm. It’s a small article in a big world of worrying things, but I treasure it nonetheless.

Thanks, Greg.

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Mr. Bean Goes on Experiment – pt. 2

So last week I posted a wildly popular post about my misadventures in the Netherlands, humorously comparing myself to Rowan Atkinson. I am not worthy!

A mirror for infra-red light. Look carefully and you can see the HeNe laser we were using to set things up.

A mirror for infra-red light. Look carefully and you can see the HeNe laser we were using to set things up.

With all the hilarity over, I did eventually get down to the more serious business of experiments. Today, I’m going to be going through some of the cool stuff which I saw/did at the facility I was visiting. It’s known as FELIX; the Free Eletron Laser for Infrared… eXperiments, located at Radboud University in Nijmegen. But what’s a Free Electron Laser anyway?

Read on to find out!

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To cast, perchance to Chain (Heal)

To Riptide Target, or not to Riptide Target — that is the question.

For me, the biggest news in recent Theorycraft was Dayani’s excellent analysis on Chain Heal, High Tide, and Glyph of Riptide (which you can find here). I was inspired enough to devote some time to looking at how to extend Dayani’s model (I blogged about it), and I still think it’s a fantastic piece of research. However, as I’ve said previously I think that Theorycraft is a science; it is essential to extend that initial study with further work. I’ve been talking about my approach to studying Chain Heal in a series of posts (1 2 3 4 5 parts and counting!), and one of my main aims is to see if I can replicate Dayani’s results in simulation.

Courtesy of Dayani, visit her blog and read her stuff!

Courtesy of Dayani, visit her blog and read her stuff!

The maths she carried out checks out perfectly, and she makes some very strong points on the calculations she made. In a nutshell, Dayani looked at how Chain Heal’s mean healing increased dependent upon whether you chose a Riptide target or a target without Riptide (henceforth “RTT” and “nRTT”, respectively). She found that in every situation she calculated, it was always an advantage in terms of mean healing to heal a RTT (regardless of number of Riptides on the raid). She concluded that as in Mists and Cataclysm, Warlords will be dominated by Shaman using people with Riptide essentially as Chain Heal turrets. This is a reasonable conclusion based on her work, and I can replicate her results no problem at all. It’s extremely strong as an investigation, and if you’re lazy you can find a TL:DR at the end.

However, there are plenty of reasons to doubt whether this is indeed the truth.

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Posted in Alpha/Beta News, General Science, Maths, World of Warcraft | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The latest UKIP poster campaign


This is a fantastic satire. <3

Originally posted on The Naked Mole Rat:

romanians muslims latvian bulgarians

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Mr. Bean Goes on Experiment – pt. 1

(Despite what it may look like, this is not a parody. I am genuinely this incompetent.)

This week I’m in the Netherlands visiting an awesome institution called Radboud University. They have no less than THREE Free Electron Lasers (taking up a combined volume somewhat equivalent to a large underground bunker). This is my record of my mishaps and (less frequently) successes while on location.

You know, The Netherlands is a really nice place. It’s sunny right now, the trains are clean and fast. Travel was easy and I had a good reception (and coffee) when I got to FELIX. Having got up at 5:30am to get here, it’s 4pm local time and I’m shattered. My host suggests that we take bikes into town – an excellent idea to get me killed.

It’s been a while since I’ve ridden a bike, and even then it was on UK roads; not only am I used to being on the wrong side but I’m used to being on the actual roads rather than bike paths. There are bike paths everywhere, and even less reassuringly people on bikes everywhere. This means that doing something stupid is probably going to be a faux-pas. So it’s reassuring that I get nearly 100 yards before picking the wrong lane to cycle into town on.

I get into town with my host without much more difficulty, and he leaves me there (at my agreement; I’m feeling adventurous due to caffeine levels). I manage to find a riverside cafe and the waitress speaks English, much to my relief. I’m not sure if tipping is done here, so I leave a generous tip just in case. Feeling good, I get back on my bike and ride home.

And I pick the wrong road, getting lost.

An hour later, and after managing to ride down the wrong side of the road more than once, I find the town center again and this time pick the correct road out of town. The guest house is nice, I call my girlfriend and then go to sleep.

In the morning I realize that I have no breakfast. After a coffee, I leave for the local supermarket which my host assured me would be open. Arriving, I get a trolley because I can’t see any baskets, and promptly look a fool when I arrive at the checkout with five things in it. On the trip round, I get lost several times and manage to confuse myself over milk. All the time, I studiously avoid eye contact with the staff in case I have to speak Dutch.

Now would be a good time to mention that before the trip I had been panicking so hard about being competent at the experiment that I completely forgot to panic in any way about actually being in a country I know nothing about. Hence, I prepared very well for the experiment (at least I hope) and didn’t give any thought at all to being able to speak the language. I hear (from everyone) that “everyone speaks English” here, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to be that guy who goes abroad and is arrogant enough to not care about speaking the language. I figure if I’m going to be here, I may as well be incompetent but well meaning.

So I get to the checkout and realise that I have to talk to the lady there. I panic, and try to explain that I don’t speak Dutch. I get an odd look but manage to muddle through. It’s not until 5 minutes later  that I realise; not only did I forget to get a receipt in my panic, but I was speaking German. No wonder I got funny looks.

Still, I went home and celebrated by having a coffee and breakfast. I managed to cycle the 5 minutes to FELIX without endangering anyone’s life, so today has been good to me so far.

Tune in to Mr. Bean Goes on Experiment later to find out all the other ways I commit social faux pas’ and confuse poor natives during my evening shifts!

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To Craft a Sim – Part 5

In this series of posts, I’m talking about putting together a simulation I’ve built called CHsim. It’s designed to simulate the way Chain Heal will behave in Warlords of Draenor – including interactions with player positioning, talents, incoming damage, Riptide, and Mastery bonuses.

My first post in this series discussed why I’m developing CHsim, and I left off by pointing out some good reasons why I’m not using SimCraft to achieve my goals. The second post talked about raid positioning and how I’ve modelled a “realistic” raid. The third post discusses the way I’m making Chain Heal bounce from person to person, and was supposed to talk about what that means for High Tide modelling. However, I didn’t get as far as that and had to tackle it in Part 4.


For the fifth post in the series, I wanted start talking about the practical part of the simulation; how you go from a raid layout and a system for making Chain Heal jump between them to a fully-fledged simulation of a fight.

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