Thursday, July 29, 2004

Forum Sociology 

One of my favorite pastimes for the past five years or so has been internet debate. I argue about anything from theology to cars, politics to fast food, television to morality. I do it deftly and constructively, and have found it to be an excellent mental exercise. I spend much of my time these days teaching others how to debate and put forth their opinion properly, instead of just posting "OMG OMG YUO LUV TEH C OCK!!!!1111" whenever they disagree with others.

In my endeavors, I've learned many things, not the least of which is the diversity of people you encounter on message forums. Yet despite their divergence, they all basically fall into a handful of categories. Most people fit into more than one of the categories, which I'm about to list below. I've even given them my own names.

1. Impalpables: These are the guys who post all throughout the forums, yet you can never remember their usernames after you've logged off of the forums. Sometimes they just don't post often, others are complete "post-whores" that are forgettable simply because they rarely have anything interesting to say. Usually completely lacking in humor, yet at the same time not touchy or confrontational. They're just there. Impalpables make up a large percentage of forumites.

2. Trollers: Okay, I didn't name these guys. Everyone knows what trollers are, as they are the bane of any forum. Trollers post extreme points of view, usually in a forum that they know holds the opposite point of view, in an attempt to see how many people they can rile. For example, they might go onto a pro-choice message board and post "YOU'RE ALL A BUNCH OF BABY-MURDERING WHORES!", just to see how many people will get angry enough to reply to them. Trollers are typically just bored teenagers.
3. Superiorists: These guys are the ones that are too good for everything. These are the ones that reply to threads with comments like "Wow, you have no life", since obviously their turds are laced with gold and what "life" is to you is nothing to them. Or they might say "Man, you must be bored" if you post a long thread, since although it may entertain you, they just want to let you know what you're missing by not being them. These are the same ones who enter long debates and do nothing more than post pictures of retardates with the text "Arguing on the internet is like winning the Special Olympics: Even if you win, you're still retarded", as if there's anyone in the world who hasn't heard that saw 50 million times, and as if it has suddenly become less stupid than it's always been.
4. Me toos: Me toos are very quick to offer up their commentary, whether you want it or not. They're often also impalpables, except they hold the distinction of being far more scathing, in a simplistic sort of way. Me toos will often jump into the middle of a long debate and post something like "Wow, there sure is a lot of ignorance on the board tonight", and direct it at no one in particular. Me toos are often also trollers or superiorists, and could post their unwanted commentary either to turn both sides against them or to tell the posters how inferior they are, since they're doing something so crude as arguing.

5. Peacemakers: Peacemakers are similar to superiorists and me toos, but the motive is different. Peacemakers are generally nicer people, they just want to break up the argument so everyone can get along. Peace, brotherhood, and all that rot. It never works, but they're always there to try it again.

6. Link Masters: This is the category I fall into, for the most part. Link masters are people who enter a debate, and then bombard the people they're arguing with with links to back them up. Is someone on an automotive forum saying that you can't hot-rod a Chevrolet 305 V8? Link masters disagree, and then present the person with about ten links to people who have successfully hot-rodded the 305. Link masters aren't very common, but they end arguments quickly.

7. Anecdotals: Anecdotals are the antithesis of the link masters. They believe that you can't successfully argue a point, unless it's something that you have done yourself. If presented with links, these people will respond with something like "You loser. You can talk about what other people have done, but what have you done?", as if any particular person has done everything imaginable, and somehow anecdotal evidence over a message board is irrefutable.

8. Napoleon Bonamods: Or just "Bonamods", for short. Almost all, if not all, forums have at least one Bonamod...a moderator who is impressed with the petty amount of authority he's been given. They often outright troll other users, post very inflammatory responses to anyone who commits a minor infraction like double-posting, and will not hesitate to ban or remove posting priviledges from anyone for very trivial reasons. Bonamods are always male, and are typically very small or even sickly in real life...hence their attitude on the anonymous internet.

9. Alternators: Alternators, so named because tHeY lIkE tO aLtErNaTe CaPs are people who enjoy posting in all sorts of fancy ways. They use crazy multiple colors, often in the same post, and like to make their posts into complicated ASCII artwork, so show everyone how skilled they are in the useless arts. They're usually also impalpables.
10. Illiterates: Illiterates are the ones who can't spell, don't know punctuation, use poor grammar, are very touchy, and like to describe things they don't like as being "gay". Trollers are almost invariably illiterates, but not all illiterates are trollers. Some are perfectly normal people....they're just annoying. Sometimes also impalable. You will find illiterates on every forum, without exception.
11. Joes: Joes are the "nice guy" regulars who have been going to a particular forum for years, and are often "buddy buddy" with a group of other regulars. They're usually very polite, and often invite new users into their ranks. You will find Joes on every forum that sees heavy usage. Female Joes are stilled called Joes, for the record.
12. Egomaniacs: Most people that one argues with online who aren't link masters or anecdotals are egomaniacs. These are the ones who are so afraid to admit when they're wrong that they never will. No matter how many times they encounter logic or even concrete proof that they're wrong, they will continue to argue their closed-minded point of view. They will even resort to bragging about alleged wealth and celebrity status as a way to discredit you. Egomaniacs will always either debate indefinitely (I've seen some on Yahoo forums that have been going on for over six years) or - if enough other forumites begin to laugh at them - they will finally slink away sheepishly.
That's all. Twelve groups. Which do you fit in?

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Gaming for the New Millenium 

Aren't video games great? Here we have a rapidly-growing sector that for the few years has made more money than the movie industry. And now, more than ever, manufacturers are lining up more and more movie-licensed games, off-the-wall ideas, and rehashes of old ideas to cash in on the number of pimply-faced teenagers and nerdy thirtysomethings that spend a gazillion dollars a year on them. Why not join their ranks? Spend your hard-earned cash and get away from your boring-ass life.

Of course, if you do that, you'll need to know what all the hottest new games are, and that's where I fit in. Thanks to my years of experience as a game consumer, I know all the games that will be released in the next few years, much like how an experienced stock broker can flawlessly predict the market.

So without further ado, here's the full list of the top selling games of the next two years:

Timemasters Splitter Dark Code: The Invisible Omega Conspiracy. This futuristic first-person shooter tells the tale of a young federal agent who is caught in the middle of a hidden war between Coca-Cola and Pepsico in the year 2020. Combining dark atmosphere (ie, you can't see the game in the daytime due to glare on your screen) with massive, full 3D environments (every level that isn't in a dark grey warehouse full of pipes is in a dark grey alley full of pipes or a massive luxury apartment, which is dark grey and full of pipes), TSDC: TIOC will provide over 40 hours of continous gameplay, along with 20 hours of CG cutscenes that you can't skip over, featuring nonprofessional actors reading even less professional dialogue.

Gran Turismo 5. Forget the upcoming GT4, let's talk the next game in the series. GT5 will feature over 500 Japanese cars, along with 3 American cars and one model built no one's ever heard of, which is built in Slovakia. It will feature total graphical rehashes of every single track that was in previous games, including the fifth incarnation of Grand Valley Speedway. Bless their hearts, they will still be attempting to incorporate all-important Rally racing into the game, even though nobody played those modes in Gran Turismo 2 or 3 except for a handful of French Citroen enthusiasts. And as we all know, the true measure of a performance car is the ability to go off-road. It will also feature licensed tracks by Radiohead, John Mayer, the Rolling Stones, Beyonce, and other terrible artists that don't at all fit the world of high-speed racing, but sound really impressive because they have high licensing fees.

Need for Speed Underground 3: Ghetto Blaster. The biggest trend in gaming at the moment is the attempt to appeal to riceboy street racers, with no less than five games currently in the works. But here's one you probably don't know about. Ghetto Blaster will focus on the more realistic riceboy culture, rather than the glorified mega-buck magazine cars. It will feature several types of rattle-can primer paint, the ability to fix parts or install speakers using duct tape and bailing wire, a choice of several home-made bodykits made from rain gutters and garden edging, and a choice of thirty different race cars, including the 1989 Hyundai Excel, 1992 Chevrolet Cavalier, 1982 Mustang 4 cylinder, 1998 Ford Escort ZX2, and the ultimate race car...the 1987 Honda Civic DX 4 door.

Grand Theft Auto: Schwanz, Ohio. In still another rehash of the GTA3 game engine to cash in on the Grand Theft Auto name, GTA:SO will feature a hard hitting story of an ex-convinct (who still looks remarkably like Chris Isaak with a Neanderthal brow) moving to the (fictional) town of Schwanz, Ohio and finding it difficult to mend his ways. The game will feature bicycles, jackable earth-moving equipment, gum chewing, and the ability to control your character's bladder and bowel...which will naturally take people's minds off the fact that they're playing a rehash of GTA:3, which will fit perfectly next to its brothers GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas. And like those games, this one will be called revolutionary until people actually play it.

Max Woo. This neo-noir crime thriller follows the story of Max Woo, an Asian cop whose life is torn asunder when some goons kill his parakeet. Features include bad Sam Spade-inspired dialogue, Hong Kong-inpired gunplay, and Steven Segal-inspired "super slow" kung-fu fighting. There's also a "fist time" feature to slow the fighting speed to a crawl, and a "bullet speed" feature that allows you to stare in fascination at numerous accurately modeled bullets flying into plaster walls and leaving accurate holes in them. Also features an "East Coast" soundtrack, whatever that means.

Dri4er: The fourth entry in the Driver franchise will have very few cars at all, despite the title, and will focus almost entirely on running and shooting, with over 80% of the missions devoted to shooting people. The game once again is no longer set in the 1970s, completely without explanation, and the cast is once again completely changed...for the fourth time. Featuring the voices of Lance Henriksen as Tanner, Will Smith as Jones, Tommy Lee Jones as the FBI agent who gets in their way, and Melanie Griffith as some bitch who serves as the villian. Rag-doll physics will be implemented, meaning enemies will fly 40 feet through the air every time you shoot them with a 9mm pistol, and particle effects will be used extensively, meaning sparks and mysterious black chunks fly out of your car every time you run into something.

Grease Pit Monkey Nuts. This whimsical combination of puzzle game and platform shooter will feature lots of cute monkeys with large weapons, some nuts that you have to arrange in a certain order, and incredibly repetitive puzzle game music. Make it through level 999 to finally unlock the special "Deez Nuts" mode, then complete 999 levels of that to unlock the special "Two Nuts" mode. Complete 999 levels of that and you win the game.

John Madden 2006. Sports games have to be re-released every year with "updated rosters", because sports fans don't want to play a game that's two years old and has a guy playing for Dallas that's now playing for San Diego. No, they want to spend another $50 each year to rectify that, so they can have a perfect sports experience. As such, Madden 2006 will be the exact same thing as Madden 2005, but with one or two people on different teams. But the important thing is that every sports fan will buy it, and nobody will ever play Madden 2005 ever again. And when Madden 2007 comes out, nobody will ever play Madden 2006 again either.

Start saving your money now...these games are going to be huge. In fact, you'd best reserve a copy of them right now.

Monday, July 05, 2004

"Find Your Car"...What a Laugh 

Recently I've been browsing the popular online car classified sites of Auto Trader and Cars.com, dreaming of the day when I can finally get enough money to replace my tired 240 series Volvo, and in the process I've noticed something interesting. Oh no, not interesting. What's the word I'm looking for? Oh yeah. ANNOYING.

Both of these sites make you select a brand in order to search for a car. Why?

Suppose I want to purchase a General Motors F-body (Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird). Does that mean I have to enter all the search criteria for a Camaro, wade through 10 pages of them, then go back and re-enter all the criteria over again just in order to change the make to Pontiac? On these sites...YES IT DOES! Only one real criterion is different, but I have to re-enter every bit of it now. Price range, distance, new or used. It's most frustrating...especially when you're on dial-up.

Or perhaps I want to buy a compact pickup truck. I can't just enter the criteria to only search for a pickup. Oh no. That would be too easy. I have to enter all of my search criteria each time for a Chevrolet, a Dodge, a GMC, a Ford, a Toyota, a Nissan, and a Mazda. And what are the odds I'll forget Isuzu and Mitsubishi? Very good, since they don't even build small trucks anymore. There could be a clean, low mileage '87 Mitsubishi Mighty Max for sale for $800 three miles away from me...but I would never find out, because I couldn't search for all trucks in that price range.

Apparently this is caused by the sheer volume of ingrate fuck-meats who will only buy cars from individual manufacturers, since apparently there are certain car companies that don't actually build good and bad cars just like the rest of them. Or at least that's what these gongs believe. To hell with brand loyalty and everyone who subscribes to it. They can eat cock.

Maybe I'll just go down to the local quick-stop and drop the coin for a printed Trader publication. It may still be organized by make, but I least I won't have to re-enter that goofy search criteria.

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