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School maps for FPS games - John C. Kirk — LiveJournal

May. 18th, 2007

12:22 am - School maps for FPS games

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From:terpsichore1980
Date:May 18th, 2007 06:16 pm (UTC)
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Completely agree and I was trying to say that I thought it was understandable, not rational. I know most kids who make maps don't go on killing sprees, just as I never killed my old boss, but that doesn't mean you would want to be the headteacher who has to face the reporters if it did all go wrong. Sometimes people aren't rational. Doesn't mean we should pander to their irrationality, just that it is a fact of life that we have to take into account in trying to estimate what they might do (and in dealing with the subsequent consequences of their actions).
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From:totherme
Date:May 18th, 2007 09:49 pm (UTC)
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One of the things I thought was interesting about it was the effect of new technology. The way people react to stories seems to me to be a pretty rational way of dealing with word-of-mouth data in a world without telecoms and press. Not a consciously rational way - but a rational behaviour hard coded into a set of instincts. What breaks it is the world changing faster than the instincts - mass media, etc. The TV becoming a trusted storyteller, and then telling you about improbable things.

So, how best to deal with that? Regulate the media? Seems dangerous... Try to change the way people interact with it? Seems hard... Build something new, that supersedes the old media and interacts more naturally with the public? Also hard...
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From:johnckirk
Date:May 19th, 2007 10:50 pm (UTC)
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I think you're right about the challenge of trusting the media. However, I also think that there's a related concern, in terms of the effect of new technology.

As per my comment to terpsichore1980 below, I'm guessing that most of the people who are in positions of "authority" (e.g. headteachers, concerned parents, journalists) have never tried to create a custom map for any kind of computer game, so it's unfamiliar behaviour, and therefore it seems suspicious.

In a similar way, I ranted a while back about a guy who was charged with child porn offences, since the prosecution lawyer said that he'd built a "super computer" (direct quote) to store the images, i.e. a desktop computer with three hard drives. There's nothing particularly impressive about that spec (under 80Gb of storage), or the expertise required, but it's still unknown territory to most people, so I think that they fear what they don't understand.

I remember a case a while back (probably via Schneier's blog) where some Muslims were arrested for praying in an airport, because they'd been speaking in a foreign language and mentioning the word "Allah" which scared other passengers. There may be an analogy to that here - the foreign language isn't new, but other people don't understand it.
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From:johnckirk
Date:May 19th, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC)
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Yup, fair point - something I try to be aware of (in the wake of some arguments) is the way that people are likely to react to what I say/do. I may think that they're idiots for reacting that way, but it may still be easier for me to handle things differently.

In this case, I suppose the question is "who needs to make allowances for whom?" In other words, who are the stupid people in this situation? I'd hope that the headteacher would be smart enough to see that there's no intrinsic danger in a computer map like this. I don't have that same high opinion of journalists, but if a teacher's job is to teach then hopefully the relevant head should be able to get his/her point across to the baying crowds afterwards (ideally in a more diplomatic way than I would!).

I suspect that one significant issue here is the idea that creating a computer map is just a weird thing to do (from the point of view of a headteacher/reporter/concerned parent), so it's easy to associate that kind of weird activity with dangerous behaviour. That comes back to my original motivation for this LJ post: I'd like to think that I'm a vaguely respectable citizen, so if I'm willing to go on record as supporting the maps then it may ease people's minds. I realise that I'm not an "A list blogger", so it's not likely to have any great effect, but pebbles into avalanches and all that :)
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