In a Strange Land

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jason Waddell, May 22, 2013.

  1. Jason Waddell Administrator

    Here is Part 1 of a 3-part article series about unique gaming memories I have from the great city of Pittsburgh.
  2. Jason Waddell Administrator

  3. James Stevenson Steamflogger Boss

    Cool, let's all say "anthrocon" and "fur" a lot and get more of them coming here. Though I furget if that is actually how web searches work.

    I can't stand scrabble. My experience with it is a continuous series of let downs. I stare at my tiles for ages looking for a better word than "and" or "the" or whatever. Eventually I spy a wonderful word, like flibbertigibbet perhaps, or apotheosis (great words). Hurrah! What a feeling of elation! But then of course, I actually can't spell the damn word because I'm missing one stupid letter, and it's just a huge disappointment. Fine then, it's my move, I guess I'll just put down "the". Lame. I imagine it's much more fun if you're better at it.

    (Can anyone tell me if my comma usage is correct here: "But then of course, I actually can't spell the damn word because I'm missing one stupid letter, and it's just a huge disappointment.")
  4. Comma usage in non-formal environments has the sole purpose of communicating pauses in speech. If you would pause in those places when speaking the sentence aloud, the commas are correct. Were we writing papers for university, I might suggest: "But then, of course, I actually can't spell the damn word because I'm missing one stupid letter and it's just a huge disappointment." This is because "of course" is an aside that needs to be completely disconnected from the rest of the sentence by commas so as not to corrupt its perfect flow from subject to object. There's no need for a comma before the word "and" unless there are three or more items being listed, like so: "I actually can't spell the damn word because I'm missing one stupid letter, I hate everyone I'm playing with, and it's just a huge disappointment." Even then the last comma is either correct or not correct according to local convention. It's known as the Oxford comma and in three consecutive years of English class it was once banned and then required then finally banned again by my teachers. So go nuts, and take solace in the knowledge that literally no matter what words you type someone will eventually find issue with them on a technicality decided by angry old men in the 16th century.

    I personally love Scrabble although I've not practiced enough to win money. My family always used to play when we'd get together and I, being by far the youngest, would do such precocious things as spell profanities "by accident" and badly misspell words in an attempt to use more of my letters. I once challenged someone playing the word "tails" for spelling a proper noun. But I could see by what the adults were doing that there was some true strategy to the game beyond my desperate cheating. It was the first of many practical benefits I would find to constantly building my vocabulary. Now I can lose with dignity, flair, and panache.

    The article itself was very interesting to me. It's got the same kind of tone as a subculture documentary where the speaker is, by definition, outside the group being studied. The surprised fascination with which you tell jokes about Scrabble clocks reminds me of a cable news feature some years ago about a Magic tournament which couldn't get beyond the lingo Magic players invented to describe their games and devolved into a montage of short clips of people saying things that would make no sense to the average outsider at home. "What a mise!" "I'll swing" "In response I'll spin top" "swing" "swing" "mise" "Meloku" "mise" "sealed pool" "Yosei" etc etc. The feature received some amount of praise for being insightful. It just goes to show how easy it is to see another human being as so fundamentally alien that everything about them is but trivia, useless for gaining a greater understanding of the Other. We are all blind and can see no recourse but to complain of each others' blindness.

    Also, $25,000 is like a ton of scratch dude. That's insaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaane.
  5. James Stevenson Steamflogger Boss

    I really want to see that video! Magic sentences can be amazing outside their context. "So I plowed his mom and beat into the red zone with my wurm."

    This is all I know about the Oxford comma:

    EDIT: Thanks for the decent answer on the comma! It's such a pointless little technicality, but I find almost anything about language interesting.
    bumbeh, Tanner K. and CML like this.
  6. CML Contributor

    i like the oxford comma and i also prefer "the whole yale thing" to cantabridgians. boston is just so awful

    agree strongly with james that many game shops give off that same kind of cultic vibe. casinos, too. they gotta hook you some way or the other, but then the whole point is to get you to keep coming, so then almost everyone has been hooked forever, so it's tough to infuse it with fresh and willing blood because everyone's being weird in their own universe. tobacco gets em with physical addiction, while religion elegantly solves this problem by indoctrinating small children. magic is not far off from that approach -- and i admit that, as horrible as mtg prizes are, they're better than what you get for being catholic or muslim (though i would enjoy a nice round-trip to GP mecca)
  7. Jason Waddell Administrator

    What I found most surprising is how utterly out of place out of place I felt at a gathering dedicates to playing a "household" game. I am sure there are Magic players that would feel the same way if they attended one of my cube drafts. The people there also didn't seem to perceive that somebody could be unfamiliar with even the basics of competitive Scrabble. In their eyes our purpose was to play our games, sign the match slips and move on to the next pairing. It was completely inaccessible. Nobody had any interest in easing us into it. They weren't even impatient that I was playing slowly, as that simply increased the odds that I would clock myself out.
  8. Dom Harvey Contributor

    If you're interested in subculture documentaries and Scrabble (or even if you aren't) I would heartily recommend Word Wars (or Word Freak, the book it's based on). It's worth keeping in mind that the $25k payout is for the Scrabble equivalent of the Pro Tour which has an overall prize pool of ~50k (compared to >200k for Magic).

    P.S. slow clap at 'ostrichsized'
    Jason Waddell likes this.
  9. Chris Taylor Contributor

    Watch, now. Be amazed. He will change your life forever :p
  10. Jason Waddell Administrator

    What's this about "objective reporting"? Son, this is a blog.
  11. VibeBox Contributor

    i loved this documentary! it perfectly captures the competitive gamer's mindsets and habits. it's a chilling look inward for any former or active ptq grinder type. a compelling tale to follow through very sympathetic characters (well, people) and a fairly skilled hand at the camera. it's a must watch.

    quite similar is Chasing_Ghosts about the early rise of arcades as youth culture, the ensuing "high score" competitions, and the inevitable results of the personalities involved. not as good as word wars, but worth a watch if you liked it and want more.
  12. VibeBox Contributor

    gotta appear "fair and balanced" or they'll never give us that [M15] official preview card. ; -)
  13. Jason Waddell Administrator

    Do either of them compare to the outrageous King of Kong?
  14. Jason Waddell Administrator

    Riptide Lab getting a preview card? That'll be the day. CML posts here.
  15. VibeBox Contributor

    both better, imo
  16. I'm amused we both played in the Pittsburgh SSBM tournament scene. I however never accidentally attended a furries convention *whew*
    Jason Waddell likes this.
  17. Jason Waddell Administrator

    I didn't play too much in the Pittsburgh scene. Mostly with my friends and at MLG events.

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