Archive for September, 2008

what is surprise ?

Many researchers consider surprise a neutral and short-lived emotion that is elicited by unexpected phenomena or what is known as a ‘‘schema discrepancy’’. A schema is a theory that each person has about the nature of situations, objects and reality. The disruption of this schema is what leads to the element of surprise:

In order to have a proper representation of reality, individuals continuously check whether their schema matches the inputs coming from the surrounding environment. This check is, however, relatively unconscious As soon as inputs diverge from the schema, surprise is elicited. Schema discrepancy is the one and only cognitive cause of surprise, but the latter may also be elicited by non-cognitive causes

In other words, surprise is an emotion that occurs when something breaks the habitual pattern of thoughts we have. Such a disruption may occur on a physiological level (e.g loud sounds) or it can be deeply mental (e.g. something that challenges your world view).

Surprise’s effects are immediate: An stronger focus of attention on the stimulus, a heightened consciousness, better retention of memory at the expense of other stimuli. All of which eventually result in curiosity and exploratory behavior. This arousal also intensifies subsequent reactions, the excitation from being surprised transfers over to other experiences.

After detecting the schema discrepancy, the individual will evaluate it: the emotion of surprise is often followed by a positive or negative emotion, what we normally call a pleasant surprise or an unpleasant surprise. An interesting point to note about surprise is that most people will assume that what is surprising to them will also be new/useful information for others.

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why do we like monkeys and zombies?

Do we like monkeys because they remind us of ourselves?

Do we like zombies because they hint at what we might become?

What about zombie monkeys? are they a missed opportunity?

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Arsenal team psychology

The team:

* A team is as strong as the relationships within it. The driving force of a team is its member’s ability to create and maintain excellent relationships within the team that can add an extra dimension and robustness to the team dynamic.

* This attitude can be used by our team to focus on the gratitude and the vitally important benefits that the team brings to our own lives. It can be used to strengthen and deepen the relationships with it and maximise the opportunities that await a strong and united team.

Our team becomes stronger by:

  • Displaying a positive attitude on and off the pitch
  • Everyone making the right decisions for the team
  • Have an unshakeable belief that we can achieve our target
  • Believe in the strength of the team
  • Always want more – always give more
  • Focus on our communication
  • Be demanding with yourself
  • Be fresh and well prepared to win
  • Focus on being mentally stronger and always keep going until the end
  • When we play away from home, believe in our identity and play the football we love to play at home
  • Stick together
  • Stay grounded and humble as a player and a person
  • Show the desire to win in all that you do
  • Enjoy and contribute to all that is special about being in a team – don’t take it for granted

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kids like good stories & compelling characters

  • Don’t forget what it is like to be a kid
  • Make your characters compelling
  • Create a story with some meat to it.

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design language : you risk…

As a GM, use the code words “you risk…” and then give an indication of the possible outcomes for a player’s failure in a certain activity. This helps player’s guage what they are about to risk on the roll of a die. It might soften the occasional surprising or nasty outcome, it will help keep players stay alive more often than not.

Inspired by an article on Practical Conflict Reslultion and on creating Suspense;
Similiar to the “moment of glory” code words;

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the lost art of play

“Play,” incidentally, is a mysterious activity children engage in when not compelled to spend every hour under adult supervision, taking soccer or piano lessons or practicing vocabulary words with computerized flashcards.

All in all, “going out to play” worked out well for kids. As the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg testified to Congress in 2006, “Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles. … Play helps children develop new competencies … and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges.” But here’s the catch: Those benefits aren’t realized when some helpful adult is hovering over kids the whole time.

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productivity list

1. Do one thing at a time
2. Know the problem
3. Learn to listen
4. Learn to ask questions
5. Distinguish sense from nonsense
6. Accept change as inevitable
7. Admit mistakes
8. Say it simple
9. Be calm
10. Smile

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design language : the dog

Find the dog first. The dog;

  • The function before the form
  • The essence, the core
  • The heart of the game
  • The experience you want to deliver
If you don’t know what your product is about, what the real core activities are, then everything else is pretty much secondary until you do. Don’t let the tail wag the dog.
“the tail wagging the dog”
“if you describe a situation as the tail wagging the dog, you mean that the least important part of a situation has too much influence over the most important part.”

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something on a mystery

Mystery (Noun)

  • an unexplained or inexplicable event or phenomenon
  • a person or thing that arouses curiosity or suspense because of an unknown, obscure, or enigmatic quality
  • a story or film which arouses suspense and curiosity because of facts concealed

The title is the first step the reader makes in the mystery of the story

Mystery stories have had a solid structure to them.

“The structure here is: Something mysterious happens, usually a murder. It’s unclear who, how, and/or why the crime was committed. The hero investigates, either as his job or because he’s nosy. He learns a few facts, develops some theories of the crime. Now facts become harder to find and he has to pry harder to learn things. New facts cause him to re-evaluate old facts, discard some theories and revise others. The big reveal comes when he explains the crime and how he figured it out.”
“The mystery is very important, emphasized whereas the writer must follow a set of guidelines that require fair play in the telling of the murder, presentation of the clues and the withholding of the identity of the murderer until the end.”

from The Technique of the Mystery Story (1913)
by CAROLYN WELLS (1870? – 1942)

Singleness of Plot in the Detective Story

“The single plot that makes a Detective Story may be likened to an accordeon; it may be pulled out to an extraordinary length, or compressed to a minimum. A detective novel may have minor complications, more characterization and more elaborate setting; but the plot must not vary from the plot of a detective short-story, being only the propounding of the riddle and the revealing of its answer. The longer the story the more numerous and bewildering the conditions of the riddle and the windings of the maze, but all tend definitely to the one end, — the answer.”

Maintaining Suspense

“Another and very necessary point to remember is that the mystery must be of sufficient interest to be worth unraveling.  To quote Anna Katharine Green on her methods of construction:

“I must have a central idea which appeals to my imagination; and an end of such point or interest that the reader will feel that it justifies the intricacies which are introduced to hold it back. In other words the heart of the labyrinth must be worth reaching.”

“Prof. Max Dessoir, in a very fine article on “The Psychology of Conjuring,” writes as follows: “By awakening interest in some unimportant detail, the conjurer concentrates that attention on some false point, or negatively, diverts it from the main object, and we all know the senses of an inattentive person are pretty dull …. “

These most valuable directions may be helpfully adapted  to the writing of Detective Stories. Thc author is, in a way, a conjuror, with an avowed intent to hoodwink his audience.”

“The art of the “whodunnit” comes in the pursuit of the murderer through the skillful presentation of clues. The writer is expected to adhere to the standard of fair play. Which is, the writer must present to the reader all the clues necessary to reveal the significance of the clues. The writer can misdirect the reader by emphasizing the unimportant clues.”

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Facebook guiding principles

Applications should be Meaningful.

Social: Helps users interact and communicate more effectively by using information from the social graph
Useful: Delivers value to users by addressing real world needs, from entertainment to practical tasks
Expressive: Enables users to share more about who they are and about the world around them.
Engaging: Provides a deep experience that users want to come back to regularly

Applications should be Trustworthy.

Secure: Protects user data and honors privacy choices for everyone across the social graph
Respectful: Values user attention and honors their intentions in communications and actions
Transparent: Explains how features will work and how they won’t work, especially in triggering user-to-user communications

Applications should be Well-Designed.

Clean: Designed to be intuitive, easy to use and free of mistakes
Fast: Achieves low latency while scaled to handle user demand
Robust: Maintains reliable uptime and minimizes error rates

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too subtle for games?

Games are interactive, and demand more attention & mental capacity then more passive non interactive media. Perhaps we need to be reasonably unsubtle with the communication in games, as players engaged in the game will miss the subtleties.

This advice for acting in RPGs might seem too obvious, for most players these clues are clear;

“Gesture. If acting as a lawyer, point with your pen. A politician might point with her glasses; a police officer might tap his notebook; an annoyed or frustrated man will rub his eyes.

Nervous people play with their hands. Liars look away. Angry people lean forward across the desk at the DMV, throw their registration papers down, and yell, “I paid my taxes!””

Danny East, via

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have 36 ideas, keep 1 good one?

There isn’t a fixed ratio between good features or ideas and ones that need editing or dropping. The ratio is bound to be worse than you would like to think at the time of creation. If 1 in 36 photographs are worth keeping, how many ideas are worth keeping?
Omit, then submit
What you leave out is often what turns good into great. What you leave out is the difference between something that is either 1) never seen or used or 2) simple, clear, and actually digestable. It’s true for photography. It’s true for features in software. And it’s true for plenty more too.”

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nice hair

Is hair colour the most important or the most visible feature?

“…it seems as if hair style and color are considered “high impact” features by users across the three environments, and this despite wide differences between the capabilities of each customization system: given the dozens of options offered by SL, for instance, it is interesting that hair style/color was still listed as the most important option, just as it was in WoW or MS with their much more limited systems.”

PlayOn: What Are the Most Important Avatar Customization Features?.

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