Long books

There was something I just saw posted on LinkedIn that raises my ire. People talking about the length of books for kids. With them thinking that kids between 7 and 10 should have shorter works. You know, ones that keep their attention, don’t have too complicated plots, and give a sense of accomplishment.

What a woeful thought! Are we trying to give our children ADD? Or are we just assuming that every child can’t hold their attention for more than a couple minutes? Do we think that children forget about something they haven’t finishing reading in a single day?

My my my. I would have loved to have had some of the really long stuff as a child. In fact, I did read mostly longer stuff. Because I read it all so quickly. When you’re done with a 28 page (that was recommended by one person!) book in a couple minutes (the words are bigger too, because apparently children’s eyes are worse than adult’s….), you want something more.

I read when I was in school. Because there was nothing else to do. Lessons? Teacher gave a few, then assigned us some work to do for the rest of the class. That work? Done by the time the teacher finished explaining how to do it. Homework? Done in the next class in the few minutes before the teacher starts speaking.

So what do you do? Read. Tons upon tons of reading. So much so that teachers get annoyed. Of course they can’t complain when you’re already done with the work and have a B+ or A average.

But don’t teachers assign so much work nowadays kids can’t keep up and thus won’t have time to read?

If you, as a child, read voraciously, chances are your reading level and comprehension are higher than average… which leads to completing any schoolwork quicker, which gives more time for reading.

I do happen to like longer works. I always have. Series are my favorite because they are essentially long books. Kids are people too. They get attached to characters too, and want to see those characters do more stuff. Which means either more books… or longer good ones.

Shorter books for young kids to hold their attention? My younger self is crying.

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Character’s that don’t listen are just imitating people in real life

I read something odd. It was a short book about people having these verbal battles with each other on a psychological level.

It wasn’t all that great, because each time one of the characters said something true about the other person that they didn’t want to hear, the person was upset by it and annoyed at it’s truth.

That doesn’t mimic real life at all. It hasn’t for much of history.

“But James, if they said something true, and the other person was annoyed at it because it was true, I don’t see what your point is. Of course they were annoyed at hearing a real weakness pointed out, it was true!”

Oh no no no, it was true, yes, but no, the person listening doesn’t need to recognize it as truth. Saying something true, about anything, doesn’t ever guarantee you that the other person will recognize it as fact.

So having characters use other people’s weaknesses in a verbal battle against them doesn’t really work for me, because I know real people will get offended at hearing the “truth,” and will claim it to be a lie.

You can even show them proof, and it won’t matter, a proof doesn’t change an obstinate person from believing their own version of reality, no matter how false it may be.

I like some of the stuff I wrote in The Lupine Chevalier. I know some will probably read it and be annoyed that it didn’t go in the direction the previous writings indicated, and how I reveal to the audience various truths that the characters somehow get close to realizing, but don’t at the times expected. The audience may also note that things were forgotten by characters. That they’ll listen to lies even when they have doubts. Because that’s the way people are.

What brought this on? Just seeing an example of it around 2500 years ago, and laughing at how humans haven’t really changed. In the book of Jeremiah (in the Bible, the old testament – and your belief in the Bible doesn’t matter here, just take a look at the example for what it is), Jeremiah spends his life prophesying, stating what God has intended. And he started decades before some of the prophesies began to be fulfilled. So he has years of people not believing, claiming he’s a liar, claiming he’s not from God, etc.

And then it happens, just like he said. And now, with complete and utter proof before them, everything happening just like Jeremiah said, what do those people who claimed Jeremiah a liar say? Do they, upon seeing a fact, a proof, evidence, truth, realize Jeremiah was telling the truth?

To paraphrase them: “Oh why did we stop sacrificing to the ‘goddess of the heavens’ (a false god), because we did all this calamity fell!”

Pretty deserving of a palm to the forehead. And yet, we see the same thing today. People who don’t listen are quite common. So, characters that don’t listen in the face of overwhelming truth… well, maybe they do listen, after all… it’s fiction.

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Rating Systems

I find rating systems for games are becoming rather pointless.

In its quest to transform from an intelligent and interesting online news/opinion site about games/tech/science to a rather annoying, baiting, and biased site, Ars Technica has spent another wasted amount of space on a pointless follow-up to a pointless initial article.

First they had an article on what games the editors thought were overrated.

And later they had an article on what games readers/commenters of the site thought were overrated.

They are some of the most pointless articles. I don’t care about that stuff. It adds nothing.

It seems like they have one goal with a couple articles per week now: incite flame wars. I don’t understand why, but it isn’t just those two articles.

A few weeks ago they had their annual reader survey. I had noticed the trend and asked in the suggestions for the survey that they do fewer trollish articles.

It seems they’ve read that, for now there are more than ever. Articles whose only point seem to be to troll the audience, to fan the flames of fan’s opinions on matters, to play to the audience, to demean those who don’t agree with them… it’s getting weird.

Ars has lost a dedicated reader. I used to read every single article every day, because they were all worth reading. Now, not so much. Black holes had an article today; I love black holes, they are fascinating and the science is completely out there.

Back to the original point, which isn’t¬†necessarily¬†about Ars and it’s fall into the editorial toilet. (Considering how much I used to love them, this recent change over the past few months is rather upsetting, and I only wish the editors could see this, realize they’ve been giving ear to pointless dribble, repent, and become good again. Please. Because I’d rather like it, but the trollish articles are really bringing down the rest of the site.)

Rating systems, when point based, are rather pointless. The two articles about overrated games were pretty much this:

Take a collection of 5-10 games that are from somewhere on the top 50 games of all-time list, and complain about how terrible/overrated they are.

The truth is, everything has haters. It is almost frightening how naturally people self-align into love/hate groups with near-perfect exactness.

Consider the greatest example of this: the elections. They have recently been 51/49 (I’m generalizing) in general. That’s insane. How in the world are people splitting themselves down the middle so evenly? Why is it 50% dems and 50% reps? It can’t be random, it’s much too organized to be random.

But anyways, it just illustrates in a grander way what people do, they split, and with surprising consistency they’ll split down the middle if you have a large enough segment of people.

It even makes me wonder what the % is on iPhone/Android haters/lovers. But in online debates, you certainly do see a split, there is rarely an overwhelming advantage in anything, with the rare exception of something especially correct being compared against something especially wrong, and both must be extremely obvious to all involved. It still isn’t 100%, ever, of course.

So, we can extend this to things people like. And we can even make a statement out of it. The more people that like (a), the more people that hate (a). Plain and simple.

Top 50 games? I’d bet they also have more people that hate them (numbers-wise) than many others. Exposure leads to people seeing, judging, then splitting.

So, let’s say we have a game that 100 reviewers online say the game deserves a perfect 10/10. Let’s say I play it and hate it, think it deserves 6/10, at best. Let’s also say that anyone who has professionally reviewed it agrees it should be 10/10, and that no reviewer (only some players) thinks it deserves less than 10/10.

But I hated it, right? But it’s a perfect game, isn’t it?

That review system is flawed. A numerical system for rating a game doesn’t really tell you much about it. And, of course, it’s based on current standards. I played some games in my youth that were perfect 10 games. Now people look at them and say “6 at best, story is flawed and graphics are meh.” They have no context that we liked that story, and the graphics were good for that era. And of course, they are part of the other sides’s 50%.

So, what do I want?

Game A ratings:

For people who require in depth plots, game A isn’t a great choice. For people who love shiny graphics, FPS, and a great multiplayer system, game A is the greatest game ever. For people that love adventure games, look elsewhere, game A isn’t an adventure game.

Why, if we rated games on their intentions (RPG/Action/Adventure/Plot/FPS/etc.) we may have reviews that are directed at the segment who likes those things first off, and then provides the rating for the segment that likes it already.

It doesn’t seem like there’s any reason to provide a general rating, as universal appeal isn’t common. You wouldn’t rate a puzzle game 10/10 for people who only played FPS, and you wouldn’t rate an FPS with multiplayer 10/10 for people who only play JRPGs. And a number system… is meh.

But if you say, “Hey, this JRPG has A, B, and C good points due to the system and story, but flaws D, E, and F because of a couple plotholes and a deus ex machina or two. Even with those it’s worth playing due to overall strength, interest, characterization, and general level of fun,” I’d find that much more useful.

How about a rating system that tells us how much fun we’ll have? I’d rather have fun with my entertainment, so please rate stuff on a fun scale in the correct segment/genre.

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The Lupine Prince on kindle updated

Last week I spent some time and energy fixing another couple typos and reformatting some of TLP for Kindle. The revisions were approved and so now the most up-to-date version is available on Kindle. Unfortunately the paperback still has some minor issues since correcting it is a bit more involved… and I have a preference for Kindle anyways. I know there are one or two typos I caught before that I didn’t note down and so have no idea of what they are or if they’ve been corrected or not, but I know they were minor.

And with the new system I figured out correction shouldn’t be a problem for any future revisions.

So again, my TLP on Kindle is looking good! I’ll have to run it though the select program on Amazon once I’m done editing book two, TLC. It’s a slow process, but it’s coming along.

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It’s almost time for a Due South review

I’ve been watching the oldish series Due South.

It’s incredibly fantastic, one of the best pieces of television I’ve ever seen in my life.

It’s also one of the few series that was never cancelled. It was a made for TV movie, fans demanded more so they made a series, one season. More was demanded, so a season two. Even more was demanded, and the BBC funded half of season three. Yet more was demanded, and a season four hit the airwaves, and there the series ended.

First fantastic series that wasn’t canceled; it was continued by request instead.

I’m about done with all four seasons. I don’t know if I’d be able to write a review that could do it justice. It has high points, and it has above average points.

Look forward to it. This is also one of the very few shows I haven’t sped through as fast as possible, almost savoring it instead.

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