The first videogame for my 93-year-old grandma? Lego Star Wars.


Pomeranians are Now Officially Cool

I've had an aversion to fluffy dogs, most especially little fluffy dogs, most my life.

But I also love exceptionally happy dogs. They remind me of the crown jewel of comically ecstatic dogs, my very own black flat-coated retriever Rudy. Someone once said that dogs have about 10 times as much of that chemical - the one that makes you sad when someone's gone and excited to see them again. Rudy has about 10 times as much of that chemical as other dogs. But we're not strictly talking about Rudy. I was saying something about Pomeranians.

Enter Hermione, perhaps one of the happiest, most excited-for-life dogs in existence.


Just sharing.


Bring on the Depression!

First off, I'm ridiculously sick and drugged. That's not an apology, but rather a cautionary warning that the following grammar or language conventions may deviate somewhat from established norms.

I just wanted to tip my hat to two articles from last month, one on 'seeking' from Slate, the other on depression from SciAm. I got both of these via Hilarie Cash.

In the depression article, they more or less say that depression could be an evolutionary benefit. When we slow down and ruminate during depressive states, we're able to pick apart events, situations, and so forth that might be causing us ongoing problems. That it's a completely natural reaction, one valuable enough to have stuck around for God knows how long.

The Slate article mostly features an interview with Jaak Panksepp, and his notion that dopamine wasn't stimulating pleasure centers, as is often assumed. It stimulates curiosity, interest, foraging, anticipation, craving, expectancy - what he settled on calling "seeking."

This notion could loom large for game studies theorists, especially those exploring education, and the role of learning as a stimuli for encouraging play. No doubt, both of these articles have major implications for clinical researchers engaged in both theory building and quantitative analysis for pathological Internet use. In many places, Game Addiction points to dopamine as a pleasure stimulator, but in my view Dr. Panksepp's work would have made more sense in various parts of the book.

I also had fun connecting these two articles. If depressive rumination is about slowing things down so as to break apart problems, in some ways we're seeking. If a videogame is an entire system patterned to reward for seeking... It's interesting to ruminate on, at any rate.

Things have been fun for me on a personal level. I've started dogsitting here locally, this last weekend I babysat a couple real cute dachshund puppies. They had a lot of personality, and their interactions were super adorable. I've got a couple magazine pitches that I'm shopping, in relation to Game Addiction. I'll be sure to post if I get some hits on that. I've also been checking out D&D 4th edition. I like it. I'm playing a perpetually drunken cleric named Shanty McShamus, who sports a cap of disguise, wallwalkers, a bag of holding that is in fact a wine cellar, and a flask of fire breathing. Pub scenes are a blast (yes, literally), and occasionally he finds it useful to use his combat rounds casting turn undead (when there are clearly no undead within range).

I've also been hanging out with my ole pal Al, whose name we spell Elmeacq. We're a bit excited about something we're calling an interactive choose-your-own-adventure project. So far we're still in the 'taking stock of resources' phase, but so far we've done some good concepting and writing (during times normally allotted to Rifftrax, stand up and videogames). I don't want to give too many details, but it could be a novel take on storytelling and sketch comedy.

And that's about it. Mixing this Echinacea with this generic NyQuil stuff does a good job of knocking me right out.