Category Archives: Entertainment

Facebook, Social Games and Real Achievements

“I just spent $1 on a box for a turd that looks like a duck. I think it was worth it.”

-John House, a casual gamer on Mark Zuckerberg: Inside Facebook (BBC 1, 4 Dec 2011)

At first, this sounds preposterous. Spending actual real world money that you have to earn in a real world job on a digital box to keep a digital shit in? Makes little sense. But on the other hand, it’s just part of the over all cost of entertainment. Regular PS3 or Xbox game costs upwards of £40, most games on Facebook are free but to enhance the experience you spend money on extras or to get further, faster.

No, above isn’t the problem, the problem was exemplified by Michelle Maruyama who has played Restaurant City for two years:

It’s definitely a chore and it definitely cuts into your spare time. Like I know that I used to read the New Yorker pretty much cover to cover every single week and I know that I absolutely do not do that anymore.

The real cost of social games isn’t the money that is spent, it is the time that these games take away from other meaningful things we could be doing.

I guess that applies to all ‘pure’ entertainment that doesn’t offer knowledge as a side product. How can I argue if an hour spent on MafiaVille is somehow less well spent than an hour for spent on ‘watching TV’? But I can argue that fragmenting ones attention and concentration multiple times a day by having to make sure your crop doesn’t spoil can’t be good.

Watching TV or reading a good article is a satisfying experience that when you get to the end leaves you with fulfilment. These social games are more like smoking. They fill you with anxiety. As soon as you finish one session, you’re waiting for the next opportunity to [insert social game verb here].

Where’s the attraction then? I think it’s in our primal need for feeling of achievement, success and pleasure. These games offer a quick fix for that. You can make real FarmVille profit in just a few hours. It is the buzz one gets from making something, no matter how virtual or imaginary it is, out of nothing. In the real world, only few people actually sell anything apart from their time to their employers. (And with that I don’t mean you can’t get pleasure out of a job, of course you can, but it’s not a coincidence that the maker movement is gaining momentum.)

And the kind of achievement social games offer is different to other video games, too. In a normal video game going forward requires time, yes, but also trial and error and learning from your mistakes. In many social games, going forward only requires time and repetition. The is very little learning involved.

I’m not trying to argue benefits of ‘real’ video games but I’ll share two facts. In Finland, boys often have stronger English skills due to playing video games. Another is that studies have found that surgeons who play video games perform better than their non-gamer colleagues.

I think people should be wary of the time spent on tasks that offer very little in return. That goes for anything but especially FarmVille and most other social games; after all, it’s not just time actively spent playing them that is consuming.

MWSF 2008 Predictions

Time to log my predictions for Macworld SF 08 to make sure there’s no question about how wrong I was, again.

  • 10.5.2
  • 1.1.3
  • Ultra portable
  • Mac mini and Apple TV become one.
  • iMac, MacBook and MacBook Pro secretly upgraded while store is away
  • 20″ Apple Cinema Display now HD
  • and iPhone 2 is not announced

Also, make sure to check out RND Cast Episode 10 where we talk about these predictions, and other things we’d like to see coming from Apple in 2008.


Ripping Might Soon Be Legal

Ars Technica reports:

“Lord Triesman, Minister for Intellectual Property, today announced a consultation on IP reform that could make format shifting a legal right.”

This, in English, means that consumers would be allowed to transfer music from their – i.e. – CD’s onto their iPods. Personally, I didn’t know this was still illegal but sounds like the government is taking some good steps. Few things I hope will be included in the new legislation:

  • It’s not restricted to audio (music, audiobooks etc.) but also allows movies to be transfered.
  • It would allow content transfered the other way around, too. From a digital file onto a audio CD or DVD player playable DVD. This, of course, for no other reason but to not allow the Industry to use restrictive DRM on the content they sell.

Update: At the same time as I can’t see above things happening, it would be a great change for the British government to show leadership in this area. Unlike with some other decisions this administration has made, I could see rest of Europe follow.

Interestingly, the article notes that Association of Independent Music is against this reform and wants the performer to be paid for other mediums their work is played on. Interesting. Association of Independent Music? Very strange. On the other hand, BPI supports the act.


Spreading the Word (Le double poste)

(This is a double posting of an item on RND Cast. It’s about the podcast)

Now that this podcast enters it’s third month of existence, I’d like to ask you, our viewer, for opinions on few things that could make this podcast work even better.

First, and I guess the most important, is the content. At the moment we’re covering two main areas, Mac Tech and Cooking. We have quite a few ideas for future show and are going to start doing more episodes on current topics. If you have any ideas that you’d like to share with us, there’s at least three ways of doing that. Leave a comment below, or with any of the shows. We always read them and do our best to respond. Or you can email us. Lastly, a bit more geekier way, is to tag things on with the tag ‘rndcast’. That’s probably the best way of sharing a website with us.

Another thing I’d like to hear your views on is how to promote this podcast. When we started doing this, we decided that although we’re doing this for ourselves and like minded people, we still want as many people to know about us. At the moment, we send emails out every month or so. We don’t want to do that too often as then people start ignoring them and it’s not fun to be considered as spam. We can also be found on Facebook and Youtube. Hopefully we’ll get a web store up someday where we can have t-shirts for sale so people can walk around their neighborhoods promoting us :-). Any other ideas?

We would be very happy if you told your friends or wrote about us in your blog. But even if you don’t, thank you for visiting the website and come back soon!


Event of the Year

Sibelius smoking a cigar
We went to listen to Los Angeles Philharmonic last Friday. It was the best thing I’ve seen or heard all year. They played Sibelius’s 4th and 7th Sinfonies as well as Steven Stucky’s Radical Light and as encore, Finlandia. Absolutely fantastic. If you haven’t been to see a classical concert before, go and see this. I think there’s few tickets still left. You wont regret it.


RND Cast: Episode Zero

If happen to read this post, then you might be interested that the first episode of the RND Cast is up! It’s sort of a test episode to check that everything is working out with the feeds and so on. First ‘proper’ episode is coming out next monday, the 15th Oct.

RND Cast is a podcast about everything that interests me and the other contributor, Rikard Österlund. Photography, software, hardware, cinema, food, the Internet etc. Check it out here, and let us know what you think.


Price of the New Radiohead Album

Why give it away for free when people might actually want to pay for it. Price of the new Radiohead album will be exactly what you want to pay for it. I’m thinking of paying £0.10 per track which is a lot more compared to what any artist makes on any other type of, legal, download.

I will also be buying the special edition ‘Discbox’, which you do have to pay a fixed amount of monetary units. £40.

radiohead's website order info


ps. The ‘Discbox’ has two 12″ LP’s as well as tons of other good stuff. I think it’s time for me to buy a new record player. The old one broke when moving to my previous place about 15 months ago. If you have one you want give me, get in touch. Thanks.