Video Games and the Insufficient Experience of Reality

Many people consider video games to take the role of allowing (temporary) escape from the real world. I find video games to be an important piece of my life, but I don’t look at them as such.

Reflecting analytically on my attraction to video games, what I think I distill is instead a supply of experience my mind craves that the real world fails to sufficiently provide. This sounds very similar to escaping from reality, and in fact finding the difference between the two motivations requires me to actively unfold my vague feeling that this is a distinct sentiment. But I do think when the edges of these thoughts are sharpened, I end up being able to pinpoint the distinction.

I just don’t ever want to dispose of the real world and be of some video game world for a while. In fact, I have several times upon considering a video game world I really liked asked whether I’d like that being the real world instead, and my mind nearly immediately jumps to “this world is definitely nowhere as interestingly complex to compare with the real world, and cannot be anywhere as rich an experience”. Being elsewhere is not the fantasy.

Being more than here is. The distinction is supplementation versus replacement. Why I’m attracted to fantasy worlds is because they provide experiences that the parameters of reality fail to allow. I desire the real world to have more clear-cut goals and quantifiable significant properties. I desire the real world to not be as risk-punishing. I desire the real world to have more parts of storylines line up in the way that causes that wonderful tingling feeling. And I quench these desires with the worlds of video games. Even though these worlds lack the beautifully intractable web of interaction of the real world, the compact bundles of excitement video game worlds deliver show what reality is missing out on; as a player I get to not miss out on as much by interacting with the game. In these games are the additional traits I desire beyond this world, augmenting this world, enriching the experience in this world, not instead of this world.


Pokémon Go: 80 Million XP (Level 40 a Fourth Time)

On 06-29 at 1657, I passed 80000000 XP, by completing a raid. This was Day 1037 of playing Pokémon Go, so the fourth 20000000 XP took 188 days, slightly less than the second (which took 211 days), but substantially more than the third (which took 95 days).

My current buddy is a Chansey, which I obtained via trade with Afterma7h. Prior to this, my buddy was a Snorlax from trade with betaveros. I accumulated 855.1 km of buddy distance with that Snorlax, the second highest of any buddy ever. Since betaveros caught this Snorlax on July 11 of the first year, this Snorlax is now my oldest Pokémon, from Day -46 of playing Pokémon Go. These two Pokémon are the only ones I’ve had as buddies that I acquired via trade.

I continue to have very mixed opinions on the various friend features. Many aspects of gifting and trading still come off as really silly to me, and I still think the concept of a lucky trade (and for that matter, lucky Pokémon) is one of the most terrible ideas the designers of Pokémon Go have conceived, but the role of trading in geographic interaction is really cool and the fact that information on geographic separation across a trade is tracked for the player is excellent. I really get excited about expanding the swath of places I have Pokémon from to a spatial span much larger than where I’ve been through trading with friends, even though these Pokémon aren’t really functionally any different when they’re from somewhere else. And it’s fun to see snippets of other places through the postcard format of gifts. I continue to be adamant that the amount of experience gotten from friendship and raid rewards from friendship are far too high.

Before getting to the usual charts: this time around, I went and tabulated statistics on the 608 Pokémon I currently have with CP 2048 by a few properties. Here’s the summary.

Method of acquisition:


Origin trainer:


Origin location (well, what Pokémon Go thinks the origin location is):




And origin month (years are CL: 71 is the first year of Pokémon Go):


Actually, one more thing before the usual charts, an acknowledgment:

Happy retirement from Pokémon Go, ImASteamShovel. You have inspired and awed many, including me. We will not forget how important of a figure you’ve been in Team Instinct Boston.

Continue reading “Pokémon Go: 80 Million XP (Level 40 a Fourth Time)”

Ranking the 25 Democratic Candidates

Rather than expound on my views on each particular candidate, given how long that would take with 25 candidates, I’m offering a summary of what I consider important for the candidate for president, and after that providing a simple, direct list of them from best to worst.

The candidate should intend to take action to fight global warming, should recognize the scale and scope of the climate change issue, and should work towards curbing climate change with urgency. The candidate should recognize climate change as the most important challenge to not just this country but this entire planet for the upcoming generations.

The candidate should recognize the United States’ chronic exorbitance in defense spending, and intend to drastically reduce defense spending to provide for the welfare of Americans. The candidate should see much of the United States’ overseas military action since World War II as wasteful, destabilizing, harmful, and grossly unjustified. The candidate should recognize America’s role as the world’s police as not helping Americans and tainting America’s reputation abroad. The candidate should recognize that democrats and liberals have a tendency to overly focus on internal issues and not enough on the grand scheme of the United States in the world and a better, less militaristically-built relationship with the world’s other peoples.

The candidate should understand the search for a source of blame undertaken by much of the American working class after losing their jobs, and how Donald Trump’s false answer led to his support and election to presidency. The candidate should recognize that what this following ended up blaming on immigrants should be blamed instead on the greed of Wall Street and the advance of automation. The candidate should recognize that automation is not a bad development, but that it only serves society if the wealth generated by automation is not exclusively absorbed by those that own the means to automation, and that this country is truly reaping the benefits of automation not when jobs are more abundant or wages or higher, but when working hours are shorter and the efficiencies of automation can provide for a universal basic income or asset allocation.

The candidate should recognize that religion still has a disproportionate sway on American politics and everyday life, and that while the other party is well into putting the church back in the state, religion should stay as out of this party as possible.

The candidate should heed recent revelations of increasing rot and fixing in the Democratic establishment. The candidate should distance themselves from the establishment in the relevant ways, and work towards overturning this establishment to build a Democratic party with true progressive goals.

The candidate should have plenty of political experience, or a convincing case that lack thereof is compensated by experience elsewhere that gives them political qualifications. The candidate should have clear plans towards their goals, not just broad outlines.

The candidate should realize that the process of getting things done will sometimes require working with enemies, should know how to work with enemies, and should have a solid decision process for which enemies to work with and which are behind the line they draw. The candidate should take politics seriously, and recognize that the erosion of political institutions to punditry and political comedy has paved the way for jokes to become acceptable as politics and lead to our current unsavory political situation.

The candidate should understand that saying nice things and flowery words doesn’t get anything done, and be able to show beyond words that they are truly behind the ideas they posit. The candidate should have their positions backed up by demonstrable independence from institutions that are against their positions; they can demonstrate genuine dedication by not taking money from those that stand for what they claim to fight.

  1. Bernie Sanders
  2. Tulsi Gabbard
  3. Jay Inslee
  4. Mike Gravel
  5. Elizabeth Warren
  6. Andrew Yang
  7. Kamala Harris
  8. Amy Klobuchar
  9. Joe Biden
  10. John Hickenlooper
  11. Cory Booker
  12. Steve Bullock
  13. Michael Bennet
  14. Seth Moulton
  15. Tim Ryan
  16. Joe Sestak
  17. John Delaney
  18. Julian Castro
  19. Bill de Blasio
  20. Wayne Messam
  21. Kirsten Gillibrand
  22. Marianne Williamson
  23. Eric Swalwell
  24. Beto O’Rourke
  25. Pete Buttigieg


You may have noticed that the rate of new blog posts here has dramatically slowed.

There’s a part of this that’s because I have a job now.

But the largest part of this is that I just am so much more unsure about whether I want to publish what I write than I used to.

I actually now have hundreds of unpublished barely started, half-finished, or almost-finished-but-I-really-just-don’t-like-how-it-turned-out drafts.

And I keep being unsatisfied with where I have ended up.

What’s particularly frustrating is that I frankly like most of my more recent ideas much more than things I actually considered publishable a few years ago; I just yet still think they’re not good enough. This someone is keeping me from, from my perspective, increasing the average quality of this blog.

But I’m going make myself publish this right now anyway, even though I don’t like this post either.

Nuanced Differences in Types of Fact Acquisition and Storage

I love TIL (Today I Learned) compilations. One could just scroll through a TIL set and wade through a delicious cornucopia of unique and interesting aspects of the world around us at incredible efficiency. Reddit’s r/todayilearned is one of my favorite subreddits (in fact, I made my highest-rated Reddit post ever on r/todayilearned).

Those of you that have interacted with me on other online communication media may know that I have a tendency to use several other TI_ abbreviations as well, most notably TIR (Today I Realized). The gradual drifting of these abbreviations into my vocabulary space shadow an increased awareness of differences in the various facts I learn.

“Is what I just did something that can be called ‘learning’?” is the question in question here. When I realized only this past year that the Monterey in California and the Monterrey in Mexico were spelled differently, I definitely gained knowledge, but what I mentally did was probably less accurately called “learning” than “correcting” or “realizing” (hence, “TIR”). (This realization triggered in my mind a horror at how many times up to then I must’ve spelled one of them the wrong way. I think the way I spelled both of them was like the Mexican city, so the one I would’ve gotten incorrect was the one more frequently relevant to my life, but along the lines of this being a realization: I’m not even sure that was the one I got wrong.) On a similar vein, about 7 years ago, I realized that contrary to my previous belief, the flags of Qatar and Bahrain had a different number of spikes, despite thinking that I knew both flags for over a decade prior. And more recently, I learned that the United Kingdom’s flag does not have reflectional symmetry. In all of these cases, there was a sense that the process of learning happened before the incidence of knowledge acquisition, and what I gained was a correcting of the knowledge: if I was asked about this knowledge before the moment of correction, I would’ve furnished incorrect information, like a belief that the UK’s flag was reflectionally symmetric.

But there’s yet another nuance that can be highlighted: situations that can be considered “realizing” but not “correcting”. One case of the such is with time zones of Australia. At one point, I learned that Western Australia is in UTC+8 (mostly), Northern Territory and South Australia are in UTC+9.5, and Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania are in UTC+10. Somewhat later, I learned that South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania practice daylight savings time. But only later still did it dawn on me the implication that in the summer, Queensland is at +10, which is behind South Australia at +10.5, an order swap, and, I’d argue, a significant piece of knowledge. Boiled down to the essence, the fact realized here is “Which of Queensland and South Australia has clocks set later depends on whether it’s summer or winter.” My mind had the information to know that fact, but it was not until more than the time for knowledge processing later that I explicitly considered the fact. Another such fact is “Canada borders only one country.”. Sure, I had the knowledge of the layout of countries in the world to know that fact, but only upon explicit mention does it suddenly stand out quite far: Canada is a country of such substantial size that manages to border only one country. Bonus round: Does Canada actually border only one country?

Continue reading “Nuanced Differences in Types of Fact Acquisition and Storage”

But like, how do you know?

“Many people have a gene that makes cilantro taste like soap.”

“Hydrogen cyanide smells like bitter almonds.”

“The last step of the lethal injection feels like fire running through the veins.”

There exist many facts out there of a comparative nature for which I’m left wondering:

1) How do you know this?
2) Even given that, what motivates someone to seek this comparison?

Please let me know if you’ve tasted soap or have smelled bitter almonds.