Benny's Adventures

Playing a Role-Playing Game

Playing a Role-Playing Game 1I completed Mass Effect two days ago and started another play through. The first time I played through it I mimicked my own personality as much as possible. This resulted in a Paragon (“good”) character who tried to empathize as much as possible with everyone. If I could ever resolve a situation without violence I chose that route.

With that play through completed I’ve started a second play through. This time I decided that I would play as a Renegade character (“bad”). From the beginning it’s been uneasy but it’s provided an interesting perspective to a role-playing game for me.

Up until this play through of Mass Effect I’ve rarely strayed from my own personality when choosing the actions of a character. There are many cases where I only have one option, of course, but where I had some freedom I’d play as much like myself as possible. Generally this meant being a nicer character empathetic to the plight of other characters unless I lose my temper (in character, of course).

This time I choose the options that come off aggressive or mean or perhaps just plain evil. Each time I cringe because it just does not come naturally to me. However, each time I cringe less and less. Maybe there’ll come a time when it doesn’t bother me at all.

Playing a Role-Playing Game 2That bothers me. I completely understand that I am playing a game but what sorts of effects are changing my brain as I experience the game in this way? A recent program showed evidence for meditation changing the structure of the brain. If that is a possibility then couldn’t the focus we put in playing games alter our brain structure as well?

It’s an interesting thought with no concrete studies on it as far as I know. I think that because the full extent of effects are unknown all gamers should be wary. By no means am I claiming that games are evil or that we should stop playing games but being aware of the effects while we play the games can means that should there be any negative effects we can try to avoid them.

21 January 2011 Posted by | Gaming, Science, Technology | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two Thumbs up for HP Customer Support


I own a custom ordered HP TouchSmart tx2z-1300 that stopped booting up on December 20, 2010. If you notice my previous post it refers to this. I spent a day trying myself to fix the issue but after some research it was clear that the failure was beyond my ability to address.

What happened is that when I powered on my laptop on that day the screen was blank and though I could hear the fan running nothing else happened. The “num lk” key and the “caps lock” key lit up in a pattern: blink… pause… blink… pause… and so on. Some investigation lead me to this site indicating a CPU failure.

In any case on December 21 I called HP customer support. Now you have to remember that I loathe calling customer support because of a combination of stubbornness and perception. The first person I talked with said I’d been redirected to the desktop rather than laptop support and so I had to hold while they transferred me. “Oh great,” I thought. “It’s already started.” The instant I completed that thought a man picked up and introduced himself as Sanjay. Being of Indian origin myself I recognized the accent and the name. However the fact that he was Indian and I’d probably reached a call center in India was not a bother to me. I conveyed the problem to him and after following the prescribed steps Sanjay said that I’d have to send it in for replacement. I was quite dismayed at this because the thought of not having my laptop felt empty. I wasn’t at school where I had my desktop with all my files synced and my programs already loaded so it would be highly inconvenient. In any case I submitted to the circumstances and after making sure I would get my computer back before I returned to school I hung up.

The next day I received a box. I loaded my computer up inside and due to sheer laziness only sent it the next day on December 23.

This is where I got worried.

I checked the status of the repair online and saw nothing. The package I shipped had not been received. This was the same until December 28. At this point the site updated to indicate that the estimated ship date (the date I would receive it) was January 6, 2011, two days before I returned to school. That made me nervous.

I called again and asked about the date. The representative was very nice (also Indian) and assured me that more likely than not I would get my computer sooner than the date as it was a conservative estimate. She also said she’d make a note for the technician that I needed it ASAP.

Lo and behold, 3 days later I had my laptop! Not on January 6, 2011, but on December 31, 2010.

I was very satisfied with HP Customer Support.  The only downside is this guy I saw every time I had to check my status:


2 January 2011 Posted by | Laptops, Technology | , , , | 1 Comment


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