Think tech

When games and code take over our minds, the world is a different place.

My mother once called in sick to work so that she could stay home and play Prince of Persia. Over 10 years later, she still refers to it as "one of the funnest days of my life".

Computer games allow you to immerse yourself in a world where the rules of real life no longer apply. What I find interesting about them is not so much their addictive nature (although I have spent many a late night tending to a sprawling Sim City metropolis or trying to guess codes in Myst) as the way they affect your way of thinking.

When The Sims first came out, I began to think of the world in Sim terms. I'd make a mental note to call a friend I hadn't spoken to in a while, so that our relationship score would improve. I'd look around the house at all the furniture and catalogue each item, just like Edward Norton does in Fight Club.

Tech affects our thinking in other ways, too. For example, a few weeks ago, a fellow Zedder sent me this instant message:


Geeky? Of course. But also a succinct and amusing way of expressing a relatable sentiment.

I'd also wager that many among us have prefaced a long-winded e-mail with <rant>, or even harked back to IRC days by using /me.

What I long for is a way of flagging sarcasm or irony in a text-based medium without resorting to overt, humour-killing methods such as tacking "Just kidding!" on the end of every joke. E-mail and instant messaging are incapable of conveying nuances of speech, which is very frustrating when you are trying to be a bit witty but uncertain whether it's worth the gamble of insulting the person on the other end. While you may read a shrewdly observed jibe in your mind with the voice of Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder, the recipient may have a far more literal interpretation.

For further (scientifically backed) musings on sarcasm in e-mail, take a look at this link.