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May 25, 2012 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Gamer Mom is a short piece of interactive fiction about a mom who plays games, and her family that doesn't.

The source code includes many comments by the author that are worth a read, as well.
posted by empath (70 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Like, er, the comment about how the site is going to go down soon because she's almost out of bandwidth?
posted by koeselitz at 12:12 PM on May 25, 2012


Maybe it was the paths I tried, but, man, that was depressing. I just want to hug that mom.

Nifty, though, and I loved how cleanly it's coded.
posted by batmonkey at 12:12 PM on May 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


oh that's part of the page, ha ha
posted by koeselitz at 12:12 PM on May 25, 2012


I like this game a lot, I should say.
posted by koeselitz at 12:13 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


What a terrible family. Has anyone "won" yet? Can you?
posted by blahblahblah at 12:16 PM on May 25, 2012


Seriously lady, MMOs are kind of my idea of a nightmare. Maybe we can take a walk and get some ice cream or something instead.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:23 PM on May 25, 2012


Yes, ignore your family and keep playing your games.

I haven't played the game, and this is merely snark, not a spoiler.

A friend of mine has brothers who play a lot of WoW, and their mom played Sims and such games. She was interested in WoW, and now plays with her sons, though my friend told me that there are some phone conversations where her mom seems a bit distant, and she's pretty sure she heard sounds of the game in the background.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:24 PM on May 25, 2012


Aw man, I am so close here.
posted by koeselitz at 12:27 PM on May 25, 2012


Oh crap, i put the wrong link for the source. Here it is.
posted by empath at 12:49 PM on May 25, 2012


Buying my mother-in-law a netbook and pre-installing Bejeweled was the smartest thing I've ever done.
posted by R. Schlock at 12:56 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there an actual good ending?
posted by sotonohito at 12:59 PM on May 25, 2012


[Fixed the link, carry on. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 12:59 PM on May 25, 2012


This is so frustrating...
posted by Night_owl at 1:00 PM on May 25, 2012


Yes, ignore your family and keep playing your games.

Yeah, it's pretty much the exact opposite of that.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:02 PM on May 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Note: as per the comments, unless i am reading them wrong, the author is actually a man living with his parents. This shouldn't change the way we engage with the game's message, but it might.
posted by davejay at 1:02 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


blahblahblah: "What a terrible family. Has anyone "won" yet? Can you?"

I've won four or five times now. It's actually pretty easy to keep them away from World of Warcraft in a variety of ways. I think the draw is finding out all the different WoW avoidance paths in the game.
posted by boo_radley at 1:04 PM on May 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


The source code comments are much more depressing than the game itself. The author seems to have a very hard time understanding how to make social connections with people, be it within his family, with people in real life or with strangers online.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:07 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Okay, seriously. Whoever has gotten them to play together, please let me know. I need to know if I'm barking up the wrong tree or what.
posted by Night_owl at 1:07 PM on May 25, 2012


What does she do with her time when her husband is at work and her daughter is at school aside from play World of Warcraft?

Is this a story about addiction, escapism, and how trying it is to deal with someone whose only reality outside of their home is a fantasy world?

Or is this about being able to share your interests with the people who are close to you?
posted by TheKM at 1:28 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The new source code link won't load for me, but now I'm not feeling as disappointed by that.
posted by batmonkey at 1:34 PM on May 25, 2012


Anyone else thinking of Clara from The Guild?
posted by linux at 1:36 PM on May 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


I especially liked the part where substantive conversation with her spouse and child is called "chitchat".
posted by R. Schlock at 1:36 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


...wait, no, finally loaded and burnmp3s is totally right.

It makes the experiment of making the seeking character the mom more interesting to me, because I can run a secondary line alongside where it's a younger male relative, instead, and wonder how my responses and reactions would be different for him.

The word that comes to me is "desperation", for some reason.
posted by batmonkey at 1:39 PM on May 25, 2012


For maximum "fun," control-f to search the source code for the phrase "delightfully quirky." Wow.
posted by koeselitz at 1:41 PM on May 25, 2012


burnmp3s:The source code comments are much more depressing than the game itself.

I found the story about his birthday touching, and very melancholy. Although, I've got this nagging suspicion in the back of my mind that the code comments are part of the story. They just almost make everything into too nice of a package.

TheKM:Is this a story about addiction, escapism, and how trying it is to deal with someone whose only reality outside of their home is a fantasy world?

Or is this about being able to share your interests with the people who are close to you?


Why does it have to be one or the other? Everyone at the table is trapped in their own little world, only one is trying to share that world with others. The guy wrote himself (as represented in the coding comments) into the script, so the most sympathetic character is the gamer, but the thing is the guy actually wrote himself into the script, not his idealized self. There's plenty off about the mom.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:50 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the source code:

"Reality isn't the best option for everyone."

This may be true, but reality is the only reality we've got.
posted by oddman at 1:57 PM on May 25, 2012


Trying to get two non-gamers into WoW is rather ambitious, isn't it? That's kind of like "you've never tasted wine? Here's some DMT."

Start with Wii Sports, Dance Central, W.E.L.D.E.R., Pokemon... something a little less overwhelming and without the Forever Alone implications. No?
posted by Blue Meanie at 2:00 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The guy wrote himself (as represented in the coding comments) into the script, so the most sympathetic character is the gamer, but the thing is the guy actually wrote himself into the script, not his idealized self. There's plenty off about the mom.

I think his actual self is his idealized self, there are various points in the comments where he makes it clear that he thinks his inability to interact with most people is not a negative and that instead other people are the ones who have problems. From the comments:

And it took me years to realize, no, the problem isn't me. The problem is them. The problem is intolerance and coercion throughout our enlightened society. And I changed from thinking about Normals as my superiors, to thinking of them as my inferiors. I suppose by definition that is bigotry. Probably the only reason I'm not more antagonistic in my behavior toward Normals is that I understand they're the majority on this planet, and pissing them off is a sure-fire way to lose everything. But I don't want to mingle with them, to subject myself to their disinterested chitchat, to expect them to understand why I do what I do.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:02 PM on May 25, 2012


Damn that was depressing. Although honestly it was as much depressing for the absolute disconnect between everyone in the family as for the mother's utter failure to ever get her family to try her favorite escape from reality.

Me, I'm glad the first MMOs were Windows-only. That meant I was safe from trying them, and falling into them. Because I know how I respond to video games, and I know that I would lose a couple of years to just sitting there in front of the computer playing the thing.
posted by egypturnash at 2:09 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


And it took me years to realize, no, the problem isn't me...

Huh, I missed that one. Nevermind then.
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:10 PM on May 25, 2012


OK, so I read some more of the comments about the coder's life. And this may be an uncharitable thing to say, but does it strike anyone else that he seems to have a complete lack of empathy? He's frustrated because no one sees things his way, but he completely fails to understand anyone around him.
posted by oddman at 2:12 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

OK, that was facile. This game and the source code are so unbearably depressing. The cute graphics put a soft facade on it that keeps you from realizing, at first, how completely sad it is.
posted by gurple at 2:15 PM on May 25, 2012


I agree with you. He sounds like maybe he is on the autism spectrum? Still, he has an interesting point of view and an interesting way of expressing it.
posted by empath at 2:16 PM on May 25, 2012


I'm not sure how comfortable I feel with this. If the author figure in the code comments is a real person, he's a person in real pain, and I don't know how much I like looking at that. If the author is a character written by a neurotypical person it seems something of a cruel characterisation of a high-functioning autist. He could be a character written by an autistic person, of course, and maybe I would be less troubled by that.

It's a difficult area, anyway.
posted by howfar at 2:18 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


And yet it's not like he's entirely lacking in self-knowledge or completely self-aggrandizing. See this about his father: Generally this involves the TV show "The Amazing Race", which he talks about with such socially-oblivious excitement that it makes me feel like we're related after all. I'm finding the coding comments very compelling.
posted by EvaDestruction at 2:18 PM on May 25, 2012


It's really worth reading the (sad/interesting/fascinating/upsetting) comments in the code.
function bThinkAboutThis(){
	/* I hate the phrase "Asperger's Syndrome". First off, it's named after a guy who wrote a paper on what he called "autistic psychopathy". Yes, he
	was referring to people like me in that paper. So I don't particularly enjoy having to refer to myself through the name of some intolerant asshole.
	And secondly, I don't feel like Asperger's Syndrome is something I "have" so much as something I am. Or if I have to use the word "have", it's in
	the sense of "That person has a Type-A personality!" or "You have a lot of patience.". It's a personality type, not a disorder. But I can see why
	you'd think it's a problem - it does become a problem when people like me need to interact with people who are quote-unquote Normal. God, how they
	bore me, all those silly little people who are more concerned with other people and with socially-mandated roles than they are with their own
	interests. I understand what they expect from me in most situations; I just don't see any reason to care. Maybe other people just act how they're
	pressured into acting on instinct, so people who act differently are going against some natural order of things that they've never questioned. But
	whatever the reason, the fact that I've always refused to do what other people wanted me to do, and be the sort of person that other people wanted
	me to be, made me an outcast from childhood. There was something Wrong with me. And it took me years to realize, no, the problem isn't me. The
	problem is them. The problem is intolerance and coercion throughout our enlightened society. And I changed from thinking about Normals as my
	superiors, to thinking of them as my inferiors. I suppose by definition that is bigotry. Probably the only reason I'm not more antagonistic in my
	behavior toward Normals is that I understand they're the majority on this planet, and pissing them off is a sure-fire way to lose everything. But I
	don't want to mingle with them, to subject myself to their disinterested chitchat, to expect them to understand why I do what I do. Now I hang out
	with other strange people with strange passions. I talk about what I'm interested in. They talk about what they're interested in. It's great. But
	what if I had not met such people? What if I had been in socially-mandated communities past high school, for instance if I had gone to college and
	then straight into some career path, and all my life I only knew people who weren't like me? I once met someone with Asperger's Syndrome so ground
	down by the people in his life that he was unwilling to speak. That could have been me. */

posted by Casuistry at 2:19 PM on May 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I talk about what I'm interested in. They talk about what they're interested in.
I have a feeling that the two events are synchronous. I've seen that enough times.
posted by LD Feral at 2:23 PM on May 25, 2012


If the author figure in the code comments is a real person, he's a person in real pain, and I don't know how much I like looking at that. If the author is a character written by a neurotypical person it seems something of a cruel characterisation of a high-functioning autist. He could be a character written by an autistic person, of course, and maybe I would be less troubled by that.

And then there's the whole part about us having access to that self twice: via computer code, and then via its execution, which adds a whole new dimension to the work's theme of alienation and computer-mediated community. We assume that the notes accompanying the code are, in some sense, the musings of a "real self" because that's what such notes are supposed to do. But this is literary expectation conditioned by genre.

But they could equally be an occasion to create profound anxiety over the narrator's reliability.

If this isn't the self-disclosure of a troubled person, then it's using a literary technique straight out of Nabokov's "Pale Fire." And doing it pretty well, I think.
posted by R. Schlock at 2:26 PM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Isolation, addiction, and alienation compounding themselves in downwards spiral. What's frightening about it is how hard it is to get that perspective when you're inside it.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:35 PM on May 25, 2012


If this isn't the self-disclosure of a troubled person, then it's using a literary technique straight out of Nabokov's "Pale Fire." And doing it pretty well, I think.

If the author in the comments is fictional it's a pretty elaborate fake, because he has a blog with posts going back to 2005.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:42 PM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow, that blog is fascinating.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:08 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I spent way too long clicking through this. Now I'm depressed.
posted by pemberkins at 3:25 PM on May 25, 2012


Well I'm sad now...

Interesting little game though. Reminds me of another game with multiple endings about a little Irish girl that has abusive parents. Gosh! I wish I remembered the name of that. It's really depressing too.
posted by PipRuss at 3:30 PM on May 25, 2012


Oh! And that comment reminded me of that game that was on here awhile back... I think it was called One Chance or something? About the chemist-type guy and the end of the world, that set a little cookie so you couldn't replay it?
posted by Night_owl at 3:38 PM on May 25, 2012


I'm totally gonna ask that mom to join my raiding guild.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 3:45 PM on May 25, 2012


Holy puppies - read the performance reviews on the blog!
posted by batmonkey at 4:06 PM on May 25, 2012


No, read the rules for the performance reviews... Wow.
posted by Night_owl at 4:33 PM on May 25, 2012


/* My sister Miriam doesn't seem very interested in much. Occasionally she decides she's interested in something random, then changes her mind a few months later. That's just the sort of person she is. So every time I get excited about an apparent opportunity to give her something I like, I need to take it with a grain of salt. If she seems like she cares, it's conceivable that she may actually care -but ten minutes later she probably won't. When she was a little girl, she liked to play the Commander Keen series of platformers, but only with all the cheats on. I kept trying to convince her that that wasn't a good hobby, but she really liked it as a mindless way to kill time. At some point maybe a decade ago, I got her to play Yoshi's Island on a Super Nintendo emulator. I believe (though my memory of this is rusty) she actually got farther in that game than I did, despite a somewhat glitchy emulator. Ever since then, I've had the occasional attempt to get her to play a game of some sort. And I never can. She just doesn't play games anymore. I resent her for this. It's gotten to the point that we are barely civil to each other. She avoids me and I avoid her. */

There's something weirdly Miranda July-ish about this story, especially the last couple of lines.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:51 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can get them at least playing by jumping right in, making absolutely no small talk, go all in, present the vision, don't slow down, exciting, we'll start on thursday, get out now, run.

This was from reversing through the source code, after a healthy dozen or so times trying and failing.
posted by disillusioned at 5:02 PM on May 25, 2012


function bThinkAboutThis(){
/* I hate the phrase "Asperger's Syndrome". First off, it's named after a guy who wrote a paper on what he called "autistic psychopathy". Yes, he
was referring to people like me in that paper. So I don't particularly enjoy having to refer to myself through the name of some intolerant asshole.
And secondly, I don't feel like Asperger's Syndrome is something I "have" so much as something I am. Or if I have to use the word "have", it's in

(etc)

Someone with more knowledge, can you chime in on if people with Asperger's really have this much self-awareness? I've always thought of its defining characteristic being a lack of self-awareness.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:20 PM on May 25, 2012


Is there an actual good ending?

I keep thinking there has to be one where she gets a divorce and walks away, but I haven't found it yet.
posted by happyroach at 5:32 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I keep thinking there has to be one where she gets a divorce and walks away, but I haven't found it yet.

There is. But you can make her come back inside to play the game, which deflates her grand exit a bit.
posted by disillusioned at 5:45 PM on May 25, 2012


disillusioned: "You can get them at least playing by jumping right in, making absolutely no small talk, go all in, present the vision, don't slow down, exciting, we'll start on thursday, get out now, run."

I got that one. But some comment seems to indicate that there's a real, happy ending to the story. Can't find that, though.
posted by Night_owl at 5:46 PM on May 25, 2012


All I could think, going through this, is that if you are an adult who seriously thinks that your teenager needs to enjoy the same activities that you do, you are really not remembering at all what it's like to be a teenager. And the husband just seems to be a jerk. I've never played WoW, but I've been spending a good deal of my free time on the internet since the mid-90s, and I've never had anybody act like this about it who I would willingly spend more than ten minutes talking to about anything else in the world, either.

But if it was really put together by a guy who isn't living in this situation, it's no wonder. It's projecting how he *thinks* people are about things like WoW, without ever having experienced how people are about things like WoW. Any hobby can be overdone, but without ever having played, because my SO does, I am perfectly capable of understanding what it means when she says that she's frustrated because the person who was tanking for this raid is awful and they've wiped four times or whatever, and I can sympathize. I don't need to also play to say hey, that's cool, when she tells me her druid hit 85. She doesn't play so much that she ignores me, so I don't mind it at all that she plays, and I take the same kind of interest that she does in my schoolwork.

If you start resenting your family members for not taking your hobbies seriously when you don't respect what they do with their own time, then the problem is not wholly with them. I really feel for this guy's relations.
posted by gracedissolved at 5:46 PM on May 25, 2012


Oh, and the part I thought was most telling:

Mom: "This isn't how this is supposed to work. We're supposed to live together, and I want to do that in World of Warcraft."
Dad: "Why can't we live in the real world?"
Options:
"Why?" "How?" "The real world is boring." "Azeroth is better."

That's it. Those are the options. Mom's literal only acceptable outcome here is socializing with her real family members who are currently sitting at her real dinner table by getting them onto separate computers and typing at them, not just now and then so they'll understand why she's so into it, but as her primary way of socializing with them.

I'm pretty sure, given this and the comment, that absolutely no other interaction with these people and getting them to play the game *is* the intended happy ending. And that's really sad.
posted by gracedissolved at 5:52 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, you know what? I'm going to go on record, strongly now, that pathologizing the creator of this work and engaging in armchair psychologizing is really shitty. I've dug around in his blog and listened to some of his music. The guy is smart, creative and worth taking seriously. Based on his rules, he clearly understands the distinction between persona and self better than some folks here seem to. Whether or not he's using the "mom" character as a mouthpiece for his own thoughts and feelings is irrelevant. She might be poorly written, but if you can't engage with her as a literary character, then you're missing the point.
posted by R. Schlock at 6:03 PM on May 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


Schlock, this is in the source code:
/* I suspect some people will ask whether this character is realistic. Certainly her actions and thoughts are extreme, especially when you take a step back and consider that what she is pushing for so obstinately is what most people would call a silly time-waster. Is it plausible that a woman who by all social standards should know better would get so wound up over World of Warcraft? My answer is that she can definitely exist in the real world, because I exist and this is how I think. That I am a 24-year-old man living in his parents' house, rather than a married woman, does not matter - the details may be slightly different, but the experience I am expressing here is real. Whenever I reached a node where I was unsure of what the player should be allowed to do next, I sat down at our dining room table, pictured the husband and daughter sitting across from me, said whatever my last line was, and asked myself what I was thinking. The reason I emphasize my identification with the title character is to make a point: If I were not her, this game would be a meaningless gimmick. But because I am her, there is an emotional truth. This is the promise of the character adventure game - to let you inhabit the head of someone else, someone very different from yourself. If I had not put an emotional truth into the lines and choices and situations, they would all mean nothing. There would be some novelty in the oddness, and charm in the drawings, but no real point. The point is that she is a person of the real world, in spirit if not in fact. That gives her life value. */
posted by dereferenced at 6:25 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I were not her, this game would be a meaningless gimmick.

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the windowpane

I was the smudge of ashen fluff--and I
Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky,
And from the inside, too, I'd duplicate
Myself, my lamp, an apple on a plate:
Uncurtaining the night, I'd let dark glass
Hang all the furniture above the grass,
And how delightful when a fall of snow
Covered my glimpse of lawn and reached up so
As to make chair and bed exactly stand
Upon that snow, out in that crystal land!
posted by R. Schlock at 6:42 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


wow, this game and the comments and blog just blow me away. Fascinating stuff.
posted by sweetkid at 7:20 PM on May 25, 2012


While a bit disappointed to discover elsewhere that the source code comments are apparently not a metatextual ruse, I want to point your attention to the author's interactive adventure game manifesto, written over the course of a few months while working on the game. If you were turned off by some of the ways he represents himself in the source code's diary-like entries, this might supply some balance to your assessment. It's also fun and insightful and worth your time in and of itself.
posted by nobody at 7:34 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


(To clarify, it's the manifesto itself that's interactive.)
posted by nobody at 7:38 PM on May 25, 2012


Wait, this guy is autistic?

That throws the whole me vs the normal people thing into a different perspective.

drjimmy11, Aspergers is considered one of the highest functioning types of autisim. Many many autistic people with Aspergers appear "normal" to neurotypical people. (otherwise known as you and me, assuming you aren't autistic) They're the kind of autistic you hear about being really smart.

Going to recommend anyone who is curious about people who are high functioning autistics to check out the movie about Temple Grandin. She also did a TED Talk.
posted by royalsong at 7:38 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


(And not to harp on it, but that manifesto link might help explain why this is possibly a highly important game even if you don't particularly like it or aren't taken by its subject matter, etc.)
posted by nobody at 7:48 PM on May 25, 2012


Well, okay. So I got to the part where he plays the game. I think... I think this is the "good" ending, but it's very very shallow. I want to flip through like a CYOA book and look at all the possible endings, now, though.
posted by Night_owl at 7:51 PM on May 25, 2012


"You can get them at least playing by jumping right in, making absolutely no small talk, go all in, present the vision, don't slow down, exciting, we'll start on thursday, get out now, run."

Even then, when you finally get your husband in front of the computer, Gamer Mom leans in front of him, blocking the screen, to try to play for him. Of COURSE he's not engaged. Argh.
posted by maryr at 8:00 PM on May 25, 2012


Wow, this is fascinating. This is a link to something on HuffPo that someone sent me the other day that I found really mean-spirited and awful. It looked as if it was written by someone on the autism spectrum, but the comments trended heavily toward, "creep, stalker, and psycho."

This is from the source code:

Three days ago (I am writing this on 23/2/2012.), I went on a date with a delightfully quirky woman. I was interested in her because her personality seemed to be very much like mine, and I told her so in a long and precisely-crafted e-mail. My reasoning for the letter was as follows: If she was like me, she might want to know where she stood without ambiguity, because that is how I would always prefer people treat me. And if she was not like me, then my reason for being interested in her was in error and I would want to know that as soon as possible. I was
careful to word the letter such that if I was mistaken about her, she could say "no" comfortably and that would be that. Instead, she said we were on the same page. So we went on a date, and all my suspicions about her personality were proven true. Fundamentally she is very much like me. However, she aspires to fit into the "real world", while I see it as my life's mission to make gamistic alternatives to it. We had some wonderful discussion and argumentation, and then she said goodbye with little enthusiasm for seeing me again. So I asked her whether we could meet up again, and she responded that that might be nice. At present I am convinced that that was merely a tactful answer, and that she did not want to ever see me again. But that is not what she said. Her tact left the possibility of a relationship on the table, maybe because I was so aggressively interested in her that she did not want to hurt my feelings. Since then I am ashamed to say I have written her ten e-mails, some of them quite long. She has barely responded, and when she did respond she did not tell me that I was bothering her, again maybe to not hurt my feelings. So I figured she was very busy, or wanted to take the time to respond properly, or any of a million other perfectly reasonable explanations for not writing the four words "I don't like you." that would tell me where I stand. Finally a friend of mine told me that I needed to stop writing, and that I was so eager to pursue a relationship that I was ignoring the tone of what this woman had been saying. Understand, this intervention came only after two days of my obsessing about uncertainty as to whether or not she was at all interested in me. And when I realized my friend was right after those two days of build-up, it pained me to the point of feeling physically ill. If the woman I'd gone out with had told me in clear terms that she was not interested in me, and that she was not interested in working to bridge the subtle differences in our worldviews, I would have been disappointed but I would have moved on with my life and I would quickly have been fine. But because she chose tact over honesty, I was left in a state of confusion and false hope which has made it very difficult to focus on anything for the past two days. "Tact" is simply a tactful word for deception. The earlier a feeling is hurt, the less time that feeling has had to grow deep roots. Even when painful, the entire truth revealed at once is always preferable to pleasant lies that fester over time.


Now, they're apparently not from the same person, given the dates (Feb 2012 vs Dec 2011) don't seem to match, but, wow. Kind of eerie.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:33 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someone with more knowledge, can you chime in on if people with Asperger's really have this much self-awareness? I've always thought of its defining characteristic being a lack of self-awareness.

The range of levels and types of self-insight and self-awareness possessed by people on the autistic spectrum (I too dislike the term "Asperger's Syndrome", and its use is increasingly deprecated among professionals) is as broad as that you find in the general population. When thinking about this, it is useful to distinguish between affective empathy (the intuition of the feelings of others) and cognitive empathy (the ability to understand that others have feelings like one's own). There is little evidence to suggest that cognitive empathy is impaired in high-functioning autistic-spectrum people.

R. Schlock is right to point out that interpreting people and their work solely through the prism of pathology is dangerous and unproductive. I don't think discussion of the pathological elements of someone's life is entirely meaningless however. Personality is not a function of pathology, but pathology is a real part of everyone's lived experience. From even my fairly brief reading of his blog, it is evident to me that Mory Buckman is working on and thinking deeply about these issues and others. There is no sneering justified here, we should be grateful for his insight.

Also, while "the author" in the code comments appears to be an expression of the factual conditions of Buckman's life, Buckman's methodology (selecting a character to play each day) suggests that this kind of writing only serves as an expression of one aspect of himself. The authorial voice does not present "the truth" of the game, only a reflection on it.
posted by howfar at 10:30 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's it. Those are the options. Mom's literal only acceptable outcome here is socializing with her real family members who are currently sitting at her real dinner table by getting them onto separate computers and typing at them, not just now and then so they'll understand why she's so into it, but as her primary way of socializing with them.

It appears that she's desperate to socialize with them period. Of course the game might be a bad idea, but I'm getting the impression that her family is even worse then her, because they're in their little worlds as well, but they don't even want outside contact.
posted by happyroach at 1:07 AM on May 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Someone with more knowledge, can you chime in on if people with Asperger's really have this much self-awareness?

I wasn't officially diagnosed into my late 30s, but I had/have a lot of similar behaviors (writing out my thoughts in multiple personalities in order to try to solve life's problems? Check. Except it looks he does it in a way that is more exploratory and potentially helpful, whereas I just used it to tell myself what a horrible idiot I was)

But because she chose tact over honesty, I was left in a state of confusion and false hope which has made it very difficult to focus on anything for the past two days. People seem to be cutting and pasting this over and over again with some kind of morbid fascination and even though I am not him (nor am I every autistic person), let me try to offer a little AS perspective: the neurology is such that things like tact and white lies and body language is not something that comes easy. It doesn't come easily to neurotypical people either; everyone's bound to misread someone's cues or hope in vain that what they're really "reading" between the lines isn't true. But for some AS people it is even more rigid; there is the hope that someone will be utterly frank about their feelings/emotions because then it will be immediately clear. Anything else is muddied and uncertain.

Also, as he points out, he realizes he's not as antisocial has he thinks, he's very social with people where he shares common interests (i.e. acting, gaming, etc). I would also think that neurotypical people also do this, re: choosing what people they want to hang out with. The difference is that they would probably not state the potentially impolite and rude things about other people, because that is what their brain/experiences tell them to do.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 5:39 AM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's awesome that he gets so into unplugging and replugging himself, hacking away even at the tenets of his very being. I read so much of his various extensions yesterday/last night, and seeing him occupying and observing himself at the same time is kind of heartwarming.

Some of it is a bit distressing, too, because it's difficult to see another person have to be so mechanical about their relationships and self, yet it seems to make him able to do more and accomplish things he might otherwise spin out on, so...I'm definitely not going to be the one who judges him on that.

The fact that he puts so much into the process is really impressive to me, and actually had me somewhat in awe. The performance review thing especially appeals to me, although I know I could never devote so much time or be so crisp about the edges.

At the same time, though, some of his dismissive attitude towards his family members is troubling to me, because he doesn't question his own demands of them, only their response to his demands. Which is a large part of why I was so depressed by the "game" itself - at no point is there ever a potential compromise available to interact with the other people. Even when the mom "wins", there's an element that remains unwavering in her devotion to the digital fixation above the human element - like getting in front of the screen when the husband gets into the game or having to come back in after storming out because of the game. And I think of how disconnected she is, how dismissive she is, and I know this is his world, too. Sad, sad, sad.

And in the "game" source code, the Zelda thing seems to border on a fetish, in that there's only one way his family and friends could interact with him that will satisfy. I don't know if he'll ever reach a point where he can be okay with that and not look down on them/withdraw from them because of this, but I guess that made me sad, too.

But, then, I also find the AS label incomplete and somewhat insulting. I think it creates a limiting container, making for root-bound people.
posted by batmonkey at 9:34 AM on May 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


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