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Role Playing (Games) IT

Dungeons & Dragons and IT 243

Posted by samzenpus
from the expedition-to-the-barrier-peaks dept.
boyko.at.netqos writes "An editorial in Network Performance Daily tries to take a (1d6) stab at explaining why geeky engineering types are also typically the types that enjoy a rousing game of D&D. From the article "The greatest barrier to creativity is a lack of boundaries. Counter-intuitive — almost zen-like — but we've found it to be true. This is why people play Dungeons & Dragons (and similar games), and why network engineers often spend time putting out fires when they could be improving the network."
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Dungeons & Dragons and IT

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  • by LordEd (840443) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @11:31PM (#18438853)
    ... if somebody would please take their dragon and keep it outside where it belongs!
    • Hmm.... (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by winkydink (650484) *
      The greatest barrier to creativity is a lack of boundaries. Counter-intuitive - almost zen-like - but we've found it to be true.

      And this is why people play Dungeons & Dragons (and similar games), and why network engineers often spend time putting out fires when they could be improving the network.


      I wonder of these are the same folk who post on /. about how their bosses are total jerks who don't understand them and recognize their accomplishments?

      Hint: Your boss cares more about making things better.
    • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @11:47PM (#18439005)
      The problem is usually that most companies don't hire any more D&D players than it takes to just barely put fires out. You wouldn't be putting out fires all the time if your employer would hire more wizards, although wizardry doesn't come cheap.

      You can get four or five wizards for the price of one, but the catch is, the wizards come with the curse that Rutger Hauer and his girlfriend Michelle Pfeiffer had in that movie Ladyhawke. He was a wolf at night and his girlfriend Michelle Pfeiffer turned into a hawk during the day. A simple email conversation would have taken them days and days!
      • by plover (150551) * on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @11:52PM (#18439059) Homepage Journal

        A simple email conversation would have taken them days and days!

        Just like working with overseas teams. Except neither of us look like Michelle Pfeiffer OR Rutger Hauer.

      • by jinxidoru (743428)
        The truth is, that sometimes you need to just let a fire burn itself out. Sure, it might cause damage, but you can then take that time and install measures to prevent problems from becoming fires. There is the problem: people's unwillingness to accept triage and define acceptable damage levels. So, for example, if letting something go completely fubar costs you one client, but that same time spent elsewhere can ensure you five new/happy clients, well it's not hard to determine which is the best investmen
        • by Gilmoure (18428)
          This here is Umerikah! Thinking proactively and strategically will get ya looked at sideways and mebbe' lynched! Just focus on increasing share price by 4PM, so that management's options will be useful, ya' stinking drone. And if you're thinkin' of having a merry drone riot, management will have the lot o' ya nerve stapled!
  • Wait...? (Score:3, Funny)

    by The Orange Mage (1057436) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @11:33PM (#18438869) Homepage
    If IT guys are the pen & paper RPG guys, what profession are those LARPers (Live Action Role-Players) belong to?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Sorry, I never role-played except in video games. Neither have the majority of my friends in IT.

      I don't know what this D&D prattle is about, but it certainly isn't played by the majority of IT - so it's hardly an IT culture thing.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Sorry, but you and your 'friends' are out of the loop.

        Most people in IT have skills that are subpar anyway. Why do you think companies are always complaining about a lack of good candidates. Lemme guess... you decided to get into IT back in the late 90's when it was all the rage. Chances are, you and your 'IT friends' all into this category due to your poor THAC0.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by norton_I (64015)
        Computer games aren't role playing, despite any rumors to the contrary in the genere title.
        • by blackicye (760472)
          Arguably with MMOs the gap is closing.

          Whilst still not PnP, Neverwinter nights came close.
        • This is only true for single-player. Multiplayer CRPGs can hold up to the title, though few do. NWN can be good, if you find a good server.
    • Re:Wait...? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @11:58PM (#18439109)
      Technical support - and no I'm not kidding.
    • Retail transaction functionary?

      Burger assembly technician?

      Life avoidance counselor?

      Subterranean familial couch parasite?

      Take your pick ... and don't forget the door spikes.
    • Re:Wait...? (Score:4, Funny)

      by subl33t (739983) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:45AM (#18439409)
      They eventually become mimes.
      Sad but true.
    • Cape salesman? ;)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      USMC.
  • Giant In The Park (Score:5, Informative)

    by Krishnoid (984597) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @11:36PM (#18438893) Journal
    Having to deal with strange technical rules regarding reality is par for the course at Order of the Stick [giantitp.com]. There's something here that hits a note with any techie (well, frankly, anyone) if you've ever played D&D.
    • Geeks (and I'm one myself) don't play D&D because we're "creative types." We play it because it lets us imagine ourselves as strong, powerful warriors and wizards in a world where WE'RE in charge. In D&D men fear us and women want us. In real life, we're getting our head dunked into the toilet in high school. In D&D, we're baddasses. In real life, we get passed over for promotion.

      Ask yourself, when is the last time you saw a D&D character drawing that featured an overweight or underweight,

      • by brother_b (16716) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @10:18AM (#18442755)
        It's not necessarily always true, though. Yes, D&D characters tend to be heroes, as that's really the point of the game. However, as a counterexample, I've been involved in a campaign for two years where the two main PCs aren't the Conan the Barbarian type. One is a fairly ugly half-elf with a real ego problem and the other one is a dim-witted cleric who loves his god a little too much to the point of making everyone around him think he's a weirdo. Both of them held low rank in the worst company in their country's military for years in game time, and a lot of their "adventures" were doing really crappy jobs for their superiors. Once you put a player through that for a long time, any glimpse at being better than the average Joe Schmoe NPC is an awesome experience. It makes it feel like they really have "paid their dues" and as such their getting stronger is not a result of just killing random monsters for XP.

        Granted, this is an unorthodox campaign, heavy on RP and low on combat (although it does happen, and we did once have a combat that covered three sessions as there were 30 soldiers + catapults vs. 50 soldiers across two battlemats in an all-out battle scenario). We don't do XP either, the characters advance by DM fiat when it appears that they have learned enough to progress or when story considerations demand it. They started at level 1 (effectively level 0 as peasants, that level got traded in for a real class), and after 2 years real time they are finally to level 10 and are adventuring on their own. They had a lot of help along the way as there are only two players in the campaign so there are a ton of NPCs that have been effective party members over the two years. Heck, some of the NPCs have as much stake in the story as the PCs and pthe players switch off playing them at times as secondary characters. One of the original PCs died and the player took over playing one of the more interesting NPCs at that point and still uses him as his primary. You know it's a big deal when even the NPCs have their own character sheets and backstories. None of the NPCs are heroes, either, most of them were from the same military unit or in one case was a town guard captain of the dinky town by the military post that got burned to the ground after the combo of a war, orc attacks, and undead rampages took it out. He was kind of a Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry guy who had his whole life thrown upside down and has now become very bitter.

        It's a fun, different take on D&D. There are very few monsters involved, and the worst thing the players have had to confront in combat was a human army. They spend more time geting screwed over by politicians and dealing with their own personlity flaws that get them into trouble. Creativity does play a large role in it, as the players actions often determine where the story is going next. We are constrained by the world that the campaign is set in (Forgotten Realms), but that gives a good springboard for story events to occur. Somehow everything, even spontaneous stuff, always manages to mesh with the world as it exists in game materials (even the ones that hadn't come out at the time - that's the weird part, some of the stuff we thought we "invented" for the campaign has shown up in newer FR books, so we're inadvertently keeping canon). Granted all of us know FR pretty well so it would make sense that we'd take it in a similar direction as the game material writers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jdray (645332)
        While I agree that there's a certain cross-section of the role-playing geek crowd that fits your description, a lot of people (myself included) are more interested in the pure creativity involved. Most in our group like oddball characters with strange aspects to them. We're all pretty much past the self-aggrandizement among friends phase that drove us to the ends you describe.
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @11:36PM (#18438901) Homepage Journal
    Guess what causes the fires? That's right, "improving the network". What does the study show about network engineer's inability to keep their grubby paws out of things that are working perfectly fine thank you very much.
    • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @02:21AM (#18439939)
      It can also be caused by the fact that the network is flawed, and needs improving but because it can't be improved there are more "fires", and because there are more fires, there's no time to fix the network.

      E.X. if it's really easy for someone to fuck up some critical thing in the network, they will fuck it up....often. If you're constantly trying to undo every network fuckup, you don't have much time to improve the network that would prevent people from fucking it up all together.

      But here's the problem. If you stop undoing every single fuckup and just let the network remain broken for a couple days while you work on a fix for the network, your boss just thinks you're lazy and aren't doing your job.
      • by arivanov (12034) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @03:27AM (#18440219) Homepage
        Problem elsewhere.

        A simple network that is very prone to fuckup can be managed by morons. Managing it is simple procedural activity governed by work experience. By just sitting there and extinguishing fires according to instructions you gain experience which allows you to be hired elsewhere to extinguish the same fires. This is a concept UK bosses understand and cherish as 95%+ they hire solely based on experience, not skills.

        If you design a network that can take a serious beating and still function after, managing it requires qualified people with skills. It requires people who are capable and willing to understand how the system works to be able to fix it on the rear occasions where it goes wrong. These are in very short supply (and getting shorter) so you always end up facing your boss in a silly conversation along the lines of "How can we simplify this". Not surprising as he does not see "experience items" which he can hire on. He is accustomed to hiring based on "you have worked with this in Company C", you should be OK working with this here". He does not know how select the correct skills and how to hire as he is most likely a failed techie or a humanities person with an MBA and he is not willing to delegate the evaluation to techies. Further to this, he is very happy to override any technical opinion on this in the name of nepotism and politics.

        So no wander that 95% extinguish fires instead of building fireproof networks.
        • by jackbird (721605)
          Sounds like someone needs to take a couple days to write some documentation for the fantastic kludge they've put together at the office. Maybe that humanities person with an MBA can help you write it in a clear and concise manner.
      • by Kjella (173770)
        But here's the problem. If you stop undoing every single fuckup and just let the network remain broken for a couple days while you work on a fix for the network, your boss just thinks you're lazy and aren't doing your job.

        Well, almost any business I know comes to a grinding halt these days when the network is broken. Central email/calendar, central file server, central application servers and central database servers, any sort of B2B or B2C systems you run and so on means that network down equals business d
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @04:50AM (#18440581) Journal

      Guess what causes the fires? That's right, "improving the network". What does the study show about network engineer's inability to keep their grubby paws out of things that are working perfectly fine thank you very much.

      And there you have it, the much saner explanation of why people would rather stick to fighting fires than improve something: it's not lack of creativity, it's that someone will blame you if anything, no matter how unrelated, goes wrong. If there's a fire, you have your excuse. If you just tweaked the firewall on your own, and an entirely unrelated intranet (i.e., not even accessed through that firewall) server crashes, it's you who's to blame.

      And it's not just the network. There are other things that don't just work and stay working, but actually need constant monitoring and occasionally tweaking, or you _will_ get a fire. E.g., if an application server's utilization is constantly climbing, someone _should_ monitor it and notice the problem long before it becomes basically "slashdotted". If you just wait until there's a fire, and just stick to keeping your grubby paws off it until it's too late, then, frankly, you're dong a crap job. E.g., if a database is doing more full table scans than it should, then your job as a DBA should be to notice the problem long before there's a fire. Maybe the cache needs to be tweaked, or maybe the indexes or statistics need to be rebuilt, or maybe you should just notify the developpers that their SQL statements are crap. Keeping your grubby paws off it until there's a fire -- e.g., everyone's transactions start getting timeouts -- is, frankly, doing a crap job. Your job should be to help prevent the fire in the first place. And that goes for the developpers and maintenance engineers too, btw, not just the IT guys.

      Except there too you're to blame if you did anything and anything else went wrong. If you just optimized one of the company's programs or the database, you're suddenly the one to blame if anything even unrelated goes wrong. E.g., you optimized the templates for generating HTML? Congrats, now you're to blame every time the user sees an error page. Even if in reality at that time the messaging system croaked, or whatever. The question will always first be if it's your change that caused it. Sometimes even if some unrelated program running on the same server, if it happened after your deployment, the first assumption will be, basically, Post hoc ergo propter hoc [wikipedia.org]. It must be because of what you did.

      Additionally, if we're talking IT, a lot of companies have implemented a thoroughly counter-productive policy where you can't do anything without writing an invoice to someone. The mis-guided idea is to gauge the need for an IT department and make those guys justify their salary. The result invariably is that noone does anything any more unless explicitly being asked to, by someone they can get money from. Suddenly if you need, say, an Apache server, you have to personally talk to the server admins, and to the network admins, and to the MQ admins, and the Apache admins, and everything else. You can no longer talk to just one guy and have him ask the others for the details, because every single one of those guys need to justify their salaries by sending you a bill.

      At any rate, that's the end of showing any initiative or creativity right there. Why bother tweaking the database server on your own? It's outright counter-productive. It's something you could be writing a bill for, if they just wait until someone else requests it. Just stick your head in the sand until there's a fire to fight.

      Basically, blaming it on lack of creativity is somewhat missing the point.

      Some people would be creative all right, and are creative in their free time all right. They write fan stories, write their own cool programs or libraries, try to code their own game or mod, are "wizards" (coders) on some MUD, role-play, etc. They don't reall

    • by db32 (862117)
      It has been my experience that the fires frequently come from IGNORING the network engineer and management "improving" the network anyways. I was working at a university that had a very large flat class B network. They used some bizarre system of manual DHCP to manage IPs. You logged into a mainframe, entered a bunch of info about the computer, took a serial numbered sticker, entered the sticker number, the mainframe gave you the IP, and then you configured the computer with that IP and put the serial nu
  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @11:40PM (#18438943)
    I always wondered why Dispel Barriers and Dispel Creativity had the same material components.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @11:42PM (#18438959) Journal
    FTFA: Knowing this axiom of human nature, network managers can manage their team more efficiently by challenging their network engineers with more specific forward-looking issues and, more importantly, making sure they're spending an adequate amount of time focused on these initiatives. If a network manager only calls out the engineering team when there's a problem, all that manager is doing is preserving the status quo, not improving.

    I find it strange that a opinion on management problems is based on D&D, but that's just me. This didn't say anything about the problem where a network engineer sees a problem but is held back because the management can't envision the problem as a problem, never mind fixing it.

    What I see more often is groups that are having trouble keeping up with required changes (SarbOx et al) to run around making things perfect. When a problem does happen, it is put out like a fire and work shifts back to making required changes rather than trying to make sure that particular fire doesn't happen again.
    • Actually, I think the whole point was that people prefer to have channels for their creativity. I have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder, but you wise guys can rest assured I also have 1st and 2nd edition AD&D books too!), and when presented with too much room to be creative I get pulled in all directions and get nowhere. Defining a channel or breaking a task into manageable parts lets me burst free. Think of it like how the energy of a ripple in an open pond rapidly disperses, but in a channel it retains
  • Realistically (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TobyWong (168498) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @11:42PM (#18438963)
    A lot of people need to be told specifically what to do.

    Other people can work on their own provided they are provided with scope, goals, etc.

    A minority of people don't need any guidance or roadmap at all in order to do their work and inevitably they are the ones who do the most innovation because their thought process is not confined to space/boundaries defined by someone else.
    • I read this

      Other people can work on their own provided they are provided with scope, goals, etc.


      as this:

      Other people can work on their own provided they are provided with scape goats, etc.


      and I wanted to know who's been snooping around my orkplace.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aadvancedGIR (959466)
      I'd like to live in your alternative reality...

      Of course it requires great minds to innovate, but it is rare that these people really work on their own without constraints. Some of them do however, and the .com bubble gave some of them a good opportunity (a lot of available cash and everything to create from the void), but in the large majority, innovation comes from constraints, something that drives you nuts and give you a reason to concentrate your efforts on that particular scope (and/or pay people from
    • Wow. Every *single person* at the place where I work is expected to be in your minority. What's more interesting is that they are.
    • by sckeener (137243)
      A minority of people don't need any guidance or roadmap at all in order to do their work and inevitably they are the ones who do the most innovation because their thought process is not confined to space/boundaries defined by someone else.

      Everyone is confined by someone else's boundaries. If they weren't, then that would be anarchy. Boundaries are not the issue. Setting a goal and getting around boundaries is the issue or having enough boundaries to land in the goal by accident is.
  • Poetry too (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nelsonal (549144) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @11:44PM (#18438981) Journal
    Why do you think the most highly regarded poems generally are in one of the stricter poetry families (haiku, sonnets). Lots of structure, but within the structures, complete freedom to exercise creativity.
    • Lots of structure, but within the structures, complete freedom to exercise creativity.

      That's not actually true in the case of haiku, but you could probably guess that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiku [wikipedia.org]

    • by Nimey (114278)
      Don't forget limericks.

      When he tried to inject his huge whanger
      A young man aroused his girl's anger.
              As they strove in the dark
              She was heard to remark,
      "What you need is a zeppelin hangar."
      source: fortunes-off
  • When I read the title and the submitter's summary, I was expecting to read something in the lines of "Network Engineers putting fires out in D&D instead of improving their networks." But when I RTFA, I didn't even get the analogy but I know that the talking dog had eaten the troll back in that cave.
  • by Yaur (1069446) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @11:51PM (#18439049)
    "The greatest barrier to creativity is a lack of boundaries" is not really true. What they try, and fail, to get at is that being "creative" is easier the more information you have about the problem domain. In TFA they compare difficulty in "writing a story" compare to "writing a story about ...". Because the second problem gives more information about the problem. This has been well understood for a long time. In the example they give providing some information about the "problem" that needs to be solved (e.g. more redundancy? less packet loss? Reduce operating costs?) will probably give good results, not because it provides "boundaries" but because it provides "information" and changes the problem from a sythesis problem to an analysis problem. Of course creating this information in the first place is a non-trivial task.
    • by hyc (241590) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @01:36AM (#18439749) Homepage Journal
      Yes, and ... synthesis is the harder problem. In general, my experience has been "when you can do anything at all, you often stop and do nothing at all." Too much freedom brings paralysis, because you don't know what choice to make. Again, that's synthesis, creating your own agenda from zero, when you have no constraints and no direction laid out already. Being called in to fight a fire is easy, because you know the starting condition and the end goal. Looking at a well-runningsteady state environment and finding ways to improve it is hard, really hard. That's why they say "if it ain't broke don't fix it" because more often than not, you break it. It takes a really rare insight to actually improve a working system, and most people just don't get them; most people can't do real synthesis.
      • by Snocone (158524) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @10:24AM (#18442853) Homepage
        Too much freedom brings paralysis, because you don't know what choice to make.

        Interestingly enough, that's also been suggested as a reason for the radical growth behind incidence of depression in modern society. Fascinating book on it here:

        The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse [amazon.com]

        In this he attempts to explain why by any quantifiable measure any member of society at any level in the present day has more riches, more opportunities, and more career options than their counterparts had at any time in history, psychological measures keep insisting that we're more miserable; most spectacularly in the case of females, who have had their career choices open up radically since WWII and have had their incidence of clinical depression skyrocket pretty much in tandem.

        To compress an excellent book down to a sentence, your quote above basically gets it almost right. When your options are all but limitless, you can never be sure you've made the _best_ choice ... and that's where the depression comes from, your always-optimizing subconscious second-guessing yourself into a breakdown. This applies to everything from what brand of dish detergent you picked at the supermarket to your career choice.

        And therefore, we have the paradox that people are actually happier when they have a restricted option of poor choices than when they have an effectively unrestricted option of much better choices; because the first problem is optimizable, the second isn't, and our happiness apparently comes from certainty that we have optimized the available selections, not from the absolute value of the selection.
    • I would even say creativity needs a reason, since idea usually not come out of nothing. Wether you on networks, scientific theory, poetry or whatever, you only have a limited capacity of work, set of skills, knowledge and you usually have some needs that require you to sell a large proportion of those capacities.

      The Miss America contest is probably the only place you could hear so many people saying they want to cure cancer and put an end to war and starvation. Why don't everyone spend all their energy actu
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:00AM (#18439121) Homepage
    An editorial in Network Performance Daily tries to take a (1d6) stab at explaining why geeky engineering types are also typically the types that enjoy a rousing game of D&D

    Honestly. You were wondering why? Maybe because they're both geeks. Geek takes geek profession, news at 11! And D&D is to a large extent generational, anyway. Later it's the collectible card game or video game geek, and before D&D it was the, I don't know, transistor radio geek. You get my point. Not all engineers are geeks, as time goes on especially, but it takes a mentality that was often found in the, say, socially unacustomed?

    That doesn't seem to be what the article is about. It seems to be more about how you can get geeks to work better within well specified rules, with D&D as an explanation or example. Not that I really agree; the cool thing about D&D with a real DM was that you could do whatever you wanted even if the rules didn't say how. It's only computer RPGs that have rigid limitations. But it's probably good advice in general anyway, to have some well specified goals and restrictions. Goals that aren't well specified is a fun way to mess with player's heads if you're an evil dungeon master, maybe not a good way to manage.
    • It's simpler. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jd (1658) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:54AM (#18439479) Homepage Journal
      Look at what typically appears in any RPG: Tables, equations, conflicting optimizations, quotas/capacities, invariants, if/then/else structures, inventive/imaginative solutions, time-slicing between threads, a central processing unit conversing with programs (or players), etc. Do you see anything that might be familiar in any of these?

      Now look at some of the RPGs and LRPs which have failed over time. Tunnels and Trolls, for example. Treasure Trap. These are games that have far too simple a system. They lack the structure or the coherence I've outlined as existing in those games that do well.

      Some of the themed RPGs - the Dr Who RPG, for example - have not done well because there is too much structure or too great an imbalance. There's no room for optimization or one thread gets all of the useful time.

      No, a successful RPG or LRP is one that mimics the tools that every engineer - software or hardware - uses every working day, along with the same tradeoffs, the same architecture and the same flexibility. RISC-architecture games (like D&D) generally produce faster, more exciting games than those that are CISC-architectured (like Rolemaster), but each has devotees. And I'll bet almost anything that the devotee mappings are almost identical for the processor design as they are for the game design.

      To say that they are both geeks is missing something much more fundamental. I've shown that RPGs and engineering are essentially identical. What about other devotees - the DIY radio geek mentioned in the parent post, for example? Exactly the same elements are present, in exactly the same form. Instead of balancing which stat to bump up, you're balancing circuit layout vs. noise, sensitivity vs. squelch, or any number of other factors. Imaginative solutions? There are hundreds of ways to make a tuned circuit, depending on how much drift you want to allow or how exact you want the results. Tables? Well, you look up any component spec sheet and tell me what there's plenty of. There's no such thing as a 100 ohm resistor, or rather there are a few thousand, depending on the exact characteristics you are looking for.

      Oh, you'll find geeks amongst the wargamers, as well. A good game of "Squad Leader", "Britannia" or "Decline and Fall" has every bit as much mathematical elegance and logic as a finely-honed encryption library or precision-made racing engine. Again, if you look at the wargames that have done badly, you find they are mostly games with too little in them or are so heavy that they are unplayable.

      They all have exactly the same common elements and - this is the key part - they all read like a diagnostic manual for so-called Geek Syndrome. In other words, the "geeks", the games, the professions and the hobbies are not logically distinguishable. Different sides, same coin. To say that a geek is attracted to the game has no more meaning than to say that the game is attracted to the geek. It just doesn't make any sense to make that kind of distinction. It simply doesn't exist.

      • Mod jd up!

        Even at my humble level, I still lurch around the office doing version control, documenting software bugs sorted by upgrade version, typo-checking accounting data, and so on.

        Tech work requires a certain style of thinking. It makes perfect sense that to develop an instinct for manipulating fine details, a young IT trainee would ... play a game that requires an instinct for manipulating fine details.

        McDonalds is currently running what I consider to be the best example of corporate humor I have ever
      • So many of these machines are chaotic evil.
      • Re:It's simpler. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by CodeBuster (516420) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @03:39AM (#18440271)
        more exciting games than those that are CISC-architectured (like Rolemaster)

        Hehe...ah yes Rolemaster [wikipedia.org] (aka Chartmaster or Rulemonster) now that was an interesting system, exceeded perhaps only by the Hero system in its complexity. The one thing that always struck me as odd about Rolemaster was the rule concerning theoretically unlimited re-rolls of maximum individual rolls meaning that there was no upper or lower limit, at least in principle, to how well or poorly your character could roll. This led to the infamous situations where the mighty barbarian champion is felled in a single hit with a broken bottle by a very very lucky kobold. Rolemaster always struck me as being better suited to a CRPG where the complexity could be more easily managed and the true variety of the system could be better manifested in all its variations, but as a pencil paper RPG it, like the Hero system, can be very tedious to play according to the rules, whereas games like D&D sometimes fudge a bit to keep things moving along. Perhaps if I had run in a better Rolemaster campaign then I would have a better opinion of the system, but D&D always struck me as being more fun.
      • by BeerCat (685972)

        ...every engineer - software or hardware...the DIY radio geek...geeks amongst the wargamers
        Different sides, same coin.


        Or, in this case, "different sides, same d4"
      • by Kirth (183)
        D&D ain't RISC.

        The RuneQuest-Family (RuneQuest, Elfquest, Cthulhu, Ringworld) ist RISC.

        D&D exactly looks like CISC -- Not so much commands initially, but hundreds of MMX- and SSE-Extensions ;))
  • by LOTHAR, of the Hill (14645) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:03AM (#18439141)
    I"ve always wondered why so many of the people that play d&d end up as IT professionals. I don't know how popular D&D is now. When I was in uni, there were more current or former D&D players in the programming classes than not.

    D&D helped me be a better engineer by:
    1. learning and working with a complex rule set.
    2. Reading and comprehending specifications. The rulebook is several hundred pages long.
    3. Problem solving within a strict set of boundaries, both individually and as a group
    4. Failing a quest gracefully, without a hissy fit or seppeku, and without blaming the Damned Managers! (DM)

    Of course, I also found that many people like playing D&D specifically to fight about and try to break the rules. I ended up working with many of the same kinds of people.

    Maybe the manager should run his project more like a DM running a campaign. Then see how hard they work, in full costume.
    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:31AM (#18439327)

      D&D helped me be a better engineer by:
      1. learning and working with a complex rule set.
      2. Reading and comprehending specifications. The rulebook is several hundred pages long.
      3. Problem solving within a strict set of boundaries, both individually and as a group
      4. Failing a quest gracefully, without a hissy fit or seppeku, and without blaming the Damned Managers! (DM)
      5. Carrying a +5 Bastard Sword, for cutting through the red tape when it gets in your way.

      • by raehl (609729) <raehl311@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Thursday March 22, 2007 @03:43AM (#18440289) Homepage
        D&D helped me be a better engineer by:
        1. learning and working with a complex rule set.
        2. Reading and comprehending specifications. The rulebook is several hundred pages long.
        3. Problem solving within a strict set of boundaries, both individually and as a group
        4. Failing a quest gracefully, without a hissy fit or seppeku, and without blaming the Damned Managers! (DM)
        5. Carrying a +5 Bastard Sword, for cutting through the red tape when it gets in your way.

        6. Limiting time wasted talking to members of the opposing gender.

        Reminds me of an old saying:

        "D&D: Where every girl there is the hottest girl there."
      • by PMuse (320639)
        The Vorpal sword is for the red tape.
        For going postal on your pointy-haired boss, you use the Holy Avenger.

        Every half-way competent Fighter 8 knows the value of using the right weapon for the job.
        • The Vorpal sword is for the red tape.
          For going postal on your pointy-haired boss, you use the Holy Avenger.
          I thought that's what the "bastard" sword was for.
  • This guy is pretty dead on. I laugh at when I hear the phrase "Think outside the box". Any hack can do that, but in the end all you get is garbage because they were preoccupied with the box and how to avoid it. A true innovator comes up with a whole new box to think inside of. Here http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=mtgcom/daily / mr66 [wizards.com] is another excelent artical along the same lines by Marc Rosewater of Wizards of the Coast.
    • Or as Robert Heinlein put it, "3 perfectly parallel lines forming a perfect square with 7 triangular sides".

      (One of you Geometry experts, help me here: what marvels are possible in Non-Euclidian Sphere geometry?)

      I'll vote for Taco Bell, "Think Outside the Bun".
      They have developed the best spread of creations I have ever seen for a fast food chain. Then they're usually accomodating when I come up with my own spin, like adding the second tortilla shell to the base so the whole thing doesn't cave and drop 2.7
    • by Stevecrox (962208)
      People often remark that my first ideas are "out of the box", often their exactly whats needed in a solution but I too think terms like "out of the box" or "inventing a new box". There terms made to make people be proactive and think their speacial nothing more. "Out of the Box" thinkers tend to think laterally and are far more objective, "Inventing a new box" people tend to be people who don't like the status quo so decide that they need to do something better.

      At the end of the day this article is garbage,
  • Until a level 21 Middle-Manager cast a spell of unemployment on me.

    I tried to beg the level 27 Vice-President of IT and the level 35 CEO to help me, but like the level 21 Middle-Manager their alignment was also chaotic evil so they cast a spell of disability and a spell of career-ruining on me instead.

    Faced with serious mental and physical illnesses, I became a level 1 disabled person, but kept all of my Programmer/Analyst feats and skills, but I just couldn't use them for employment any more.
  • I'll tell you why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thaelon (250687) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:13AM (#18439213)
    Because in spite of being among the more intelligent and logical bunch, you'll find few who wish harder that magic was real. And we know better than most that it isn't. The game is a chance to step out of reality for a while and flesh out what we imagine it could be like.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by weicco (645927)
      But it is! I cast a killing cloud from time to time and every time my coworkers caughs with nausea! I'm also pretty good at casting invisibility and leaving work early...
    • by Jearil (154455)
      Which is an interesting point on why they might be in IT in the first place.

      In one light, technology is our way of creating "magic". The whole idea of computers, the internet, robotics.. etc, would all be looked at as magic a few centuries ago. Even today, a lot of people have no idea how most of this stuff works and it may as well be magic to them. There's that line, can't remember who stated it: "Any significantly advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Or something like that.

      So in a way, I
  • by swordgeek (112599) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:29AM (#18439309) Journal
    I read the article, and I've also been peripherally involved with NetQoS' products. Although the premise is fairly straightforward and mostly correct, he makes some insane extrapolations.

    Good network engineers, sysadmins, infrastructure support folks, and so forth, don't avoid improving their environments. They usually don't have time to do so, because any down-time from disasters is considered wasteful. In the rare event of time to work on stuff, they're generally so burnt out they don't have time. After nonstop hours (or days!) of fixing emergencies, they often barely have enough energy to slump into their chairs, let alone improve the landscape. Basically, they don't have the time or energy to reduce their workload, except when opportunity presents itself.

    Now bad network engineers (etc.) have another problem, and that problem is called tunnel vision. They're incapable of seeing anything other than the immediate task in front of them, so even when the opportunity comes up to truly solve a problem, they duct-tape the broken symptom for the umpteenth time, and end up creating even MORE work for themselves. (And for the rest of their team, not to mention giving users an unrealistic expectation of service.)

    In come the productivity enhancing solutions. "Our product will reduce these six disparate reactive monitoring tasks you do now into a single proactive tool." There's a good chance that it will actually do what it says, but only after a test phase, approval, design, rollout (including installing clients on all 400 of your servers), and then tuning. For a medium-to-large scale environment, I'd throw out a rough guess of 9 months, consuming an average of 1/3 of an engineer's time. Given that you're looking at a group of probably 4 people for that environment, that's not insignificant. Still, the company takes a look at it--they bring in a box to build a limited-scope test, and look at it for a few weeks. Those weeks turn into a month and change, and the group realises that the tuning will take a LOT of time afterwards (because extensive tuning isn't part of the proposed rollout scope or timeframe), and ultimately decides to say no.

    The vendor's conclusion: These guys would rather put out fires than solve problems.

    Not to say that the connection between D&D and IT is invalid, but the firefighting/systemic improvement argument is total crap.
  • I mean, what SysAdmin hasn't wanted to cast Magic Missle at a few lusers now and then?
  • "Okay. Try telling a story about a talking dog and a troll that live together in a cave.
    That's a little easier, isn't it?
    The more limitations that are given - boundaries or obstacles - the more the brain works to be creative."

    Oh, dear. Another techy nerd who thinks they understand how humans 'think' but really doesn't..
    Creativity is NOT the ability for your brain to pattern match a couple of ideas and recall related information , which is what the example above suggests.
    The reasons the above task seems easi
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mandelbr0t (1015855)

      Creativity is about new ideas and concepts that didn't exist before and actually making them happen.

      While I agree with you that creativity specifically refers to creating original thoughts, ideas, literature, "content", etc., there's a fine line between outright original creativity and synthesis. If you push the line too far in the fascist "that's not an original idea" direction, then you end up claiming that the first human to fluently speak a language is responsible for all original thought. Clearly that's absurd.

      Synthesis is about "remixing" (a good term since that's what many electronic musicians/tec

  • Real geeks play AD&D. Furthermore we laugh at those who don't still refer to their 1ST EDITION Unearthed Arcana.
  • by BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:37AM (#18439365) Journal
    Because if you hear voices in real life, it freaks people out. But if you say you hear them during the game, people assume it's normal.

    Seriously: Geeks love stuffing their brains full of obscure facts and extracting them to demonstrate their vast mental superiority. Whether it's from a VAX VMS manual (which is actually worse than hearing voices in your head) or from the Dungeons and Dragons DM's Manual, it impresses others. Not ladies unfortunately, but it will impress other nerds. This is called "The Force Dot Net Syndrome" or "I can't win at the Jocks games so I will invent my own"

    I'd love to play D&D, but have you seen those manuals. There are three thick core rulebooks, plus a zillion extra rulebooks and appenpums and addendiums. In a cave? Get the Wilderness Guide. A magical portal opens? Quick! The Planes Guide. It'd be a nice idea if they could describe the whole game in 32 pages, but there must be over a hundred tomes of 'essential' information.

    Fortunately Blizzard, Mastercard and Peter Jackson have since invented things for those of us who can't be bothered reading.
  • This is much like the theory of art that motivated that french dude (forget his name) to write the whole book without using the letter e. His theory was something like artistic value came from dealing with boundaries and conditions.

    By the way if anyone doubts that boundaries and requirements often make a problem more difficult to solve just consider problems in CS or mathematics. Frequently the right solutions come from solving special cases that add more constraints to the problem and then generalizing.
  • Made me think of Sourcemage Linux, which is what you get when you cross fantasy role playing with the challenges, thrills, and limitations of Gentoo Linux. Nothing like casting a spell that takes 20 hours to complete, and having it fail 15 hours into the effort because a material component could not be found.
  • Something Else Too. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PixieDust (971386) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @12:50AM (#18439453)
    It seems that a great deal of IT oriented people (at least of those I've known) aren't always the best at being outgoing and aren't always the type to make friends, or meet people easily. I think that's also part of the appeal of things like D&D. It's engaging, imaginative, and, well would YOU walk into a bar and start up a bar fight just to distract everyone from the big heist you're working on, or to escape out the back with the town gaurds (read: police) right on your heels? Probably not.

    D&D, and games like it, allow you to become someone else entirely. It's been my experience that people tend to choose characters that fit into one of two groups. A. Someone who is their polar opposite (it's fun to do things YOU would never do, and not really have to worry about the consequences) or B. Someone very close to themselves. The "B" characters are not necessarily less imaginative, as it still allows the player a great deal of liberty, while being enjoyable and able to 'stick close to home'. For example, one might play a character who is super intelligent, possibly pretty wise, but lacks much physical strength and dexterity. The punchline? The character is a Fighter. Or perhaps a Mage with great physical prowess, but a few fries short of a Happy Meal. These types of characters are often the most fun to play, because they make for some rather interesting situations down the road.

    In the world of anal retentive ACLs, Stack Dumps, tedious reports, and just plain dumb users, who wouldn't want to just occasionally fantasize about swinging around a 6' sword and lopping someone's head off, or blasting someone into charred oblivion?

    • by Arimus (198136)

      "In the world of anal retentive ACLs, Stack Dumps, tedious reports, and just plain dumb users, who wouldn't want to just occasionally fantasize about swinging around a 6' sword and lopping someone's head off, or blasting someone into charred oblivion?"

      Every time I have to sit through a tedious programme review meeting - or indeed any meeting with programme mis^H^H^Hmanagement.

    • by dkf (304284)

      In the world of anal retentive ACLs, Stack Dumps, tedious reports, and just plain dumb users, who wouldn't want to just occasionally fantasize about swinging around a 6' sword and lopping someone's head off, or blasting someone into charred oblivion?
      Fantasize? Who said anything about only fantasizing about them?
  • This is why I'm a troubleshooter [wikipedia.org]!
    • by Drantin (569921)
      Let us work together to rid the system of the evil mutant commie traitors. For Friend Computer!
  • Or he might let you have it with his magic missile!

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4254869577 145802341 [google.com]
  • But I still think it's because my damn cell phone keeps ringing.
  • d4 (Score:2, Informative)

    by gs2 (515112)
    I don't think that article is long enough to be worth a d6 dagger... Medium sized daggers are d4.

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