Unexpected nuance

| Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Alternate title: Why is something so simple so complex?

Recently I was touching up the paint on a door. As I looked at the door I realized: painting doors is more complex than it would appear at first. At first glance you'd think to just put some paint on a brush, smear on door, repeat until door is the desired color.

The door appeared to have been done with this method. It looked like shit.

Instead, it is best to paint with a pattern. Do the inset portions first loading up a lot of paint and spreading it (this is faster than dabbing little bits at a time). Where it spills out of there, spread it out so it doesn't build up. Get drips and any pools in the corners and spread those. Then follow the direction of the wood. I tend to go horizontal first. That way the vertical sides can be used to redirect any overlap paint from the horizontal parts, in the correct direction.

This process is a bit slower, but it makes the paint much less chaotic in appearance and minimizes the effect of the hairs of the brush.

Who would think of this? I'd guess not many people. It's a fucking door, not a mentally engaging process. The people are not stupid, overall; though in this particular instance they might be. Instead they just don't imagine that a simple task might not be perfectly straightforward.

Could this happen in WoW as well? I suspect it does, and accounts for a lot of apparently stupid players. It's a game, how complex could it be? Once you know the steps, really not very. But who would bother to learn the steps? It's a door, it's a game; why do I need to paint in a direction or use a rotation of runes and abilities? "It's just a game!" they insist. And of course they're right.

Yet it remains that no matter their intellect or ability, their inability to imagine the improvement of mundane tasks is holding them back. And affecting others.

I care how my doors look. They're going to be in someone's house, seen every day, possibly not repainted for 1, 5, 10, 20 years. That door better look good, or I'm really fucking someone over. I get paid either way. But I feel better if I know I've done a good job and made a life ever so slightly better. Are raids all that different? It's another mundane task, a seemingly trivial one, which done poorly will negatively effect dozens of other people.

I'm not advocating min-maxing every detail of your character. Diminishing returns set in and it ceases to be worth the time spent. To return to the paint analogy, if it's a wall, there's no point at all in going right down to the cabinets. They won't be seen and the point of the paint is for appearance; unseen paint is wasted paint. Of course you can see it if you get on a ladder and look up there, but why are they looking up there? It's not worth the paint to appease the ladder people. Similarly, I'm not in favor of spending every last piece of gold on crafted gear for marginal upgrades. I did buy some expensive boots, but only because I was still in Ulduar leather boots and my DKP wasn't favorable to getting an upgrade any time soon.

Learn your paint rotation and your DPS rotation. It's worth seeing the overall effect afterward.


Quicksilver said...

The population of the game is largely heterogeneous. From the true passionate gamer(usually a pvp-er), to the raiders to those who play just because their friends play and the socials who use the game only as an extended version of facebook, you have it all, everyone together in the same pot.

Someone who goes: "Its just a game", is certainly not a gamer. Meaning that his priorities are different, even in game. A gamer by definition gets his kicks out of beating the challenges of the game. Therefore someone who likes min-maxing.

The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the two groups need to be separated. That way each can emphasize exactly on the aspects they are enjoying in the game.

Anonymous said...

Would your technique change if you were paid individually for each door you painted compared to being paid by the hour?

In Azeroth we are paid emblems for each heroic dungeon we complete. I believe this encourages players to rush through, choosing the quickest and easiest way to get our rewards and to resent those people who slow us down.

Anonymous said...

"The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the two groups need to be separated."

I agree completely. The issue though, is that the "It's just a game" group needs the min-maxers to get through content.

The result is that the "It's just a game" people aren't honest. They lie about their abilities to themselves to justify grouping with the actual gamers.

Back to the door analog. Yeah, there's a specific technique to it. Can you even IMAGINE getting paid full rate even if the door looks like shit because "You just need a better paintbrush?"

kaozz said...

Interesting analogy. Keep in mind over half of the games population would call the door a newb and rush to paint it as fast as they could.

Klepsacovic said...

@Okrane S: I consider myself a gamer (though limited to WoW due to cheapness) and I still will at times say "It's just a game." Of course it's circumstance that matters when saying that.

@Anonymous: The analogy is difficult to translate in that way because the quality of the door goes slightly in opposition to the speed of it; whereas in heroics there's pretty much nothing but speed. If I'd only mentioned the paint dumping and spreading technique as a speed boost, then it would be easier to build upon.

@Anonymous2: The difficulty of content is arbitrary; without the 'hardcores', there might just be easier content.

I cannot imagine it, but only because I'd demand a better paint brush if it wasn't capable of painting well. Nevertheless, skill > paintbrush. :P

@kaozz: And if the homeowner never bothered to call them out on it, they'd be acting rationally, though perhaps not ethically.

Anonymous said...

I like the door analogy too.. I really had no idea once - didn't have access to the right information when I found it - I learned how to think the right way - its changed my approach completely. Funnily enough it had to come from a stranger rather then a guildy, and he probably only showed interest because I was a girl.
But I do think delivery on getting people to improve on mundane tasks is just as important as what your telling them. The truely stupid are the ones that don't know they are.

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