Donnerstag, 22. April 2010

Sacrificing Greece to avoid Nazis

Everyone knows that history repeats itself. Nevertheless I was shocked how I didn't allow myself to recognise the similarity of the current actions to those at the dawn of National-socialism in the 1930's, until Starbatty threatend to take legal actions against Europe's rescue plan for Greece.

World of Warcraft Economies explaining Greek Financial Crisis

Sometimes I find it easier, to bring things down to an simple example, if they start getting complicated.
To understand the current problem, I imagine Greece as a World of Warcraft Server. Phoney, a well respected and beloved Gnome, is the Leader of that World. Since he likes the Server-Population, and found out, that they would prefer to do exciting things instead of boring grind, he decided to increase the money rewarded for accomplishing Quests.
The inhabitants are rather sunshiny about their new won fortune and spend the gold on expensive Cloth respectively Armor and Status Objects like Flying Ponies and exclusive Mounts.

Phoney's WoW economy is financed by the income his Server get's from Repairing Costs. The money he receives from repairs stays relatively stable, however people start avoiding repairs by using expensive Heirlooms that don't require any repairs at all. Since Phoney needs the income from repairs to finance Quest rewards and to maintain his World, which is constantly being damaged by its Inhabitants having fun (A look on the Party zone Wintergrasp gives you an idea how much money he has to pay to gnomish engineers and human masons.), he finds himself in the position where his costs exceed his income.

A Chinese Farmer Goblin, offers Phoney credit to finance the expensive Quest rewards.
Used to high rewards, Phoneys Inhabitants ask for more Quests, forcing Phoney to introduce Argent Tournaments, which are expensive and offer higher Rewards again.
With the credit cycle, speeding up, Phoney recognises, that he can't even pay his rates to the Gold Farmers, and starts asking for credit to pay his debtors.

Teflon an extremely greedy Goblin, decides to make his profit now, asking Phoney to give him his money back. Since Phoney has no money at all, the Goblins doubting, that he will ever get his money back.
The news of Phoney not being able to pay his depths, makes it round, and the Farming Goblins suddenly ask for higher rates.

With his back against the wall, Phoney decides that it's time now to reduce his costs. In order to do so, he reduces the rewards on Quests drastically. As a result, the inhabitants start rioting and going on strike.

No bail out

At this point we leave Phoney and return to Greece.
Our gnomish example didn't contain any illegal examples, as Greece is accused to have taken illegal actions, because I'm not going to judge on this. As a matter of fact, every Nation is having shady deals to finance itself.

As you know, Greece is part of the European Currency Union. This Union contains the Verbot to pay for each others debths.
In an attempt to outmaneuver this Verbot called "no bail out", the Euro-Union decided to give Greece Credit, in case the financial market is not willing to do so.
Which is in fact a bail out, but to make it pass jurisdiction they said, it wouldn't be a guarantee.

History returns

When Starbatty announced that he would take legal actions against Germany's agreement to Greece bail out, it was like somebody finally mentioned what national consciousness had on its mind, but was to afraid to recognise.

One name he mentioned was enough, to bring the whole Nation into alarm: Brüning.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, is exactly doing what Brüning did in the 1930's and which opened the way for the Nazis Reign.

Although the Greeks behave very reasonable when tightening their belt, their whole economy is based on consumption. Instead of investing in production, they preferred to buy premium cars from Germany. With that in mind, if you cut down the salaries, the Greeks will spend less money. If the supermarkets, cinemas, stores etc sell less, they will fire employees. Unemployment will be the result. Unemployed people don't pay taxes, making the situation worse, since the public sector is the biggest employer in Greece.

Brüning did the same in 1930. He reduced the state's costs, which lead to mass unemployment and frustration in the lower and middle class.
When you are facing poverty or are living in poverty, you are very vulnerable for radicals. As long as they promise to improve your situation, you will believe in anything they say.

The Hellenes will definitely not become Nazis, they are a historically a mix from different tribes and nations. But they will surely show radicalisation, at least against Europe or Germany.

Sacrificing Greece by kicking them out of the Euro

The only chance left for Greece is leaving the Euro Zone and negotiating quotes with it's debtors.
This means, the debtors will lose half of his investments, which is why they won't like it.
Returning to their old currency, Greece will use inflation to become attractive for investors and to sell it's products.
For instance, Greece's biggest export is Tourism. If its exchange rates are more attractive for Euros and Dollars, say a Beer costs 2 drachma, but 2 drachma just cost one Dollar or Euro, a beer will essentially be 1 Euro/ Dollar for you. In this case, you might think about visiting Hellas rich culture.
However this return to a healthy economy by avoiding depression comes at the cost of setting back the dream of a united Europe.

Mittwoch, 21. April 2010

Social Adjustment

Playing Online Games for years, I have never been overly communicative or interested in contacts. I love good company, but I’m easily distracted from following chats, besides public chat usually turns me away from being interested in the community.
With that said, one should think that I never made any good contacts in Online Games, while the contrary is true.

The people I met in online games kept me in those games, even if the game itself already lost its attraction for me. Besides I have met most of them personally, and whenever a game catches my attention, I look for these fellows.
It’s a loose but yet familiar contact, that goes far beyond the regular clan or guild mentality, that is strictly reduced to the game. You can easily differentiate mates from “guild-NPCs”, by asking yourself, if you have anything to talk about with them - besides the game.

They are not close friends, but everyone for himself, a little highlight in the fast-paced online world. Whenever I read the public or PUG chat, I ask myself, how I managed to find those people in the sheer mass of grouching, complaining and simply weird people around us.

First of all, its probably because, reasonable people are not as noisy as idiots, and therefore the number of reasonable people is actually bigger than it appears.
Secondly, my feelings towards strange online behaviour, are not unique. Everyone complains about bad language or careless behaviour, and made his own bad experience. But the most obvious point is, that even if we are normally nice and courteous, we have met so many idiots in the net, that we suspect every stranger to be a potential idiot and treat him that way.

The funny thing, is that we actually have a more enjoyable online experience if we leave our doubts and prejudices behind us, even if we see them justified during our next contact.
If you browse through the Blogs and Forums, you will find endless stories of how bad or plain stupid people in a PUG behaved themselves. Everyone has made his own bitter experiences in this field. But if it comes to contacts, we must consider, that everyone is a stranger to everybody. The bad player, considers me as a typical PUG, although I might be better than him, and haven’t acted yet. This gets even worse, when the “earn your respect first” attitude comes into play. Because of the totally random nature of our contacts, we don’t have time for that. Besides its not a very mature behaviour, because should treat people with respect, until they lost that respect.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not very communicative in Online games, also due to the fact, that I play alongside my girlfriend while we talk. Therefore I wouldn’t expect a stranger to consider me sympathetic person. Of course, I try to be polite, but nothing that would make me stay in your

The sad thing, is that this absolutely basic and charm-free way of communication is enough, to attract other normal people.
It may sound unbelievable, but I have never made bad experiences with any group or war band that I ever founded in years.
That’s definitely not because of my nature, since I haven’t shown any of that. It’s simply because we react the way we get treated.

And we feel attracted to the way we would act. For Instance, I use complete sentences when asking around for volunteers. People who like regular speech instead of L33d answer to my request, while the L33d answers to l33d requests.

We had a very pleasant Raid yesterday evening, when we decided to give ICC 10 with some pick ups a try.
As you probably found out yourself by hard, the quality of applicants for a raid spot reduces drastically towards raid reset. Those geniuses that had been avoided by other raids throughout the week, see their chance, to join a desperate raid on Thursday evening, who hasn’t any alternatives to fill the last slot.
At least, that was, what we had expected. In the end, our “PUGs” turned out to be, motivated, prepared, willing to pass on items and in every as good as one could wish.
We advanced to the sixth boss Rotface very fast and wiped for about one hour, without one single complaint. At the end, everyone agreed, that we enjoyed the time.

At the end, that’s all about in online games: spending a decent time together.

Aircraft Carrier Tours

The last week has been quiet entertaining if you were not affected by the Europe’s aircraft grounding.
Media has been full of reports about tourists stranded on their vacation and Britain definitely won the price for the most dramatic way to “rescue” its habitants from vacation.
A lot of British tourist couldn’t afford the passage from Calais to Dover and in an brilliant reflection of their marine history, the send an military aircraft carrier to bring their townsfolk home. It was particular amusing to see sunburn Brits (British tourists are a species on their own, as well as German-, Scandinavian- and in nowadays Russian-Tourists) as a replacement for heavy armory.

Besides showing us, how depend on airplanes for personal transport we are, it became obvious how many goods are transported via airplane, that you wouldn’t think of.
Who would think that a pound of strawberries, that sells for a price of 2 Euros, justifies sending a plane from Israel to Northern Europe, just to enabling us to eat strawberries throughout the year.

Although I try to avoid imported or out of season fruits and vegetables, because they simply don’t taste, I was quiet surprise how many people lost their feeling for seasonable goods.
In our canteen and in the tram, people were complaining about the ridiculous prices for cape gooseberry and dragon fruit, as if it was an regular good in Europe.

From my opinion we do import far to much groceries at too cheap prices. Having access to out of season grocery is fine, especially in the winter month, but in most cases alternatives exist, but we insist on having asparagus throughout the year.

I have a similar feeling when I order a bottle of table water in a restaurant. Usually the waiter tries to convince me to take an San Pellegrino or similar water, using a light mineralisation being more suitable for the wine, as an excuse to sell an expensive water. At that point, I just order a local mineral water. The reason is not, just that I don’t like to spend the doubled price, it’s also that I don’t understand why water – a resource that we have in all qualities in place – needs to be carried through Europe and across the alps.
There has been a convincing image in the media, showing a bottle of water which contained a certain amount of mineral oil, to display the energy need for the transport.

Fortunately it looks like the trend is turning around now. People seem to actively look for local products now. The racks in supermarkets show more regional groceries than they did two years ago.

Dienstag, 20. April 2010

Kafkas Curse

What I fail to understand is why intelligent and reasonable people , tend to defend themselves when they are confronted with absolutely inappropriate behaviour or unjustified accusations. A lot of blog articles from authors I do admire, deal with situations in which they were confronted with plain idiots.
Usually they end up writing articles like lawbook or social behaviour studies, to justify their behaviour, as if they would seek for reception of us readers to tell them, that hey are indeed right. While in fact, there is no doubt about the fact, that they are right.

I called it Kafkas Curse, because I had a similar feeling, when I was forced to read Kafka. Kafka used to write a story every evening, most of these stories dealt with situations he had gone through during his day. Although I would never dare to say, that those bloggers have a similar Kafkaesque feeling, they share the aspect of uncertainty about their behaviour.

Today Tamarinds Idiot Incident is a good example. Tamarind joined a dungeon group where someone complained, about not being healed to full health in a hectic situation. Since the complainer was able to heal himself, his complaint was not justified in any way.

The idiot started arguing that Tamarind wasn’t taking the healers role serious, what actually made Tamarind writing a brilliant article about social demands on a job, which raised the usual question in me, why someone with such bright writing skills, is such a poor and easy inflammable chatter…

That guy was very likely bored and tried to excites Tamarind.
Another possibility could be, that he was just trying to learn roles and his defensive mechanisms went up, because he saw a threat to the way he considered roles to be done.
A hint that he was learning his roles could be, that he mentioned to heal everybody when he was on his Healer. Since his actual character was capable of healing himself and even other, it implemented that he ignored that aspect, probably because he wasn’t still feeling comfortable in the DDs role.
Learning different roles enables us to move freely between those. When you try to find your role, you usually stick with it as close as possible until you feel yourself comfortable enough to move out of it. That's what happened with that Kid, he was still in the situation were he needed to separate those roles, and confronted Tamarind.

The Kids reaction is similar to those finding their sexual identity according to Freud. Someone with a set sexual identity will very likely be able to make jokes about himself being of a different orientation for instance. While somebody who desperately tries to avoid anything that could somehow imply he has another orientation is probably still trying to convince himself.

Leaving our Freund Freud behind and looking back at Tamarinds justification, it still misses the most relevant fact: because common sense makes looking for yourself imperative.

With all that said, the best answers to this problem were given by a colleague and my girlfriend.

“Never argue with idiots, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with their experience.”
“The tragedy of life is, that the wise are full of doubts, while the ignorants are totally convinced.”

The concrete shoes phenomenon

One of the things that always astonishes me is the how careless people seem to be about who is lending them money or to whom they give their money.
If your bank publishes a profit of 20% in its annual report, you probably start to think if the fees or rates they charge you are to expensive. On the other hand, you might come to a different conclusion if shares of said bank are part of your pension fund. So somehow we are all driven into
the mad hunt for high rates.

In order to make profit, somebody else must actually pay more than your costs. With that said, profit comes at the cost of overreaching somebody else. Of course we agree that we have to pay more money to someone who risks his money.

Nobody is surprised if in a gangster film, the poor debtor ends in concrete shoes when he fails to pay his instalments. In those films, the victim is either in the desperate need of money which nobody else wanted to give him or he was somehow seduced by giving him the money without a lengthyprocedure.
Common sense keeps us away from accepting such deals and makes us sceptic if terms are too good to be true.

One should expect that due to customer freedom, those companies who are a bit too greedy would be avoided by customers, while the contrary is the case.

The big and the bad

In nearly every market, profit oriented and non-profit oriented companies do exist. Of course the non-profit oriented companies, do operate on profit, but the profit is usually smaller and the money earned flows to the producer, while profit is reinvested to finance new products.
As a matter of fact, non-profit organisations usually have a much smaller monetary market share, than profit oriented companies. Which is caused by the fact, that market shares are usually measured in your earnings, not number of customers.

Like our Mafia guys, profit oriented companies are usually pro-active. They offer their services when we probably haven’t thought of using them. Once we have accepted, we might not seek better conditions, so they are using our comforts to their advantage.

The shy nerd and the smart investor

Developing a video game these days, requires large investments. Surprisingly the market nearly consists out of profit oriented companies, with only a few non-profit oriented teams in the independent scene.
Considering that developers are artist, one would think that they wouldn’t be too happy about customising their work to the needs of greedy shareholders.
So why aren’t there any non-profit founders in that market?
Simply because their two worlds don’t have a intersection.

Of course developers are no “shy nerds”, but they tend to stay in their scene. This Scene however is occupied by Publisher and profit oriented companies. So whenever they search for investors, they end up in the profit oriented market.

Giving Games back a bit of it innocence

Most non-profit companies, are charged to provide access to markets with high entry barriers. So giving access to a group of developers to the cost-intensive video industry would be a designated task for most of these companies.
To illustrate the current situation a bit drastically. The developers do the work, and the publisher makes the profit. In many cases the publisher even influences the developers work, to increase his own profit margine.

The problem is however that developers rarely get into contact with the non-profit market, and therefore the market hasn’t developed any recognisable capacities in this field.
When I talked to some IT Risk auditors I learned that they mostly deal with Business Software and that the contacts were established through their in-house IT department.

In comparison to older industries like the automobile industry, video games industry is quiet young so it will be interesting to see the product from non-profit backed up developers.

My complaint

Although financing is not my field, I have been invited to various factory tours, from Airbus to breweries, but I have never been invited to a video games studio. Perhaps that would be a start.