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Dungeons & Dragons and IT

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the expedition-to-the-barrier-peaks dept.

Role Playing (Games) 243

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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O RLY? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18438849)

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

I have found it to be false.

Re:O RLY? (5, Insightful)

c3ph45 (911279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18438879)

Pushing the envelope is really what creativity is all about, or at least it's a driving force for many people. No boundaries == no envelope && no envelope == lack of purpose.

We wouldn't have to put out as many fires... (5, Funny)

LordEd (840443) | more than 7 years ago | (#18438853)

... if somebody would please take their dragon and keep it outside where it belongs!

Re:We wouldn't have to put out as many fires... (0, Redundant)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18438967)

But... I wanna cast MAGIC MISSILE!

ATTN: Windows/Linux refugees! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18438987)

The only thing more pathetic than a PC user is a PC user trying to be a Mac user. We have a name for you people: switcheurs.

There's a good reason for your vexation at the Mac's user interface: You don't speak its language. Remember that the Mac was designed by artists [atspace.com] , for artists [atspace.com] , be they poets [atspace.com] , musicians [atspace.com] , or avant-garde mathematicians [atspace.com] . A shiny new Mac can introduce your frathouse hovel to a modicum of good taste, but it can't make Mac users out of dweebs [atspace.com] and squares [atspace.com] like you.

So don't force what doesn't come naturally. You'll be much happier if you stick to an OS that suits your personality. And you'll be doing the rest of us a favor, too; you leave Macs to Mac users, and we'll leave beige to you.

Re:ATTN: Windows/Linux refugees! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18439771)

The only thing more pathetic than a Mac user is a Mac user trying to convince the rest of the world he doesn't like taking it in the ass from other art-faggoty pretty boys.

Hmm.... (1, Flamebait)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18438993)

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.

Re:Hmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18440153)

Yeah, but... better... for... whom?

Re:We wouldn't have to put out as many fires... (5, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#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!

Re:We wouldn't have to put out as many fires... (4, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439059)

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.

Re:We wouldn't have to put out as many fires... (4, Funny)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18440149)

You are obviously working with the Asian countries. Switch to Eastern Europe for outsourcing will solve your problem.

There, you can get both stunning blonds and werewolves in IT. Whichever you prefer.

Re:We wouldn't have to put out as many fires... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18440263)

LMAO, someone please mod parent funny :D

Re:We wouldn't have to put out as many fires... (1)

jinxidoru (743428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439951)

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 investment for your time.

Re:We wouldn't have to put out as many fires... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18440003)

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.
That is not a very wise idea. What if it is a magical fire that causes 10d6 damage per round and spawns fire salamanders? That's why I always put out a fire when I see it. You never know!

So, uhh.. (1)

ari wins (1016630) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439969)

Can we now officially replace the overworked car analogy with ones from D&D?

I for one welcome our new sword-wielding, spell-slinging, trap removing IT overlords.

Wait...? (3, Funny)

The Orange Mage (1057436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18438869)

If IT guys are the pen & paper RPG guys, what profession are those LARPers (Live Action Role-Players) belong to?

Re:Wait...? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18438887)

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:Wait...? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18439043)

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:Wait...? (3, Insightful)

norton_I (64015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439443)

Computer games aren't role playing, despite any rumors to the contrary in the genere title.

Re:Wait...? (1)

blackicye (760472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18440273)

Arguably with MMOs the gap is closing.

Whilst still not PnP, Neverwinter nights came close.

Re:Wait...? (1)

RSKennan (835119) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439587)

You're looking at it backwards- There are more IT people than there are D&D players, but more IT players are D&D players than just about any other profession aside from game designers themselves. In fact, in my last game group, I was the only one who didn't work in some form of IT until the very end of my time with them. We had a credit union guy, two low-level guys,and even a NASDAQ guy for a while. When we got more players it evened out a bit, with a middle management guy, an insurance guy, and a 3d artist. Me, I'm the game designer.

Re:Wait...? (0, Troll)

Misanthrope (49269) | more than 7 years ago | (#18438919)

In my experience, they're more than likely psychologists, or the children of psychologists.

Re:Wait...? (4, Informative)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439109)

Technical support - and no I'm not kidding.

Re:Wait...? (1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439349)

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...? (4, Funny)

subl33t (739983) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439409)

They eventually become mimes.
Sad but true.

Re:Wait...? (1)

Crunchie Frog (791929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439563)

You, sir, made me rofl

Re:Wait...? (1)

SpectreHiro (961765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439431)

Cape salesman? ;)

Re:Wait...? (2, Funny)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439551)

USMC.

Giant In The Park (5, Informative)

Krishnoid (984597) | more than 7 years ago | (#18438893)

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.

Re:Giant In The Playground* (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18439287)

[see subject]

Putting out fires vs "impoving the network" (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18438901)

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.

Re:Putting out fires vs "improving the network" (3, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Putting out fires vs "improving the network" (4, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18440219)

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.

Hmmm... (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#18438943)

I always wondered why Dispel Barriers and Dispel Creativity had the same material components.

Re:Hmmm... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18439321)

I shit my pants at school once. Plus it was really hot out and I started to sweat. I'm 18 years old and I'm 277lbs so I sweat really easily. Plus my face is greasy and I have man tits. And I wear lame clothes that make me look like a loser. Anyway I was sitting next to this really hot chick when I was trying to squeeze my ass cheeks together to try not to fart. I didn't have the strength to hold it. But it wasn't a fart that came out. It was warm shit butter. And it went all over my briefs. I couldn't move. Every time I went to shift my ass I felt the steaming pile press against my butt flesh. I started to notice a smell right away. I knew for sure the girl next to me did too. I kept eyeing her and I noticed that she was making strange facial expressions, as if she was smelling something bad. When class was over and I stood up, I had the uncomfortable and nerve tensing feeling of shit in my pants. I could swear that when I was walking, some of the shit dripped up my baggy jeans and up my legs. Oh God it just happened last week. I hate myself. Everyone hates me. I smelled like shit through out the entire day. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself.

Bad Manager != uncreative IT workers (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18438959)

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.

Realistically (5, Insightful)

TobyWong (168498) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Realistically (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 7 years ago | (#18440207)

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.

d&d + iron maiden? (0, Offtopic)

mrcdeckard (810717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18438965)


to go with the earlier story, i have fond memories of playing dungeons and dragons and listening to iron maiden. of course, i stopped such sociopathic behavior by the time i was 12.

mr c

Re:d&d + iron maiden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18439625)

How about trolling slashdot? That gonna stop anytime soon?

Oh give me a break (-1, Flamebait)

realmolo (574068) | more than 7 years ago | (#18438975)

Attention all D&D players who think that they are better than the rest of us:

You're not. D&D is *stupid*. It's the world's most anti-social social activity. Get a gym membership. Get a girlfriend. Get a hobby that doesn't involve playing fucking PRETEND. You're an adult for Christ's sake.

Re:Oh give me a break (2, Funny)

MoodyLoner (76734) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439037)

My wife and daughter are laughing at you. If I remember, we'll show your post to the rest of our gaming group, and they'll laugh at you too.

Me, I don't have time - I'm working on feat selection for my third-level warlock.

Re:Oh give me a break (0, Flamebait)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439319)

Feats, damn third edition panzy. Oh wait, they tried hiding the third edition thing about third edition and just started calling it AD&D again.

First edition AD&D is what the real men play.

Re:Oh give me a break (1)

rekenner (849871) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439433)

Give me a break indeed. Only idiots that can't accept change - change for the obvious overall good - still play AD&D. Come on. I've never played 1e, true, but I have seen the books for it. Elf as a class? What the hell is that? 2e, though, was utter crap compared to 3e. 3.5e isn't perfect, not by a long shot, and I'll admit that I dragged my feet in switching... But the switch made things so much better once I accepted it.

Re:Oh give me a break (1)

CaptainAvatar (113689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439567)

Come on. I've never played 1e, true, but I have seen the books for it. Elf as a class? What the hell is that?

I don't know, but it doesn't sound like the AD&D I played throughout the 80s (which is to say, 1e) ... elf was a race, not a class. Popular at low levels especially because as non-humans they could be multi-classed. I thought maybe you were referring to Basic D&D but AFAICT elf was a race there too.

Re:Oh give me a break (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439689)

Elf's a class in what I think of as "Classic" D&D, the Mentzer boxed sets, Basic to Immortal. There were optional rules in the Princess Ark series articles that let elves go Paladin and I think some optional stuff in the Rules Cyclopedia (which put the rules from teh boxed sets into one book)

Re:Oh give me a break (1)

CaptainAvatar (113689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439761)

Thanks, that's what I was thinking of -- I should have gone with my original instinct then :) I always liked Basic D&D (and Expert, don't think I ever got past there) for some reason, it dropped a lot of the clutter of AD&D and made it easier just to have fun. But it was frowned upon by most everyone else as kid's stuff compared with AD&D.

Re:Oh give me a break (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18440109)

Give me a break indeed.
Only idiots that can't accept change - change for the obvious overall good - still play AD&D. Come on. I've never played 1e, true, but I have seen the books for it. Elf as a class? What the hell is that?
2e, though, was utter crap compared to 3e. 3.5e isn't perfect, not by a long shot, and I'll admit that I dragged my feet in switching... But the switch made things so much better once I accepted it.
The best thing about 2nd edition that 3rd edition doesn't have is Planescape. Sure 3rd edition has the Manual of the Planes and several minor adventures, it has nothing to compare to one of the greatest D&D campaigns ever made. Nor does 3rd edition have the Dark Sun campaign.

The reason old timer gamers don't like 3rd edition isn't because it isn't a better system. It definitely is. But it doesn't have the brilliant campaigns that were made for 2nd edition. I feel like 3rd edition was built for 10 year olds sometimes. 2nd edition tried to include campaigns for every level of gamer, from the introductory Dragon Lance and Forgotton Realms campaigns to the intermediate Ravenloft or Dark Sun campaigns to the advanced Planescape campaigns. With Planescape and Dark Sun you didn't automatically have to resort to hack and slash gaming (in fact in either of them that would usually end the session rather quickly). You had to think and more of the session had to do with "role playing" than rolling dice and gaining treasure.

Re:Oh give me a break (2, Funny)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439069)

Attention to all Slashdot authorities who think they are better than the rest of us:

You're not. Raving on Slashdot is *stupid*. It's the world's most useless activity. Get a job. Get married. Get a hobby that doesn't involve trying to save VIRTUAL communities. You're an adult for Spaghetti's sake.

Re: Oh give me a break (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439369)

> Raving on Slashdot is *stupid*. It's the world's most useless activity.

Rave on!

> Get a job. Get married. Get a hobby that doesn't involve trying to save VIRTUAL communities. You're an adult for Spaghetti's sake.

Don't take the FSM's name in vain.

Re:Oh give me a break (1)

pchoppin (864344) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439649)

FINALLY I understand...

So mod points are basically your armor class. The lower the number, the less vulnerable you are to attacks.

Can it also serve as a gauge for how much time I waste on /.?


As far as the article... I disagree with the premise. The real purpose and draw of D&D is to provide an escape, create a social environment (for those of us who have none), and to offer an alternative to the mindless entertainment on prime-time television.

Side benefits are the consumption of large amounts of chemically enhanced food and beverages, endless supply of movie quotes, and large monetary investments in the RP Gaming industry, which, I might add, is still going strong after over 30 years.

Really, other than the obvious stereotypical techno geek pulling an all-nighter to get his wizard to level 29, I don't see how the game relates to information technology, specifically. My personal experience with D&D, as an IT Professional, is endless nights playing with socially inept people who have nothing better to do with their time.

The game lost its appeal with me many years ago.

Poetry too (4, Insightful)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 7 years ago | (#18438981)

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.

Re:Poetry too (1)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439899)

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]

That explains why (1)

JohnnyDoh (1057238) | more than 7 years ago | (#18438983)

most network admins have a fu manchu mustache and bad acne. And many-sided dice.

What the... ?! (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439023)

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.

almost, but not quite (5, Insightful)

Yaur (1069446) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:almost, but not quite (3, Insightful)

hyc (241590) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439749)

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.

Yeah. Why are computer geeks so often D&D gee (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439121)

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. (5, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439479)

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.

Wonderful Post Above (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439813)

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 seen. Their Dollar Menu is something like 50% cheaper by weight than the standard items. Geeks can save themselves $3-$5 per visit. Pointy Headed Customers (PHC) can be coddled ... for a fee. McDonald's. I'm Lovin' *IT*.

It's even simpler. (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#18440201)

So many of these machines are chaotic evil.

Re:It's simpler. (3, Interesting)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Yeah. Why are computer geeks so often D&D g (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18439569)

Meh, it's been documented before. I'd be more interested in other known-geek activities (I'm not much of a D&D geek). For example, martial arts -- it's been mentioned before in in the jargon file [catb.org] , and (IME) has a higher correlation than even D&D.

When I joined the dojo here, one of the instructors asked me what I did. After having explained it to several others there (who had turned out to be hackers), I naturally started to explain my job in computer science terms. This was the one guy there who wasn't a hacker (oops), so he stopped me, saying "Wait, computer stuff? Just say computer stuff. OK".

Weird Correlation? (1)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439137)

The truth is I've always been kind of a wannabe geek. I am a shitty coder (even worse at math). Always got confused at WHATEVER-II:Data Structures.

As a 13 year old, I tried playing D&D with some friends who were into it. It was so fucking abstract that I could never figure out how to get started. Just tell me how to play the fucking game! I don't want more monster manuals. I do better with Quake & Ubuntu than WOW & Gentoo.

Re:Weird Correlation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18440317)

You're only thirteen years old. Your brain isn't done developing yet. Keep up studying and you'll surpass everybody else who seems more talented right now.

this guy has it backwards. (5, Insightful)

LOTHAR, of the Hill (14645) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re: this guy has it backwards. (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re: this guy has it backwards. (4, Funny)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18440289)

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."

A new box (1)

cbuskirk (99904) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439169)

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.

Re:A new ... (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439737)

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 ounces of neo-mexican stirfry on my shirt.

Steve Ballmer might hold the current award for trying so desperately to think outside boxes, that he gets himself into trouble.

This post brought to you by a Magic the Gathering Planar Chaos ad.

I used to be a Level 12 Programmer/Analyst (4, Interesting)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439187)

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.

Re:I used to be a Level 12 Programmer/Analyst (4, Funny)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439759)

Cheer up! Once you become a Level 12 disabled person, you regain the abilities of your old class with no experience penalty!

D&D (1)

Ariastis (797888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439189)

Now this really fits : Don't feed the Troll

(Unless you have a +5 root sword)

I'll tell you why (4, Insightful)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:I'll tell you why (2, Funny)

weicco (645927) | more than 7 years ago | (#18440029)

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...

Phhht, magic. (1)

Foktip (736679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439253)

Who needs magic when you have a pimped out Rigger/sniper that has an uncanny resemblence to the Major from Ghost in the Shell SAC?

Improving the network? I wish! (4, Insightful)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439309)

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.

The simple explanation... (1)

daitengu (172781) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439313)

I mean, what SysAdmin hasn't wanted to cast Magic Missle at a few lusers now and then?

bad example on creativity (1)

zytheran (100908) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439325)

"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 easier is because providing cues ("talking dog", "cave", "troll") stimulates existing neural connections within the brain to activate, making memories appear to your conciousness. That is not creativity, although if you're not creative you can be forgiven for not knowing.
Creativity is about new ideas and concepts that didn't exist before and actually making them happen.
Like having a story about a talking cave and a dog that live inside a troll...or going out on a date with a real human.

Re:bad example on creativity (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 7 years ago | (#18440143)

Ok Mr. Jobs, I think it is time you drop the "zytheran" cover term.

D&D is for Whimps (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439333)

Real geeks play AD&D. Furthermore we laugh at those who don't still refer to their 1ST EDITION Unearthed Arcana.

For picking up girl^h^h^heeks! (2, Funny)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439365)

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.

Re:For picking up girl^h^h^heeks! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18439885)

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.

It only impresses other geeks, and even then not all of them. Most regular folk find givers of gratuitous information to be pricks, if not fabulists. The line is certainly fairly thin, with the fabulists occupying a rather large subset of the socially inept geek circle.

Interesting Tidbit (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439393)

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. Trying to deal with all the possible variables in a problem at once can be just too daunting but boundaries and conditions limit the number of possibilities one must consider and often the solution to the restricted problem can later be generalized.

Sourcemage Linux (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439411)

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.

I get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18439415)

...my robe and wizard hat

Something Else Too. (4, Interesting)

PixieDust (971386) | more than 7 years ago | (#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?

The Computer is always right, citizen! (1)

lactose99 (71132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439497)

This is why I'm a troubleshooter [wikipedia.org] !

Re:The Computer is always right, citizen! (1)

Drantin (569921) | more than 7 years ago | (#18440129)

Let us work together to rid the system of the evil mutant commie traitors. For Friend Computer!

Yeppers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18439549)

"The greatest barrier to creativity is a lack of boundaries. Counter-intuitive -- almost zen-like -- but we've found it to be true."

I've always believed this. I think this is why the original, theatrical release of star wars are better than the new digitally edited versions. I think this is why the eps 4,5,6 were better than eps 1,2,3 From what i've read, if George Lucas had been able to do the original trilogy exactly how he had imagined it...i think it would have flopped. His true creative genius came out when he had to re-work his plans into something he could actually shoot. I think this same principal holds true for all movies in general...special effects are not necessary to story-telling, they're actually detrimental. also, think about retro-gaming. granted there were alot of crap gen1 games, but the best, most widely appreciated, and most longevous games are from an era without 3D pixel shaders and realistic, cinematic graphics.

Obligatory Futurama Quote (1)

the_mushroom_king (708305) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439621)

"I'm a 10th level Vice President." -- Al Gore

Same for all types work (1)

FromTheHorizon (1008223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439635)

The same probably applies to every field of work.

It is a lot easier and more satisfying to fight fires, than work on making sure that fires don't happen it the first place. Part of this is because there are clear and achievable goals to aim for, and give yourself a pat on the back for reaching. Working to improve systems requires more complex thinking, and the gratification is delayed.

The same certainly applies to the Humanitarian/International Development sector. It is a lot easier to go into a crisis - war, natural disaster or famine - and provide emergency relief to the people. The goal is very simple - provide food, shelter and medical care to prevent people from dying. However when it comes to helping developing countries, to prevent them being so susceptible to such crisis's, there are many more methods available (education, improving government capacity, dropping trade barrier, market reform) and the goals are a lot harder to measure.

However long term improvement, either in a developing country or on a network, still have boundaries, obstacles and achievable goals, they're just more flexible, abstract, longer term, and harder to measure.

my favourite online rpg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18439949)

has been Kingdom of Loathing [kingdomofloathing.com] . It's a refreshing take on the traditional RPG with lots of references to nethack, pop culture and lots of funny sexual innuendo. The graphics are simple but it's a lot of fun, and with about 80K active users it never gets slow, and it's all free too.

Some interesting insights (1)

Maserati (8679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18439977)

But I still think it's because my damn cell phone keeps ringing.

holy shit that's right; better things to do! (1)

cathector (972646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18440161)

this thread has filled me with a mighty thirst for the simple complex pleasures of nethack.alt.org.

So true (1)

fatalGlory (1060870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18440217)

"The greatest barrier to creativity is a lack of boundaries". I think this is getting at something deeper about humanity (particularly males). We were made to operate within boundaries. Bounderies create specific problems that require an exercise in creativity to solve. But truly boundary-free creativity is something that I'm not even necessarily convinced is within the scope of human potential.

When we come up with creative or deductive solutions to problems, I think we're just reflecting something of the true essence of creativity that is still a part of humanity. Created in the image of the truly creative God who came up with gravity, wrote love of music and rhythm into the human soul, dreamed up human sexuality, created combustion, coded the decryption algorithm that invisibly inverts the upside down picture of the world detected by our eyes.

That was truly creative. I think human capacity for creativity has always been something that operates within the confines of certain properties of the universe we could not ourselves have come up with comparable alternatives for. Interesting stuff.

blade (1)

f4hy (998452) | more than 7 years ago | (#18440235)

We just installed a +4 vorporal blade server.
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