--------------- Preamble ---------------

I'm a gamer at heart. I know I spend too much time on this pastime, yet it's difficult to let go. I've tried quitting on several occasions with little or no success. I play a lot more after a period of withdrawal, so these efforts could be counterproductive. Currently, I'm on my longest 'no-gaming' streak so far and I'm hoping it'll last as long as I'm here. Otherwise I'd be squandering this lovely opportunity in Japan next to my laptop.

The purpose of this post is to in part serve as a grisly reminder of life passing me by, as well as to just serve as a list of the games I've played so that I can glance and reminisce on good ol' times.

--------------- The Meat ---------------

Gamer levels:
Casual gamer 1-2 hours/day, Enthusiast 2-4, Dedicated 4-6, Hardcore 6-9, Extreme 9+

Let's first start off with the two periods where I didn't play games. One of these periods is right now! The only other period was in grade 12 second semester, application season for university. (After I got in, I thought I'd be at the bottom of the class, so with a "why try?" attitude I drastically lowered my standards and just cared to pass; the marks I somehow ended up with first term suggested I could fare much better had I cared...)

Now those two periods aside, the following is about my gaming life since grade 5, when I got my first PC.

University: I'm around the "dedicated" level at university, with the notable exception of the WoW period, where without fail I played 8 to 12 hours a day. In particular, I binged on the weekends I stayed in 'Loo, where at the very least I played 14 hours a day.

High school: I played everyday after school, almost religiously (like with EQ) until around midnight. For EQ, I even woke up at 5 o'clock in the morning to play. I was dedicated during school days and turned hardcore or extreme on the weekends... :P

Grade school: Still everyday after school, though back then I was also into calligraphy, chess, and science. Probably around enthusiast level on average.

--------------- /played estimate ---------------

How much time have I spent on games? Let's start estimating with an old mathematical approach: find the lower bound. The games that really left an impression have a short description. (All units are hours)

Computer games

World of Warcraft
Total time spent: > 720
November 23, 2004 to January 23, 2005: 19 days 5 hours. In other words, 32% of the two-months time was spent on WoW. Basically I could take 24 hours, subtract sleep time and 1-2 hours for substance, hygiene, etc, and that would be my play time for the day. No regrets: it was a great time, though my marks suffered a 6% drop. =P

Guild Wars
Total time: 150 to 250
May 2005 to present. Not sure if there is an in-game chronometer. I estimate completing the game at 40-60 hours, 40 for classes like the Monk which can complete missions easily with henchmen. Played about 5-9 hours per day in May and June, while waiting for the Japan visa.

Total time: 600 to 800
One of the most memorable times I've had, surpassed only by WoW. I still remember the opening music and the exact time the music stopped when the game loaded. I still recall a Frost Giant stepping on me.

Half-Life 40-50, Doom II 20-30, Wolf 3D 20
TFC 300-800, Counter-Strike 300-800
Total Annihilation 60-80, Warcraft II 50-60
Warcraft III 250-500, Starcraft 100-150
Diablo 100-150, Diablo II 300-500
Neverwinter Nights 200-250, Dungeon Siege 30
Freespace 40, Freespace 2 40-50, Freelancer 50

Planescape: Torment 40-50
Baldur's Gate 30-40, Baldur's Gate II 50-60, Star Wars: KotOR II 20-40
Star Wars: KotOR 30-60, Albion 50-70, Morrowind 20-30
The Longest Journey 50 (counterexample: WoW was a longer journey)
Grim Fandango 40

Sega Rally 2 20-30 hours, Hitman 2 20-30 hours, Tyrian 40-60 hours

Video games

Smash 300-400 hours, Smash Melee 60-150 hours, Project Gotham Racing 30-50 hours
Mario Tennis 20-40 hours, Tales of Symphonia 90-110 hours
Mario 1 to 3 70 hours, Zelda 1 and 3 60 hours, Zelda: Ocarina of Time 30-40 hours

Chrono Trigger 30-60 hours, Chrono Cross 60-70 hours, FFIX 40-50 hours, FFVIII 40-60 hours, FFVII 60-80 hours, FFVI 40 hours, FFV 30 hours, FFIV 30 hours, FF 25 hours

Gameboy games
Pokemon Yellow 40-45 hours, Pokemon Silver 30-40 hours, Golden Sun 30 hours

Various (Mostly old games; 15 hours each for quick calculation)

Jazz Jackrabbit, Raptor, Commander Keen, Prince of Persia, (10-20 more titles)

--------------- Analysis ---------------

The list above contains the large majority of the games I've played. I've omitted games that I've only played for on a few occasions. Notable examples are Halo, the Mario Party series, Mario Golf, etc. Let's say those games sum up to 100 hours in total.

By summation,

Σ(floor[/played] ) = 5060 hours

So, I've spent a minimum of 5060 hours playing games. My best estimate would be 6400 to 7200 hours, but this bare minimum estimate suffices for the purposes of this post. It's hard to estimate play time for games like Counter-Strike and Diablo II; I would say the upper bound is much more realistic for those games.

A completely different approach to estimate "/played" would be to take my mean daily gaming time as say, a conservative 3 hours, and multiply that by 10 years x 365 days a year -- this yields 10950 hours! (What's scary is that this isn't an upper bound by any means...)

--------------- Reflection ---------------

Let's finish off by putting the lower bound estimate into perspective, to visualize what "just" 5060 hours can mean. . .
  • A full-credit course in university is about 36 hours of classroom time + an optional amount of self-study or homework time (recommended to be a matching 36 hours). On average, I attend 30-36 hours of lectures, and do about 10 hours outside class. Let's put the total time for a course then at a high 50 hours. With that, 5060 hours translates into the time and effort needed for 101 courses, or 20 terms of school! Indeed, the 720+ hours from WoW alone would be about 3 terms.
  • Japanese Language Proficiency Test level 1, the highest level, is usually obtainable after 900 hours of study. Generalizing other languages to be the same level of difficulty -- very conservative since Japanese is hard -- 5060 hours is ample time to fully master five foreign languages! (I've spent about 36x3 classroom hours + perhaps 50-150 hours self study, so around 200 hours...)
  • 5060 hours is 2.3 years worth of sleep at my usual 6 hrs/day
In conclusion,



Miss Universe-ity?

Yes, apparently there's an annual pageant among Japanese universities. Awesome, no?


I just finished watching a volleyball match between Japan and America. Like always, there was enthusiastic cheering from the Japanese crowd -- I almost felt sorry for the Americans.

I was disappointed to observe that, like the last time I watched volleyball in Japan two years ago, the comments directed towards the non-Japanese teams usually contain 高さ, or height (i.e. height advantage), especially if they're winning. I'm a little annoyed at this: it's almost as if it's wrong to say that the opposing team's technique or strategy is better. No, it's their height of course!

Announcer 1: "Ah, point America!"
Announcer 2: "Yeah, player X is so tall isn't he?"
Announcer 1: "Yea, amazing isn't it?"


Some thoughts

I wonder what it would be like right now if China, instead of Japan, performed something like the Meiji Restoration and Westernized more than a century ago? It might've been China that attacked Pearl Harbor to secure her position in the Pacific. China would've probably annexed Korea instead of Japan. Atomic bombs might've been dropped on China. This alternate timeline is unlikely* to have occurred since Japan Westernized in response to the Qing Empire's defeat to the European powers -- very shocking since China was the overwhelmingly dominant power in the area since recorded history. Plus, with China's historically infamous hubris, it is unlikely to happen even given that the order of events is reversed and instead Japan was the first in the area to be forcibly opened up to European powers.


Anyone experienced a moment when a familiar English word suddenly just doesn't "look right"? You question the spelling at first, then it becomes more and more 'correct' as you stare at it... I've had this happen to me often recently. I've already forgot the words that triggered this. =P


I've made note of a couple minor problems that I've observed here.

Idling. No, not the people but the cars. My extended family here is a archetypical example of this: whenever they wait for anything -- people, events, etc. -- while traveling by car, they never shut down the engine. This could go on for a couple minutes to over an hour. Sure, my cousin likes watching the LCD (an excuse they suggest) but doesn't anyone care about the environment, not to mention the yen slipping out of their pockets by the second?

Smoking. I think smoking is a major health issue in Asia. I've been to Shanghai before and it's the same: cigarette smoke taints restaurants, streets -- almost everything. I have to give credit to some of the districts in Tokyo which have implemented anti-smoking bylaws to alleviate the problem, though they do not seem to have been very effective. I still breathe second-hand smoke almost everyday from men smoking as they walk around, even in crowded areas.

*Of course, probability doesn't apply to historical events, but this is speaking with the quantum theory of multiple timelines in mind... :P



For those that haven't heard, Wikipedia (in my links area) is a great place to find information.

As 勉強 (benkyou: study) for my Japanese, I have made my first page in Japanese! Check it out.

I'm hoping to add more topics soon. Any suggestions?



I've delved a bit into coin collecting recently. I'm not yet well read on numismatics, but here's a description of my collection so far:
  • 1/20 oz. Gold Maple Leaf (I forgot the year -- I bought it at the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa a few years ago)
  • 3x 1 oz. Gold Maple Leaf dated 2004
  • 1 oz. Silver Maple Leaf dated 1989
  • Tri-metallic (Au/Ag/Pt) 1 oz. coin from the Pobjoy Mint (mintage 999)
Gold and Silver Maple Leafs.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

The Au/Ag/Pt coin -- this one's my favourite. =)


Go Waterloo!

'Best overall' in MacLean's reputational survey for the 14th year. On top of that, 'Loo's two teams claimed both 1st and 2nd place in the East Central North America ACM contest. That's right, we pwned again.

Both come as no surprise though -- it's been like this since I was in Grade 1.

Hmm.. that's enough shameless promotion for a day ;)

Let's see how we do in the Putnam this year.


Preparation for the JLPT

The JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) on December 4th is drawing nearer...

I went to a language school in downtown Tokyo for a few weeks but that wasn't really helpful. I find the best thing to do now is just to practice the language: chatting with the natives, and listening to the news, etc.

I think I'm ready for it.


Favourite colour

What's your favourite colour? Mine's lavender. The next three would probably be gold, bright orange, and sky blue.



I had a discussion with a young colleague today about investments in general. We went through many popular forms such as stocks, bonds, real estate, et cetera, arriving somehow at cash. This became quite humorous for me, as I think investing in cash is amongst the most foolish investment choices. He didn't agree.

We defined "investing in cash" as the process of committing money, storing it in the form of cash (domestic currency in physical paper form or in a chequing account), for the prospect of future returns.

I think most everyone knows why this is a poor investment, in fact I wouldn't even regard it as a proper investment. In my opinion, it's the act of not investing. Sure, you can save cash in preparation for a real, large investment, but I dearly hope that cash isn't your final target.

Anyway, its demerits are simple and numerous: inflation nibbles (or chomps) away at your purchasing power, which is obviously not increasing; you're at the whim of the volatile currency market; and quite plainly, there's no growth. These were the ones I suggested.

He didn't have time for much rebuttal as the lunch bell beckoned us to our cubicles, and being a curious guy, I would like to hear some merits of being a "cash investor". I just doubt a combination of miniscule growth potential and low security make for a good investment.

Brainstorm! - show me your creative financial genius!