Wednesday, July 30, 2008

OT: Wiki Gaming

I'm always on a lookout for computer games that David might find interesting in the future. I'm looking for something non-violent that stimulates creativity and perhaps teaches you a few things about the world around you. So invariably most of the games in the selection are physics based.
I recently came across this gem of a game called Fantastic Contraption. The game simulates a simple 2D world with a few gadgets you can use to create a contraption. The goal of the game is to push, drag, drive or hurl an object from your work area to the goal area. Sounds simple right? Well, it depends on the level you play! And the level I had most fun on was this one:

Your task is to get the ball through the area of falling boulders to the goal. My first successful contraption was a caterpillar that dug through the boulders and used around 30 pieces to get the job done. But soon when enough people completed the first 20 levels new challenges were invented. Something the creator of the game never thought about. One of the challenges was to see what the lowest number of pieces is needed to complete a level. Surprisingly the answer is usually between 0 and 3 pieces!
So I got back to work and thought about using the using the boulders and a seesaw to hurl the ball to the goal. Sure enough I made a green solution (not using any of the powered widgets – another user game-play invention!) the level using 8 pieces and proudly posted it to the forums. Took them less then two hours to tweak my design to 3 pieces.

I'm always amazed by the power of collectives. Browsing through the contraptions has got to move you. So many ideas and approaches to solving the same problems, so many brilliant solutions. I'm definitely bookmarking this one.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lego horror

I came home the other day and to my horror found another lego set box in the middle of the hallway. It's not the legos you see. I love the fact David plays with them. Stimulating young minds and all that. But the box showed – ah just look at it.

Was I wrong at being horrified by this image? How about this one at the side of the box.

Dinosaurs and (what I can only gather are) neatherdals playing together? Is that creationists trying to creep their way in my home? Was it wrong that I sat David down and explained (ok, I'm not saying he got it) that dinos and humans never coexisted in the same period (he just smiled and said diinooo!). I continued railing on about Dinosauria, millions of years of evolution and DNA while mom slowly took him out of the room.

I guess what I’m getting at is that I fail to see significant difference between making sure David is safe from physical harm and making sure he’s safe from intellectual harm. So I’m doing my best on both fronts but the damn legos sure aren’t making things easy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

How do you tell if your boy is a Dilbert or a Pointy Haired Boss?

The other day I was watching David play with his Legos. He was putting together a train when he encountered an engineering problem. You see, not all of the undercarriages can be joined together as some are missing their couplings. But just then in an “Also sprach Zarathustra” sound tracked moment he picked up the toy wrench and connected the final train-carriage.

I’m guessing he’s a Dilbert.

Right now David and Mom went to the sea-side and I’m home alone for the week. So I just miss them. A lot.