I'm Only Stupid Because I Know Too Much

Posted on 8th Oct 2009 at 12:09 by Joe Martin with 17 comments

Joe Martin
I was playing Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box yesterday (in the course of writing the review) when I had a moment of utter brain failure. It’s embarrassing to even admit it, that’s how stupid it was of me.

The question was; if you have a rectangular piece of paper and fold it so that there’s an extra centimetre on one side and then you fold it the other way with a centimetre extra on the other end, then how far in millimetres would it be between the two creases when the paper is unfolded?

It’s a simple, easy question and the game gave me three spaces to write a number into. I quickly scribbled my answer down; 100mm and was told that was incorrect. Baffled, I got a piece of paper out and tried it out – measuring the gap as one centimetre. Again I put my answer in. Again; incorrect. It was only on the third go that I slapped my face and realised that there were only 10 millimetres in a centimetre – not 100. I was being a moron and had been led astray by the fact that the game gave you three spaces to put an answer in, not two. I’m an idiot.

That then got me thinking (as best as I was able anyway) about how my brain is stuffed with useless information that I use everyday and all the actual useful stuff that I never need to know has trickled away over the years. It’s ironic and twisted, but I can get more use out of game memory than I’d ever get from remembering how to do trigonometry properly.

I'm Only Stupid Because I Know Too Much *I Know Too Much
This is what I'm like

The really stupid thing though isn’t that I’ve somehow based my life around using this knowledge about computer games instead of Proper Facts – it’s how much I remember about games and what those memories have ejected from my head in order to make room.

Example time. Off the top of my head I can tell you the keycode for the utility van outside UNATCO in Deus Ex (0451). I can tell you JC Denton’s login details even though I always used my hack ability because it’s quicker (U: JCD, P: Bionicman), among others. I can tell you the correct replies to any insult from any Monkey Island game, as well as exactly how to complete them. I can recall the position of every enemy in the first two Half-Life games.

I know all the enemy spawn points in every Arena level in Sin: Episodes. I know the first level of Thief so well I’m confident I could draw a map. I know where all the intelligence items and secret areas are in No One Lives Forever and I could probably do Hitman: Blood Money blindfolded.

I'm Only Stupid Because I Know Too Much *I Know Too Much
I remember lots of stuff from games

And yet the other day I needed a calculator to work out how old I was. I spent three years of my life at University studying linguistics and phonetics, yet I could complete a game of Nethack before I could transcribe a single sentence phonetically. Long division is a distant memory, like sputtering candlelight, and I still need a calculator to do any multiplication with numbers bigger than three.

Sometimes I have to be reminded to eat.

Likewise, if there was a point to all of this rambling then I’ve forgotten that too – I think I lost it somewhere between making a note to play Hitman: Blood Money again and here. I’ll have to settle with an open ending instead, so if you too ever find yourself amazed at how you retain fictional information at the expense of factual details then let me know in the forums.

I’ll try to remember to check them later.


Discuss in the forums Reply
[PUNK] crompers 8th October 2009, 14:48 Quote
my head is so full of this crap. i could find my way around cyrodil blindfolded. i know how much each health kit will heal you in TF2 (and their whereabouts on most maps). i can perform and ultra move with all of the characters in SF4 and dont even get me started on diablo 2.

another thing that comes to mind is release dates, i know the release date of nearly every AAA title due this winter, i can tell you the developers and the publishers on most titles. in terms of hardware im even worse, want to know the memory bus on a 7900GT? or the nm process for any of the silicon on the market at the mo? im your man.

despite this i can barely remember any maths even having done it three times to get my pass. nor how to set up a custom material map in 3DS Max, despite the fact ive done it dozens of times.

selective memory ftw!
Flibblebot 8th October 2009, 14:55 Quote
Originally Posted by CardJoe
I'm Only Stupid Because I Know Too Much
Yes, Joe. You keep telling yourself that :p

What I find annoying is the things that I know how to do instinctively, but occasionally I'll start to think about what I need to do, and suddenly I can't remember how to do it. Strange.
Bauul 8th October 2009, 15:17 Quote
Memory is based emotional importance. Or, in other words, how much you care about it. You may know, logically, that pythagoras is important (x is 5 by the way. Yay me!), but you don't actually care about it emotionally, so you don't remember it.

This applies to everything from exam revision to Pin Numbers. I'd be able to remember the code 1712 a gazillion times easier than 1375 for instance. Why? Because 1712 is my birthday, so I care about it. A good deal of memory excercises are about associations: if you can link something you don't care about with something you do, you'll be better at remembering it.

It's not a problem per say, just a clear indication of how everyone's brain works. It only starts to be a problem when you can remember Gunther Hermann's killphrase ("Laputan machine" for the record), but you can't remember your mum's birthday. That's when you've got your priorities wrong.
Xir 8th October 2009, 15:20 Quote
...I really can't remember my mum's birthday...but my phone-kalendar beeps three days in advanced.
logan'srun 8th October 2009, 15:41 Quote
last time I looked/used trig I was 12. I think.
But isn't the answer 5?
sear 8th October 2009, 15:56 Quote
I like to walk into public spaces and say "flatlander woman" to see if anyone explodes.

Oh, and yes, my knowledge of games and gaming is immense. I can cull nearly any detail, including of inconsequential side characters, from most games that I play even a little extensively, I can beat Banjo-Kazooie, Ocarina of Time, Fallout 3, Knights of the Old Republic, and more with my eyes closed, I have the location of every single hidden treasure in Resident Evil 4 memorised, etc. Yet of course, everything but the most basic of math escapes me, and I'm terrible at remembering names and dates. I'm much more of an ideas person in general, but it still sometimes frightens me just how easily my knowledge of games takes priority over my knowledge of... well, pretty much everything else.
proxess 8th October 2009, 17:33 Quote
My gf says I only remember and only hear bullsh*t. Selective memory, selective hearing, selective ftw!
thehippoz 8th October 2009, 17:56 Quote
I can tell you the correct replies to any insult from any Monkey Island game, as well as exactly how to complete them.

XD.. you started monkey island probably before the walkthroughs were out.. I'm pretty much like that with all the continents in guildwars- I could close my eyes and can see where all the mobs are in every dungeon, map.. and probably farmed them all at one time or another- used to really love that game

remember saying in open chat during pvp matches early on.. wow chapa that new alt-f4 menu they put in is nice! watch half the other team of poppers drop and we'd win the matches rofl

can still remember the roid rages on the first christmas too.. you had one chance to get the grenth antlers- and you had to do was be in lions arch when he came.. right as he was about to give them I typed in open chat.. ah cool if you hit alt-f4 it gives you the hat! saw tons of peeps drop, there was massive roid rages when they came back XD

quake 2.. I was the guy that came up with name binding- was definitely the first one to do it.. remember first time I played around and used it- was in hal's.. I was making teammates insult each other during a match- it got hot in there

wish I had those logs still.. I would say as stuff like puppet teammate1: teammate2 sucks ass he's hogging up the ammo

teammate2: huh?
puppet teammate1: you heard me chicken lips
teammate1: wtf I'm not saying that!
puppet teammate1: ok yeah I am.. I was j/k but stop being a dumbass and drop me some
teammate2: ...

switch up the names.. pretty soon everyone was like it's gotta be the admin doing this and after some arguing in observer and sticking words in everyones mouth they all left XD

could make guys in rtcw yell taunts in observer mode too.. funny to get guys banned like that- admin was always like stfu already with fire in the hole or your gonna to get banned.. he's all I'm not doing it! fire in the hole! I need ammo! xxx was kicked and banned <insert racial remarks here> XD

can't say know as much about those adventure games like monkey island though :D
Elton 9th October 2009, 06:48 Quote
I can for some reason, remember great battles from AOE2 or CIV4. But for some reason I can't remember any formulas for physics...
Sheiken 10th October 2009, 12:43 Quote
IDDQD nuff said!
Radical_Monkey 11th October 2009, 11:24 Quote
Originally Posted by Sheiken
IDDQD nuff said!

God mode in doom :D
Bauul 14th October 2009, 16:00 Quote
Originally Posted by Radical_Monkey
God mode in doom :D

I raise you with IDSPISPOPD!
CardJoe 14th October 2009, 16:14 Quote
Noclip in Doom.

I'll raise you with 24328, Send.
nicae 16th October 2009, 23:33 Quote
Shift+FUND :D
Dragunover 19th October 2009, 00:48 Quote
Hmm. I think I'm doing this right.
Asquared+Bsquared=Csquared(x is c)
3*3 = 9
4*4 = 16
9+16 = 25
25squared = 5
Krayzie_B.o.n.e. 20th October 2009, 03:26 Quote
I want to thank you Joe for admitting this to the public. i find strength in your openness. Because the more I study CPU architecture and design the more I find myself unable to spell. Every other word in my comment is underlined with a red line. thank goodness for spell check. Anyway Thank you for being honest, I feel better knowing I'm not the only one. Besides... honestly..... lets be it really math when the whole equation, problem and answer is all letters?
aron311 21st October 2009, 00:03 Quote
You shouldn't need to work it out, 3 4 5 triangle ftw :-) Its always the first example you get taught and it always works if the triangle's sides are the same order multiples of themselves, i.e. 9 12 15.

And I have the exact same problem, maths too much above this level I forget faster than makes it even worth studying. I just grab a book when I need to do some funky maths.

I could however list you every graphics card for the last 10 years probably, most of the CPUs and most of their architectural features. And I didn't even WANT to learn that.
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