I'm Only Stupid Because I Know Too Much
Posted on 8th Oct 2009 at 12:09 by Joe Martin with 17 comments
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.
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.
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.