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Generic Confusion

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Nu ma nu ma iei, nu ma nu ma nu ma iei


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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Easy Mode

John Scalzi's most trafficked blog post of 2012 was a bold assertion that being a straight white male was life's easy mode. The term is borrowed from modern video games.

Understandably, it got some reaction.

Here's my response.

Imagine that you play the Powerball lottery. For those unfamiliar with this lottery game, you win by matching five numbers drawn from a pool of 59 balls, plus one ball (the Powerball) drawn from a separate pool of 35 balls. Now imagine that some segment of the population starts by being told that one of the five white balls that will be drawn is numbered 1.

That's easy mode for sure. In fact, knowing that information, you could buy every combination with 1, ignoring the larger number of combinations without a 1, and reap a huge profit when you win a prize much larger than what you spent.

However, in this case, you can only buy one ticket, for this one drawing.

Your chances of winning are considerably higher, but your chances of losing are almost the same.

Some of the reaction to Scalzi's post must have been because of the use of the word easy. When you're told your life is played on easy mode, yet you can easily name a hundred different struggles, then that's like saying your struggles are meaningless. They're not meaningless to you.

Even for those who understand the term perfectly, in its gaming context, just how meaningful is the easy mode for the world's hardest game? There's no instruction manual, no cheat guide, no tutorial. Even on easy mode, you'll be a failure most of the time.

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