Thursday, December 29, 2011

Resolutions for Twenty Twelve

I've given it some thought and I decided to go with one resolution for 2012:

Work out twice a week.

That's it. There's no specific marathon that I'm training for, there's no weight loss number I'm going for, and there's no specific amount that I want to bench press. The goal is simply to get my ass in a gym at least twice a week.

I had a whole entry prepared on how "you are only given one body your entire life" and how "being physically healthy is a key to staying mentally healthy"... but I'll just leave that in draft status. That entry does end with a motivational message to myself which I will include here so I can have something to look back on when I'm feeling lazy next year:

It's scientifically proven that exercise is good for both the body and mind. There are many good reasons to go to the gym and there are many good ways to stay motivated. From those lists choose anything you need. It doesn't matter why or how, as long as you're doing it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

ELO Hell and Thinking You Are Better Than You Actually Are

I've been playing a lot of video games. League of Legends (LoL) in particular. It's free to play if you want to check it out.

The gist of the game is you have teams of 5 people (or AI) competing against each other. There’s “Normal” mode which is where you go to play with your friends, practice, try new builds, and have fun. Then there’s “Ranked” mode which involves an ELO system that ranks players and creates competitive matches where both teams are trying to win in order to increase their ELO. So that’s the short version. Normal: play for fun. Ranked: play to win.

Okay, that was a lot of precursor to talk about what I really wanted to talk about and that is an article I read called Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments. How this article relates to LoL is that players will often refer to their current ELO as "ELO Hell" which is basically the idea that they are trapped with inferior players. Every loss is because of noobs/feeders/afkers on their team and every win is because they carried the team to victory.

Now as a player of LoL, I will admit these noobs and trolls exist. There are people that queue ranked games who have no idea what they're doing. There are people that queue ranked games with the sole purpose of intentionally screwing over their own team (because for some reason they get their kicks out of that). Fortunately, the creators of LoL have put in match making systems and reporting systems to attempt to weed these players out.

However, I submit that ELO Hell doesn't exist. My explanation of why is a mathematical one. As a card counter I am a strict believer in long term probability over a large enough sample size. If you subscribe to the notion that there is at least one troll/super-noob in every game then, assuming you aren't a troll/super-noob yourself then the remaining 9 player slots have an equal chance of getting the troll/super-noob. In the long term, you'll find that 4/9 times they are on your team and 5/9 times they are on the opposing team, which means you should statistically win more than you lose and work your way out of your "ELO Hell".


More to the point is that in any large sample size, the outside players make very little difference and the only common factor between the games is YOU.

Away from gaming, I’ve noticed this behavior a lot. “Scapegoating” is what I used to call it, but after a long night of psychology reading I think the term is better explained by the Dunning–Kruger Effect. I noticed this before in myself and other people as well. People seem to be quick to blame outside circumstances instead of working on things they CAN control.

The next step in my cogitation led to thinking about which is worse: Lacking confidence? Or having Illusory Superiority? I have decided for now that it's equally important to 1) believe in yourself and 2) realize that there is always room for improvement.

Queue segue music into an entry about New Years Resolutions.