Paradigm Shifts with Gamepads, Dressers, and Language

Yeah, where else are you gonna find a title like that? I thought so. 🙂

The term Paradigm Shift was originally coined by some smart scientist guy and it meant a revolution or replacement of scientificky stuff, like when quantum physics came out and messed up classical physics.

But nowadays, it’s of course been mutated to include things like a major change in thinking. Usually a radical change in personal beliefs, complex systems, replacing the former way of thinking. That’s the type I’m referring to. (…it was also lamely used in the gambit battle system of Final Fantasy, but we aren’t going there). Some people relate them to epiphanies but that’s far too hard to spell.

A good example I always think of was someone’s really cool mom about 20 years or so ago. She bought the brand new Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) for the family. It was cutting edge technology, and it looked easy and everyone wanted to join in on the fun. Nintendo has really held on to that image for ages, but I’m digressing…

The NES gamepad controller was actually a new concept to most people at the time. The closest thing to it beforehand was the Atari joystick, which emulated the arcade controls with a stick and a button.

Anyway, that really cool mom was really entertained by the system, but wasn’t quite sure how to use the controller, no one was. Seriously, this was brand new stuff. So she did what was natural to her and played Super Mario Bros like this:

With her fingers on top of the D-pad and buttons while the game pad rested on a flat surface. She pressed each of the buttons individually, like she was playing a piano or typing!

Most people (especially the other family members) had never seen one before so she technically wasn’t doing it incorrectly. But looking at it now, the problems are obvious: the controller must to be on a flat surface, your fingers are weaker than your thumbs, and you can’t move the controller around much, which is pretty limiting.

As a side note, the PSP didn’t exist at the time, but if it did, you’d also be blocking the screen and hurting your neck. 😉

Cool Mom wasnt doing it wrong. In fact, she was just doing what she was used to: she was a professional typist and used to be a piano player, so it felt most natural to her.

In fact, Cool Mom pretty much owned at Super Mario Bros even while playing like this. She was better than everyone else in the family.

Until one day, some young brat came over and picked up the controller off the table and held it like this.

I went to visit my friends house, because I heard they had one of those cool new Nintendo systems and wanted to check it out. Cool Mom left the controller on the table and offered me my turn. I nodded and then picked up the controller off the table to some surprise, and put it in my my hands like normal: gripping the controller in each hand. Perhaps from playing with the Atari joystick so much, it felt more natural for me to carry something in my hands.

After I did that, and played the game for a few minutes, Cool Mom had a big ‘Aha!’ moment and never used the gamepad like a typewriter again. She finished Super Mario Bros. shortly after adjusting her style.

That would be a Paradigm Shift in her thoughts on how to use a Gamepad. Come to think of it, the Gamepad itself was a Paradigm shifting device.

Sometimes simply seeing something done in a different way flips a switch in your brain and gives you one of these Paradigm Shifts. I recently had this when visiting a furniture store in Tokyo, Japan.

Yeah, a furniture store.

Ever since I was a kid, I grew up around lots of dressers. Americans tend to keep too much crap, including way too much clothing, so they need a place to keep it. Big dressers made from solid wood were the common solution.

In fact, if it looks like wood, it must be wood. Even if it’s that cheap thing you put together by yourself from Walmart for 20 bucks, it’s still made of that particle board looking wood-chip type stuff through and through.

In any case. Wood looks cool, it makes you think of strong, durable, reliable, elegant, maybe even sexy if done right. But it’s also heavy as hell (which was recently estimated to be as heavy as it is hot).

I never considered of cared about this until I lived in Europe and had no car for three years. Buying furniture was always a bad idea, simply because of transporting it, moving it around, putting it together, etc. Yes, even most of the coolest looking Ikea stuff is still made from wood.

Since then, I’ve become an ultra-minimalist on things such as furniture, clothing, electronics, and even my recording studio which fits in a bag (including the desk). So anytime I see something new which fits my minimalist type of mindset, I find it intriguing.

So I went to a department/furniture/staples Walmart-like-ish store in my neighborhood to browse around and ran across these slick looking dressers:

Notice the nice wood top and the sleek-looking drawers. Pretty sexy. In fact, so cool, that I whipped out my new softbank phone and started snapping pictures in the middle of the crowded store. I’m sure my weird habits are benefiting you in some way 🙂

I still really love this one. Obviously from the picture (despite its weight, which I’m getting to) it’s able to hold an old monitor on top with no problems. Also because of the materials involved, it also drives the price down. A sexy dresser like this for only $90? I might have to buy it… once I have enough clothing to fill the drawers of a dresser again.

Ah yes, the materials. Despite the looks, while the top part is a nice slab of precious dead tree, the drawers are actually high-quality plastic. This means you can easily do cool things like this:

A badass Lilo and Stitch dresser can be designed really easily and look sharp. Walt Disney himself would be proud. And because the majority of the materials are plastic, this also makes the overall weight drastically light.  You can even make the kids move it around the room themselves 😛

And the weirdest combination which gave it away was this: maple-ish wooden top combined with see-through plastic drawers underneath. I can only imagine that if you’re not embarrassed about how you organize your socks and underwear, then this would be a cool idea 🙂

After seeing that last pic you might think, ‘Waitasec, Jaybot! I’ve seen that sorta stuff in the organization section at Walmart/Staples with the big bins or… I had a little thing like that in an attempt to organize my papers in my college dorm room!’

Both would be true, at least for me. But I’ve never seen this sort of setup for a normal dresser for clothing and such. In addition to the wood veneer-like thing plus the skeletal structure. In any case, it’s brilliant enough for me to take notice and think, ‘Huh? I wonder why no one else has done that, or… maybe I just hadn’t noticed it. Either way, it’s good news for me. All it took was seeing it for a a few moments. I think that deserves a Paradigm Shift for bedroom furniture. The way I view dressers and the dressers themselves.

Of course, sometimes Paradigm Shifts don’t happen instantly. Sometimes they take a wee bit longer. Something like this:

The title, not the girls. Yes, there is English underneath, and I chose the game ラブプラス (Love Plus) because of all the controversy around it where a dude married a video game character, which is just funny (and awesome) and weird (and awesome).

Anyhow, those funny letters above the English look like weird foreign characters, which would be impossible for me to read. Probably impossible for many of my readers too.

At least, that’s how I used to think. Until I found a simple book called Remembering the Kana by James Heisig and was able to memorize and read all 100 or so Hiragana and Katakana characters within one week. Yeah, one week. That’s how brilliant the book is.

One small book, one small week, and it opened up an entire world of new words and language to me. In fact, those who read use the book and are just getting started with the language could easily read this: イン ファクト、ドーズ フー リッド ザ ブック アンド アー ジャスト ゲットイング スターテッド ウィス ザ レーングウェジ クッド イジリ リッド ディス(一方此の文章は未だ難しいだと思う 😉 )。

I think that qualifies as a Paradigm Shift for Language learning. The way I view language learning and the book itself.

Paradigm shifts are awesome and happen a lot more frequently than you think. You just have to be able to recognize them. Just as important, you have to be able to accept them instead of fight them when they happen. For example ‘That’s a stupid way to hold a controller, look how fast I can already beat level 1 with my fingers! That dresser is stupid, everyone knows dressers can only be made from 100% wood! Maybe that book worked for you, but I’m a slow learner, you must be really smart!’ Et cetera.

Have you noticed any recent Paradigm Shifts, big or small, in your life? In your world? In your bedroom? In your games? 🙂

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The Lazy Man’s Way to Tokyo, Day 15