Your Worst Fears

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Richard Greenberg

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Nov 29, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/29/95
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Reprinted without permission from The Journal of Experimental Psychology,
November, 1995

______________________________________________

ABSTRACT

Induced Dysfunction Through Simulated Gaming

By
Andreas Schneider, MD
Kit Woolsey, MD
Marius Loner, PhD


Over a three year period, a team of researchers has investigated the use of
applied frustration as a means of inducing various levels of dysfunction. An
experiment on several thousand test subjects has yielded a wide range of
observed results, including paranoia, schizophrenia, senile dementia, acute
sociopathy, clinical depression, generalized rage, and a variety of
psychosomatic manifestations including boils, hair loss and impotence.

The effectiveness of the experimental design greatly exceeded the expectations
of the research team. And as a side effect, this experiment has generated a
significant supply of long-term clinical subjects for further study, both in
institutional settings and through covert observation.

Note: This experiment has been conducted on subjects unaware of their
participation, either as "targets" or controls. The ethical issues involved
were deemed insignificant compared to the expected utility of the findings.
Legal issues have been addressed by locating the experiment in "cyberspace" - a
virtual location of questionable existence and much jurisdictional confusion,
as well as through the use of corporate shell structures in several
accommodating nations. However, neither the research team nor its funding
sponsors, whose identity must remain anonymous, are insensitive to the impact
the experiment has had on many of its subjects. Arrangements for long-term care
have been made for those subjects too severely damaged to care for themselves,
and who are not already incarcerated.


Experimental Design:

The primary tool used by the research team involved a game known as
"backgammon" which consists of a simple set of rules governing the movement of
two opposing sets of checkers around a game board. The game is primarily a game
of luck, and it is this characteristic which established its suitability for
experimental use - it was noted that, in an effort to rationalize, on a
personal level, the workings of chance, players typically subscribed to an
increasingly complicated, arcane, and at times incoherent, series of strategic
analyses. Thus, it can be seen that backgammon appeals primarily to
dysfunctional personality types, and a large population of adequate test
subjects was assured.

Both for the legal reasons mentioned above, and to overcome the physical
difficulties of getting enough test subjects together to play backgammon on a
regular basis, a "virtual game room" (FIBS) was established on the InterNet,
and several host programs were developed: FIBS Host, which provided the basic
game environment; FIBS X, which provided either pre-determined or directed dice
rolls to experimental "targets"; FIBS Observer, which monitored, logged, and
evaluated behavior of experimental "targets"; And FIBS Director, which provided
researchers with the ability to intervene covertly into on-going games, as well
as to choose and designate targets. In order to attract subjects to the
experiment, several outstanding programmers were contracted to develop
front-end graphical user interfaces for a variety of platforms.

In addition to the playing of the game itself, subject interaction was
encouraged through the provision of secondary communication channels, such as
the ability to "shout", "tell" and "kibitz", as well as to view other players'
matches. This capability provided researchers with excellent means of both
observation and intervention.

A reward stimulus was provided through the award of points for successful
performance in matches. The award formula was designed to be both confusing and
controversial to most players, and, as expected, a structure of social status
soon emerged based on the player's ability to gather points and establish a
"rating". This structure was a point of heavy intervention by the research
team.

Additionally, a UseNet newsgroup, rec.games.backgammon, was utilized by
researchers, both as a means of direct intervention and as a source of much
useful observation.

Players were assigned either to a control group or designated as "targets".
This was usually done on a random basis when a player registered to use the
server, but on occasion, a player's status would be modified, usually to
"target", particularly when social behavior such as "shouting" or the selection
of an unusual username suggested potential dysfunction. For the purpose of this
experiment, a control group size of 25% of the total population was deemed
sufficient.

The control group was allowed to play the normal game of backgammon, subject
only to the general stimuli provided by the research team through the FIBS
environment. This was not, however, inconsequential - the ambient frustration
level, as a result of both natural factors and those induced by researchers,
but not related to the game itself, probably accounted for some significant
dysfunction among the control group population. However, we have previously
noted that backgammon players as a group tend toward the dysfunctional anyhow.

The "target" group were subjected to a variety of stimuli, all designed to
maximize frustration. These were applied on an individual basis wherever
possible, an approach made possible only by the significant level of funding
provided by our sponsor, which ensured adequate staffing of the research team.

Stimuli available to researchers included the following:

Dice-related:

Pre-programmed long sequences - designed to provide a variety of experiences
affecting "ratings", such as the long-term slump, the seemingly undeserved high
rating, and major swings both upward and downward. Applied randomly or
assigned.

Pre-programmed short sequences - designed to maximize short-term frustration
of "targets" by provision of poor rolls by "target" or excellent rolls by
opponent in particular matches. The most effective of these sequences is the
rolling of doubles, particularly 6-6, when the player is "on the bar", or a
series of doubles rolled by the opponent in critical situations. Applied when
deemed useful.

Direct intervention - used by researchers when observing particular "targets",
particularly those about to crack, similar in nature to the short sequences
above.

Environmental:

Induced lag - operates in either a programmed mode, as either a generalized
means of increasing ambient frustration or whenever a significant number of
matches are coming to simultaneous conclusions, or through direct intervention,
at critical moments in a "target" match.

Induced connection loss - the involuntary severing of a player's connection,
usually in circumstances similar to the induced lag above. It has been used
effectively in certain cases to operate on a "target" only when he is losing a
match, thus making him appear to cheat.

"Server crashes" - similar to induced connection loss, this stimulus has the
ability to erase recently played matches, and can thus be a substantial source
of frustration, particularly when cleverly combined with previous direct
intervention leading to a miraculous match win.

Noise* - use of the shout function, often by researchers (all of whom fulfill
a role as registered players), to sow discontent, create controversy, or
display generally annoying behavior. Recent improvements in this area include
the playing of a variety of verbal games, such as trivia and oodles.

Harassment* - use of the shout, tell, and kibitz functions, often by
researchers, to direct specific abusive stimuli at "targets". Very effective.

*The research team has found that it needs very little active intervention in
these two areas - the test subjects have proven very adequate and inventive in
providing such stimuli on their own.

Confusion - a variety of stimuli, including the frequent posting to
rec.games.backgammon of complicated game position and strategy discussions,
utilizing obscure and often irrational arguments designed to bewilder those
seeking to understand their FIBS experience. Additionally, researchers
frequently plant suggestions that the FIBS experience is "unfair' for a variety
of reasons, and follow-up with vigorous argument on both sides of each issue,
thus enhancing general paranoia and discontent.


Preliminary Results:

While this experiment remains on-going (indeed, the clinical consequences will
employ an army of psychiatrists, therapists, and mental health workers for
decades), preliminary results have been tabulated, as follows:

"Target" Group - 87% of the 2134 "target" group subjects, some 1857
individuals, manifested dysfunctional behavior that can be directly related to
the FIBS experience. Of this group, 65%, or 1207 individuals, were categorized
as severely affected. While only 14%, or 260, have been institutionalized to
date, that figure can only grow with time. Of more clinical concern are those
individuals who, while severely affected, have developed coping mechanisms
which assist them in avoiding institutionalization, but who remain menaces to
society - ticking bombs, as it were. Follow-up covert on-site observation is
indicated in almost all "target" group subjects, both for research and public
safety reasons.

Control Group - 79% of the control group, or 551 individuals, manifested
FIBS-related dysfunction. Interestingly, 88% were categorized as severe, a much
higher percentage than the "target" group. The researchers are re-examining
their experimental design, and are concentrating initial efforts on the
abnormal psychology of the average backgammon player.


Further Research:

This experiment has generated a plethora of opportunities for further research,
including a substantial number of clinical case studies (see "The Strange Case
of R., Journal of Clinical Psychology, August, 1995), application of findings
to other gaming and non-gaming environments, refinement of covert observation
methodologies, and others too numerous to mention in this abstract, but covered
fully in the complete publication. Funding interest for additional research
from various governments and private concerns is expected to be substantial
following full publication of results.

Unfortunately, full publication is expected to reveal the nature of this
experiment to both the public, and of more concern, its subjects. Consequently,
for the safety of the research team, this phase of the experiment will have to
be concluded, and the apparatus, including the FIBS server, shut down. The
research team will assume new identities and relocate, in order to continue its
long-term, in-depth covert observation of the entire 2845 participants in this
study. Follow-up results will be published periodically.

________________________________________________________


Richard Greenberg Voice: 303/669-7268
Dead Bear Enterprises _ o Email: rich...@deadbear.com
2983 SW 6th Street _'\<,_ Http://www.deadbear.com/dbe
Loveland, CO 80537 (*) (*) It seemed like a good idea at the time...

Usenet is like a large herd of performing elephants with diarrhea -- a
stupendous, often entertaining spectacle that could at any moment unleash
torrents of shit


lkipp...@marcie.wellesley.edu

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Nov 30, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/30/95
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Oh my gosh! And I thought *I* had procrastinated a lot on FIBS! What was that!

-- Lara (Jill on FIBS)

Mark Zuroff

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Nov 30, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/30/95
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Richard Greenberg wrote:
>
> Reprinted without permission from The Journal of Experimental Psychology,
> November, 1995
>
> ______________________________________________
>
> ABSTRACT
>
> Induced Dysfunction Through Simulated Gaming
>
> By
> Andreas Schneider, MD
> Kit Woolsey, MD
> Marius Loner, PhD
>


<snip>
<snip>


in order to continue its
> long-term, in-depth covert observation of the entire 2845 participants in this
> study. Follow-up results will be published periodically.
>

<snip>
>
>


So this is news?

Mark

markhz on fibs

Dragomir R. Radev

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Nov 30, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/30/95
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:)))))

In article <2...@deadbear.com>, Richard Greenberg <rich...@deadbear.com> wrote:
>
>Reprinted without permission from The Journal of Experimental Psychology,
>November, 1995
>
>______________________________________________

--
Dragomir R. Radev Graduate Research Assistant
Natural Language Processing Group Columbia University CS Department
Home: 212-749-9770 Office: 212-939-7121 http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~radev

Ellen and Muni Savyon

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Nov 30, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/30/95
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ROFL ! finalist in the Post of The Year award .

muni .

Richard Greenberg (rich...@deadbear.com) wrote:
:
: Reprinted without permission from The Journal of Experimental Psychology,

:
:
:

George H Steele

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Nov 30, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/30/95
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Thank you, thank you! So _that_ explains it! I knew, just knew . . . .

--
George H Steele
ghsteele on FIBS

Dave McNair 4122

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Nov 30, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/30/95
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Excellent hypothesis Richard.

I believe neuroses are characterized by the subject's being aware they have a
problem, while psychotics remain blissfully in the dark. I do recognise many
of the symptoms you described (particularly the boils), so hopefully I'm only
in the early stages of neurosis and therapy shouldn't be too expensive.

I feel however, I should point out the game's usefulness in diverting me
(and presumably other susceptibles) from more damaging and sinister pastimes,
thereby reducing the menace to society. Whether this compensates for all the
well-balanced individuals who have been knocked off their trolley is a matter
for conjecture...

Keep up the good work!

\Dave

PS: don't get too close to those elephants


Tom Weber

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Dec 2, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/2/95
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rich...@deadbear.com (Richard Greenberg) wrote:

[snip]


>ABSTRACT
>
>Induced Dysfunction Through Simulated Gaming
>
>By
>Andreas Schneider, MD
>Kit Woolsey, MD
>Marius Loner, PhD

[snip]


>Preliminary Results:
>
>While this experiment remains on-going (indeed, the clinical consequences will
>employ an army of psychiatrists, therapists, and mental health workers for
>decades), preliminary results have been tabulated, as follows:
>
> "Target" Group - 87% of the 2134 "target" group subjects, some 1857
>individuals, manifested dysfunctional behavior that can be directly related to
>the FIBS experience. Of this group, 65%, or 1207 individuals, were categorized
>as severely affected. While only 14%, or 260, have been institutionalized to
>date, that figure can only grow with time. Of more clinical concern are those
>individuals who, while severely affected, have developed coping mechanisms
>which assist them in avoiding institutionalization, but who remain menaces to
>society - ticking bombs, as it were. Follow-up covert on-site observation is
>indicated in almost all "target" group subjects, both for research and public
>safety reasons.

Step 1)
We admitted we were powerless over backgammon and our lives had
become unmanageable.

Step 2)
We came to believe in a server greater than our own that could restore
us to sanity.

Step3)
We made a decision to turn our will and our hard drives over ......


sign up for the new recovery group, forming on a netwrok server near
you....


Tom

_______________________________________________________________

Tom Weber
St. Louis, MO twe...@icon-stl.net
Visit my Homepage and say Hi! http://www.icon-stl.net/~tweber
_______________________________________________________________

Andreas Schneider

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Dec 2, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/2/95
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rich...@deadbear.com (Richard Greenberg) writes:


>Reprinted without permission from The Journal of Experimental Psychology,

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ in deed!
>November, 1995
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Wrong! The article will appear in the Feb96 issue.

>______________________________________________

>ABSTRACT

>Induced Dysfunction Through Simulated Gaming

>By
>Andreas Schneider, MD
>Kit Woolsey, MD
>Marius Loner, PhD

[article deleted]

I am very upset about the publication of my article in this newsgroup
even before it will appear in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. I will
have to investigate how this confidential article made its way into
this newsgroup. No royalties for the above mentioned article have been
paid to me and a law suit will surely be unavoidable. I'd like to point
out one incorrectness in the posting. There are no plans to terminate
the experiment in the near future. Recent research seems to indicate
that the termination of the FIBS experiment would lead to serious
withdrawal symptoms amongst the test subjects. The cost costs of dealing
with those problems would increase the costs of continuing the experiment
until an effetice cure for Backgammon has been found.

In the meantime: enjoy FIBS and be nice to each other

Andreas (aka marvin)

studerende

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Dec 6, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/6/95
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nyc...@cnct.com (NYCGuy) wrote:

>El...@tiac.net (Ellen and Muni Savyon) wrote:
>
>>ROFL ! finalist in the Post of The Year award .
>
>>muni .
>
>>Richard Greenberg (rich...@deadbear.com) wrote:
>>:
>>: Reprinted without permission from The Journal of Experimental Psychology,
>>: November, 1995
>>:
>>: ______________________________________________
>>:
>>: ABSTRACT
>>:
>>: Induced Dysfunction Through Simulated Gaming
>>:
>>: By
>>: Andreas Schneider, MD
>>: Kit Woolsey, MD
>>: Marius Loner, PhD
>
>Finalist? I give it first place! I laughed so hard, I peed my pants
>and missed my BG disfunctional group therapy session!
>
>--
>Marty (NYCGuy - fibs)
>
>"The nicest thing about banging your head on the wall is-
> the feeling you get when you stop."
>

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