June 24, 2006


Posted in Video/Computer Games at 11:44 am by Transmuter

World of Warcraft is a great game. I like it because it's fun, and I like it because my wife likes it.

I've always enjoyed the Warcraft series. I never played much of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, but I loved Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness and it's expansion. I would listen to the music on the CD, which was playable from regular CD players, and later on my computer and iPod. I loved the quirky, humorous sayings that the units would utter if you clicked on them too many times. It was just a really good game. I also liked Warcraft III, though I haven't finished the expansion yet. With each iteration of the Warcraft games, the mythos expanded and deepened and became even more engrossing.

I never had any interest in MMORPGs, mainly because I'm not normally a very social, extroverted person. I tend to have a few close friends rather than many "casual" friends. The other main problem with MMORPGs was the cost. I could buy a game for $50, but paying $15 every single month was way out of my budget. Guild Wars, with its lack of a monthly fee, was pretty cool. My dad bought the game for that reason, and I bought a copy to play with him. Unfortunately he had heart surgery shortly afterward and wasn't really in a position to play for a while. When World of Warcraft was released back in 2004, it became the MMORPG I most wanted to play, but the monthly fee kept me away.

My wife is not a gamer. She's not against playing games, but she's just not really into them. She likes the Settlers of Catan board game, she hates D&D (she says it's deathly boring), and she doesn't play many video/computer games. She generally gets bored easily, so she doesn't like most games with long tutorials and games that move slowly, like RPGs. She also hates dying or losing, and tends to give up on games where she doesn't succeed immediately. She also doesn't like violent games with blood and gore. This rules out most computer games. I have been trying to get her hooked on a real game – preferably one I can play with her – with little success. She loved Zuma, and totally rocks me at it (I can't get past stage 9, but she beat the game), but she didn't like Unreal Tournament 2004 or Dungeon Siege. She loved Animal Crossing for the Gamecube, so she got a Nintendo DS Lite and Animal Crossing Wild World for her birthday. But finally in desperation I turned to World of Warcraft as a final attempt at getting my wife into a game.

I downloaded the client, registered the 10-day trial for each of us, and read to my wife all about the game from the official website. The fact that she didn't have to fight anything was a big draw from her. We created our characters: me a gnome rogue and her a night elf druid. She immediately took to the game; she killed her first few monsters without dying (she was better than she thought, and even expressed surprise at the corpses of other beginning players lying around – "How can you die in an easy place like this?") and acquired some trade skills as soon as she could (tailoring and enchanting – as a former aspiring fashion designer she couldn't resist). She loves fishing, just as in Animal Crossing. She's not enamored of doing tons of quests, but she'll do them with me, and I think we make a pretty good team. Today is our last day of the free trial; I registered the retail version this morning, and will upgrade to the full version for my wife later today.

I thank World of Warcraft for making a game that appeals to such a broad audience without necessarily appealing to the lowest common denominator.


June 23, 2006

The First 7 Months

Posted in Language Development at 11:35 am by Transmuter

I had been meaning to start this blog several months ago, but never got around to it until school got out for the summer. Now I will try to recap my daughter Kyla's language development during the first seven months of her life.

As a newborn she was only able to cry when unhappy, and was generally silent otherwise. At some point (see why I need to write these things down when they happen?) she began to make cooing noises, primarily vowel sounds. These were not distinct vowels, though. I would just say they were [+sonorant] noises.

Her first consonant was [b], at around 4 months (I think). She coupled this with a low front vowel, which generally ranged around [a] and [æ] (the vowel sound in "at"). So she would say things like [bababæbæbæba].

Her next consonant was [d] at around 5 months, which I enjoyed because she would say [dædæ]. I know that she was just babbling and didn't associate the sounds to me, but it made me feel happy as a new dad to hear her say it. Interestingly, when she learned to produce [d] she stopped producing the [b]. She would also devoice the vowels and add glottal fricatives, saying [dæhdæh] in kind of a loud, breathy, whisper-like manner.

Around the same time she learned to make raspberries. I'd say they were bilabial trills, but she tightened her lips much more than necessary, so instead of a "motorboat" sound it came out as a "fart" noise.

Both the [d] sound and the raspberries stopped when she learned the [m] sound. Now it was her mother's turn to be happy when she said [mama]. Generally she would draw out the [m] of [mamama], as if she was just pronouncinga long [m] and occasionally opening her mouth.

As of now (7 months), Kyla has rediscovered the [d] and raspberries. She also says [m], but I haven't heard her say [b] in quite a while. She has her two lower incisors in, and I expect more to arrive in the coming months.

June 22, 2006

Welcome to the Tower!

Posted in General at 6:33 pm by Transmuter

Welcome to my tower. I'm Transmuter, and I'll be your host for the remainder of your stay in this weblog. As my tagline says, I'll be writing mainly about the things that interest me: language, games, technology, my family, and so forth. This blog is primarily as an online journal, since I'm terrible at writing in paper ones. I have a 7-month old daughter, and I'll try to document her language development as she progresses in proficiency. I will also write about things in my life I found interesting or important. If you like what you read, let me know! If not, there are thousands of other blogs you can read instead.