[LMB] Heinlein

Karen A. Wyle kawyle at att.net
Mon Oct 4 14:30:25 BST 2021

 I was thinking of exactly this brilliant takedown of Quidditch, plus the later response to "but how will we know the game is over": "Buy a clock."
Karen A. Wyle
    On Monday, October 4, 2021, 01:12:18 AM EDT, Joel Polowin <jpolowin at hotmail.com> wrote:  
"So let me get this straight," Harry said as it seemed that Ron's
explanation (with associated hand gestures) was winding down. "Catching
the Snitch is worth one hundred and fifty points?"


"How many ten-point goals does one side usually score not counting the

"Um, maybe fifteen or twenty in professional games--"

"That's just wrong. That violates every possible rule of game design.
Look, the rest of this game sounds like it might make sense, sort of,
for a sport I mean, but you're basically saying that catching the Snitch
overwhelms almost any ordinary point spread. The two Seekers are up
there flying around looking for the Snitch and usually not interacting
with anyone else, spotting the Snitch first is going to be mostly

"It's not luck!" protested Ron. "You've got to keep your eyes moving in
the right pattern--"

"That's not interactive, there's no back-and-forth with the other player
and how much fun is it to watch someone incredibly good at moving their
eyes? And then whichever Seeker gets lucky swoops in and grabs the
Snitch and makes everyone else's work moot. It's like someone took a
real game and grafted on this pointless extra position so that you could
be the Most Important Player without needing to really get involved or
learn the rest of it. Who was the first Seeker, the King's idiot son who
wanted to play Quidditch but couldn't understand the rules?" Actually,
now that Harry thought about it, that seemed like a surprisingly good
hypothesis.  Put him on a broomstick and tell him to catch the shiny
-- _Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality_, Eliezer Yudkowsky


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