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22 June 2007 @ 07:19 pm
Transcending Combat: Adversarial Tactics in the Transdisciplinary Context  
This post may veer off the beaten path for academics, as I'll be using video games, among other things like Zen Buddhism and software development theory, for the fulcrum to explain my understanding of complexity and multiple levels of reality. For those of you that know me, my primary game happens to be Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. However, I won't go too much into nerdy game-related detail, I promise.

There are two scenarios whose complexity can be absolutely maddening to comprehend for players: Circular Hierarchy and False Regression [of Skill].

Circular Hierarchy results when at least three individuals are involved. Typically, in the ideal scenario, Player A is the highest ranked, and can beat Players B and C. Player B can beat Player C, who is the least skilled. A > B > C. However, a situation will develop where Player C will consistently defeat Player A. Therefore, there is no clear winner.

False Regression occurs when a player has a greater command of the rules and dynamic of the game than another, but loses consistently to the less-skilled player, for various reasons (typically, the less-skilled player is more focused upon one aspect of his game, and is therefore unencumbered by the fears of experience). The more-skilled player may believe that he has become worse.

There are also scenarios where a logical move is the worst possible one to make. After much experience, one is eventually forced to stop over-analyzing small, tactical scenarios (or to stop thinking altogether). Sometimes, the solution to a logic-trap problem must be previously analyzed outside of the context of the situation (textbook analysis), or immediate, thoughtless action must be performed before rapidly diminishing options are eliminated entirely.

If Circular Hierarchy determines that there is no truly 'superior' player, then False Regression can explain why Player A lost to Player B even though Player A was playing a more technically, or factually 'correct' game. And all of these can help one understand the importance of different levels of reality. (To be hyperlinked later)

Also, False Regression is tied to the trans-circular notion of Complexity.* By trans-circular, I'm talking about a circle that progresses to other circles when viewed with an additional dimension: A spiral, or a three-dimensional cycle of progression.

(This spiral model pertains directly to the practice of tactics. For a spiral model of management, read about Barry Boehm's Spiral model of software development. I am not aware of a strategic spiral model.)

In Figure 1, Player B appears to have a higher position than Player A does. The vertical marker, however, denotes the chronological progression through a clockwise path, showing the advanced state of Player A.

In Figure 2, Player A is actually revealed to have a higher position than Player B. In actuality, this spiral progression is much more chaotic and varied- instead of traveling upwards in a straight line, its path is much more curvy/spiral-like.

Note that the only two states we are concerned about here are above and below, or victory and defeat. Or, to quote Yoda, "Do or do not. There is no try." This is the adversarial philosophy of tactics.

From Dr. Ross's paper on Zen and the Art of Divebombing, the explanation for Player A's apparent declination of skill is thus explained from the Zen perspective:

The correlation is thus: Mountains are Mountains (Fig.1 Top of circle), Mountains are not Mountains (Fig.1 Bottom of circle), Mountains are Mountains again (Fig.1 Top of circle).

Now, we've reached a sort of quandary: Why bother learning or trying anything when it could potentially make you worse? What's the point of practicing a new technique before a tournament if it will only encumber your mind with unnecessary complexity? For that, we have to turn towards the development of skill, which is governed by the realm of Management. Failure to make this distinction will lead to 'paralysis by analysis' in the midst of combat.

*: For the purposes of this article, I posit Complexity as a quasi-linear path of progress using time as the A-to-B value. Also, Barry Boehm's chart of Software Development is a much more developed concept of the spiral model, as its increasing circumference is a good indicator of the additional time necessary to complete an iteration because of additional complexity. I am unsure as to whether or not an actual Trandisciplinarian would agree at all on any of this, however.
two to the fifthsulphuroxide on June 23rd, 2007 07:52 am (UTC)
the easiest explaination, i find is a hegelian dialectic, which is a double layered spiral of yes and no. deleuze and guattari's double articulation might prove useful, in this in the sense of "shaping the no-center" by which we get compact petit object a's if you like to mix philosophies., which are representative of virtual landscapes or machinic indexes. i am talking about how the selection of a move occurs in virtual hetereogeneous territories, from a selection of options. any interplay then, becomes a matter of over/coding the options of the other player's virtual landscape. in a sense, how two players with their virtual indexes of moves can successfuly overcode another's movements/territories. if A loses to C, it is definitely because A is short-circuted by C's sharpness. musashi still holds true, the shortest path is the shortest path, and mountains are mountains. in this sense, it's really a question of tempo after all... which is interesting because d&g have a temporal ontology of sorts.
arlieth on June 23rd, 2007 08:46 am (UTC)
In sharpness, or the shortest path, could it be interpreted as paring down an exponentially complex array of possibilities down into a series of simple forks?

Also, in virtual heterogeneous territories, I'm visualizing it as several different 'variables' or states regarding properties such as momentum, tempo, territory, strength, position, structural robustness, flexibility/commitment, etc. At given points in time, different territories intersect and nullify each other- momentum is 'stuffed'(thwarted) by pre-existing position, commitment breaks through a gap within structure's realm.
two to the fifthsulphuroxide on June 23rd, 2007 08:58 am (UTC)
im not so sure about pairing down. maybe it's more like two children squabbling. one might make a complex argument. if the other does not recognize it she may claim, AM NOT. and it becomes AM NOT/ARE TOO. i think alot of humor works like this. the selected register may be simplified in content but it's rather that the large edifice just doesn't apply anymore, like it never did. shows like aqua teen hunger force, robot chicken and so on, have this kind of humor. GWB's administration has used it alot too. in a way it's really just red herring the arguement. if you like transcendentalisms, the previous arguement still stands but now it's in ether, out of sight. it's just that now we are distracted into something different in lieu of.

d&g's notion of territory may be too general to use here since they apply it to animal migration and hunting patterns as well. but the same piece of earth can be a multitude of "territories" to different species all differently arrayed. not to say that what you are envisioning is invalid but it's not what i had in mind. i don't mean to say there is some real chess board between the players, but more like there are multiple boards and a given player is just trying to insist that "her board" is the correct and real one. so they may have variable states, or metaboards they select from, but when they move the coding works to insist on itself. its kind of like the simpsons meet family guy kinda episodes, or flintstones vs jetsons where different codes are seleected from different terriroties and insist on their own sense to chaotically select for new one.

arlieth on June 23rd, 2007 09:00 am (UTC)
Ahh, I think I'm starting to see what you're getting at. Sometimes it's easier when we speak our own field-specific languages since I'm not familiar with D&G or hegel in the slightest.
arlieth on June 23rd, 2007 12:12 pm (UTC)
Also, I seem to remember you telling me about how lower-level chess players would attempt to trade pieces in order to dumb the game down to a more simplistic level. But yeah.
two to the fifthsulphuroxide on June 23rd, 2007 06:39 pm (UTC)
you know, it works both ways. why players with lesser scores can beat me whereas players with higher ones i can more regularly beat. i tend not to trade so haphazardly, but the tendancy for me to trade is there.