Zoombinis, a lonely obsession

Growing up I was all about computer games. I think the obsession started at school, where we would play things like Oregon Trail and Kid Pix. Zoombinis is quite potentially one of my favorites. I believe I started playing it in either 2nd or 3rd grade…

About 5 years ago I actually bought a CD-ROM version of the game from eBay. It was just as magical as I remembered it. So, when I saw online that the original company plans to revamp the game, I was obviously beyond ecstatic. A kickstarter was just launched for TERC to develop the game for both tablets and PCs. (I’ll be able to play it on my iPad!!!)

In addition to instantly backing this project, I started telling everyone else about it. At school, while in a group of 4 people or so, I brought up the fact they are re-making it. No one knew what I was talking about. No one had played it. The next time I was a little safer about it. I asked the group if they had ever played it instead of blurting out “omg did you hear they are re-launching Zoombinis isn’t that so exciting?!” but none of them had. How is it that I am at MIT and none* of my peers have played this educational video game?

One guy did bring up the Dinosaur Zoo game though, which I had forgotten about but am excited to have rediscovered. I also really liked 5th Grade Adventures which, although I didn’t realize it until now, had a lead female character and that may be why I like it so much.

I do find comfort that over 2100 people have backed Zoombinis though. So, while I might be alone at MIT Sloan, I am not alone in the world.

*Sample size of 14

To drop or not to drop

Sometimes I feel like the smallest decisions can be the hardest ones to make. I think I allow myself to make something seem like a bigger deal than it really is. I try to ground myself in gathering more information, such as the true pros and cons of a decision, but that doesn’t always help.

What am I fighting with today? Whether or not to drop my marketing class. With it, I max out the number of credits I can take this semester, which is a good thing. However, the class is painful. I can’t determine if it is the content or the professor or the structure of the class, but either way the idea of not having to take it excites me. The draw backs though are that I’ve already spent $85 on the case materials, and those aren’t refundable. Additionally, I’ve already gone to 3+ classes. But, because I’m in business school I need to accept those as sunk costs.

So, going forward will I get more benefit out of dropping or staying in the class? I’m pretty sure I get more benefit dropping it and giving myself the opportunity to take a class that is more interesting to me. Yet for some reason it still feels like a failure to drop it. I have no idea why I am giving this much weight to such an issue.

Snow days bring Golden Girls


This past week I had two full snow days off from school, both Monday and Tuesday. I haven’t had a snow day since high school. During college, we had snow for sure, but Macalester never closed because of it. Snow days are just as fun as I remember them being. On Tuesday, my friend came over to play. Ever since we became Facebook friends before even meeting, I knew she and I needed to watch The Golden Girls together because she had taken a “Which Golden Girl character are you” quiz and scored Rose so I was impressed. We’ve been trying to find a time since the summer to get together to watch it but until the snow day, it never came up. Obviously we made a drinking game out of it. We used the one we found here but cut out the part about choosing a character. We just followed the these rules:

  • When Sophia says “Picture it…”: Drink.
  • When Rose says “Back in St. Olaf…”: Drink.
  • When Blanche says “Big Daddy…”:Drink
  • When they eat a cheesecake, finish the drink

It was fantastic and everything I ever hoped it would be. It also brought back a lot of fond memories for me. Growing up, anytime I stayed at my aunt Joann’s we would watch it together. Usually after my bath, she would cut up apple slices, serve them with cinnamon sugar, and we’d curl up on her bed watching it. Once we moved to Minneapolis I began watching it every night as I fell asleep. Revisiting it now, it is no wonder I turned out the way I did. Just like Joe attributes my burping to Pippi Longstocking, I think The Golden Girls gave me my sarcasm and my ability to hold a straight face. Well, that and my mom.

Social Media – what goes viral?

This week in my social media class we discussed the attributes of content that make it go viral. Before the class, we were asked to post on our class tumblr a piece of content we recently shared and to dive into the reason behind it. I chose to discuss a tweet I had recently retweeted:

I retweeted this in order to raise awareness to the harassment that Anita Sarkeesian and other female video gamers receive online. #Gamergate has been something I’ve followed since the beginning, mainly because I love video games myself but also because of the pure hatred it has surfaced around the internet.

Retweeting this allowed others to learn about the topic and also enabled those giving the harassment to see there are a lot of people who support those they are attacking.

Even though I follow @femfreq myself, when I saw so many other people I follow also retweeting it, I knew it was something I wanted to stand behind. I chose to retweet this one in particular because I had never associated the two accounts before and realized how widespread the support was.


Berger breaks the components into 6 pieces, or STEPPS, that can make content go viral.

  • Social currency
  • Triggers
  • Emotions
  • Physiological arousal
  • Public
  • Stories

For my retweet specifically, there were emotions that it caused in me: frustration and anger. Strong emotions, either positive or negative, increase the likelihood that something will be shared. Super interesting!