Friday, July 13, 2007

Finnish geek culture   posted by agnostic @ 7/13/2007 12:26:00 PM

At the risk of boring readers with two Finn-baiting posts in one day, let me add two more data-points to the post below on losers from Finland. Some of the readers may have already known that Finland has the highest per capita membership for MENSA, the club that only lets in those with an IQ of about 132. Since they are not particularly smarter on average, this means that Finland is the country where smart people have absolutely nothing to do with their talents and instead waste their time attending MENSA gatherings. *

As another indication, the most elite guy at mastering insanely difficult stunts in the shooter video game Goldeneye is Ilari Pekkala, a Finn living in Sweden. Check out some of these videos in which the game has been pushed to maximal difficulty: one shot kills you, the enemies have 100% accuracy, they react speedily, and it requires 10 shots to the head to kill them (and more if you don't shoot their head). Just figuring out how to complete a level under these constraints requires lots of research, and actually accomplishing the stunt requires still more practice. Call him the video game version of the "White Death" sniper.

Looking over the rest of the above website, as well as this list of record-holders, it seems that Scandinavian and Germanic people are overrepresented among first-person shooter geeks. (And don't forget the most famous video of a gaming geek losing his temper is of a German kid.) I thought for sure there would be plenty of Northeast Asians, but there's nary a one to be found. Perhaps they're more interested in playing Tetris. Or maybe they've followed a more practical and less glory-seeking path by earning gold in World of Warcraft to sell to lazy Western players.

* While reading through a textbook on abstract algebra, I'm struck by how many Scandinavian names appear prominently -- Abel, Lie, Sylow -- since most math names tend to be German, French, Russian, or Ashkenazi Jewish. Although Scandinavians made a good showing among Fields Medalists early on -- a Swede living in Finland, a Swede, and a Norwegian -- the most recent winner won the medal in 1962. Get out of those damned MENSA meetings and video game competitions and do something new!