Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

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Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by 1.82 »

I am about to start working on a currently-unnamed trash set for use sometime in 2021 with a few other writers. This set will feature several innovations based on recent discussions of the purpose and scope of trash in quizbowl, including but not limited to the following:

TIME DISTRIBUTION AND UNDERGRADUATE FOCUS:
  • All categories will feature explicit time quotas designed to counter the bias towards people in the 25–40 age range that has characterized nearly all trash tournaments written to this point. There will be greater amounts of content that current undergraduates of typical age could have plausibly experienced firsthand than is normal in trash. For example, a minimum of 50% of all the music and sports questions will be about music and sports since 2010. A minimum of 50% of all the TV questions will be about TV since 2015. 100% of the video games questions will be on broadly popular games since 2010 (there will be no "classic gaming" or niche JRPG content in this tournament).
  • Questions from before 2010 will be significantly skewed towards pre-1990 content that is equally accessible to anyone under age 40 who has sought it out or learned about it in a book and will be approached from a perspective of what is culturally important. The 1990–2010 period which heavily rewards the experiences of the 25–40 age group will be de-emphasized and will receive no more than 3/3 total questions in any given packet.
    • "Culturally important" should not be taken as a synonym for "academic"—this is a trash tournament and it very well may have questions on Charlie's Angels or The Commodores, because those things were large presences in American popular culture even though they would not come up at ACF Nationals. It is unlikely to have many questions rewarding deep knowledge of Fairfield Parlour or Butt-Ugly Martians as those fall into the categories of "old things that, despite being highly regarded by critics, only dedicated historians of music know about" and "ephemeral nostalgia from the '90s and '00s that didn't have any prominence in the culture as a whole," which will be heavily de-emphasized in this packet set.
    • In the film category only, there will be an allotment for critically lauded film regardless of popularity, but effort will still be made to keep questions answerable.
  • The set is intended for use at open-eligibility trash tournaments, though we are not opposed to negotiating specific mirrors that choose to use more restrictive entrance criteria.
EFFORT TO INCLUDE CONTENT THAT APPEALS TO UNDERREPRESENTED GROUPS:
  • This tournament will feature 1/1 women's sports in every packet and will also require certain amounts of film by women, film by minorities, fashion, and popular literature of appeal to women across the packet set.
  • There will be 1 question per packet in the category of "Southern, rural, or blue-collar interest" designed to include topics that the traditional quizbowl demographic - especially the traditional open trash tournament demographic - does not necessarily prioritize when writing tournaments.
  • There is no "Internet memes" or "Twitter" category in this tournament, and in general the tournament will not include any questions catering to Extremely Online interests. In categories where undesirable trends are difficult to counter with numerical quotas, we will still eyeball the progress of the set to try to minimize bias as much as possible (e.g. we will keep the "recent rock music" category from being entirely overrun by "indie bands from Brooklyn," and so forth.)
SEEKING WRITERS FOR THIS SET
  • We would like a minimum of two more writers to collaborate on this set. We are specifically looking for writers who can provide a current undergraduate's perspective on contemporary popular music and on questions that appeal to women playing the tournament, though if you prefer to work in other categories we are also interested in hearing from you. This means that if you are an undergraduate and/or a woman, then we are very much looking forward to your application for the writing team. If you are interested, please contact me, Naveed Chowdhury, at [email protected].
  • There will be a minimum of four total writers on the set, and possibly more. That means that each writer will be responsible for approximately 75 tossups and 75 bonuses, or less if we have more than four people on the team, and will receive an appropriate share of the tournament profits with specifics to be discussed. We would like to have the set done by January 2021 but are willing to extend the production schedule to accommodate the need to get the right people on the writing team, and we will be writing under the low-pressure model of "not announcing any specific times at which the tournament will be held until the set is actually complete." Of course, the evolving situation with distance learning and bans on gatherings in light of public health will also influence whether we attempt to actually hold this tournament in spring 2021 or hold on to the set for a later time.
Please e-mail me if you are interested in writing or have any private questions or concerns specific to your situation, or post in this thread if you would like more information about the set in general. We will put out a separate call for mirror sites once the tournament is ready to be played.
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by Cheynem »

50% of the sports questions will be on music since 2010? Truly forward-thinking!
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by MorganV »

Cheynem wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:12 pm 50% of the sports questions will be on music since 2010? Truly forward-thinking!
Study up on White Iverson and the Miley Cyrus "23" song
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by Auroni »

1.82 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:09 pm100% of the video games questions will be on broadly popular games since 2010 (there will be no "classic gaming" or niche JRPG content in this tournament).
Why are culturally-significant video games from before 2010 unworthy of being asked about in the same way as culturally significant TV, film, or music from before 2010?
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

Auroni wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:08 pm
1.82 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:09 pm100% of the video games questions will be on broadly popular games since 2010 (there will be no "classic gaming" or niche JRPG content in this tournament).
Why are culturally-significant video games from before 2010 unworthy of being asked about in the same way as culturally significant TV, film, or music from before 2010?
I agree with this concern--it's unclear that it's "solving" any problem that actually exists.
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by 1.82 »

Auroni wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:08 pm
1.82 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:09 pm100% of the video games questions will be on broadly popular games since 2010 (there will be no "classic gaming" or niche JRPG content in this tournament).
Why are culturally-significant video games from before 2010 unworthy of being asked about in the same way as culturally significant TV, film, or music from before 2010?
There are two answers to this, which really come out to one answer. (Or, I guess, I should say that these are answers to why pre-2010 video games won't be asked about in this set; whether they're "unworthy of being asked about" is not a determination being made here, and people can and do ask about them in other sets.) The first is the way that these media are consumed. Back when I used to drive to work three months ago, I heard music from the '70s and '80s on the radio every single day on the way to work. Likewise, it's easy to watch movies or television from the past by just turning on the television, and people do this all the time. By contrast, playing old video games that are not manufactured for current consoles involves a non-trivial level of effort and is correspondingly a very niche interest in comparison with listening to old music or watching old movies.

This means that questions on older video games will disproportionately be converted by older players who played those games when they were current. Regardless of whether that's inherently an issue or not, the announcement here makes it clear that this set is looking to avoid questions that play like that. That brings us to the second point, which is that de-emphasizing the 1990–2010 period (as the announcement lays out) leaves a lot less remaining for video games than it does for other forms of media. Obviously there are some culturally significant games from before then that people will have read about or otherwise engaged with secondhand, but the answer space is severely limited. I'm fine with having an extra question on a video game that is regularly played by youth nowadays at the expense of a tossup on Pong.
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by Mike Bentley »

What's the rationale behind no "extremely online" content? I personally don't like many of these questions but my sense is that this type of content is a very important part of the culture of the age group you're targeting. For instance, would questions on eSports fall into this ban?

2015 also seems like quite the hard cutoff for 50% of your TV content. There's certainly a lot of TV produced these days, but why does that one get singled out for a 2015 date rather than 2010? If anything, TV content from 2010-2015 is easier to access than sports content from this period.
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by Auroni »

1.82 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:58 pm
Auroni wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:08 pm
1.82 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:09 pm100% of the video games questions will be on broadly popular games since 2010 (there will be no "classic gaming" or niche JRPG content in this tournament).
Why are culturally-significant video games from before 2010 unworthy of being asked about in the same way as culturally significant TV, film, or music from before 2010?
There are two answers to this, which really come out to one answer. (Or, I guess, I should say that these are answers to why pre-2010 video games won't be asked about in this set; whether they're "unworthy of being asked about" is not a determination being made here, and people can and do ask about them in other sets.) The first is the way that these media are consumed. Back when I used to drive to work three months ago, I heard music from the '70s and '80s on the radio every single day on the way to work. Likewise, it's easy to watch movies or television from the past by just turning on the television, and people do this all the time. By contrast, playing old video games that are not manufactured for current consoles involves a non-trivial level of effort and is correspondingly a very niche interest in comparison with listening to old music or watching old movies.

This means that questions on older video games will disproportionately be converted by older players who played those games when they were current. Regardless of whether that's inherently an issue or not, the announcement here makes it clear that this set is looking to avoid questions that play like that. That brings us to the second point, which is that de-emphasizing the 1990–2010 period (as the announcement lays out) leaves a lot less remaining for video games than it does for other forms of media. Obviously there are some culturally significant games from before then that people will have read about or otherwise engaged with secondhand, but the answer space is severely limited. I'm fine with having an extra question on a video game that is regularly played by youth nowadays at the expense of a tossup on Pong.
There are several issues with this line of reasoning, some of which I’ll list below:

- it ignores computer games such as Half-Life 2, many of which are obtainable and playable simply by having a computer connected to the internet
- it ignores remakes, rereleases, backwards compatibility, virtual consoles, and emulators, which allow people to play games from before 2010 on current consoles/computers (at a time when it has never been logistically easier to do so)
- it ignores the impact of streaming sites and charity events like Awesome Games Done Quick, which ensure that many classic games made before 2010 remain in the milieu

I understand that we’re not talking about a very large number of questions here, but it is extremely possible to fill out a subdistribution of games made before 2010 without dipping into very niche interests or games that were once popular, but are no longer. If you are going to ask about video games at all at a trash tournament that critically examines how quizbowlers under 25 interact with popular culture, then it behooves you to do the same amount of diligence when setting the distribution for video games as you would for the other categories.
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by Mike Bentley »

Also, even within the 2015-2020 range, there's trash that appeals more to younger vs. older demographics and vice versa. I'm guessing that, all else being equal, a current undergraduate is more likely to have watched a Netflix drama like 13 Reason Why than someone my age (who might be more likely to watch a "prestige drama" like Succession)*. Is the plan to, in addition to strict time period restrictions, to also lean more on this younger culture for this tournament?

*I'm sure there are people who are counters to my example. But I don't think it's controversial to say there are things an 18-year-old is more likely to be familiar with than a 35-year-old much less a 65-year-old produced in the last 5 years.
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by Ciorwrong »

Auroni wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:25 pm
1.82 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:58 pm
Auroni wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:08 pm
1.82 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:09 pm100% of the video games questions will be on broadly popular games since 2010 (there will be no "classic gaming" or niche JRPG content in this tournament).
Why are culturally-significant video games from before 2010 unworthy of being asked about in the same way as culturally significant TV, film, or music from before 2010?
There are two answers to this, which really come out to one answer. (Or, I guess, I should say that these are answers to why pre-2010 video games won't be asked about in this set; whether they're "unworthy of being asked about" is not a determination being made here, and people can and do ask about them in other sets.) The first is the way that these media are consumed. Back when I used to drive to work three months ago, I heard music from the '70s and '80s on the radio every single day on the way to work. Likewise, it's easy to watch movies or television from the past by just turning on the television, and people do this all the time. By contrast, playing old video games that are not manufactured for current consoles involves a non-trivial level of effort and is correspondingly a very niche interest in comparison with listening to old music or watching old movies.

This means that questions on older video games will disproportionately be converted by older players who played those games when they were current. Regardless of whether that's inherently an issue or not, the announcement here makes it clear that this set is looking to avoid questions that play like that. That brings us to the second point, which is that de-emphasizing the 1990–2010 period (as the announcement lays out) leaves a lot less remaining for video games than it does for other forms of media. Obviously there are some culturally significant games from before then that people will have read about or otherwise engaged with secondhand, but the answer space is severely limited. I'm fine with having an extra question on a video game that is regularly played by youth nowadays at the expense of a tossup on Pong.
There are several issues with this line of reasoning, some of which I’ll list below:

- it ignores computer games such as Half-Life 2, many of which are obtainable and playable simply by having a computer connected to the internet
- it ignores remakes, rereleases, backwards compatibility, virtual consoles, and emulators, which allow people to play games from before 2010 on current consoles/computers (at a time when it has never been logistically easier to do so)
- it ignores the impact of streaming sites and charity events like Awesome Games Done Quick, which ensure that many classic games made before 2010 remain in the milieu

I understand that we’re not talking about a very large number of questions here, but it is extremely possible to fill out a subdistribution of games made before 2010 without dipping into very niche interests or games that were once popular, but are no longer. If you are going to ask about video games at all at a trash tournament that critically examines how quizbowlers under 25 interact with popular culture, then it behooves you to do the same amount of diligence when setting the distribution for video games as you would for the other categories.
This is entirely correct. If I could use myself as an example: I'm 23 years old and much of what I know about games that were released before 2007 comes from speed runs and events like AGDQ. I've become obsessed with some old games like Mario 64 and Battle for Bikini Bottom (classic game 10/10 get the remake!) because of these communities. Lots of people my age or younger are into speed runs and speed running history videos on YouTube get enormous viewership. Hell, clickbait videos on beating old Pokemon games with bad gimmicks get millions views.
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by vinteuil »

As somebody who was literally just playing KOTOR II (2005)...we're all old.
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by Oh No You Didn't »

if we were asking about video games the kids know we'd just be properly asking about club penguin (2005) pbuh all day anyways right
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by Ehtna »

Speaking as a post-9/11 child, the 2010 cutoff for video games is concerning. Some of my fondest memories of video games are from what I played in early childhood and formative years growing up, which only partly coincides with games post-2010. Like, Club Penguin was unironically The Shit™ at school for multiple years, and I would think that dealing with subject matter such as that would cater to a much more diverse audience than [insert post-2010 indie game or fps] would. Other games that come to mind that I played are Super Mario Galaxy (2007), Portal (2007), the fourth generation of Pokémon games (2007/9), Legend of Zelda; Wind Waker (2002), Super Smash Brothers Melee and Brawl (2001 and 2008), the majority of games on the Nintendo DS (2004 onward), a large portion of Wii games (2006 onward), and a very, very large array of Flash games. Hell, the earliest memories I have of playing video games were my dad letting me play on his Nintendo 64 with him back in '03 and '04. I spent a ridiculous amount of time running around in Super Mario 64 (1996) and taking pictures on Pokémon Snap (1999). And I doubt that I am in the minority for younger people here. People remember the media they interact with as children, and for people ±4 years my age, a good chunk of that ends up being from the 2000s.

Not even touching on the impacts of emulators and events like AGDQ, some of the most influential changes towards making video games more mainstream came about in the 2000s. If this tournament is aiming to appeal to people other than the straight white olds of quizbowl, ignoring anything about pre-2010 video games is a huge problem. I already touched on these in my list of experiences, but here are some major milestones in the industry within the decade:
  • Both the Xbox and Xbox 360 were released (2001 and 2005), making Microsoft a major competitor to Nintendo and Sony and thus introducing another major console family for people to access and play games
  • The Nintendo DS was released in 2004, allowing portable gaming to go mainstream (sorry Game Boy).
  • The Nintendo Wii was released in 2006 as a console specifically designed to reach as many demographics as possible.
  • Online Flash games and MMOs exploded, and I would challenge you to find someone of undergrad age who has not played Poptropica or spent literal days of their life on Cool Math Games.
  • The emergence of mobile games on iPhones just barely began before the turn of the decade, with Angry Birds being released in 2009.
  • The Facebook classic FarmVille was also released in 2009, along with the general emergence of the social gaming market.
If your goal is to cater to the pop culture interests of a younger and broader audience, only working with video games from the 2010s is a mistake. Yes, there have definitely been wildly successful games since then such as Minecraft (2011) and GTA V (2013), but limiting your scope to this era of video games is ignoring many milestones from the 2000s that I would argue have done more for getting non-gamers interested in video games than any other period of video game history. If I were to ask the people I know who don't play video games, regardless of gender, they still have fond memories of playing Club Penguin and Bloons Tower Defense in the school computer lab, or getting absolutely torn to shreds by Rainbow Road playing Mario Kart on their family's Wii (2008). Those are the experiences that stick with our generation. As of now, the game distribution is more tuned towards my 5th grade brother, who is not an undergrad.

I am excited for this set. But I echo the sentiments of the people above me in that the video game time distribution needs to change. I'm all for adding more games, and even just expanding to include games from 2000-onward would make your content a lot more culturally relevant and impactful for your target audience.
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by ValenciaQBowl »

There will be 1 question per packet in the category of "Southern, rural, or blue-collar interest"
Hmm, I guess I get the first two modifiers there, but what exactly is culture of "blue-collar interest"?
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by It's Drew »

I do not think this is a great idea, but I would be interested in writing content for it.

Edit: What is also not a great idea is making that criticism without qualifying it and still expecting anything from the director. To elaborate on the above:

These stipulations, by their nature, are pretty limiting. I'm making a lot of assumptions based on the numbers you've put in your original post, but it would appear to me that roughly 100 of the 300 total questions you expect to produce will be restricted to pop culture since 2010, with a slight skew towards that from 2015 onward. This packet is also, I assume, meant to be accessible, but I'm sort of apprehensive about how possible it is to strike a balance between those two goals without falling victim to dreaded "bad writing" trends like repeated material or forced common link.

I can also add myself to the growing list of zoomers who think the ban on video games before 2010 is unnecessary. If you do want the video games distro to cater toward younger people, you don't need to eliminate older video games from the distribution; instead, when asking about a classic video game that would normally give the edge to an older player who experienced it firsthand, you could deliberately select clues based on what younger people who watch speedrunning streams, Let's Play channels, or video essays would learn about those games.

None of that's gonna stop me from applying to write, though.
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Re: Announcement: Forward-Thinking Trash Tournament Seeking Writers

Post by Cheynem »

Are there any updates on this? (Not that anything is likely to run for a while)

I should clarify that while I'm not a fan of a lot of this tournament's decisions, I think it's worth a shot to see if this experimentation can help improve the quality of trash tournaments.
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