Visualizing without seeing

Last January was the annual Awesome Games Done Quick marathon, where speed runners1 show off and explain their skills while raising money for cancer research. One of the final events of the marathon was a blindfolded speed run of the beginning of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (OoT) (basically, the first three dungeons). Yes, you read that correctly: a speed runner Runnerguy2489 was blindfolded and then played OoT.
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Zelda Speed Runs

Over the summer I got really interested in video game speed runs. Specifically speed runs of Legend of Zelda games. I had known that this was a thing, but it had never caught my fascination before. Speed running, for those of you not familiar, is when you try to play a game as fast as possible. In many ways this is analogous to high score records in other video games (this is especially true with older arcade games – think of the documentary King of Kong about Donkey Kong players), but since Zelda games don’t have a score, players instead compete to see who can complete the game the fastest. Before I started watching speed runs, I had an impression that the players might be similar to those depicted in the King of Kong movie: obsessed, secretive, and ultra-competitive. But I found something very different.

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What’s Making Me Happy This Week

One of my favorite podcasts, Pop Culture Happy Hour (run by the good people at NPR), asks its panelists at the end of each weekly episode to talk about what is making them happy this week. It is a good time to recount some of the things that maybe don’t deserve weekly headlines but are contributing to the overall happiness of the panelist that week. Sometimes it is a book they are reading or a nice thing some stranger did for them.

So here is the list of things that are making me happy this week (in no particular order):
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