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Author Topic: How to increase interest in hacking?  (Read 36441 times)

zonk47

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2016, 06:45:00 pm »
As far as translations go, it seems to me like there is an untapped Youtube market for Lets Players who can speak both English and Japanese. A lot of people are unwilling to play old games, but are fine with watching others play them. So a person fluent in both who could translate the dialogue as they play would probably draw a lot of attention.
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RyanfaeScotland

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2016, 06:57:25 pm »
http://www.romhacking.net/documents/37/ - this document is in text format. I open it and Notepad comes up with it messed up due to DOS-style formatting. Of course it opens fine in Notepad++, but where in the previous documents did we tell people to install that?
This topic here.

Quote
These documents are but a small selection of the 100 or more docs available for the NES alone. I agree that the learners guide is a good starting point, but people waste hours trying to hunt down additional info, which is scattered all over the place.
Assuming they are reading and learning as they go, even if it isn't the specific stuff they are looking the learn about, then no time is being wasted!
Quote
I also think maybe a little too much is being made of the complexity of ASM (which it's not, just time consuming). A proper intro to ASM, to my mind, would take an "A+ study guide" approach, with detailed, professional diagrams which focus on the components of the system and work down (while avoiding the stuff that only emulator authors actually need to know). "ASM for NES hackers", "for SNES hackers", etc.
This I very much agree with. ASM is nothing more than programming but they way you here it referred to here in some of the docs you'd think it is summoning Cthulhu or something.

I agree that command line is good for batch tasks, but it's implemented poorly on Windows (always has been). Path variables are something people are loathe to experiment with; cmd is a pain to copy to every directory; and nobody wants to deal with path names running into the hundreds of characters.

I'm not sure what you are doing but it sounds like you are doing it wrong.  ;) Tab will auto fill file names for you on the command line so hundred character paths take seconds to go through and, as mentioned, you really shouldn't be copying cmd to every dir. If you'd like to know more about it or have any specific questions please feel free to ask.  :thumbsup:

Quote from: zonk47
There is just so much anymore that has to be learned from the outset... you have to have degrees in both comp sci history and comp sci itself to know where to begin (unless you grew up with it).

Oh, are we not meant to have degrees in comp sci? Well this is a little awkward...  ;D

Another possibility is to try and modernise things like the site layout, the UI of the various tools, etc.  Okay, the command line interface is cool for programmers (1) and people who grew up in the 80s, and the current ROM Hacking.net layout is certainly usable.  But people like minimalism, flat design, lots of icons and effects, etc. Basically, reskin the average ROM hacking tool so it looks more like an iPhone app. And redo the average ROM hacking site so it looks like something made by Apple, or Google, or Facebook or whoever. (2)

Talking of apps, making ROM hacking something doable on smartphones would help a lot.  Like it or not, the desktop PC and tablet are losing out to smartphones and mobile apps, and the fact that ROM hacking is literally impossible on the latter is not helping newbies get into it. (3)

(1) You realise ROM hacking is programming yes? No matter how you do it you are rewriting the game code and data which is exactly what programming is. Ok, if you are using a program or tool to do it you are pretty removed from it and that isn't really programming but if you are just using a hex editor to alter values programming is pretty much what you are doing.

(2) You do this and I swear I will hunt you down... :) Sure we (may) want to appeal to more people but that doesn't mean we should dumb the whole scene down to do it.

(3) Perhaps in general use in the home and by Joe Bloggs they are but I assure you in the software development business we are no where near moving away from the desktop. ROM hacking isn't something you can just do on the bus, it takes focus and concentration, and for that you will want a desktop.


Someone, in reference to something else once said '...we are ROM hackers, and ROM hackers are meant to be smart.' In all seriousness a lot of what I am seeing suggested here seems to revolve around dumbing everything down. Now although I'm not against making things more accessible in areas, we can only hold people's hands so far before we have to expect them to take the onus for their own learning upon themselves.

Wow, I remember having the same discussion when I first started posting here and thinking someone was a bit of an elitist ass for suggesting there should be a level of difficulty in learning ROM hacking so as to weed out people who weren't cut out for it and to prevent having the volume of crappy ROM hacks that are out there multiple exponentially (I believe he referred to the plagues of remakes of SMB 1-1) and here I am pretty much touting the same rhetoric! Man how things change.

zonk47

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #22 on: February 27, 2016, 07:17:41 pm »
One thing that does baffle me... why are there so few women involved in this scene? You'd think there'd be more...
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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #23 on: February 27, 2016, 07:23:32 pm »
Wait wait..... why would you think that and how does it baffle you? Consider the general male to female gamer ratio. Now of those fewer females how many do you think want to spend months editing a game? Not trying to be sexist at all by any means but all things considered I would be surprised if more female hackers showed up in the scene. Maybe you're thinking of the music scene...... :P

RyanfaeScotland

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #24 on: February 27, 2016, 07:28:01 pm »
Because there are no girls on the internet.

SunGodPortal

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #25 on: February 27, 2016, 07:43:00 pm »
I guess video game hacking is just too macho. :P
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zonk47

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #26 on: February 27, 2016, 07:45:30 pm »
If people are gonna insist on the command line, then there at least ought to be a dedicated command line doc explaining all the ins and outs and why and when they are useful. RyanfaeScotland, perhaps we can work on that together.
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SunGodPortal

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #27 on: February 27, 2016, 07:59:52 pm »
Quote
If people are gonna insist on the command line, then there at least ought to be a dedicated command line doc explaining all the ins and outs and why and when they are useful. RyanfaeScotland, perhaps we can work on that together.

I think people make command line utilities because designing something with a GUI is more involved and kind of unnecessary since most of the people using a lot of these tools will be able to figure it out, if they don't already know how to. Learning to use a command prompt is not nearly as complicated as assembly hacking or debugging.

EDIT: People should be grateful that these tools were made at all regardless of whether they're novice friendly or not.
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zonk47

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #28 on: February 27, 2016, 08:22:55 pm »
While I agree that the command prompt is simple in concept, it is very annoying, at least to people who didn't grow up with it. It's also inefficient because typos are common and backspacing = erasing. I digress, but I do much prefer shells.

(postscript: also there is the health issue: more typing = greater risk of carpal tunnel).
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SunGodPortal

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #29 on: February 27, 2016, 08:58:54 pm »
I hate a command prompt just as much as the next guy, but they aren't that much trouble once you get used to it and it sure beats the hell out of having nothing at all. People are just spoiled these days.

EDIT: I removed part of this post because I was being a snob.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2016, 09:30:38 pm by SunGodPortal »
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John Enigma

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #30 on: February 27, 2016, 09:09:20 pm »
^ I prefer GUI's over cmd's. I tried coding in the COBOL language, and that's when I decided to get out of the Com-Sci field.

Programming, or in this case hacking, using Command Prompts is horrible.

I wouldn't recommend it to anybody.

Revenant

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #31 on: February 27, 2016, 09:23:45 pm »
Using the command prompt really isn't that difficult to learn, and most programmer-y types will tell you that it's more or less a fundamental part of doing anything above a certain level of technical depth (and I think a lot of ROM hacking tasks fall into that category).

Speaking as someone who develops GUI software professionally, I'd much rather use a simple but useful command line tool that I can invoke as quickly and repeatedly as necessary as opposed to an equivalent GUI-based program where it looks like someone just dropped two or three buttons into the Visual Basic form designer and called it a day. There are a lot of programs where GUIs just feel completely unnecessary and counterproductive in comparison. Being able to use (and design) both GUI and command-line programs effectively can definitely pay off.

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #32 on: February 27, 2016, 09:33:59 pm »
Quote
While I agree that the command prompt is simple in concept, it is very annoying, at least to people who didn't grow up with it.

You speak as if using a command line interface is something archaic that died out with MS-DOS: Command prompts are used to a huge degree under Linux and Unix systems, Windows Server 2012/R2, networking equipment like routers and switches along with many other things. Like any tool, it's something that requires practice to use (Just like a GUI).

Quote
It's also inefficient because typos are common and backspacing = erasing. I digress, but I do much prefer shells.

Things like Tab Completion available in most CLIs made this a non issue. Besides, a huge amount of using a command line interface (effectively) is via scripts that you should proofread and test anyway.

Quote
(postscript: also there is the health issue: more typing = greater risk of carpal tunnel).

RSI can happen just as easily from using a mouse.

VicVergil

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #33 on: February 27, 2016, 10:21:20 pm »
If people are gonna insist on the command line, then there at least ought to be a dedicated command line doc explaining all the ins and outs and why and when they are useful. RyanfaeScotland, perhaps we can work on that together.

No shortage of tutorials online about how to use the MS-DOS console tool, and batch files to simplify the process. A couple of weeks ago I googled some USB virus issue causing files to all have the hidden attribute, and I found a command line instruction with a full tutorial in the same paragraph about how to use the command line, and that was a "for dummies" site for the general public.

You know that console programs are the easiest to make for someone who's a programming beginner?
And that designing a GUI, besides being more involved than a console program, is completely useless for a tool intended for personal use and a very specific task like extracting stuff from some ROM address?
Said ROM address being found from a pointer list.
Said pointer list being raw hex data found in the hex editor.

If said "romhacker" finds the console program too "disgusting", then maybe he should try with something else not involving that program considering how absurd the whole deal is (and how it leads to much more "disgusting" things... "disgusting" on the virtue of being more elaborate than "straightforward big shiny red button" simple)
And settle with the complexity barrier he set himself - Pokémon hacks being abundant is no surprise, their tools are the least powerful yet the simplest for most ambition-lacking projects like those.

Everything has a price, and what results you get depend on how much effort you put.
Nobody is entitled anyone doing their homework for them, be it the tool writer or the "community" (more like individuals each doing their own thing for fun and occasionally talking about it with others). I think it's in the Getting Started section for this forum if I'm not mistaken.

I don't see why the world should revolve around these people, the kind soul who shared a private tool doesn't get paid you see.

One thing that does baffle me... why are there so few women involved in this scene? You'd think there'd be more...

And why does gender even matter?
What sort of thing prevents anyone from using emulators and hex editors regardless of discriminatory criteria? Does gender get brought up here when some romhacking topic is discussed?

With this, and your talk about explaining something as obvious as the command line window (something every Linux user is familiar with and guess what... there are women out there intelligent enough to use Linux!) and why romhacking tools written that way are useful for romhacking (no joke) because it's essential to introduce women to romhacking.
Are you implying women are intellectually inferior and they can't do a particular type of hobby without external assistance to offset that? This reeks patronizing contempt.

zonk47

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #34 on: February 27, 2016, 11:11:13 pm »
I withheld comment on this before, but the fact is the activity of this community is mostly not altruistic. Or more to the point, only people who speak the original language of the work can truly be said to acting in altruism, as they alone receive no tangible benefit from the activity. Most of us can't speak Japanese worth a lick and the reason for that is that we've not been conditioned to think in Japanese, and for many people the dominant language overruns the brain beyond all else despite all the learning and experience otherwise. Everyone else involved - everyone - is getting the benefit of not having to battle their brain to experience the game (or else, reduce the game play to a series of back-and-forths between the dict/word processor and the screen), that's what the translators contribute. Even people who hack a game so much that they only see it in terms of data chunks nonetheless have the option of enjoying the work of others who have done the same for games they themselves haven't touched. Hacking other than translation... I'm not persuaded that's altruistic... I think that's self-expression... no one yet has made a modding tool that they didn't intend to use for their own creative artistry.

I ask about gender because there are umpteen women involved in scanlation, and hardly any in romhacking. So there's the question of what is being projected about romhacking that isn't about scanlation. There is, of course, no shortage of women programmers in the US at least. Though, maybe women simply don't have the leisure time for hacking because the fathers of their kids are living the playboy life and saddling all the responsibility on them. Might do a poll to find out.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2016, 11:23:28 pm by zonk47 »
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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #35 on: February 28, 2016, 02:10:49 pm »
There are few women in the ROM hacking scene because fewer women care for game design and programming in general.  I mean, look at Mario Fan Games Galaxy and Super Mario Bros X.  The percentage of female members on those sites is roughly about as much as it is here.  SMW Central is the same way.

But hey, every type of 'fan' activity tends to be heavily skewed towards one gender.  ROM hacking and fan game development tend to be male centric, fan fiction and cosplay tend to be female centric, and fan art is somewhere in the middle.  There are probably a mixture of biological and social reasons for these trends, and they usually tend to mirror the larger 'real world' industries they're inspired by (the games industry is male dominated, the literature scene is female dominated).

I don't see it as an issue at all.  People are all different.

This topic here.
Assuming they are reading and learning as they go, even if it isn't the specific stuff they are looking the learn about, then no time is being wasted!This I very much agree with. ASM is nothing more than programming but they way you here it referred to here in some of the docs you'd think it is summoning Cthulhu or something.

I'm not sure what you are doing but it sounds like you are doing it wrong.  ;) Tab will auto fill file names for you on the command line so hundred character paths take seconds to go through and, as mentioned, you really shouldn't be copying cmd to every dir. If you'd like to know more about it or have any specific questions please feel free to ask.  :thumbsup:

Oh, are we not meant to have degrees in comp sci? Well this is a little awkward...  ;D

(1) You realise ROM hacking is programming yes? No matter how you do it you are rewriting the game code and data which is exactly what programming is. Ok, if you are using a program or tool to do it you are pretty removed from it and that isn't really programming but if you are just using a hex editor to alter values programming is pretty much what you are doing.

(2) You do this and I swear I will hunt you down... :) Sure we (may) want to appeal to more people but that doesn't mean we should dumb the whole scene down to do it.

(3) Perhaps in general use in the home and by Joe Bloggs they are but I assure you in the software development business we are no where near moving away from the desktop. ROM hacking isn't something you can just do on the bus, it takes focus and concentration, and for that you will want a desktop.


Someone, in reference to something else once said '...we are ROM hackers, and ROM hackers are meant to be smart.' In all seriousness a lot of what I am seeing suggested here seems to revolve around dumbing everything down. Now although I'm not against making things more accessible in areas, we can only hold people's hands so far before we have to expect them to take the onus for their own learning upon themselves.

Wow, I remember having the same discussion when I first started posting here and thinking someone was a bit of an elitist ass for suggesting there should be a level of difficulty in learning ROM hacking so as to weed out people who weren't cut out for it and to prevent having the volume of crappy ROM hacks that are out there multiple exponentially (I believe he referred to the plagues of remakes of SMB 1-1) and here I am pretty much touting the same rhetoric! Man how things change.

Sure ROM hacking is programming.  But programmers don't only use the command line.  They often use editors with things like syntax highlighting, macros, and a nicer user interface.  Like for web stuff, the one for Notepad++, or Brackets, or whatever else.  And even there, a lot of people will use stuff that makes things easier on them, like frameworks (see Bootstrap or Foundation or whatever). 

And in other game design/development houses, they use engines with decent editing tools, like the Unreal Engine editor.

ROM hacking tools look like something from the Commodore 64 era by comparison.

Oh, and simplifying things is not about 'dumbing it down'.  If you make things difficult for newbies to get into, your scene probably will eventually die.  There should be a nicer learning curve for ROM hacking, otherwise when the old guard finally moves onto new pastures, it'll be hard to sustain any level of activity.

As for modern designs... I disagree.  I think they just look nicer, whether that's for newbies or veterans.  The ROM hacking scene needs to move away from the 'programmer art' Geocities esque design that seems to be plaguing it and get with the times.

As far as translations go, it seems to me like there is an untapped Youtube market for Lets Players who can speak both English and Japanese. A lot of people are unwilling to play old games, but are fine with watching others play them. So a person fluent in both who could translate the dialogue as they play would probably draw a lot of attention.

Get them to play Fire Emblem Fates, and they'd get a few thousand subscribers in no time!

Also, a few other things that would help:

1. A nicer wiki.  Okay, Data Crystal exist... kind of.  But it's very empty for the most part.  For example, I type in Mario 64 and...

http://datacrystal.romhacking.net/wiki/Super_Mario_64_DS

I get only the page for the DS remake, and a page with about two links and a picture.  So I try Super Mario World:

http://datacrystal.romhacking.net/wiki/Super_Mario_World

Bit better, but a lot of red links and not much real detail.  But hey, SMW Central exists for that, so maybe I'll try... The Legend of Zelda:

http://datacrystal.romhacking.net/wiki/The_Legend_of_Zelda

Well... it exists.  But it's again, just random links.

Either way, the wiki needs some more maintainers.  I'd help myself, but hey, Super Mario Wiki is enough of a timesink for me as it is.

I also think a bit more community spirit and a focus on the authors as people could help too.  Like, imagine if ROM Hacking.net sometimes had interviews with prominent modders and posted them on the front page?  That would be nice to see.  Or how about real reviews of hacks, by a dedicated team or something?  Something akin to Levelengine's Mario hack reviews, except more general?

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_cmskLuUDIgT30mjUa6UWw

But those are just my suggestions.
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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #36 on: February 28, 2016, 03:38:44 pm »
To me, rom-hacking (or tomahawking - as the spell-check suggests) is more than using a editor with a nice GUI.

With editors like Stake (Castlevania) and Rock n' Roll (Megaman) - you are designing levels NOT hacking roms.

You need to get your 'hands dirty' to rom-hack. Poke around in a hex-editor or using a debugger in a emulator - to discover how things are stored and executed.

/dACE

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #37 on: February 28, 2016, 05:17:17 pm »
Sure ROM hacking is programming.  But programmers don't only use the command line.  They often use editors with things like syntax highlighting, macros, and a nicer user interface.  Like for web stuff, the one for Notepad++, or Brackets, or whatever else.  And even there, a lot of people will use stuff that makes things easier on them, like frameworks (see Bootstrap or Foundation or whatever). 

And in other game design/development houses, they use engines with decent editing tools, like the Unreal Engine editor.

ROM hacking tools look like something from the Commodore 64 era by comparison.

Oh, and simplifying things is not about 'dumbing it down'.  If you make things difficult for newbies to get into, your scene probably will eventually die.  There should be a nicer learning curve for ROM hacking, otherwise when the old guard finally moves onto new pastures, it'll be hard to sustain any level of activity.

As for modern designs... I disagree.  I think they just look nicer, whether that's for newbies or veterans.  The ROM hacking scene needs to move away from the 'programmer art' Geocities esque design that seems to be plaguing it and get with the times.

I dare say we have radically different approaches to computer use and program design. Though I do want to bring up "And in other game design/development houses, they use engines with decent editing tools, like the Unreal Engine editor.". Sure, there however they are building things with full source code and with tools built for decades with an eye towards reusability and adaptability, here we are typically editing things that were not so much as compiled as assembled (possibly with some hex editor action) and often where in all likelihood nobody in the world has access to any source code or design docs ( http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/6271/where_games_go_to_sleep_the_game_.php?print=1 ) for embedded devices made with absolutely no mind paid to making someone doing this sort of thing's life easier.
ROM hackers hardly exclusively use the command line either, however some seemed to adopt the position that the command line was a needlessly complex and possibly obsolete method of computer use which is madness from where I sit. Akin almost to having a computing device without some kind of pointing device.

"If you make things difficult for newbies to get into"
I would argue it is about as difficult as it has ever been (it is not like the systems that govern it all have changed after all) and possibly a lot easier with some of the niceties afforded by modern systems (the whole filesystem thing seen on the DS and most optical media using systems) and generally well developed low level tools; I have dealt with crude and buggy disassemblers, assemblers, debuggers and even buggy tile editors and would not go back after using the current set of tools available to me. Sure we have the increased complexity of some things and some things once common in computing have fallen by the wayside a bit which does give a leg up to those that lived it at some level or have since read up on it, not enough though to truly trouble things -- I have seen plenty get stuck in with ARM and powerpc assembly (I tend to mainly deal in later Nintendo consoles but I imagine I could find examples for MIPS and similar things) that wonder how people got on in the barbaric NES times where multiply was not really a thing and you don't have over a dozen general purpose registers at your beck and call.
Nobody wants to put up artificial barriers* and anybody that suggested that around here would probably be laughed out of the room (main exceptions being you are probably not going to get in a project without something to show and those that do not know how to make cheats that trouble online games or remove hacker splash screens, to use an example we have seen, are probably not going to get their hand held despite it being trivial to those in the know) but at the same time nobody wants another generation of Basic programmers. As dACE said the general feeling is "With editors like Stake (Castlevania) and Rock n' Roll (Megaman) - you are designing levels NOT hacking roms.", I saw something similar in pokemon editing too, though the barrier to entry in pokemon editing is actually quite high as pokemon is surprisingly hard to hack (usually lots of compression, some odd ideas and gamefreak and co do like to push the boat out a bit).

*I have seen some places try secret sauce methods (sprite ripping and some aspects of mario kart hacking/cheat making) but it tends to only cause drama and factions to arise. I take no small delight in dispelling myths and rocking boats there as well.

On modern designs. I will absolutely jump right in with a discussion of UI and workflows, though probably with a nag in the back of my mind for any bug fixes that are more pressing and also the desire to move to more stable frameworks (the frequent missing ocx file problem people having seen coming for years before it really started to rear its head now). If we have to start talking colour schemes, font kerning and stuff I have to deal with when designing "apps", doing graphics work and sorting websites then I am becoming the ROM hacking equivalent of a cave hermit. Hopefully someone one day finds the crude but brutally effective shiny baubles I make during such a time.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2016, 08:22:18 pm by FAST6191 »

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #38 on: February 28, 2016, 05:22:26 pm »
One thing that does baffle me... why are there so few women involved in this scene? You'd think there'd be more...

1) The aforementioned gender disparity among gamers in general. Males are hardwired to explore, compete and conquer, whereas females are wired to sit on the dockside and talk about prunes.

2) ROM hacking is a highly analytical hobby. Men tend to be better in matters of logic and analytical reasoning.

3) Reaction to adversity. When a problem arises, males go into analyze/strategize/implement/repeat mode. Females usually react to adversity by running off to the nearest authority figure.

4) Reaction to failure. Again, men are more likely to dust themselves off and get back on the horse. Women tend to rationalize that "it wasn't really worth doing anyway."

5) Intellect. This hobby requires above-average intelligence. Both genders have roughly the same average IQ, but the bell curve for males is shorter and wider. There are more male geniuses, just as there are more male dunces. Women tend to cluster around the mean (probably still talking about prunes).

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Re: How to increase interest in hacking?
« Reply #39 on: February 28, 2016, 05:46:11 pm »
Yo, did you guys see that sporting event last night? You know it! My team scored all the goals. Did you catch that monster truck show on TV? They were all like Brrr, Brrr, Rrrr, crash! Awesome! Boys rule! (quotes from a Teen Titans Go! Episode)
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