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World As It Is Discussion

Posted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 11:36 pm
by Mike Bentley
Thanks everyone for playing the set! I'm glad to finally be finished this set, as it was probably the longest-gestating set I've written. I first had the idea for this set around 2017 and some of the initial ideas took form then. Work on it began in earnest in late 2018. It was effectively delayed for a year after I took on the NSC editor role, and then Covid sorta pushed it back before I decided to push it up again. This, of course, led to some answer lines and clues getting stale. I think we did a good job of getting rid of most of those (ending up with effectively 3 packets worth of extra questions on top of the 11 we were shooting for), although I'm sure this topic was rooted a bit more in 2019 than it would be if we didn't pause production as much.

Thanks to my co-writers and co-editors Will Alston and Nick Jensen for working on this with me. Will provided a lot of great help early in production before getting pulled off for some other projects (including trying to win nationals). Nick joined a bit later and ended up writing a ton of questions for the set. Ultimately, I wrote about 65% of the set, Nick about 30% and Will about 5%. Nick edited the Academic Science, Social Science and Philosophy. Will edited the Academic Music. I edited the rest.

Big thanks to everyone who playtested. Jonathan Magin, Andrew Hunter and Eric Mukherjee especially dedicated their time to repeated sessions providing great feedback. Ophir, as always, did excellent work proofreading. And, finally, thanks to everyone who spent their Sunday staffing.

I think Nick and I share many of the same interests and sensibilities when writing questions in this distribution. I certainly lean a bit more into the tech and business side of things while Nick brings more of an international focus to his questions. But on the whole, we were both coming at this tournament from pretty similar angles.

I tried to be conscious of creating a balanced distribution for this set, but it clearly still skewed to my interests. I'm sure a more science-focused team could produce a set like this with more hard science in it. I'm not overly interested in that category and almost considered cutting it. But thankfully Nick and Will provided some great real content there to balance out my "science" questions on the Model 3 or whatever. Weirdly, this tournament probably had less videogame content than most other hypothetical sets that would make a space for pop culture.

Curious to hear opinions about some of the smaller parts of the distribution. I guess having something like 4/4 philosophy or academic music across the set doesn't make that category all that different than, say, the other science a typical quizbowl tournament.

There were a few types of questions that I mostly tried to avoid in this set.

One was electoral politics, especially in the US and in countries that tend to not get much news coverage in the US. I dislike current events bonuses that make you name governors, senators, and world leaders unless they're relatively major figures. I also dislike cable news-style clues of "can you believe what this person said?" I also find questions and clues on political parties to be especially dull and tried to minimize that content.

I also imposed something of a soft cap on the number of questions on late works of people more famous before this era began. For instance, Roy Lichtenstein lived until 1997. I could have written a question on his '90s works, but those obviously aren't what he's best known for. This rule didn't apply to everyone. Many artists produce meaningful works later in their careers. See, for instance, the bonus on Philip Roth. This probably manifested itself most in the literature and visual arts distribution. These categories probably could have been more "canonical" in the quizbowl sense by filling them up with answers on Don Delillo or Tom Wolfe or stuff like that, but I chose to mostly ask about people who made their names in this time period.

(This didn't apply to "remembrance" and "legacy" style tossups. e.g. the questions on the moon landing and the Bauhaus. I personally liked these, but am curious to get outside opinion on them.)

This tournament probably over-represented ways that I consume news, culture and history for this period. In retrospect, there was a lot of magazine, podcast and recent book content. Considerably less from academia or Daily Show-style news consumption.

Re: World As It Is Discussion

Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2021 10:55 am
by Mike Bentley
By the way, for anyone not checking the server, the packets are now posted there in the #announcements channel.

Curious to hear people's thoughts about literature. We deliberately included a big non-fiction and other distribution. The other ended up having some "literary culture" type questions like book clubs and fan fic in it.

Similarly, some of the "trash" answers in pop music and film were chosen because they had some wider cultural impact. e.g. the bonus on carbon reduction strategies for touring rock groups.

Both of these were indicative of the relative lack of category purity I put into this set. There were several questions that likely could have fit into any of three or four categories. I personally like when even regular quizbowl tournaments do this which is one of the reasons I did so for this tournament.

Re: World As It Is Discussion

Posted: Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:26 pm
by everdiso
This was a very cool tournament, and I'll have some thoughts on the questions soon.
By the way, for anyone not checking the server, the packets are now posted there in the #announcements channel.
I can't seem to find these in the channel?

Re: World As It Is Discussion

Posted: Mon Jul 12, 2021 5:55 pm
by Mike Bentley
Oh that was the other server. I'll be posting the packets publicly soon.