For most people, GDC is a time of learning and networking and fun. And while I always have a Good Time (tm), this time of year always brings about a number of confused and conflicting emotions for me that are mostly unrelated to the content of the sessions and the conference itself. So let’s see….
GDC makes me feel like people don’t really like me. I know I have a bit of social anxiety here and there, especially when it comes to moving people from the role of ‘acquaintance’ to ‘friend’. But at GDC, I find that the people who I socialize with a lot on Twitter just kind of acted like I didn’t exist. I even said hello to a few people who ended up snubbing me completely, despite being in the gaming social justice space fighting the same fights I am. It was odd, because I’ve always felt like a social person who people get along with. But I have this nagging feeling that people talk behind my back and don’t think I’m very fun. This was evidenced by not being invited to most little meetups and things that others I knew were attending and were invited to.
GDC makes me wish I was an artist or programmer or audio person instead of a jack-of-some-trades production person. Don’t get me wrong, I know that what I do is important, but I’d still rather be a artist/engineer. I’m just lacking some of the required skills necessary to do those things. I’m working on learning to code, but I have zero art skills whatsoever. I’d love to be more directly involved with doing the actual creation on a project rather than assisting the people who are creating and facilitating them.
GDC makes me angry and annoyed at the social games space and way more interested in PC, console and indie traditional and experimental games. I spent a day attending the Indie Games Summit and saw talks about postmortems and emotion and players and innovation. I then went to a social game talk and it was abbreviations (ARPPU, ARPDAU, LTV) and charts and numbers and graphs talking about “users”. It made me really, truly want to work on non-mobile/Facebook games at some point in my career. So far, I’ve been doing Facebook and iOS games for 4+ years and I’m getting kind of stir crazy with it. Especially after being so inspired by the amazing things that others are making.
Another of my favorite photos I have taken. :)
Definitely my photo of the day. Went out and practiced in the park. =)
In my quest to become a better photographer, I obtained a new Nikon d5100 camera this weekend. I also attended a photography 102 class that taught me how to use my camera’s manual mode. It was a huge learning experience and I am stoked to take more pictures and see how much I can grow as a photographer.
I’ve determined that I have so much an obsession with “doing” that I end up not doing anything. It’s a problem.
I’m a product of internet culture. I spend much of my days and evenings reading the web. I have a staple set of 10 or so websites that I check multiple times throughout the day. I follow RSS feeds and aggregate sites, combing over Hacker News and Reddit and Google Reader. I am always plugged in to Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and when something new happens in the world (as impacting as a celebrity death or national tragedy or as silly as another spat between game journalists on Twitter) then I am one of the firsts to know (and retweet). I’ve been told that my name is synonymous with the internet. It’s not synonymous with the ‘real life’ though.
I feel an intense pressure to be a better person than I am. To be smarter because of the articles on Medium and Svbtle, to be more critical of media and eloquent about it due to sites like Critical Distance, Paste, and BitCreature. To be a better writer like the captivating bloggers on xoJane and Pioneer Woman. To be creative and crafty like the woman on Pinterest, and to make sure my house looks as hipster and trendy as everything on Apartment Therapy. To read as much as Felicia Day does and everyone else on Goodreads who just completed their “100 books read in 2013” goal before the year is 1/4 over. To lose weight like the people on /r/loseit and obsessively track the points on Fitocracy and share my running maps on Facebook and Twitter so everyone knows just how active I was that day. To be a ‘good feminist’ like the ladies at Shakeville and Feministe and all the other social justice blogs that I read. To be an intellectual, to know and understand everything about politics and world affairs, to stay on top of the latest music trends like the reviewers on Pitchfork and other hipster music blogs. To be someone bigger than myself. Someone better.
I decide that I want to become a photographer and take pictures of horses, to make my horse riding passion a career. I spend days reading articles on the web about photography, I lay in bed reading books about aperture and ISO while in bed. I research paid online courses for photography, I sign up for a local class. I research cameras and compare my dSLR to the latest models. I post on Reddit asking for advice. I don’t take a single picture all week.
I go on Codecademy and swear that I’m going to learn to code. I’m going to build something, I’m going to be an extremely employable person with a tangible skill that I can offer to others. I complete a track, I feel accomplished. I never end up building anything, and by the next time I think about programming I’ve already forgotten everything I’ve learned.
I’m constantly feeling the need to be on top of the video game industry and all it’s verticals. I read over 100 video game websites, subscribe to video game subreddits, run more than one video gaming blog, send out articles around the office to everyone, try to be knowledgeable about what’s going on in esports, and mobile games, and social games, and freemium titles, and MMOs, and new technologies, web-based games, indie games, you name it. I feel an intense desire to purchase new games that everyone is enjoying because I don’t want to miss out on the experience, but 90% of them remain unplayed in my Steam library. I read about games all day long but spend a tiny amount of time actually playing them.
Even when not job searching, I check LinkedIn daily and I look at the Gamasutra job postings and I search my local Craigslist job ads for “game” just to see what kind of opportunities are out there. I want to feel wanted, even when I’m not ready to leave. I want to attend every conference, I want to liveblog it and share it on the web. I want to be able to write articles about my work experience. I want to keep moving up my career and being someone who is important to someone in the industry. But I also want to do everything else I’ve mentioned above: photography, horse sports, learning to program, interior decorating, real estate, reading books, playing every game I can, traveling and doing new things. I want to have that work-life balance.
I want to work for myself, I want to do my own thing. I want to have my own startup and my own business. But I can’t do that until I have an idea. I can’t have an idea without doing a ton of research. How will I ever measure up to the single men in Silicon Valley with their incubators and their coworking and their Y Combinators and their VC drinking buddies and their company perks and ping pong and nerf gun fights? Any idea I have feels like it has already been done. And startups are for ‘doers’ not for ‘thinkers’. It’s for people who take the photos, not the people who plan on taking photos someday after they know everything there is to know about the science and art of photography.
I wake up in the morning, sit down at my computer, and start working from home. I spend the day in my chair pouring over emails, doing web meetings on Skype, chatting over IM with my coworkers. Now and then I take a break to read the internet. When I do, I’m generally researching one of these things above. Something to DO. Some other hobby, some kind of career, something different. I’m never satisfied. I’m always hoping for some kind of email in my inbox that whisks me off to a new part of life that I haven’t experienced yet. Some amazing opportunity that interrupts my daily monotonous flow of wanting and researching and wishing and makes me actually DO.
I sit there and think that if I want to be a dog trainer, maybe I should start by training my own unruly dogs. I stare at the Steam icon on my desktop and think that maybe I should play something, but not until after I finish reading this website (and the next one…and the next one). I think about taking photos but then realize there is another aspect of the hobby that I didn’t research yet. I contemplate going to the grocery store but first I need to look up recipes online and make sure the meal plan is all set up. I want to go shopping or to dinner but I need to look up the place on Yelp to make sure it’s worth it. I want to buy some kind of new item but first I have to look up reviews on the web to make sure I’m buying the right thing.
I can never just sit and ‘be’ who I am. My mind is always heading off in some new direction, trying to come up with some grand scheme. I have a sense of anxiety when I’m not actively planning out the next ‘thing’ in my life. The next thing never happens though, because I’m too busy trying to figure out exactly what it should be, and how I should do it, and who would join in, what implications it could have on my life, and what holes I can poke through my plans to sabotage them before they get off the ground.
I just want to be as good as everyone else at getting things done. How can I be less methodical and ‘head in the clouds’ and start actually being the productive person that I am in my mind? Why am I always stuck on who I *could* be and not who I am now? I am feeling exhausted and anxious about always wanting more.
Being that I’m a person with a slight ‘gaming ADD’ problem, I figured it would be fun to keep track of what games I’m currently playing on an ongoing basis.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Who knows how long this will last. But I made a new druid on the Vox server and I’m giving it a go. The game is now ‘free to play’ but I have a gold account and a bunch of Station Cash so I have a full subscription with all the perks and such. I also have a bunch of veteran rewards so I can boost my experience gain rate and get a bunch of appearance items. The game is much the same as it has always been, with a few ‘quality of life’ improvements such as actual QUESTING (which is odd) but the UI and usability is still the same ol’ thing. I decided on a druid because I like quad kiting and the ability to heal and do damage, not to mention Spirit of Wolf for faster travel! I even got my fiance Luke to play with me last night, though he said he’s pretty much done with it now. But I still haven’t gotten the excitement about of my system yet, so I’m going to stick with it for a bit longer. =)
League of Legends
Still basically my ‘main squeeze’ when it comes to how I spend my time gaming. Even though 80% of the time I log off pissed off at the world and thinking I am a terrible player, there is something so enticing about this game that I just can’t stop. I also watch a lot more pro streamers on Twitch.tv and tournaments than I actually play, because the esports scene is so fascinating and exciting to me. I am always in awe of Riot’s community engagement and the pace at which new content comes flying into the game. It’s awesome.
There a handful of other games that I own and play very sporadically or haven’t played recently that I need to get back to. This includes Ni no Kuni, Persona 4, Mass Effect 2, and Guild Wars 2. But other than that, I’m spending my time in the online multiplayer world on my PC lately. =)
This is something that is happening. I started playing EverQuest again last night. I’m only level 5, but damn it was a lot of fun. This game has evolved a lot since the last time I’ve played, but there is enough ‘classic charm’ in there to bring back a whole lot of memories. We’ll see how long I play, but for now I’m really enjoying myself.
Me singing Hedwig & The Angry Inch after many more drinks…
Me singing Etta James after a couple drinks at karaoke =P
I played through Proteus yesterday, which took about 45 minutes. At first, I didn’t understand really want to do. After I “got it” thanks to a friend, I really enjoyed it. I’m not sure that there is any replayability here, but the music was beautiful and I liked the concept.
I’m up in San Francisco for the weekend for the Global Game Jam, an event in which we have 48 hours to create a game from start to finish. First off, I have an awesome team. Of course it’s mostly comprised of people I work with in my day job, but they are totally rad and therefore our team name is Team Awesome. LET IT BE SO.
Day 1 started with the making of ‘crowns’, which we color coded according to our preferred roles (like 2D art, 3D art, programming, design, etc.). Throughout the jam we’ll be getting stickers for various feats of strength that we can put on the crown to proudly display our accomplishments (for example: there is one sticker achieved by never looking at a cat for the entire GGJ). I’m pretty terrible at most things artistic or creative. In fact, I called this ghostie a “goomba” on numerous occasions. Nerd fail.
Next, the theme was announced. ”Heartbeats”. We brainstormed a mega list of ideas, including random things such as “Magic School Bus Arteries”. No idea was vetoed from the start. Good thing, because some of my ideas were freaking terrible. Jus’ sayin.
Stephen came up with a connection between the waveform of a heart rate monitor and the side of a key, and we thought about the idea of using the heart rate monitor to unlock a heart by manipulating tumblers. This was the first idea that really excited us, so we got to work. Stephen had a working prototype within an hour (which is one reason Shelley and I were so excited to work with him, dude is amazing). He decided to go with Love2D & Lua for development.
We moved into a conference room for some thinking time so we could get work done, iterated on our idea a bit, had a couple of people playtesting it, and felt that we had the glint of something good. Some more refining and we’re at a point where we have a clear direction and a slightly-less clear but still exciting overall plan. In fact, the game is running and is playable right now.
The game is all programmer art right now, but Shelley is hard at work coming up with some nifty art for the game.
Day 2 has just begun and everyone is quiet, slightly sleepy, and heads down working on our game. Today is the longest day of development and we have a lot of work to do. Onward!
In my hands, the magic that is Ni no Kuni.
I finished Dear Esther today, and it was beautiful. One of the only games that made me actually gasp at the sight of the scenery. The caves were breathtaking. The story was a bit obtuse for me, but all in all I’m glad I played for the 80 minutes it took from start to finish.
I forgot to mention that I also finished Thirty Flights of Loving. It takes roughly 12 minutes from start to finish, so there isn’t much of an excuse for not playing this game if you own it. It’s short, sweet, intriguing, astounding, and really well done. At the end, I wasn’t exactly sure what I just experienced. And that’s genuinely my favorite kind of media. I loved everything about the game, and you will too.