Watch me ollie!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A totally self-indulgent and uninteresting load of old bollocks.

Alright. So I'm planning on getting some shit done this year.

Work's work. I can't really talk about what I'm working on at the moment without getting into trouble, so I won't. Just on the off chance, you know? But I think I'm getting better at working a little bit smarter, and the many little bumps along the way are rolling off my back more easily than ever. I also feel like I'm developing a thicker skin and getting a bit more professional about how I'm working - I just hope that's not at the expense of the creativity that actually makes the work worthwhile, both to myself and to others. I'm much less stressed, at any rate, and I'm hopeful that I can squeeze in some side-projects throughout the course of the year. You know, the stuff that you can actually take pride in, and makes enduring the bread-and-butter stuff worthwhile.

One of the things on my plate at the moment is coordinating the local IGDA chapter, as I've probably mentioned before. I'm still not entirely sure why it's important to me that this is a success, but it really is. We just had our second meeting on Tuesday, and it was pretty well attended, and moderately well received. Some of the organisers seem to be losing steam, but a couple of others really came through with the goods. So it's a mixed bag. I just hope we can keep the momentum up - if the organisation is functioning properly, I think it's something that people will actually be quite grateful for.

And then there's conferences and stuff. I'm angling to go to GDC this year, and it's looking like I should actually be able to go, with any luck. I've also just been invited to do another seminar at Game Loading, one of which I did last year (and which I'm told was quite well received). Something like 200 people paid $8 each to come along and listen to me talk about what I do at work, which kind of freaked me out, even if quite a lot of them were students, and their teachers probably made them come along. Game Loading is run by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, which is a fantastic organisation, who I hope to have more to do with in future. They're a great bunch of people, who seem to actually have the right sort of priorities with which to approach the emergence of new forms of art and expression. I truly do hope and believe that games will one day be considered in this light, although we're not quite there yet, in my opinion.

I'll probably also do something for Freeplay and AGDC again. If they'll have me back.

So anyway, my point is this: on the one hand, I'm getting pretty active in game development, in a broader sense than just what happens in this one little studio. That's kinda neat, and helps me feel a bit more connected to something larger and more important.

But at the end of the day, I don't really feel like it's why I'm here. I used to want something else out of life, and while I'm pursuing short- to medium-term goals, I can feel the long-term ones slipping through my fingers. Perhaps it might be better to back off a bit. I'm really not sure.

At the end of the day, I sometimes feel - not like a fake exactly, because I honestly believe I do good work, and I am passionate about it - but a bit like Happy Gilmore. You know, the failed hockey player who takes to golf instead. Shitty reference, but bear with me. He's good at it, but it's not really where he's at. Putting with a hockey stick isn't really that different to trying to write a novel for the Playstation 2, perhaps.

So I've got to face facts. I think I've had a pretty successful run, so far, in games. Some things I've worked on have turned out a little bit average, but I don't think it's ever really been my fault. On the other hand, I've never really been able to write anything that I've been even remotely happy with. I've had the odd thing published here and there, but nothing major or very satisfying, and nothing at all for ages. But it's what I feel I ought to be doing. This is probably the most pretentious thing I'll ever say, but I actually feel it's what I *am*. But I never do it, these days. And it's partly because I'm busy, and it's partly because I'm afraid, but I fear that it's mostly because I've settled.

What I do at work is creative enough to drain me (the last thing I want to do is sit down at a word processor when I get home), but not creative enough to actually satisfy.

So which is the delusion? Am I a game designer, who needs to just forget about the book he felt he was always meant to be able to write? I mean, I've started it dozens of times, and it always stinks. Or am I a writer, who needs to realise that what he's doing for pay now is actually a dangerous side-track, pulling him away from what's really important? How pathetic would it be to hang onto that delusion, based on nothing? How much more pathetic would it be to back away from something I'm doing well in to chase a pipe-dream that I may never be able to turn into a reality?

I'm pretty sure the "boots and all" approach is the wrong answer, in either case. So, I'm going to try my hand at a bit of small-scale writing this year, to sort of test the water, as it were. Not this rambling, conversational shit, or what I do at work, but actual writing. Concise stuff that's actually worth reading. That's the goal.

A friend of mine approached me to contribute to a new magazine-like project that's starting up in Melbourne soon. I think I'm going to throw myself at it a bit this year - when something comes along that really fits the bill, out of the blue and just at the right time, that's the sort of thing you've got to pounce on.

I'll let you know how I get on, if it goes well. If it goes badly, I'll probably just sweep it under the rug. You know, along with all the other stuff I've fucked up over the years.

Either way, I'm hoping it'll answer some questions for me.


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