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Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

This one’s simple:  Blogging is a social activity.  It’s not “social” like a FaceBook “cow clicker” pseudo-game, or “social” like raiding in an MMO, more like a good dozen-plus-player version of Frozen Synapse, with sparks flying between ideas as people connect thoughts and forge new conceptual links.  It’s asynchronous and persistent, both very useful for fostering communication.

Yes, it usually starts with just getting words in type for one’s own benefit, but blogs are, by nature, getting words in type out where others can see them.  At some level, socialization happens.  Bloggers engage in hobnobbing, rubbing digital shoulders with each other.  Ideas cross-pollinate, links sprout, groupthink evolves, and every once in a while, the pulse of the “blogosphere” actually indicates a strong interest or opinion on a topic that is relevant outside of the blogging circles.  (Case study: Blizzard’s RealID kerfluffle, where the voices in MMO blogging circles tended to be almost uniformly… concerned.  For good reason.  It’s not so much that bloggers drove opinion, more that they were a good cross-section of gamer moods, and near consensus among such a disparate group is usually significant.)

It’s even possible to forge friendships online.  Now, noting that it’s possible you’re befriending a persona instead of a person, it’s still true that social interaction online is still social interaction.  Those are people out there, not Turing-complete bloggerbots.  (Though in twenty years or so that might no longer be true.)  People with interests, feeling, histories, preferences, and sometimes even a sense of humor.  Over the years I’ve met a bunch of pretty cool people, like PsychochildProfessor Beej, Larisa, The Friendly NecromancerGordonCynwise, Ixobelle, Klepsacovic, Gazimoff, YeeboMBP, Dblade, Saylah, Nugget, Dusty, Syl, Thallian and Anton, Tipa, Ferrel, Pete, Victor Stillwater, AnjinModran, ZombiePirate, Void, Rog, Stabs, the guys at KTR and Word of Shadow… others I’m forgetting at the moment, and others that have dropped off the grid, like Wiqd, Mike Darga, Phaelia and Andrew of Systemic Babble.  Anyone I link to over on that Blogroll on the right is someone worth reading.  I might not always agree with any given one of them, but then again, I don’t always agree with my local friends or family.  Even when I don’t agree with them, there’s usually still something interesting there.

Blog writing often follows blog reading, and the two tend to positively reinforce each other.  Commenting on someone else’s blog is a great way to make the two work together even more.  It’s about communication, really, and as some are wont to remind us, humans out here in “monkeyspace” are social animals, for better or worse.  Thing is, with a blog, you can take it at your own pace rather than diving into a real time social gathering with real people around.  The ability to filter and react at leisure isn’t exactly a magic potion to make wallflowers into butterflies, but it does go a long way toward opening conversational channels that might not otherwise exist.  Blogging isn’t a FaceBook or Twitter pith contest, neither is it an Instant Messaging textspeak competition.  It’s not a Ventrilo cacophony or monkeyspace mosh pit.  It’s a more sedate matter, allowing for deeper thought and more civil dialogue.

In theory, anyway.

Practice, as always, varies as widely as fingerprints, but blogs really do offer a communication platform that isn’t quite of the same nature as some of the other big “social” media.  They are valuable as a result, and a crucial ingredient to the social stew that is the modern internet.  I’d even go so far as to call it a leavening ingredient, one that counters the leetspeak ADHD impetus of far too many “social” media outlets.  There’s great value in the long form of written communication.  There’s value in having outlets that aren’t controlled by big media conglomerates or corporations.  It’s important to have places where impassioned writers can make cohesive arguments and keep public records without being shouted down by troll hordes or censored by The Man.

You may not change the world in big ways with your blog, but blogging is changing the world.  If nothing else, it’s a good thing to be aware of and understand the potential of the beast.

…and sometimes, you don’t need to be a big force of change, you just need to be a good part of someone else’s life.  Blogs can help forge links that might not otherwise exist between people, and sometimes, that makes all the difference.

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From the silly and almost defiant (or is that plaintive), where the post title comes from, to the far more serious (Larisa struck a nerve with this one), from the individual to the cultural, I’m struck on occasion by the human element of these online games.

Who knows what private pains people deal with in life?  (Ardol speaks eloquently to Larisa’s comments thataway.)  Games can be ways to escape trouble just as easily as they can be ways to find trouble.  They might be a meeting place for people who might not otherwise have the chance to be friends in any other venue.  (Big Bear Butt has a heart to match his largish ursine physique.)  They might be the last thing that makes someone happy. (The game mattered to Ezra, though interestingly, mostly to spend time with his distant father.)  Games matter, sometimes in the most curious ways.  (Wolfshead’s tribute to Red Shirt Guy.)  The community matters.

People are sometimes the worst part of online gaming, but are most often the best part.

Those are people out there.  Not rejects, not NPCs or henchmen, not morons or slackers.  People who deserve common courtesy and might just be in pain of one sort or another.  Call me a bleeding heart conservative, but please remember that even in the most fantastic and fictional of games, people are still people.

Treat them well.

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I don’t usually do this bandwagon thing, but Scarybooster touched a nerve on this one.

Developer Appreciation Week

See, I’m a developer.  I’m not looking for cookies (though sending me fudge would be OK) or cards, but let me tell you a little bit about this side of the console.

Game Development is a job.  It is hard work.  It’s packed with thankless iteration, long hours and soul-grinding, mind numbing inanity.  We do have our moments, though.

It is really great to see something you’ve worked on get to playable form.  (“I love it when a plan comes together.“)  Even small victories through the day, when some code works or a piece of art actually looks right in the game, well, those keep us going.

Many of us believe in the potential of games as not only entertaining (though primarily that), but also uplifting and educational.  Putting something you created out into the wild and watching it make people happy is a boon to the soul that few things in life can match.

We love it when people pay our salaries, to be sure, but those sterile numbers on the quarterlies don’t tell the human story.

The occasional blog post or Facebook blurb where someone praises our games are islands of refuge in a sea of grumpiness.  The few times I’ve had someone chime in here on the blog that they liked a game I worked on are delightful.  Most people like to know that their work is appreciated.

And y’know, it really doesn’t take much.  I don’t think I’ve ever had the Boss bring an email or letter to a company meeting, sent in by a fan to praise our work.  Sure, Blizzard has people falling over themselves to praise their name, but they aren’t the only people who make games.  I can almost guarantee that even taking five minutes to send an email or “real” mail to a company, praising their product, will be much appreciated by the sometimes forgotten devs.

We’re not greedy, we just like to be liked and appreciated.  Fudge is good, but a brief “that was an awesome game, dude!” is candy for the soul for the guys in the dev trenches.

So, in closing, let me thank a couple of people quickly:

Thanks to the Three Rings crew, mad geniuses behind Puzzle Pirates.  Special “mad props” (what does that even mean?) to Apollo, Demeter, Nemo and of course, Captain Cleaver, and a huge round of applause from me for the whole dev team and the dauntless Ocean Masters.  The community around Puzzle Pirates is particularly tight knit, it seems, and these folk keep making great additions to the game, and keep the community rolling in good will.  That may not show up itemized on the quarterly financials, but it’s as good as money in the bank.

Individually, I’d like to tip a hat to the good Brian “Psychochild” Green.  He and I don’t always see eye to eye, but he’s taken time out of his crazy days to communicate with me on a handful of topics, and I find his insight to be valuable and interesting.  If you’ve not http://www.psychochild.org/ yet, might I recommend it highly?

To everyone who has chimed in with a comment here about games I’ve worked on, thank you.  Words on a website may not look like much, but the goodwill behind them is always felt and appreciated.

And, if I may, to anyone who has enjoyed a game for any reason, please consider sending a nice email (or more if you feel like it, to be sure) to the guys and gals who made it possible.  In an age of megapublishers and blockbuster games, sometimes it’s easy to ignore the real people doing the work.  Heaven knows I’ve forgotten too many times, and I’m no stranger to either side of the fence.  We could all stand to be kinder, and going out of your way to praise someone is healthy.

Game on!

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So, let’s see… there are the Oscars (Academy Awards), Emmys (I worked extensively on Lemmings, a short film that got a student Emmy a few years back), Peabodys and Nobels.  Before today, though, there were no Teshes.

I hereby present the first not-quite-annual-really-whenever-I-feel-so-inclined Tesh awards for fine bloggery and upstanding personality.

Yup, this is another story of how I took a meme that someone tagged me with and bent it to my own slightly less than nefarious designs.

The parties at fault here would be Ysharros and Pete, a fine pair of writers who alternate between reading my mind and making me wonder what they were thinking.  (In the best possible way, of course; that’s merely a comment on the sometimes bewildering shifts between topics I wholly agree with, and those that I never would have thought of, but am happy to read.)

Apparently, I’m supposed to thank my taggers (thanks, you two!), and then list others who I think do a great job, and then tell others to do the same.  These things could run the risk of going the Oscar “navel-gazing-pat-yourself-on-the-back” route, but I’m taking this as an opportunity to thank some people and offer some recommendations for fine reading.  (And plug my new Merc page, which uses the logo design below for some merchandising.  Yay for commercial tie-ins!)

First off, there is the basic level of the Tesh awards (Teshes), which is merely the Tesh Seal of Approval.

Tesh Seal of Approval

Tesh Seal of Approval

If you’re on the blogroll over there, you get this award.  You wouldn’t be there if I didn’t like your work.

A step above and beyond that, though, nets the coveted Golden Tesh award.

Golden Tesh

Golden Tesh

These are hereby awarded to the following authors for various reasons:

Big Bear Butt, Phaelia, Wolfshead and Muckbeast for the inspiration to start blogging in the first place.  BBB really started it all, expressing appreciation for a bit of moral support I offered some time ago in a comment thread.  Phaelia also engcouraged me to write, and Wolfshead and Muckbeast share an irrereverent critical take on the MMO genre that has prompted many of the thoughts that I’ve expounded on hereabouts.  We’re all coming from different directions, but without these four especially, I’d probably not have even bothered with this blog thing in the first place.

Chris and Capn’ John for being early adopters, as well as their continued good humor and kindred thoughts.  These are the guys I’d have a blast playing volleyball with… even if they can’t play (I don’t know if they can, actually, so it’s the thought that counts).  That’s high praise, actually, for those who don’t realize it from how… pithy it looks.  These are the guys that I count as friends, or at least kindred spirits… and that’s not something I do lightly.

Big Red Kitty and Phaelia for their recent rededication to their families, at the cost of their blog.  They have give much to those in the WoW blog world, (and WoW gave back to Phaelia in a great way), and their works will be appreciated.  Even more than that, though, I heartily applaud their respective choices to put family first, and I wish them very, very well.

Tipa and Saylah for their tireless championing of Wizard 101, and their challenges to the DIKU establishment.  Also, it’s always a pleasure reading their work, on whatever subject.  (Tipa’s comics are a great bonus, too.)

Ysharros and Wiqd for prompting the most interesting thoughts that have changed my own personal game design projects.  Alpha Hex is only the start, and if it works, well… there’s more to do.

So yeah… apparently I’m supposed to also tag others to do the same sort of thing, but that’s never been my strong point.  I’m an evasive Explorer, not a Hunter-Killer.  If this sort of thing appeals to you, by all means take it and run with it.

Oh, and there’s a third thing… I’m supposed to write ten honest and/or interesting things about myself.  Again, I’m evasive, so I’ll just point out that I’ve probably written at least that many things over the last few months here on this blog.  For those latecomers, though, here’s a cookie crumb:

I’m a technical artist in the game industry by trade, and my Bachelor’s degree is in Computer Animation (Pixar-level stuff).  I could be working for Rhythm and Hues (they wanted me for the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe movie) and maybe even Pixar (they love my alma mater) by now, but I will not live in California.  So, I work in games at small local studios close to my extended family.  I’m an artist, scientist, writer and teacher.  Maybe one of these days, I’ll find out how to get paid for all of them at the same time.  In the meantime, I just write and think about game design, which I find is a bit of a mishmash of all of them.  Renaissance thinking makes me happy, and finding ways to express and utilize all of my interests makes me happier.

My family is the most important thing in the world to me, starting with my lovely and wonderful wife, two beloved children, and extending to my extended family.  They are why I work where I do, and why I work as hard as I do.

…and ultimately, it’s thinking of them that made this post even relevant.  See, a week and a half ago, I taught a bit in church about “Finding Joy in the Journey“, and was reminded once again just how important it is to connect with the people you love and respect.  I quote from that article:

“Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of “what if” and “if only.” Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”

If you care about someone enough to let them know, if wish to offer gratitude, if you feel any impulse whatsoever to offer a bit of kindness, do so.  In a world sometimes gone mad, it’s the little kindnesses that will keep people alive and well.

Thanks, all, for stopping by, and for your kind and thoughtful comments around here.  May your lives be a bit brighter every day, and may you find ways to share that light.  Even if you have to put your tongue in your cheek for a bit, or dance around the “sentimental stuff”, the kindness will come through, and we can all use a bit lot more of that.

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