Authentic Action

I’ve been doing a bit of reading over the past couple days and its got me thinking about some stuff. Every so often I get back into Zhuangzi (or Chuang-tzu), and it just so happens that I’m reading about this amazing Chinese Philosopher/Book again, and I’m still taking small enjoyable bites of the Free Play book I mentioned before too. I think Zhuangzi, in a certain interpretation, is actually hinting  towards a more “radical” version of what I was talking about before when I was just saying that I shouldn’t think about the outcome of making a game, that is, making money and all that jazz. I feel like today I stopped trying to pressure myself to make a game, or to say that a game must be made by me. Secretly, not so secretly really because I’m writing about it, it was a great relief.

So it’s been a nice morning. I had coffee and waffles and watched a bunch of videos, rather than feeling rushed for time and all that. With anything I did today, whether its reading, watching videos, having a conversation with my wife, taking the dog for a poo, there has been a nice lack of feeling rushed. Even this blog doesn’t feel rushed as I’m writing it. Because I was able to let go of all this I was able to watch a few interesting GDC videos that were recently uploaded to their youtube channel. I was able to give them my full attention and really grab some points that I know I wouldn’t have been able to if I were concerned about how to incorporate all this stuff into some non-existent game of mine.

One of the books I got about Zhuangzi is called Zhuangzi: Text and Context by Livia Kohn and it’s super academicky, dry as dust, well-researched, neatly packed and pretty much everything that the original isn’t. The original is poetic, disorganized, juicy, full of comedy, irony and evocative stories. But, I opened it up this ‘dry book’ because I did grab it from the library and I better give it at least a glance. To my surprise the part was quite useful for me. It was talking about these virtuosi in life who are so skilled at something that they go beyond mastery. She explains that, in the description in the Zhuangzi, they have two things in common (1) “…they follow what is natural to them, going along with both their inherent tendencies and circumstantial trajectoreies” and (2) “they perfect their natural abilities in their particular situation through apprenticeship or systematic training…”. (210)

Simple enough right? Do what you find interesting and love, and keep doing it until you are a virtuoso. Of course, life doesn’t often give us any blaring sign of what is natural to us, nor does it provide any sort of easy access to it (unless you pay a bunch of money, and even then…). What if we love basket weaving? Or playing basketball? Or just stomping pine-cones? Perhaps we will have to do this entirely on our own or with no hopes of it being able to keep our bellies full. Speaking for myself, my current tendency doesn’t want me to make any sort of game. Its becoming a bit of a stressful thing to have to keep coming back to it. My tendencies and interests are extremely volatile and subject to change on a day to day basis actually so coming back to gaming, when I’m not feeling it, sucks.  I got about 8 books from the library last week and only three of them do I have any interest in reading at the moment. When I got them, they were all vastly interesting. Well a couple were for work, and you know, I haven’t even touched those. You get my point.

So after thinking about all of this I decided to forget trying to learn more about making games today, I’m just gonna let my heart and my circumstances decide what I’ll do. She later calls all this “authentic action”. Its a nice way to summarize the point. One thing that came to my head was to do a little bit of art making without the goal of it being related to a game or anything. Just art, maybe put it on the wall, maybe just copy someone else’s stuff to just enjoy the feeling of a pencil in my hand. Productivity is for work and I’m not working… yet.  Very very VERY soon though!

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