I recently came across a blog by the title of ‘The Well-Red Mage‘ and had a little comments section chat there. After that, the author made a new post called “What I learned from the best and worst gaming parents” mentioning yours truly, and that our chat indirectly inspired that post. That was a nice little thing that could have very well been left out. In our little chat, we talked briefly about games as art and how they affect us in the real world. I want to make a little post here directly inspired by that post in particular because well, I simply enjoyed it, mentions aside. Why did I enjoy it so much? Because the world of games writing can often times take itself too seriously, and there was something just playful and refreshing in it.
The post is a fun showcase of characters in video games whose presence (or lack thereof), can give us some parenting advice. It’s mostly a whimsical little romp through video game history with a nice dose of humor. I enjoyed the content, the walking through time with a lens I don’t usually look through nor put together with the realm of video games, but it’s also the spirit of writing that catches me. It eschews the politics and business of video games, but not in some reactionary way. It just has a sort of glow that happens when people do something just for the sheer joy of it. For me, it’s like a still-life painting on a billboard. It’s just a nice thing to read compared to what I’ve been reading recently I suppose.
This attitude towards writing by Well-Red Mage, if I’m reading between the lines correctly, is one of writing for the joy of writing. If this is the case, it is somewhat ironically the path that leads to getting great at something, whether it’s writing, film making, music or whatever really. At this time in my life I just happen to be hearing a lot of autobiographical stories from creative fields. Okay, frankly, I seek them out. My first and still favorite podcast is called Checkpoints Podcast and I just finished episode 67 wherein the fellow that goes by the name Disasterpeace was interviewed. He is an amazing musician and sound designer with a growing catalog of works in video games, films and elsewhere. Listening in the right light, you hear a story about how he pursued his interests in music, genre and technology primarily and along the way happened to acquire the skills and know-how that make him into such creative and talented musician. He made music in the realms that were interesting to him and because of that he ‘got gud’. He didn’t think chip-tune music, for example, was below him, nor did he take the detached ironic stance of seeing it as some sort of passing fad which anybody could have easily done. Instead he dove into what he found fun and interesting. The spirit of play is everywhere in that interview and I loved it. I love all those podcasts to be honest.
When I write here, I know full well that talking about ludo-narrative dissonance, taste in games, defining video games and treating them as art is viewed as beating a dead donkey to an unimaginably tiny pulp, in some circles. There are industry veterans out there, professors, published writers, insanely talented developers, all who have gone through many a trial and tribulation to get where they are, to have their voices respected as they are, and they should certainly be listened to. I don’t devalue any of their experiences and their authority on certain matters, yet there are a minority out there that do a bit of gate-keeping. Statements such as “It’s all been said and done” that we hear in any creative industry can lead one to just give up on trying, if that advice is taken too seriously. The spirit of play doesn’t care about that stuff though. It just does what it does. Film-directing for example can be amateurish for a good deal of time in a genre considered silly until one day the director breaks out and does something interesting, wildly creative and unique. You can never tell where, or from whom this will come, except where the spirit of play is present.
So, a respectful nod to those who do what they do for the sheer joy of it, and who happen to be friendly as well. 🙂