My last full-time real-person job was as a developer of little Flash games, mostly promotional tie-ins with childrens’ cartoons. More recently, as you may have seen in the recent Eve DevBlogs, I’ve been working quite hard on creating my own game, a personal project I am very invested in. And, in this process, I’ve been trying to apply what I learned at the real-person job– the coding stuff, of course, but also and more importantly the methods of producing a multimedia project.
You see, working for others tends to have one great advantage over working for oneself, and that is that when one works for someone else, there’s someone there to tell one what to do.
This is also one of the great disadvantages.
On the one hand, you never have to figure out what’s next, or wonder what one should be doing at the moment, or worry where the project is going, because that’s Somebody Else’s Job. On the other hand, because of that, you can wake up a year later and find out that no one ever really knew, that it was Someone Else’s Job in perpetuity for everyone in the supposed chain of command, and that your time has been all-but-wasted. Or, more likely, it’s just time put into a project that exists as commercial necessity rather than as an expression of anything meaningful to anyone.
All this is to say that having a job is a lot like playing a video game, and that this doesn’t necessarily say anything bad about either having a job or playing a game. They’re similar because they both constrain the realm of possibility for what you can do next down to an acceptable range, one that you can tackle without having to constantly navigate by the stars you see when you hit your head or cough too hard.
So I now find that among the duties I must take on is that of the producer, writing up schedules, making to-do lists– strictly defining the scope and content of my dream so that, day to day, I know what to work on next.
‘Gamification’ is a big buzz word making a big buzz right now– the idea of making our work more like our games: People seem to like to use this word a lot without ever really understanding the extent to which we’ve already realized that goal. They note ‘hey, isn’t work kind of like a game?’ without often seeming to analyze why we have structured work that way all along. The fact is, we’re all a bit agoraphobic, and I dare anyone to look at the vast expanse of infinite possibility without feeling that crushing ball of tightness in their chest.
If you can, it may just be myopia.
So instead of being crushed by that vast expanse we trim it down, crush it from four dimensions to three, three dimensions to two… And some of us crunch or are crushed down to one dimension, and exist on a line, going forward and backward on a predetermined path until they expire.
Perhaps we are merely three dimensional: However, we can project ourselves onto the lower planes, and infer the higher from motion, and navigate based on the stars we see when we close our eyes.