Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Real Person vs. Social Media Person

No, I'm not going to rant one bit about personal integrity or the evils of services doing exactly what you signed up for by accepting their terms of service. They might still be evil and rotten and greedy bastards, but it's not what I'm going to talk about.

It's something I've been thinking about for quite a while. Talked to a friend about it the other day and he couldn't other than agree with my thoughts on it. Look at Facebook. The standard user adds contacts to it at a regular basis. Friends, family, co-workers, cousins, and so on. Contacts. People you usually would never ever want to spend time with all at once suddenly bunched up before the Billboard of You.

Personally I felt that what I could write in my feed diminished little by little for each new contact I added. First we had the friends, and then I could write a bit of everything. Oh, now I have a friend from that class. Ok, can't talk much about that class anymore. Oh, now I have someone from that job who might know that and that person. Ok, can't talk freely about work anymore. It goes on and on. You censor yourself. It's fairly natural in the situation.

But - many people on there seem to believe that if you read all posts by me in my feed, you can make a good picture of me. Even otherwise intelligent people. The thing is, I know that if you were to read my feed you'd probably conclude that I'm a cynical and whiny fellow because of what I usually post there. It has come to a point when I don't want to share much of the positives of my life. If I write about future hopes and plans or personal victories then I know that a lot of people that I really don't want very close to me will be able to read it.

The more people you get in your contact list, the less personal you can be. It goes from full and complex to shallow and simple. It's the same as hanging out with a few select friends - you can usually talk about mostly anything. The more people you add to the room, the less personal you can be. You don't know everybody very well and don't want to let them into your private sphere just yet. It's human nature to want to feel safe. It's in our nature not to show our every weaknesses to strangers, be it moments of sadness or happiness.

So what do I post on my facebook account? Usually neutral stuff that nobody cares about anyway, some music link here and there, a photo, and when I dislike something. It can be something or someone, expensive software being incompetently programmed or a movie sucking balls in all the wrong ways. Small annoyances. Because that doesn't let the wrong people in very deeply, I suppose. Close friends tend to understand that. Others... have a tendency of thinking that what they see on facebook is you. The whole you.

Really, that is quite stupid when you think about it. And sometimes you get a reply just oozing of hey, I'm gonna put him in his place for everybody, that whiner. It's not often, though, and that's not really the problem either. It's when things like that surface that they can be dealt with. It's all those cases where people just read and make up their minds behind my back.

Trust me, there are lots of things in my life that are precious to me and a lot of things that makes me happy. I'm highly optimistic, realistic and logical. I rarely give up. I'm stubborn as hell. I would like to think that I've got integrity. I don't take disrespectful shit from anyone even if that puts a job or something on the line. I'm unemployed, but have saved up some money for the occasion. I have little idea what to do with my immediate future, but I know that things tend to work out. Also, what I love and like in life tends to be different from many others. I don't care much for pubs. I don't care much for... taking a coffee and mingling with a group where half of them are strangers. I don't dance, physically. Needless to say, I don't like shoes and I love being barefoot. I was more open with the positive sides of life way back but it made me feel... exposed.

And some people have attacked that, more or less aggressively or passively. An example would be to write something like yeah, we heard you the first time as if he/she suddenly spoke for everyone. Apparently, stating time and time again that you really like to play guitar with your friends or travel to Japan every year and pour photo after photo into your stream, that's fine. You're supposed to like doing that, or whatever. Other stuff are just weird, aren't they. Well, my life's fine without people stepping on what's good, so I'd rather keep that to myself and my closest friends, thanks. The others can have the leftovers.

So, yeah. This post is about two phenomenon really. One being diminishing closeness with growing groups and the other being people not understanding that phenomenon.

Also, a friend said something smart the other day:
I'm getting jealous of those who haven't yet got themselves a facebook account.
I've been thinking lately that I wonder how it would feel to just delete one's account (as much as it's possible, at least). Somehow it feels like it's time to move on. Do I need facebook? Do I need to keep the contact with people like that? I will miss out on announcements made by friends who assume everyone's got facebook, of course... but that's about it. That, or I should just prune away at my contacts like a mad man. Get down to the core group of friends, but... even then, there'd be a lot of different circles that I would be willing to share different facets of myself with. So it feels like it's either all or nothing if it's to really matter.

I've always always preferred small groups to bigger ones. That's not because I dislike social contact - quite the opposite. I love hanging out with a small group of friends because you can get much deeper, much more personal. The less people there are, the less chance of the wrong person learing the wrong thing about you. It could be a friend of a co-worker who learns that you plan to quit your job, or a person secretly disliking you finding out that you have a fetish for goblin ears or something and can't wait to spread the delicious news. And you might not know who that is. Of course it matters what other people think, especially those that you take for friends. Strangers, not so much of course, but then again... who knows what strings they can pull in the wrong directions?

But look at me. Having to explain any of this really feels like explaining how to walk because it's such a basic thing. Trust and circles. Being you the worker and you the friend and you the parent. It's about filtering away parts of ourselves and sometimes adding a bit more depending on the people you interact with. Put all those groups in a single place... I mean, picture how you would need to shape yourself, what role to put yourself in, for that to work. Ask your friends, family, flirts, co-workers and your boss to come home for a party where you act as if everyone was the same kind of friend. It'd get totally fucked up, and if not, it'd get so extremely shallow and boring. That's what we get with people assuming we're in any shape or form resembling our real selves on Facebook. We're not. That would be absurd.

Now I'm starting to sound like that one guy at the Swedish Game Conference who said the same thing over and over for over an hour when he could've just summarized it in 5 minutes or less.

(I know the grammar of this post isn't the best and it certainly doesn't represent my skill in English.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Swedish Game Conference 2011

Attended the first day of SGC today and there were yawns. Good advice for publishers to people who want to pitch games for them, but a little much "we are awesome"-talk from them as well.

Interesting talks by the founder of Atari, and during the day he and others said some stuff that must be repeated over and over and over to people doing creative work again until the end of time. Namely, stay focused and try try try again. Fail but don't lose enthusiasm for it, try again. And again. Expect failure and have new ideas in the pipe. Try again.

I think it was Daniel Kaplan, maybe not, that said that perfection is a curse and that it keeps you away from the market. Not new but it needs to be repeated. Perfectionists seldom release their stuff onto the market. The others do release their stuff - some fail, some sell. And those that sell may grow because their author gets funds in the process and can let it grow.

Another important concept that was touched is that, more or less that, 1% of target audience liking (and paying) you is eternally better than 100% that doesn't because they can't. That was actually not at all the wording that was used today but it's more or less the same. Never releasing your product aiming for perfection is endlessly more worthless than a blemished product on the market. The latter actually has the potential to sell. And selling isn't just about money money money - it's about getting funds to survive and being able to keep doing what you like doing.

Talked to a bunch of really nice people today. My previous employer's new animator Cezar, talked and lunched with Daniel Kaplan of Mojang, chatted away with a mr. Wowbagger, a Jonas Berling of a smaller (yet epic-sounding) project. A Richard formerly at Immersive Learning but now employed by Pieces. Feels like I'm forgetting people, crap. Anyway. Everybody seems to know somebody in every company. Game development is a nice, small and intense arena.

I also got a very interesting talk with mr. Badylak and it seems as if there might be a few gold nuggets to get from Gothia Science Park of help to me afterall. This makes me slightly more confused, but still not.

Conclusion: A lot of work ---> A lot of potential

Now bed, tomorrow the second and last day of SGC. After that, probably Civilization 5. Good game. And as mr. Kaplan said today, which again is old wisdom but something that must be repeated, make a game that you will like. Make a game for you. I'd make complex turn-based strategy/tactics games.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Visor of Urgency

So, things aren't as calm as they were back in July, but I knew this day would come. I just didn't know exactly how it would look.

My employment ended at the end of August as planned. It was supposed to start again the first of this month but hasn't and it's a bit of a mess. I don't know why decisions take so long and who I'm waiting for to make those decisions anymore. While I'd love for employment I must expect/assume some measure of upfuckery.

Some of the dust has settled however. As expected I see the situation more clearly now that I have the visor of urgency, so to speak. Now more than in a long time I must choose what to do with my situation. I've been thinking over the years about starting my own small company but have put it off. Now, if I get hired again by my previous employer I have to start a company, and if I don't get hired by them I also have to start a company to try to do my own thing.

I've been thinking back and forth about what to call my company as well and have gone through a whole lot of options. Mercetron was one of them, but Google is stupid and I don't want people to associate my company name with something so stupid as the thing Google "suggests" when searching for it. Also, it's hard to pronounce correctly for people and the spelling is even harder to try to explain. Tonight I got the idea of what I wanted to call my company and it's a rather unique name that's been with me for years. Also, it's kind of new in that I haven't used it much at all online. It won't be associated with any baggage I might have left behind unknowingly.

I won't say what the name is before I've gotten around to registering it though. That's just how I do things.

And what would I do with my company? Well, I am a game designer and a programmer. Or maybe rather programmer and game designer... I've always felt that my technical skill is programming, and that game design just comes natural somehow. I get ideas either myself or from other sources and I grind them up in my head to create something bigger... I iterate and iterate and iterate. I test scenarios, I continually ask whether a feature or mechanic serves a purpose or is superfluous. I remove stuff, I add stuff, I see the game grow and breathe and evolve into something as if it has always been what it will become. I love it.

I've been thinking table-top games. I know the language of the platform and the compiler is relatively easy to handle. Prototyping is fast as well. It's also extremely challenging.

Today I bought a pen for drawing. Not at all the one I set out to buy but after half an hour of testing more or less all the pens they had and weighed the usefulness factor of this and that one, I settled for a rather simple and thick black marker pen. I like thick and deliberate lines. I've never really been a fan of pencils. I'm thinking I really want a small Cintiq, but it's no way near cheap enough not to feel just stupid to buy. Maybe if I get something going in the future it'll be worth it - until then a pen will do.

This week, Swedish Game Conference in Skövde. I'm going but have no idea who's going to be there or what they're going to talk about. It'll probably be interesting anyhow so I'll see when I get there.