This blog serves as a space for my general musings on games (digital and analog), technology, education and whatever else strikes my fancy. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Adam Sandler Demons in my Head...

One of the most difficult challenges of blogging is overcoming the sense that you have nothing worth saying. Who would want to read what I have to say? Even when you come up with an idea, your inner voice says, "Ya, but everyone already knows that. It isn't original at all". And when we read a truly well written blog post, we assume that the author just sat down at the keyboard and gave birth to some singularly profound piece of writing without struggle, without editing, without second-guessing. Of course that isn't true, or at least it generally isn't true. There are probably a few of those bloggers out there and yes, we despise them for making the rest of us feel inept. But for most people, blogging is a process involving reflection, iteration, frustration, and the occasional piece of enlightenment. And while it does get easier the more you do it, those little voices whose job it is to convince you that you aren't qualified or skilled or interesting enough to blog never truly go away. At best, you beat them into a dark closet in your mind but you can always hear them banging at the door to get out.

As part of the Introduction to Critical Game Studies course I am teaching this term, I required students to blog about games. Sometimes I assign a topic but most of the time I ask them to write about what is interesting to them. A student in the course asked if I was planning to blog with them so they could follow along. Seemed like a great idea so of course I agreed. I didn't realize that in agreeing to do so, I was also adding an additional layer of pressure to myself. Not only am I sharing my thoughts and ideas publicly, but now I have a group of college students possibly paying attention to what I write. This, of course, allowed my little demons to pry open the door in the back of my mind and dance on my insecurities while chanting, "they're all going to laugh at you!" in a surprisingly accurate Adam Sandler voice.

But, I'm determined not to allow them to win. So here I sit, feeling as though I don't have a single original thought worth sharing to a group of college students majoring in game design, but determined to fight back the hordes of Adam Sandler demons trying to squash my self-esteem.

And then it hits me...students are probably feeling the same way. Ya, I know - it's not the most profound realization ever and I totally should have thought about that right from the beginning, but that's how insecurity works. You always assume everyone else is more competent, more brilliant, and more capable than you. You become so preoccupied with your own demons that you forget that everyone else has them, too. And suddenly I'm no longer playing a solo survival horror game. Instead, it becomes a co-op RPG. We are all playing roles and we are all battling the same demons. My blogs don't have to be epic; they don't even have to be awe-inspiring. They are about me and my process and my desire to share with others, who in turn might share with me.

So is there a moral to this story? Is it in any way relevant to game design? Of course. Am I going to spend another three paragraphs discussing how? Nope. I like where this is at right now and I'm afraid if I try to explicate meaning out of it I'll just kill it. But if you make the connections, please post your thoughts in the comment section.

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