Freedom Versus Fear

It’s difficult to truly understand someone else’s point of view. We don’t see the moment-to-moment details of their lives or process information and experiences the same way they do. Even when we’re very close to someone, it can be hard to know what they’re going through, or sincerely listen when they speak out. These are complicated times. For me, I try to find a clear truth that I can wrap my head around. Not to oversimplify a complex issue, but to give me a litmus test for cutting through the confusion to find a relatable core. Last year, I was watching a documentary about the great jazz vocalist and civil rights activist Nina Simone. In it, she made a simple statement that grabbed me and took hold. She said that a people who live in fear cannot truly be free. In the time since, I have thought of her words…

Twenty Years of EQ

My career in games is based on a series of unplanned events. My story is hardly unique in that regard. But at the foundation of all of them all rests a single name: EverQuest. And on this twentieth anniversary of its release, it’s only right that I send it a birthday card. Since high school, I was a diehard Ultima fan. It was the fourth installment in the franchise that changed my perspective on what video games could be, and once Ultima Online was released, I could not conceive of ever leaving it. But when my guildmates started disappearing to a newly launched rival that boasted 3D graphics, I thought I’d at least try out the game and give my new Voodoo graphics card something to do. I never looked back. Warrior was the first class I tried–a human, at that. Bread and butter of the fantasy RPG. But it…

The Blog Graveyard

Finding myself with a little time to kill this weekend, I began clicking through various bookmark folders in my browser. The most cluttered of these was “Blogs”, a list of a few dozen gaming sites I used to check with some regularity. This folder has stayed by my side for going on two decades. It has moved with me from computer to computer, hard drive to hard drive, browser to browser. A quiet, constant companion. Old. Reliable. But when I started following the links, you can guess what happened. My once vital list of go-to sites had become a graveyard. I clicked. I pruned. Mercilessly, I clicked and pruned some more. And when I had finished, I was left with a skeleton of my formerly robust folder. But at least the branches which remained were alive. It didn’t surprise me, of course. My own blog has doubtless been pruned from…

A Seat at the Table

GDC is always a mixed bag of usefulness and frustration. There are great sessions to hear and participate in, but also disappointments and stinkers. While writing in video games is kind of my thing, I don’t typically find value in attending the narrative roundtables. The useful bits and helpful advice tend to get overshadowed, at least for me, by frustration. There’s always some amount of  complaining from writers who feel slighted by the development process, or who lament the lack of narrative gigs in the business. It’s not that I don’t sympathize with these points of view, but the roundtables can devolve into venting sessions rather than outlets for creative collaboration. Others may disagree. Your mileage may very. So it was with trepidation that I attended a narrative roundtable at this year’s GDC. And whether my fears proved true or I simply turned it into a self-fulfilling prophecy, the talk became what I…

I Am Not Alone in My Slothiness

I happened to look through a folder of old bookmarks I had tucked away, and stumbled upon a plethora of blogs I used to follow back in the day. Clicking through the links, I found a number of old favorites still active, but also noted that many of the writers I avidly followed haven’t posted anything new in some time. This made me both sad and relieved. Sad because many of the old-timers I admired have gone silent, or at least moved on to other sorts of media (the blog is a kind of outdated construct, I suppose). Relieved because I’m not the only one who sucks at posting. I imagine that many, just like me, might love to post more, but find themselves busy with work, busy with life, or in the throes of all the good TV available these days. Seriously people, when I was a kid, I…

What’s the Point of This?

I went to the trouble of fiddling with a new blog look, so I might as well do something with it. But what? Were I to focus this blog on game design, as Mobhunter (sort of) was, I’d never publish anything–the last several years are evidence of this. Why? In part because I don’t have a lot to say on the subject. I used to enjoy pontificating on MMOs, but the community already does that with far more fervor and volume than I could hope to muster. Perhaps more to the point, I’d rather be known for the things I create than the things I talk about creating. Theories are cool and discussing them can be useful, but my preference is to focus on the work itself. The craft rather than the theory of the craft. So where does that leave this site? I don’t know, exactly. I like to…