2015: Awareness

I made new year resolutions this year, for the first time in as long as I can remember. I’ve got big ideas and bold plans for the year ahead: Writing, Yoga, Adventure. Above all, awareness.

All told, I had a great 2014.  A year of travelling all over the world, a year of creativity and friends and laughter and so many fun times. So many happy photos on Facebook, upbeat updates on Twitter. But there was more going on behind the scenes. There was a lot of "broken-ness". There was sickness and sorrow, jealousy and bitterness, envy and hopelessness. I don’t like to advertise it when I sob on the floor. I don’t think any of us do. 

When I thought about this post, I was going to post an artful little shot of my resolution preparation: notebook, fire, glass of wine. 

But fuck that. 

You wouldn’t be able to see the counter full of dishes, the rumpled bed, the dust and dirt that accumulates when I’m busy pursuing my dreams (or procrastinating). 

It wasn't perfect. But I am really excited about the year ahead. I don't know where it will lead, just like I couldn't have predicted where 2014 would lead. Sometimes that's really scary. Sometimes I don't know what I am doing at all. Sometimes I feel broken, lost, messy. But then I look back and so much has happened even in the darkest times.

So, if you are feeling broken, lost, messy, alone or like you don’t know what you are doing or where you are going? You are not alone, I have you in my heart <3


To keep track for myself for those days when all feels lost, in no particular order, here’s what I am most proud of myself for accomplishing in 2014:

- Finished the first draft of my novel

- Gave a talk about play and the occult at game festival (twice!)

- Brought a game I designed to a game festival (twice!)

- Saved up and went to Thailand for a month

- Taught project management to some fantastic students in DIT

- Actually made rent money from writing

- Sustainably supported myself through freelancing work for the first time

- Met and talked about writing with two of my heroes (M John Harrison & Grant Morrison)

- Taught interactive fiction at the Irish Writers Centre

- Ate olives

- Became a full-time part of the Fumbally Exchange community

- Did a handstand in yoga

- Finally paid my 2010 income tax (I know!)

- My name is on MARS right now!

- Guested on my favourite podcast (twice!)


And for those days where everything seems possible, I want to remember to keep a check on what I’m not proud of at all & aim to be better at in 2015:

- Procrastinating all the live long day all the live long week all the live long month all the live long year...

- Jealousy and envy, so much jealousy and envy!

- Making excuses for anything for everything

- Sticking my head in the sand about money/security/health

- Hubris of the highest order

- Mess mess mess mess mess

- Over-reliance on social media to fill/alleviate moments of anxiety

- Not doing enough yoga/meditation

How I'll Get To GDC Next Year

So, I went to GDC earlier this year and found meeting and hanging out with all of the indie game developers very inspirational. It made me raring to go to get working on a) my writing with focus, dedication and commitment; and b) making games for fun! 

As someone with zero relevant expertise and since I am busily procrastinating on part A as much as I can, I decided to write myself some advice on part B, and came up with these top 3 things to work on... 


1. Start making games

Now? Yes, right now, like actually today. Maybe I don’t know how to code, or draw, or anything at all. But I do know how to use Google, right? I just need to download a few of the programmes that people who have no skills whatsoever can use to make totally playable games! Then share that game, get feedback to improve, rinse and repeat. Easy as.

 Spend 30 minutes per day making games (everyone has 30 minutes they can claw back from somewhere) and in a month I will have spent 15 hours making games, in 3 months 45 hours, and in a year 180 hours. Wow!



2. Start saving

Can I put aside €10 this week, €20 next week, €5 the week after and so on and so forth for the next year? Maybe pop in a bit of savings money, maybe forgo an evening out drinking or a new book/game/movie? Mine some Bitcoins? I bet I can. What for? So I can attend GDC again next year. 

* Airfare = €500 if you are willing to book in advance or fly inconvenient routes

* Accommodation: Staying in a dorm at the hostel where all the indie developers stay (which is almost as good as the conference) = €29/night, or €145 for the 5 nights of the conference

* Food = €20/day will have you sorted just fine - you get bagels and fruit in the hostel, massive burritos cost about €5

* Drinks = free at all the parties of which there are 10+ per night.

So, save up €750 and I am basically covered. That is €14.50 per week for the next year. Yeah, the actual tickets are astronomicalbut I can get at least an expo pass free in the weeks prior to the conference or volunteer or get sponsorship, etc.


3. Eliminate “Yeah, but” from my conversational repertoire

So let's get down to brass tacks here Char. You know what all of the people who really succeed in the games industry, the tech industry and the world in general have? A good attitude. I don’t mean a roll-over-and-take-whatever attitude or an everything-is-so-beautiful attitude. I definitely don’t mean a perky-pollyanna attitude. But what is a good attitude?

Make games, talk about games...and don’t be dismissive of other people/games/ideas by rebutting everything positive you hear with “yeah, but…” You know what I mean? I mean “yeah, but that’s fine for him, he has loads of money” or “yeah, but she knows someone who knows someone” or “yeah, but he did programming/art/writing/business in college” or “yeah, but THE ECONOMY”. You know what I mean (of course you do, you're me).

Nobody has everything it takes, nobody has a perfect life, and nobody is right all the time. There is an awful lot of “yeah, but” in the lower echelons of all industries, and it is unsurprisingly pretty absent at the top, since people displaying it tend to get whittled out at entry-level. It’s a conversational dead-end, there is nowhere to go from it. A little cactus of bitterness fighting to survive in a desert of fear.

Check out anyone you truly admire and watch their speech and actions, you will find it pretty free of shutting conversations down with “yeah, but” and much heavier on clarifying questions. I mean “Have you got any tips on how you manage to create games alongside your 9-5 and your family?” or “How did you fund it? Oh great, thanks for the tip!” or “How did you get this done within that engine? Cool, I didn’t know you could do that!” or “I understand there are lots of difficulties, but how can we get this done anyway?”  Believe in yourself, believe in your creations. If you don’t, who will? And believe in being open to others and what they have created without bitterness or fear (the base emotions of “yeah, but”). Don’t you want to be treated the same way? Yes, I do.

I may know less than nothing about game design or development, but I’m pretty sure that if I actually practice these 3 things every week over the next 52 weeks? I’ll be a game designer, someone who has made games (with at least 180 hours kicked in? Games plural!), chatting and laughing about games with other game designers, at the largest games industry event in the world (which is also the most fun crammed into 1 week that is possible).

Sound like a plan?