Everyone has a Middle and a Fringe
Everyone has personal conviction
Everyone has common sense
Everyone has ideas
Everyone wants to act
Everyone needs balance between the Middle and the Fringe
The Middle is where work gets done
The Middle is where lasting decisions are made
The Middle is where common sense reigns
The Middle is where the interests of the many are catered to
The Middle is where ideas are refined
The Middle is where compromise is something to take pride in
The Middle is where inaction is seen as defeat
The Middle’s own greatest threat is complacency and contentment
The Middle without the Fringe is Status Quo
The Fringe is where ideas are created
The Fringe is where norms are questioned
The Fringe is where personal conviction reigns
The Fringe is where the interests of the few are catered to
The Fringe is where beliefs are refined
The Fringe is where winning is something to take pride in
The Fringe is where compromise is seen as defeat
The Fringe’s own greatest threat is radicalization and discontentment
The Fringe without the Middle is Revolution
Visit the Fringe but live in the Middle
Find your spark, your kink, your conviction in the Fringe
Refine it, evolve it and act on it in the Middle
I imagine a different world.
I imagine no countries.
I imagine religion as a personal conviction.
I imagine a friendlier, more tolerant world.
It isn’t hard to do. It requires only that we accept, that Our way is not the only way, and that it’s not about being right and wrong.
Why does it matter, where you were born? Or which team you root for? Or what god you worship, if indeed any at all? Or whether you’re more attracted to men or women? Or whether you love a multicolored piece of cloth on a pole?
None of that matters, except in these made up contexts, reinforced by teaching children that those who are different, are also bad. That We and Our ways are superior.
It’s a holdover from the days, where tribal survival could come down to fighting over limited resources needed to live. This is outdated by several centuries and uncivilized. And in the pockets of the world, where basic survival is still an issue, the rest of us could fix that, if we really wanted to.
It is dangerous think small, not past our immediate horizon. Not bothering with the bigger picture, with understanding, with curiosity or empathy. As a species who thinks so highly of itself, we fail in this on a regular basis.
We can do better.
I do believe humans have a basic need for possession, so let’s keep that. You can own your own things, including a plot of land, from which you can ban whomever you want, should you so desire. On an individual scale, I think this is healthy. Who doesn’t need a bit of privacy?
Although tribalism is inherent in us, we are no longer bound by the tribes we are born into, and we can even belong to multiple tribes at once. Your clothing identifies you as belonging to a certain tribe, whether as a corporate lackey, an all-black goth, or a skinny-jeans-wearing hipster. Going to a stadium for a sports event or a concert, is a tribal ritual. We form clubs and unions, churches, political parties and so on, to be with our various tribes.
Being social creatures, it is good to be among the like minded. But we don’t have to be stupid about it.
You can be part of your tribe without disparaging others. You can support your team without hating the opponents. You can dislike a musician without writing off their fans as morons with poor taste. You can worship your god without thinking of those who don’t as infidels. You can love your flag without thinking of those who don’t as hateful.
You may say I am a Globalist (since Dreamer means something else, these days).
I am fairly sure, I am not the only one.
This post was inspired by the current state of affairs, and by the wonderful song by John Lennon/Yoko Ono, Imagine.
Like most creative endeavors, making games is a labor of love. You have to put in many hours, and the results won’t always come out like you had hoped. This is especially true if you work alone, which is one reason, why working with others is a good thing. More on that later. First and foremost, making games is about passion.
I love to entertain others, and help them entertain themselves. Two other things I love, are stories and story mechanics. This is why I also dabble in writing.
Things started coming together, when I was introduced to the Fighting Fantasy game books. I was raised on books like “The Hobbit”, “The Never Ending Story”, and the Narnia series, but being able to shape a story as I was reading it, making choices for the main character, took things to a whole other level.
Immediately, I wanted to make my own stories in this style. This was some time in 4th or 5th grade, aka the mid 80s.
Fighting Fantasy became a gateway to Dungeons & Dragons, which completely blew my mind. Suddenly it was more than a story with choices, it was building entire worlds and epic adventures within them, all in the company of friends. I played it only a couple of times, before I took to the game master role. As much as I enjoyed playing, writing has always been a favorite activity, and coming up with adventures, characters and settings, and then sharing those with my friends, brought me immense joy as a kid, and continues to do so now.
I mentioned how working with others is good. As a young gamer, I sought out others with similar interests, found friends, and an interest grew into a lifestyle. We started meeting regularly, and grew in number until we formed a club, organizing events and helping out at conventions.
In the mid 90s, I was writing for a gaming magazine, and working part time as “the game guy” in a couple of after school programs. I was in my late teens the first time, I made real, actual money on anything related to games.
During this time, I played every kind of game, I could find. Board games, PC games, card games, tabletop RPGs and miniature battles, console games – everything short of gambling, really. It widened my horizon, and I started seeing patterns in how games work, in general, across various genres and types.
Skipping forward to present day, about 30 years after first choosing my own adventure, I am mostly focused on video games, however the reasons remain the same: I get to put elements together to form an experience, which the players will (hopefully) enjoy, which in turn makes me a happier person.
Why video games, then? Nowhere is a game mechanic purer, than in video games. A computer doesn’t do well with abstract rules that leave room for much interpretation. Everything needs to be precise, or interpreted within specified parameters. Fiddling with that kind of logic and balance is fun.
In conclusion, I make games because it makes me happy. It sounds almost selfish, and to some extent it is. I do believe we must find our own happiness in life (again, easier to do with friends), and I aim to do so, by creating good experiences for others.