My (Summarized) Story To Where I Am Now

Very often I think of how I got to where I am today. I’m not anywhere particularly special, but I just mean the choices that I made to do what I do now, to be in this position. Its funny to think back, and realise how insignificant some of the choices seemed that actually changed my life, and sent me in a totally different direction.

For example, lets go back 8 years. I was 11, just started secondary school, and I only had a couple of friends. I decided to go round to my friend Adam’s (yes, I know) house after school, and he showed me Mindless Self Indulgence and Slipknot that day. This might seem like nothing, and at the time I didn’t think much of it either, but I’m sitting here, a massive metal fan now, and all because I found out about it all back then.

However, this isn’t where that ends. Liking that kind of music meant that I made more friends with other people that liked the same stuff, which meant that more people in my school knew who I was. After a while I was talking to people I never thought I’d have spoken too, simply because I listened to this music, so people got to know me, and as such a lot of people regarded me as pretty nice, and good to talk to. This still applies, a lot of people think this, and I feel like I’m still the same person I was then, its just now I have a lot more confidence to talk to people, and as such I can show them it now, rather than people finding out through others.

Another major turning point in my life was in 4th year, when I had to do a 1 week work placement for school, because why not apparently. Anyway, I had no idea what I wanted to do for it, so my dad got me into one of his old Engineering Firms for the week. It was there that I realised I wanted to become a Chemical Engineer, which resulted in me, well, doing Chemical Engineering at Strathclyde University. If not I could’ve been in Glasgow Uni right now doing a Law degree, scary.

Oh, something I can’t forget to add is that a good while back, 9 years ago I think now, I almost didn’t join the company section of the BB. I was going to leave, and decided to just stay on to give it a shot last minute, and its pretty much the reason I have about 30 Table Tennis medals and trophies, why I’m friends with the people I am, and that even influenced going to Adam’s that day with the music.

I just think its incredible to look back on this short segment of your life so far, and realise how a number of different things could have dramatically altered your life. There are many, many more I can think of honestly, but the three examples above are the biggest by far, and I just think it is incredible when I realise that, while I might not speak to Adam anymore, or go to BB, I know that my life is the way it is because of these different things. They shaped me into the person I am today, they made me want to play games, to listen to metal, which got me into YouTube, got me into PC gaming, in turn Twitch streaming. There’s just so much in my life that could change if one thing was done differently, and that scares me. But it also makes me wonder; what would my life be like had these things not happened? Its interesting to think isn’t it?


Defining A Game

So, I’ve been doing some thinking about this, as it is something that has been very prominent in recent years with regards to PC gaming specifically, and I think its still a very subjective topic. The question is: how do you define what is and isn’t a game?

There are a few factors that I feel affect this, and it is something that I think can still be further discussed and refined. It is also a discussion that needs to be had, as there is still a negative connotation surrounding things that are regarded as not games, but as “interactive experiences(IE’s)”, and honestly, there’s nothing negative about this at all. An interactive experience can be a good medium for someone to tell a story in a more visual way, but the interactivity still has to enhance the experience in some way.

To give some examples, Dear Esther is one that people often refer to as an interactive experience, and in a very negative way. I personally found Dear Esther to be a really good looking IE, and I think a lot of people did actually, but the story was pretty lackluster, and often it was very easy to miss some parts of the story because you didn’t explore a certain path. This is a very good IE to have this discussion about, because it raises the point of giving an element of exploration to these. If the player just wants to go through looking at the pretty landscapes and listening to a story, should it be fair that they miss out on some explanations or story elements because of that? Honestly I’m not completely sure. The argument could be made that if the exploration is taken out of the IE, and the player is then forced down a single linear path listening to the story, is there any point in it not being a short film? However, the argument could also be made that in fact, having certain aspects missed can be a good thing, as you then go back into the world to figure out what else is going on.

However, in the example of Dear Esther, this was poorly implemented. The world was pretty yes, the Caves and the Moonlit Beach being two absolutely gorgeous looking areas, however it was not a world worth revisiting. This is partially due to the lackluster story, as well as the complete lack of, well, anything in the environment to interact with.

That’s not to say it can’t be done though, for example in the case of To The Moon. This is something that I think straddles the line, as there is explicit interaction in regards to collecting memories to time-hop, however there is no failure state, as the memories are very easy to locate, and there is no punishment for not getting them all, as you have infinite time to do so. To The Moon was very well received however, as it still felt like the player interactivity actually meant something. The story was excellent, and it was backed by a fantastic soundtrack, and this helped, but I’d still call it an Interactive Experience, and I don’t think many would argue otherwise. To The Moon was a fantastic showing of how a story can be told in such a format without making the player feel redundant. This is surprisingly difficult to achieve, as shown by the next game from Freebird Games, A Bird’s Story, which was criticised for having almost no interaction whatsoever, and while still having a great story, lacked what To The Moon had.

In this case, A Bird’s Story was only drawing a line between To The Moon and its true sequel, Finding Paradise, however, it still had the same standards imposed upon it, and it didn’t hold up. This shows how thin the line is, as there wasn’t much difference between To The Moon and A Bird’s Story besides the story, and yet the lack of interactivity was an issue for many.

I propose that we set out some sort of standard that we can all agree on, in order to try and truly define these interactive experiences, and show that they can be good in their own right, and maybe remove some of the stigma surrounding them. So here’s what I think the criteria something should need to meet in order to be classified as a game.

  • There must be a failure state, either explicit or implied. For example, an explicit failure state would be death in a shooter, while an implied failure state would be failing to “woo” a love interest in a dating simulator.
  • There must be a certain level of interactivity, such that replaying, whilst maybe having the same story, can have completely different game experiences. For example, doing a stealth run of Dishonored and then replaying by murdering everyone.

I think these two rules can definitely be expanded on, and there could be more additions to make the line clearer, but I feel this is the right step to showing that interactive experiences are not just failed games, but in fact are their own medium, and can be just as engaging as a game.

The Importance of Music

Music is something that most people listen to in some form, no matter the genre, or if its just simple humming, music is a language everyone can speak. It can be used to communicate feelings, to get closure, or to just let you express your emotions in an easier form. Regardless, music can bring tears from a repressed memory, or it can bring happiness to anyone, it is something we all understand, and something that is vitally important in your growth as a person.

Music at the current time can probably be split into a thousand different genres, but whether you like Death Metal, Country, or Classical, the fact remains that you listen to it because you enjoy it. I happen to listen to all three genres mentioned, as well as many more, and while there are some types of music I do not enjoy, its easy to appreciate that some people may find enjoyment from it. This is because in the end, its not about a specific genre of music that evokes specific types of emotions. Yes this can happen, but most of the time, it’s not the type of music, but just the fact that it is music, that can make people happy.

I believe this is for the same reason that people enjoy films and games. Escapism. You can just sit back, and stick on a playlist, and pretend that the world isn’t there, and that everything is perfect. No matter what issues you may have in your life, when you put in those earphones, lie back and close your eyes, the whole world ceases to exists, at least for a while. Its perfect for stress relief, no matter what kind of stress you are having, as suddenly, at least for a few minutes, that is gone, and you can relax. That is possibly the best feeling in the world. Sure, you will have to return to it afterwards, but just to have that break can be the difference in how you approach a situation. The calmness and clarity you get from having the alone time can really change your perspective on a situation.

It is for this reason that I always listen to music before going in for exams. I feel relaxed, and I can listen to it and recite the things I need to remember over and over, without it stressing me out. I have actively found that I remember things better while listening to music, as I am not feeling the same levels of stress, and so I am actually able to concentrate much easier, and I know of other people who have found this too. Music has this power over us, that just causes us to relax, and really can make us work much more efficiently. Think about it, when people go out for big events, they listen to music, before exams, before anything big, there’s music, and that relaxes us.

I think it could also possibly have something to do with our roots. From the earliest cavemen, art was a way of communicating, be it through the earliest cave drawings, to music. Take it from the natives in areas secluded from the world such as the Amazon, they still live as tribal villagers, no technology, just the most basic knowledge of fire, iron, hunting etc. With all this, and no technological advances, they still have music and drawings. It is something that appeals to our basic human nature, and it is something that has always made us happy.

This is why I believe that music is important to the growth of a person. In whatever form, it gives us relaxation, a reduction in stress, and not only that, but it is basic human instinct to sing and dance and draw. These things made up early communication, and to this day it is still something that makes us happy, in all its forms. Music may divide us in the modern world with preferred genre, bands/artists, or songs, but ultimately, it is all the same. Music has always been made to bring emotion into communication, and even to this day, it can bring people to tears, or elevate them to the highest they’ve ever been. Music is a wonderful thing, and its co-evolution with humanity is something that has shaped our society, and something you can always turn to in the bleakest of times, and the best of times.


I know for a fact that I am not the only one who sometimes misses my childhood. I do not have a bad life, I’m in my dream course at my dream Uni, and acing it. I have loving parents, a loving girlfriend, great friends, and I have great online friends and co-workers too.

However, missing childhood doesn’t have to mean that you hate your life now, or that life was easier back then. I mean, of course it was, low responsibility, easy work at school, mostly play and little work, it just seemed like the perfect time. You hated it then, because you felt like things were hard, but as you grow older, you start to realise that things aren’t as easy in the real world. I once saw a chart that summerises things brilliantly. It was split into three categories, child, adult, and elderly. It compared 3 variables, those being Time, Money and Energy.

As you’d expect, it was the classic “pick two” scenario, as a child you have time and energy, but no money, adult you have energy and money, but no time, and lastly as an older person, you have time and money, but no energy. There are obvious exceptions to the rule (Child stars, or pretty much anyone rich), but nonetheless this tends to be pretty standard for most people. It made me think, is that really a bad thing?

Lets take the example of the child first. You have all the time in the word, and all this energy you want to use. You would love to be able to go to Disneyland all the time, or get all the latest video games, or be able to get loads of sweets, however, you never have much money. But think about it, imagine if your 6 year old self had access to a full say, £50,000 a year salary, how would that go down? Well, as you can probably figure out, the kid would spend all the money on sweets and such, end up not well a lot, and probably have a worse time that they would just playing.

So that’s the first example, lets move on to adulthood. What would an adult do with all the time in the world? Well, they might go on extravagant holidays all the time. Or they might spend lots of time in Las Vegas, gambling away. Alternatively, they could have no idea what to do. Holidays, luxurious things, winning millions, there’s a reason these things appeal to us. They’re rare, or in some cases, completely unobtainable. If you were able to take 20 holidays a year, would you still enjoy them 3 years down the line? Probably not, and then what would you do? Have huge parties, but then you might develop some issues, due to being so used to play and no work. There’s a big problem here too, as we want things we cannot have, its human nature to do so. If we could have the biggest mansion ever built, would we be happy? Or would we want 5 extra bathrooms, just because we can? I’ll let you answer that one.

And finally, retirement. You have loads of time, a decent amount of money behind you, but you’ve grown old and weary. You can do whatever you want, all those things you’ve ever wanted to do, you can finally do them, but you decide to leave it until tomorrow. Then the next day you fancy going to the golf club with a couple of friends, play a few rounds, and have a chat. And what do you do? Chat about childhood, how amazing it would be to have the same energy now that you did back then. But that’s the problem, you don’t. This is your chance to do everything you’ve ever wanted, but you decide to get into a comfortable routine, and live your life happy and predictable. And that’s great, it really is, but then you have to think, you had all these plans, yet you settle for this. Why? Because you never really wanted to do all those things in the first place. Sure, they sounded cool, but when you finally have the chance, you realise that these things aren’t important. You wanted them because you couldn’t have them, and now you can, you decide you are happy with your life.

Its interesting to think about childhood, and how you wish for everything. You spend your whole life wishing for bigger and better, and then you realise, that when it comes down to it, everything is great. Those songs you listened to by the lake that night with your then girlfriend, the crazy things you and your best friend could think up using nothing but a tree and some sticks. The way you could do anything you wanted, just spend all your time, pretending to live the things you wish you could have.

I suppose that’s the message I’m trying to get from this. The wishing is always better. I believe you should always strive for bigger and better, to improve yourself and also to help others. But when you are doing that, I urge you not to forget those songs that remind you of the small things. The nights up late under the stars, that time you walked to Spar at 4 in the morning, all because you wanted a can or Coke, the time you fell out that tree, and couldn’t feel the pain because you were laughing so much. Remember those times with fondness, and realise that, no matter how old you get, you are never too old to dream.