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?

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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.

Things Have Been Hectic

So, as you can probably get from the Title, things have been rather busy for me recently. If you didn’t get that, you might as well give up reading just now to be honest, maybe just get a job throwing rocks at delinquents. Or licking cacti.

Now that they’re all gone, I’ve really not had a seconds peace the last two weeks. If I haven’t been buying presents I’ve been seeing my girlfriend, or seeing my Dad, or going out with friends, or studying for exams, or streaming when possible, or trying not to run out of money, or spending any small free time I have trying to 100% Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. I know half of that seems rather relaxing, but believe me, it most certainly is not.

For example, I had fun streaming games. I still do have fun streaming games, its great. But just the other day, this happened, and by god, that changed a lot. Within 1 minute of that tweet going out, I’d gained 15 twitter followers, 150 viewers, and 60 twitch followers. I all of a sudden had over 100 people watching me talk shite about a game at 1am. And I was loving it.

Believe it or not, the number actually lasted high for a while. It dropped below 50 after 2 hours of streaming, and ended on a solid 20, with the final count being an extra 64 twitch followers. I couldn’t believe what just happened. And not only was it amazing, but also terrifying. I now have 213 followers on twitch, and I barely get the chance to stream. I’ve been making an effort to stream more recently, but the problem is it came around Christmas time, and my dad was back, so naturally I’ve actually had less time than I would normally find myself with during a regular week.

So because of all this, I’m pushing myself to try to take any time I can to stream, as I don’t want all these people to forget me. For the love of god, I had 2 1M+ YouTubers watching, one actually lasting for 2 hours (Link here). I feel so lucky to maybe actually have a chance to take off on Twitch here, yet I also feel like I don’t have a chance in hell, because I cannot for the life of me find the time to bloody stream. This is becoming a serious dilemma for me, and I’m really unsure of what I should do at this stage. Obviously I will continue to stream, but what if everyone forgets about me in that time? Just some thoughts. I really want to capitalise on this opportunity Dan from Nerd³ gave me with this, but I don’t know if I’m too late or not.

Another thing is the fact that today was the first time I’d been on my PC since last Wednesday, LAST WEDNESDAY FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. I had Christmas obviously, then my girlfriend stayed through boxing day, we then went to her grans the 27th, and I stayed until this morning, well, technically yesterday morning now (morning of the 29th I’ll say). So this has put extra stress on the whole twitch thing. I’ve tried to stay on twitter as much as I can and keep people engaged with me, but there’s only so much you can do.

I’m also not sure what to do about uploading to YouTube again. I have a plan of action, a Vlog every second day, as an update thing, and a daily scheduled gaming video. But the problem is, I’m so busy with Twitch and everything else I cannot find any time to fit this in. I don’t want to just simply upload Twitch Highlights, as I want it to take on a life of its own, but I also don’t want to stop streaming, or even cancel seeing my friends to make time for everything.

Ultimately, I really see an opportunity here to really grow myself on the internet, and make myself known in the community, but I don’t know how to go about it, or if I’m just wasting my time. I will continue to do streaming as it is something I enjoy, but I don’t know how to pick up YouTube, and whether or not to try to make the extra time and effort to give to it, when I don’t know if it will give back or not. I feel like the only thing I can do is try.