At the New Orleans Film Festival last year I had the great pleasure of seeing a fantastic documentary about a small Christian Wrestling community in Georgia, appropriately titled Ultimate Christian Wrestling. The film was genuine in tone, focused on a very interesting group and their motivations, very funny throughout without belittling the beliefs of those shown, and a very human tale about dreams and how the road to achieve those goals can get so very twisted.
The version of the film that I saw was apparently an incomplete cut, according to director team Jae-Ho Chang and Tara Autovino during the Q&A that followed. Now, there is a Kickstarter campaign that has a week left and is a little over halfway towards its goal. If you’re at all interested in independent film, documentary filmmaking, or having a hand in assisting those that work in those fields, please consider contributing, and even if you can’t contribute sharing the link can help out tremendously.
I’d love to see this film in its final form and you’d really be in for a treat if you gave yourself the opportunity too.
The Kickstarter campaign can be found HERE and the film’s Facebook page can be found HERE.
Hello Geekti.me readers! Welcome to my new weekly segment! THE WEEK IN GEEK. GeekTi.me is, for the most part, known as more of an opinion/editorial blog. We also have a wonderful weekly podcast! We are not necessarily known for our breaking news, but I am here to put a stop to that! Well this may not be breaking news. But it is news that affects you and I will be dropping all of this wonderful information to you once a Saturday!
So let’s get started. These are the geeky things that have happened this week!
New Pokemon TV App available for a tablet or smartphone near you!
Have you ever wanted to watch the Pokemon TV show on your iPhone? No? Well now you can! Our friends at the Pokemon Company have released an official Pokemon TV app that will allow you to watch your favorite episodes! They have the episodes sorted by regions (Johto, Kanto, etc.) and plan to drop weekly episodes and special showings of the movies! Download it now and catch them all!
Aliens Colonial Marines is finally out! And Everyone hates it!
Yes the long awaited Aliens movie sequel turned video game has finally made it to store shelves. What are the critics saying about it? They hate it! Will you? Thats for you to decide and me not to care! Rumor is, Gearbox didn’t even make the game! Can’t be that bad right? You can get the new Aliens game at your local retail for the low price of $59.99 (unless otherwise stated.)
Skyrim DLC comes to something other than the XB360!
We have all been waiting for this folks! A working version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the PS3! Oh wait… what? It’s the DLC that has been out forever on the Xbox? Does that mean I still can’t go in the water without my game freezing? Well crap. Must be why they are offering it half off…I mean, Yay! New DLC!!
Nancy Pelosi compares “game violence” size with Japan
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi inadvertently blames Japan for gun violence in America! Well, not really. But she does compare gaming violence and gun violence, claiming Japan has more violent video games than anywhere else in the world and much less gun violence. I guess that means everyone should move to Japan! Yay!
Nintendo announces many things in this weeks Nintendo Direct
This weeks Nintendo Direct directs people to buy the 3DS handheld game system with a plethora of game announcements. All the while the Wii U sits in the corner and waits it’s turn for a price drop the spotlight. Nintendo also announces that 2013 is the year of Luigi, with our 2nd favorite turtle stomping plumber getting the spotlight in more than a few games coming out this year.
In a strange turn of events, all of the people in Egypt cannot watch YouTube due to a ban because a documentary that most likely had way too many cats in it. Egypt’s government apparently wanting to troll its whole country said it “Was for the LoLz.” Ok… maybe I made that last part up.
The Earth had a near miss this week as meteor exploded over a small town in russia. While there were injuries most likely due to the explosions sonic boom knocking everyone on their butts, there were no casualties. And while everyone in the small town of Russia were probably scared $—less everyone on the internet watching talked about how cool it looked. All the while Russians asked where Bruce Willis was to save them from impending doom. Americans found him on the big screen with the release ofA Good Day to Die Hard.
For those who know me, I’m not really a fan of “scary” things. I’m terrible with movies. I’m terrible with games. I’m terrible with my jerk face friends hiding in our shadowy laundry room just waiting for me to walk by. That’s why it’s so odd for me to play horror games. The odd part of this being that I play a lot of horror games. Some people like them. Some people like “feeling the fear” or whatever other crap they might say in regards to their love of the genre. Me? I hate it, which really brings my sanity into question given the number of them I’ve played.
The point, you ask? The point is that a simple little addition to the formula is what gives me fond memories of horror games instead of terrible ones. It’s friendship. That sounds like the corniest line of cheese this side of an inspirational Saturday morning cartoon, but I mean it sincerely. If you have a good group of friends, you can get through anything.
To backtrack slightly, the thing that spurred this along was the fact that I had pre-ordered Dead Space 3. I pre-ordered, I paid it off, and I was in. I was very pleased about this purchase decision because I really like the first Dead Space. It didn’t hit me until about a week ago that I still haven’t beaten Dead Space 2. The furthest I had ever gotten, it appeared, was midway through Chapter 4. The last
time I played it before this week was, funnily enough, February 5th 2012. With the impending release of a new game I didn’t want to have to backlog immediately, I took to my console and began playing. As expected, I slowed my pace by about Chapter 3, and eventually stopped. It took the prodding of one of my roommates to finally bring my PS3 out to the living room and play with the lights off…and my friends watching. It was because of this that I finally conquered Dead Space 2 almost two years later.
The experience was fun, as to be expected. The idea that your friends were watching you play a scary game and trying to make you even more scared sounds terrible on paper, but it really is a lot of fun. The whole time, comments about the game were being thrown around and occasional noises and motions added a bit to my adrenaline, but I was able to laugh at the situation after my friends pointed out how crazy I was being. I was actively associating fun times with this game, thus giving me good memories of the game.
Now that you understand the formula (y/x + ooga booga + friendship x π or something like that), it was around the time my roommate Dave made me fall over after scaring me after a Dead Space bathroom break when I understood it too. Friends offer unique insight into anything you do. Being mean like Dave is one of the ways that happens, I guess. It started me thinking about other games I’ve played in the past and how my friends made an otherwise negative experience better. I recall being in a basement with one of my friends for the entirety of Dead Space, as an example. A game that is, arguably, much scarier than its sequel, Dead Space would’ve taken a lot out of me if I would have played it by myself.
Even as far back as the original Resident Evil, way before I had any justifiable reason for playing/being witness to Resident Evil. I spent several nights with my cousin playing Directors Cut and having so much fun because I had another victim with me. I remember a sweat drenched, heart pounding weekend where a friend and I played through as much as we could of the first three Fatal Frame games. I distinctly recall yelling loud enough to wake my friend’s mother, which nearly resulted in a one-way trip home.
Really, I’ve conquered so many scary games because I’ve had my friends with me. I’ve defeated Silent Hill, Clock Tower, Resident Evil, Dead Space, Condemned (well and truly, eff bears…forever), Siren, Penumbra, The Suffering, and several other relatively unimportant ones (read: I don’t even remember anymore). That’s a lot of games for a genre I claim to hate so much. It’s just all about assigning good experiences to bad ones. It’s a mental game, really. You’re using outside forces to tweak your memories and opinions of something
that otherwise would have no outside force. I love tricking my brain like that. It makes me feel like I have more power than I actually do.
Perhaps I’m perverting the general system of horror games by doing this. As a rule, these things are typically lonely and very solitary personal experiences. I fully believe that most developers intend for the user to play the game in a lonely and solitary position…lights off…volume up…darkness settings down…no company. If I’m wrong for doing it this way, don’t tell me. This “way of life” (if you will) has saved dozens of games from being half played. It’s probably saved dozens more from being sixteenth played.
And now, I’m (apparently) going to be tackling Amnesia: The Dark Descent. As nightmarish as I expect that to be, I also expect it to be fun because I’ll have a friend suffering with me. And we all know we get by with a little help from our friends.
A customizable card game is often a game of strategy and role-playing, much like Dungeons and Dragons or a video-game RPG. However, instead of pen and paper or a controller, players use cards to interact with each other and with the game world. These cards often represent characters or equipment in specific universe (such as Star Wars or Pokemon), events that take place in said universes, or spells and attacks that have an effect on the game world or players within it. Players attempt to be the first to complete an objective set forth by the rules of the game.
These games were fun and addicting to your average nerd. It set off our love of role-playing and our near obsessive need to collect and horde the items of our interest. It makes for a savagely beautiful thing. You will never find a more desperate bunch than the hardcore customizable card game addicts. I was one, and still am when nobody is around to check on me.
Everybody knows Magic the Gathering and Pokemon, but I’m not here to talk about those. I may get to them eventually, but if you really want to know about those and what that’s like just go to your local comic book store one Friday night. People still play those games, they’re still in print. What I am after is the long gone, the forgotten, the ones that sank back into the deep dark and never came back. I am looking on Ebay, ordering cards from Europe at 4 AM on a Thursday morning. I haven’t slept in a while and don’t plan to. Not yet.
The Boom and the Bust
The first game I am going to look at in this series was one that I held dear for quite a while. The ill-fated Star Wars CCG. Released by Decipher in December of 1995, the game hoped to capitalize on both the massive boom in interest of CCG games thanks to Magic the Gathering, and the inherent lust for all things Star Wars that many of the CCG demographic were so prone to succumbing to. It would go on to be the second most successful card game of the period, second only to the top dog that was Magic. Star Wars the Customizable Card Game was in print from it’s release until Lucasfilm (which was recently sold to Disney which may have to be the subject of a future article) denied Decipher their request to renew their license that would allow them to continue printing the game in the final quarter of 2001.
This game was complex. I cannot stress this fact enough. This game was mind-numbingly complex, to the point that it had nearly driven away its entire player base before the game finally went out of print. I am looking at the final copy of the rule set, it’s 158 pages. It is half the size of a Harry Potter book, and makes even less sense. The rules were updated drastically and new gameplay mechanics were added with nearly every expansion set that came out for the game. There was so much errata to the game that if you started playing on launch and quit for about three years and came back, you would hardly know how to play anymore (memory loss aside and assuming you actually learned the already complex rules from the launch version of the game).
The complexity of the game was only one facet of the decline of this game. Probably even more pressing was the lack of play testing when new mechanics were introduced in the waning years of the game. The most outlandish incident was the inclusion of so called “operative” cards. These cards came in the Special Edition set of the game, released in response to the Special Editions of the Star Wars films. The set came out not long before the 1998 Star Wars CCG World Championship. The set was hardly play tested, as it had been shifted from a 180 card set, to a full 324 card set seemingly on a whim. Needless to say, many players attending the championship that year had no idea what these “operatives” were or that they would be game breaking.
Operative cards basically stack up together and wreck your day. There were no limits to how many of a single card you could have in your deck in Star Wars CCG, as such many of the players who realized quickly that operative cards were much more powerful than one might assume at first glance had up to a third or even as much as half of their total deck consist of these cards. The first day of the tournament, a few players roll in with operative decks and clean house. Players begin confronting the developers of the game, who were in attendance. They ask them what they were planning on doing to stop this menace. The blood pressure rises.
The stirrings in the hotel that weekend became chaotic, frantic…desperate. There were people running up and down the halls of the hotel deep into the second night of the tournament, searching, hustling. People were begging for cards, pleading for operatives. It became a mad rush to obtain the precious resource, the life’s blood of the tournament deck. Anybody who wasn’t in the know as of yet certainly began to catch on at this point. They realized that the only way to win against these cards was to play these cards.
This mad rush for the game winning card is part of what drives the CCG player. The hunt for the competitive edge, the secret tech play that will be so resoundingly unbeatable that the game will no longer be left to chance. Victory assured before the first card is drawn, that’s the real goal of many CCG players. It is something not entirely unique to the game type, but it seems more possible. There tend to be so many more interactions in card games than in video games and even in some of the pen and paper table top games out there. The search for that winning combination or strange game breaking card interaction is an addiction even among the already addicted.
Trust Me : It was Pretty Decent
Despite the hell-scape nightmare that this game could be, it had it’s moments. I remember it being one of my favorite CCGs of all time honestly. The game is massive in scope compared to its contemporaries. Instead of being confined to an imagined battleground, isolated from the rest of the universe, locked in a one on one battle with your opponent, Star Wars allowed for a much more mobile experience. The battles took place over the many iconic locations of the Star Wars universe. The game centered around the battle for control of these locations and the resources and abilities these locations provided. The combat was more diverse than many games, as there were weapons and space craft added on to the normal ground based character skirmishes. Characters could equip blasters and lightsabers, or pilot starships to take the fight into space.
The game was rich in the lore of the Star Wars universe. It goes without saying that a large part of the early success of the game was based on the franchise that it was tied in with. The Star Wars universe gave a rich backdrop to this complex game, and grounded it in something many people were already well versed in.
Decipher had some pretty innovative ideas in the game that have not been popularly paralleled to my knowledge. First was the concept of having cards be faction oriented, the only other game I am even aware of that has such a feature is the World of Warcraft CCG. Cards were affiliated with the light side (the Jedi and the Rebels) or the dark side (the Sith and Empire). Your deck had to contain cards from only one faction to be play legal. This was interesting since both sides played rather differently, with the Empire being able to bring out swarms of cheap low powered units like Tie-Fighters and Stormtroopers, where the Rebels tended to rely more on higher costing but more powerful units like X-Wing fighters and the hero unit Obi-Wan Kenobi. This would lead players to have to develop multiple decks, as you would have to alternate between the light side and the dark side in official tournament play. This made for many more possible interactions in the tournament environment (when an interaction such as the aforementioned operative scenario were absent from the tournament landscape).
The Star Wars game did what a lot of other CCGs couldn’t do for people. It brought them into their favorite universe and gave them the chance to role-play some of their favorite parts of the game. Sure the game eventually became a convoluted dumpster fire of hundred page rule books and broken card combinations, but it took longer than most games and is probably the least offensive of some of the other mid-nineties card games in terms of its eventual tail spin into destruction. People still remember this game, I bet if you go to your local comic book store and ask some dude that looks like he’s 30 and may have some Darth Vader action figures what he was doing on a random Saturday in 1996 other than smoking weed and listening to TLC, he would probably at least know what this game was, and chances are he probably played it.
Have you carved your pumpkin? Got your costume ready and your Halloween décor in the front garden? All Hallows ‘Eve is upon us, and geeks love a good excuse to dress up. So, what better theme to go with for this week’s Geek Stuff than… an outdoorsy special!
Back in the 1900s when I was but a child, I harboured vague dreams of going to the stars. The Space Race was long gone by the time I came into the world, and America was already on the path to shunning it’s former moon walking glory (not the Jackson kind), but enough residual wonderment from the days of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins was floating around to influence child-me.
Of course, I quickly realised that the chances of getting on a space shuttle for a British child of average intelligence, fitness and work ethic, were next to none. That added to the fact that I was born over a decade after the last manned Moon mission, and there seemed no burning desire to go back there, my thoughts of space travel were relegated from aspirational dreams to daydreams and, ultimately, turned into fiction writing.
Still, that was back in the dark ages of the 1980s and 1990s.
I’m constantly amazed by the promise of technology in this day and age. It seems like every advancement humanity makes in one field or another, is a big step on the road to yesterdays Science Fiction. 3D Printers, Quantum Computers, Augmented Reality. Heck, even tattoos that vibrate when you get a phone call; it’s all amazing stuff, and it all carries with it the promise of more amazing things to come.
Now, scientific breakthroughs are not something you can buy. You can’t just say, “I want a Faster-Than-Light Space Vessel, here’s my cheque book, go to it!”, and expect to have one built in your lifetime. Breakthroughs often happen by accident, but I feel there is a yardstick by which we can accurately judge our technological progress as a species. That yardstick?
Crazy Rich People!
When you hear stories like Richard Branson buying his own island, it’s easy to shrug it off as the kind of thing a very rich person would do, and in today’s world of ubiquitous news coverage, we hear about this kind of thing more and more. Worse still, it has desensitised us to the outrageousness of it all. I mean, seriously, Richard Branson own his own island!
For this reason, I believe we’re not giving certain Crazy Rich People’s exploits the awe and wonderment that they deserve. For example, Two and a Half Men star, Ashton Kutcher, has booked his seat on a future Virgin Galactic flight.
That’s the one that goes to space!
Most of us dismiss this as something a Crazy Rich Person does because their bank is complaining about the stress all their money is putting on the vaults, but think about this for a moment. With enough money, anyone can go into space. No years of dedication, no aptitude tests or gruelling physical training. Just cash. And the cool thing about what money can buy, is that it generally gets cheaper over time. What costs a quarter of a million dollars today might cost a few thousand dollars in ten years time.
Let’s look at another one.
James Cameron, director of such well known films as Titanic and Avatar, took a trip to the bottom of the ocean. For fun! He took a one-man submarine to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. To put some perspective on that, the Mariana Trench is deeper than Mount Everest is tall. Successful and rich Cameron took it upon himself to go and find out what’s down there.
Nothing much, as it turns out.
Still, I implore you once again, don’t write this off as the actions of a Crazy Rich Person just trying to remove some zeroes from his bank account, thus making his monthly statement small enough to fit through the letterbox and think no more about it. Instead, consider the fact that a man with no related expertise can, with enough money, take a trip to one of the deepest parts of the ocean just for the heck of it.
Still not convinced? Well James Cameron isn’t the only one paddling around in the waters. Jeff Bezos, founder of a little website you may have heard of called Amazon, has found the discarded launch engines of Apollo 11. That’s right, the one that went to the moon first. He now plans to hoist them up out of the water like the proverbial Atlantic. Just. Because. He. Can.
We truly live in incredible times. For most of the people reading this article, we live in a country where it is in our own power to make our own fortune. And, in today’s world, our fortune is all we need to make crazy stuff happen.
Here’s a thought to leave you with. Elon Musk, founder of private space rocket company, SpaceX, has said that he would like to retire on Mars. Far from being the crazy guy on the street corner, Musk has his own space company, his own fortune, a lot of drive, and he is only 39 years old! Who can dismiss his dream of seeing out his life on the red planet?
And if he can do that, what else will we see in our lifetimes?
Hello folks! I’m pretty new here so please don’t stone me for bad writing until I’m at least 3 articles in. After looking over the GeekTime website I noticed a lack of articles in many of the categories and felt compelled to change that. SO this is my first foray into writing and I hope you enjoy the following about Geeky Websites!
I thought I would begin by taking about one of my favorite go-to websites when there is absolutely nothing to do (a.k.a. procrastination) at work, at home, or wherever: Failblog.org. What began as a small website where people posted funny pictures of failures in everyday life has now blossomed into a HUGE multifaceted company with about 50 sub-websites. These sites span a wide variety of interests, that are grouped into categories such as fails, animals with funny sayings, memes, news, and many more. There are way too many pages for me to discuss in one article, but here I will talk about the ones that seem to be most popular and the ones that I like the most.
Failblog: Due to recent (and frequent) restructuring of the website, typing in failblog.org will now take you to a home page consisting of a variety of postings from all of the subsites. The Failblog I want to talk about is now listed as Fail Nation under the Failblog category. One of my friends from high school had directed me to this site to show me a picture that was posted of a local failure: a Jenny Craig location right in between a Chipotle and a Five Guys Burgers and Fries. This was the beginning of my epic journey.
I Can Has Cheezburger: WARNING! This website should only be viewed if you have time to carefully translate each word from Catspeek to English. Having 3 furry family members myself, I find the theme absolutely hilarious and the depictions of cat personalities spot-on. On the other hand, the phonetic spellings and intentional grammatical errors in both the posts and comments make it sometimes difficult to understand, and I find the best posts are ones that limit their use of Catspeek.
Memebase: This site has EXPLODED over the past couple of years and now it is possibly the most frequented site in the Failblog franchise. There is no easy way to describe a meme so I shall refer to a well-trusted standby, Urban Dictionary. While many definitions exist, this one seems to sum it up quite nicely, “A unit of cultural information that represents a basic idea that can be transferred from one individual to another, and subjected to mutation, crossover and adaptation.” Okay…well maybe not so nicely. In general, someone takes a funny picture, adds a cute/funny saying, and posts it on their blog. Soon, other blog owners are taking the picture and adding their own spin on it. When the meme begins rolling out of control, Failblog scoops it up and there it grows until people want to start punching babies (ex: took an arrow to the knee). It will spawn cousin memes that aren’t nearly as funny as the original. Finally the meme dies and a new one becomes more popular until someone begins to like it again, ironically. That person is a Hipster.
The Daily Wh.at: This is one of my favorite subsites because it sums up news of all the geek happenings around the world and tosses in some links to a few other great geek websites along with some of the nerdiest products you cannot resist. There is a TDW: Geek, which is mostly focused on games and movies, but really, if you are on TDW you are already a geek and the separate website is unnecessary.
Some other honorable mentions:
Engrish: poorly translated signs
Awful Tattoos: the name speaks for itself
Daily Squee!: OMG CUTE ANIMALS!
Must Have Cute: every item I have ever wanted to buy as a nerdy girl
Know Your Meme: for those who are new to the internet
Totally Looks Like: people that look like other people, animals, or things
Regretfully, this website is not perfect, nor does it even come close. It has grown so large that they are constantly changing the layout, voting, and commenting system, which can be difficult to master. Then when you finally get used to it, they pull a Facebook and change it up to make it “better.” *le Sigh* Another problem with the enormous size and popularity of the website is that the postings are getting increasingly less funny because all the good material has been chewed up and spit out already. To get to the funniest stuff start looking at the postings about an 8th of the way from the beginning of the website (earliest date). Finally, a fair number of the subsites in the Failblog empire are cheap knockoffs of other, better known humor websites:
Overall, Failblog still ranks near the top of my favorite list of websites, but no longer for top-quality posts but for the sheer convenience of having such a variety of material in one site, even if I do have to cut through lots of really poorly thought out brush to get to a true gem.
CAUTION: Trolls are hiding behind every post waiting to pounce and rip your comment to pieces!
I’m not going to use this time to try and tell you what “real promoters” do or what you should do to promote your event, release, product, etc “properly”, but I will let you know what I found worked and didn’t work in my college town of Auburn, AL, online, and the day of whatever event I was working to promote. These are my observations, and they may help you with your promoting, or they may just be completely off mark, but I figured it’d be a helpful read to someone.
Interact with folks on a one on one basis. People love it (even if they don’t always show it) when other people make them the center of attention, so make everyone that you encounter feel unique when you talk to them, don’t just spew the same info to everyone in the same format.
Reinforce your one on one talks with friendly reminders, like having leaflets on peoples’ windshields for them to return to, or by pasting up posters and fliers at local hot spots or at intersections with high foot and car traffic.
Get creative. Working with Adult Swim and Superfly Marketing, my promo team decided it’d be fun to fill up a kiddie pool with free giveaway promotional material, have a boom box, and promote to folks on the street in our swim trunks. The more creative and memorable you can be the more people will stop and listen or spread the message to their friends.
Be overbearing. This is a really easy thing to do, especially for your first few encounters, but eventually you’ll get a feel for how much is too much when talking to people. Sometimes you might even drive folks away from what your promoting after you already hooked them by badgering them too long about the same information. Be careful.
Have too many folks all promoting and concentrated in the same areas. This one ties back into the “Don’t be overbearing” point. This also applies to social media and internet marketing. You don’t want to have people with your exact same social circle pumping all of the same information over and over. To an extent, it is good to reinforce the same folks, but don’t overdo it.
-Break the law. You should be creative, but one thing you don’t want to do is do something illegal. This isn’t even as much for your sake as it is for what your promoting’s image. If you’re promoting for an individual or a company, 10 times out of 10 they won’t want to be represented by someone who is being arrested for something.
And those are a few of the lessons that I learned while promoting for the Adult Swim Carnival Tour. The entire experience was an absolute blast and I strongly urge anyone who is interested in media, production, hands-on work, or PR in the slightest to do ANY street team work, if only to see how you can spread the word about some cool things through very simple means. It’s hard work, but it’s really rewarding and fun, especially if you have a good group of people to help you out with it!
If you’re a regular reader of GeekTi.me, and you’re looking at my name below the title and thinking, “Who is this guy?”, I wouldn’t blame you. Despite being a GT contributor for some time, I don’t post nearly as often as the rest of the talented GeekTi.me staff. And, no, it’s not because I’m lazy.
Really, it’s not.
This piece is not going to be me making excuses for not posting, however, but a look at the reasons why I don’t post.
Like so many people with an internet connection, I am driven to create things. It’s not that people today are more creative than people from, say, thirty or forty years ago, it’s simply that modern technology has made it considerably easier for those people to make things. A would-be film maker can get the necessary equipment to make their masterpiece for a few thousand dollars, as opposed to the tens of thousands of dollars they would have spent a few decades ago. When I write a novel, I can jump around the document, edit, save revisions, spell check, search and find. If I’d been writing my novel thirty years ago, I’d likely have been writing by hand, scribbling out mistakes, throwing away pages and, ultimately, typing my finished manuscript out on a typewriter to be mailed to a publisher.
In short, technology has lowered the barrier to entry for most, if not all, creative pursuits. True; this has led to a lot of rubbish, but I still think it’s a good thing, in the long run. It does, however, present a bit of a problem for someone like me.
I like to make things. Sure, I have my platform of preference (the writing of fiction), but I also appear in podcasts, design web sites, and there may even be some video content in the not-too-distant future. This lowered barrier to entry means that, while I still focus on writing novels, I can also try my hand at other things without dedicating my life to learning them. Obviously, I’ll be a more accomplished writer than video producer, but I can try. And no doubt I will be a less accomplished writer than a person who dedicates all of their time to reading and writing.
One of my favourite authors, Sir Terry Pratchett, is known to have spent much of his early life with his face in a book (this has nothing to do with Facebook). He read. A lot. It wasn’t long before he started writing, but he never stopped reading, and this contributed to the formidable knowledge behind everything he writes, as well as his wealth of experience with the prose and style of other great authors.
Now, that’s great for Sir Pratchett. When he was young, television was in its infancy. There was radio, but radio is more of a passive, background activity, and there was outdoor pursuits. That was it. Pratchett was able to throw himself entirely into the pages of his local library and book shop and know that he wasn’t really missing out on anything.
Today, we have more television channels than we can shake a stick-shaped remote control at. We have countless sources of video content on the internet. There are more books and other sources of written content than anyone could ever read in a lifetime. There is more music, more talk radio (including podcasts), video games, sports and entertainment venues than anyone in the fifties or sixties could have imagined. These days, being as focused as a laser beam means giving up a lot more than used to.
And perhaps this serves to make the achievements of those who can maintain their obsessions in the face so many distractions all the more impressive, the professional sports persons, the dedicated actors, the coders behind our favourite web services who do little else.
But I am not one of them. I like to play video games. I enjoy reading a good novel. I love the experience of watching a gripping movie, or vegetating out on the couch to watch a TV programme with my girlfriend, or listening to a podcast or audiobook when my ears have nothing else to do. How could I possibly find time to be obsessed with any one thing? More importantly, how could I possibly find time to make anything when I’m so busy consuming things that others have made.
Well, maybe I can’t. At least, not to the degree that the greats of their respective fields can. The people who focus on one thing like an arrow. I may never be as good an author as Terry Pratchett, as successful a podcaster as Adam Carolla, or as popular a YouTuber as Philip DeFranco, but I will try my hand at each, and I will enjoy doing it. And when I’m not, I’ll play the latest Mass Effect or Assassin’s Creed, or watch the latest episode of Walking Dead or Grey’s Anatomy. Maybe I’ll read a Robert Rankin novel, or listen to a TWiT podcast.