Writing

Jun 082024
 

When I describe what I do in co-organizing Toronto Games Week, people often say that it sounds stressful and like a lot of work — as opposed to writing or creating stuff, which people think sounds like fun. But they’re both fun in certain ways, stressful in others. 

When my organizing schemes are going well, I wonder to myself: why doesn’t everyone want to do this? It’s so fun! I’ve always felt my creative side and my organizer side were complimentary, but now I’m almost wondering if I may have become an artist so I could be a better arts community organizer.

More on that subject later — but Toronto Games Week starts Thursday, so here are my top picks for you rated with difficulty levels…

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Dec 182023
 

So it turns out that “I don’t want to teach” is just another example of The Joy of Being Wrong, a series of self-limiting beliefs that I’m crossing off one by one. Turns out that with the right conditions I like it quite a bit and I will probably do more of it when opportunities present! In the meanwhile, I’ll be helping organize Toronto Games Week, prepping my next graphic novel for publication and keeping my antenna up for interesting collaborations or jobs. If you’re interested in my teaching experience, here’s the full story…

This fall, the fall of my 51st year, I went back to school. I had always been fairly determined not to teach, but this September after being laid off from my game industry job and after being encouraged by some old friends who worked there, I ended up in front of nearly a hundred first year students in a lecture hall at York University.

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Oct 182023
 

Is there a thing you know you should do, but don’t? With me, for years, it was paper prototyping. Paper prototyping is the process of sketching out a game design, literally, with pencil and paper, and then playtesting the design ideas you have before you ever sit down in front of a computer. Instead of a computer modeled character you can use an action figure. Instead of generating a random number you have dice throws. Most games have many mechanics that can also work in a board game context, though there’s obviously lots of gamefeel related aspects that need to be digitally tested.

It’s the same as the filmmaking principle that “paper is cheaper than film”, that ideas in a paper script can be added and removed and problems solved far more easily than after a scene has been shot. I would never dream of shooting a short without a script, but it took a familiar motivator to get me creating my first paper prototype:

When it’s hard for me to do something for myself, I can often do it to help someone else.

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Jun 162022
 
Illustration: Gavin McCarthy

I was led to Men’s Work, as it is sometimes called, by my brother-in-law. He kept putting opportunities in front of me. More often than not I would sidestep them politely. Sometimes I would pick them up, quickly decide they weren’t for me, and set them back down — like the time I went to his men’s emotional support group meeting. As genuine and warm as everyone was, well, I was already doing therapy wasn’t I? The hugs and hippie philosophy was fine for other guys, just not my jam.

But back in the summer of ‘17, one of the men in the Mankind Project was hosting a Father/Daughter weekend.

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Dec 152019
 

I didn’t get a circle A tattoo, but I might as well have.

One of the most influential things I discovered in books was anarchism: the idea that we could live without rulers. That it is our responsibility to resist the concentration of power in any single entity, be it corporate, governmental, or religious.

It’s a worldview that’s helped me understand the world and make decisions ever since I was seventeen. I was in the market for a new moral framework since Christianity was no longer working for me. My Catholic all-boys highschool was a stifling environment that I had been immersed in for years, but I remember the precise moment of my disenchantment: a grade twelve religion class taught by a gym teacher who didn’t even try to answer the questions I had.

In a way it was similar to why I set down fantasy novels in favour of science fiction — the hand-waving magical explanations weren’t as satisfying as complex rational ones. So I yanked out the RELIGION cartridge in my brain and chunked in the POLITICS one.

And there it remained for 30 years. Until now.

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Jun 132019
 

Like lots of teenagers, I was obsessed with fire. I never smoked, but I always had a lighter. I would singe my (recently acquired) arm hair just to revel in the terrible smell. I had a pocket-sized can of hairspray I used as a mini-flamethrower, and one day after school I used it to set my World Famous canvas backpack alight. I used the charred remains for months until it fell apart.

At the age of fourteen, it was incredibly compelling to make wild things happen.

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