On the Radar
Cover image via Flickr
During my enlistment in the mid-morning after the dawn of the 21st century my fellow Marines and I played a lot of multiplayer Halo deathmatches on the original Xbox. Since the maps were pretty big, if only two people were playing, a long time could go by without them crossing paths. Players thus had a radar display to help track each other down and keep the digital violence moving along at an entertaining pace.
But in order to maintain some degree of suspense, players only showed up on their opponent’s radar when they were in motion or firing a weapon. I tried to use this to my advantage by hiding and waiting for opponents to cross my path and surprise them. I know, campers are the worst, but we all did things we aren’t proud of in our 20s.
Sometimes this would work, but more often it led to the other player having free reign of the map to collect more powerful weapons from around the stage so that even if I had the element of surprise, it wasn’t enough to tip the scales in a shootout against their superior firepower. Initiative is a powerful thing, but so is a rocket launcher.
The takeaway from this anecdote is standing still and hoping for opportunities or ideas to come along is a sucker’s game. Not only will they be much less frequent, but I won’t be prepared to fully capitalize on them. To that end, I’m going to start posting here more regularly and in a more casual tone. I can save my more journalistic writing for article pitches. This will be my space to reflect, vent, connect, and play. That last one is important. I can get so consumed with trying to figure out how I can eventually make a living writing and forget how much fun it can be when I let it.
Sometimes this will take the form of a review. It may also be response to something in the news. There will also be the occasional insight gleamed from a video game I played over 12 years ago.
Part of what’s kept me from doing this so far is that nagging feeling of being self-indulgent. I’ve gotten to the point where I can start letting that concern go in the interest of improving my writing by generating something, anything, with any sense of consistency. The very act of writing and posting publicly, and in so declaring one has something to say worth reading, must necessarily have some element of ego that could be construed as self-indulgent. I have to get over my meeker tendencies to keep all but the most polished and safe things I have to offer bottled up. It’s either that or sit and wait for the rockets of unattainable perfection and lack of technical proficiency to send me flying across the map.
I think this metaphor is starting to get away from me.
What are your thoughts on this subject? When having to think creatively, whether it be for solving a problem, making art, or expressing an idea (or all of the above), how do you balance being active versus passive in both planning and execution? I know there’s value in both approaches, but I feel like I’ve been resting too far to one side of that continuum and I look forward to working on that.
In the meantime, thanks for listening,