07 February 2010


Reposted on new blog at http://dynamitochondria.blogspot.com/2010/02/focus.html.

Focus. It's the point of convergence of rays of light. It's the concentration of attention. It's the active element in a user interface. It's the key word or phrase of a sentence. It's the clarity of an image.

It's about emphasis at a single point.

Interestingly, at least to me, it's not only tonight's topic, but it's ultimately the reason for tonight's topic.

The plan for the Dynamo Dave blog following the January Challenge was to relax the posting rate, while continuing to write every day. Each day's writing wouldn't necessarily be for public consumption, though ultimately the goal was to use much of it for future blogs as I work on my skills as an essayist.

I figured that by the end of the first week, I'd have enough words about a single topic to assemble most of a post. Maybe I should have thought that through a little more.

Let's take a peek in my pocket notebook. Therein, I've scribbled several ideas for blog posts with a bit of brainstorm for each plus some research directions to develop more.

Here's the list of new topics since the end of the challenge:

  • Gaming & the Law
  • Magical Jargon
  • Word Hacking
  • Are We All Playing the Same Game?
  • Group Identity
  • A Culture's Psychology Through the Lense of Its Vocabulary
  • The Internet Is People!
  • Commandments of Game Development
  • Racism in Game Settings
  • Game Industry Weaknesses: Onboarding and Retention

OK, nice list, but with a little bit of work on each, I hit the weekend with not nearly the work into any one of them that I would have liked. Not that I'm really upset about it. I assumed I would have had more trouble with doing anything at all, even with a month of building a habit of daily writing, which turns out not to be the case. Or maybe I'd have trouble having a topic for every week, given that topics were sometimes a struggle during the Challenge. No, I'll take this problem any day. If I can do justice to even half of these, I'll have some solid essays done.

Still, there's a lesson here. Most of my life, I've struggled with focus. In my first attempt at college, I changed majors like I changed socks. As a result, after six years of full and part time study, I ran out of money and burned out on school without a degree. I had a lot of what academic planners call breadth, but not enough depth.

I rarely finish personal projects. At any given point in time, there are about five to seven projects in various degrees of disarray scattered about my apartment. More often than finishing one, I'll decide one has gone too long without attention, and I'll pack it up with notes about where I left off.

I've switched career fields a few times now, from military to manufacturing to technical analyst to programming. Fortunately, I think I've finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. Game development has been the most fulfilling thing I've done with my life. I make my living as a game programmer, but the supplementary pursuit of topics in game design, testing, production, game studies, and community building are endlessly fascinating.

It took me a long time to reach this point, just like it takes me a long time to complete a personal project, because my customary lack of focus spreads my effort thinly across a wide field. But that thin spread builds up over time, and now the very complex personal project of *me* seems to be coming along nicely.

I am, like my blog, a work in progress.

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