Are Video Games Art?

Nijinsky-in-Afternoon-of--011

As a video game designer, I feel like I constantly have to defend the relevance of my chosen career. Yes, some people think it sounds cool and fun, but many – especially those born before 1970 – are disappointed to hear that this is what I do. Unlike writing or fine art, game design doesn’t have widespread cultural recognition as a valid form of art and expression. This has always bothered me and, at times, made me feel insecure about what people think about my work. Recently, I had a funny run-in with a capital-A-Artist that made me reconsider the whole question of whether games qualify as art.

I was taking a ferry to an island off the coast of Maine for a few days vacation away from game development. This was in late September, so school was in session and the tourists that swell Maine’s population every summer had thinned out. It was a warm fall day and there were no other passengers above decks, which meant – I thought – that I could relax with a book and forget about the world for a short while.

And then, before the boat had even left the dock, an old man climbed the stairs to the top deck, sat next to me, and asked me if I knew Nijinsky, the great Russian dancer. (I didn’t then, but I sure as hell do now.)

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Inside the Mindfulness Machine

bridget-s-bardo by james turrell (mindfulness)

Working for an organization that teaches mindfulness has been profoundly disappointing.

Before I took the job (now 4 months ago), I had an idea that just by working there and being around mindfulness, I would automatically be more mindful. I thought this would be pleasurable personal growth, a painless process. I would would be a better person almost magically, like how Super Mario grows by jumping on a mushroom, with a perky trill in the background.

This is not how it’s worked. If anything, it’s the opposite. I’ve had to face that I am still the small Mario, that there is no magic mushroom, that work is still work. It is very disappointing to still be me. (read more…)

😁🐳🎉🐼💝, aka, Management With Emoji

sun-light-bulb-and-finger-emoji-wallpaper-hd

Last summer, I learned a secret to managing millennials. After years of pleading for better communication from them, I accidentally stumbled upon a language we have in common: emojis.

As the program director of a regional junior sailing program, I’ve been working with and managing college and high-school aged employees for over a decade. I oversee 40 sailing instructors and 20 sailing courses over ten intense summer weeks. I love the work, especially being a manager; I thrive on creating an environment that’s enjoyable for both our students and instructors alike. 

As rewarding as management is, it can also be extremely challenging. Most of the people I supervise are in high school and college, and due to the nature of the work, we need to be in touch all day long, often by text. This is where communication began to break down in recent years. If I sent a text to an instructor asking them to do something and didn’t get a response, I had to assume the message had not been received. If it was something time-sensitive, it meant I had to send the text again. Or call. Or email. Or call the manager and ask for the message to be delivered in person. It was annoying and a big waste of time. (read more…)

But Wait, I’m a Feminist!

Hieronymus Bosch-The Garden of Earthly Delights

Last year I got caught in an existential battle between my inner feminist and my ego.

I was giving someone I used to supervise her annual review. I had only good things to say about Victoria (not her real name): her work was excellent, on time, and thoughtful. She was young and early in her career, and I was really happy with her development and wanted her to be satisfied in her role. She’d been underpaid for some time, and I had worked hard to get a significant raise for her approved by my boss. Victoria and I had sometimes struggled to connect, and I was looking forward to giving her the good news.

After I told her that I was really happy with her work and wanted to show my appreciation with a salary increase of more than 20 percent, I waited to see Victoria smile and hear her expression of happiness. Only she didn’t seem especially glad. (read more…)

F*&%! Where’d the Path Go?

David-Hockney-Woldgate-Wo-001

I’m confused about what comes next in life. It’s not just me. I see others struggling too. I’ve heard the following statements in just the last few weeks:

  • A friend: “I just want someone to tell me what job would be good for me.”
  • Someone thinking about changing jobs: “I’m paralyzed by a fear of a misstep.”
  • A 24-year-old: “I feel like I’ve squandered my life so far. What have I achieved?”

We worry about our place in the working world, and if we are making the right decisions (as if there is such a thing). We worry about which next step leads to the right ultimate goal. We struggle to figure out what are strengths are and how to use them. We worry that we are missing the right/best/perfect opportunity. (read more…)