Friday, March 30, 2012

Final Fantasy VII: My Gateway Game

I am a late-bloomer when it comes to gaming. I’d played one here and there (mostly at my younger brother’s insistence) but I never really enjoyed one until I was in my senior year of high school. That’s when two of my friends forced upon me a game featuring a spiky-haired guy with a really big sword.

I’ve been hooked ever since.

For me, Final Fantasy VII was like an interactive book. There was plenty to read with all of the written dialog, and though it had a main story line, it was sort of Choose-Your-Adventure with the free-roam world. Because I wasn’t a game-player and really not good at mashing buttons under pressure, the turn-base style allowed me to actually get somewhere on the game. And the materia system? Still my favorite magic system ever.

I loved this game…but then I got stuck. And started dreaming about how I was going to get around the giant SNAKE in the marsh. I couldn’t catch a chocobo for the life of me. Then graduation and tests and college applications swarmed me, so I had to give it back. But it was not the end. One of my friends in college just so happened to have FFVII on his computer, and it became a routine to go to his room and watch him play. Before long, five of us huddled around the computer screen, following the story, picking our favorite characters, getting really mad at the end of Disc 1. (If you’ve played it, you know!)

I finally got my own copy, and spent many wonderful hours fighting fiends, calling upon some badass summons, and enjoying a great story.  When I was through, I wanted more. So I got FFVIII. I have all of them now, and many others, some turn-based, some more active, but my heart still belongs to VII. Though I've fallen in love with others, none have captivated me quite like that spikey-haired guy with the who-cares attitude. And the giant sword.  

  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Pitfall of Internet Immediacy

Something you read makes you mad. Someone directs a comment to you that you find offensive. What do you do?
Most people’s reaction—I’m guilty, too—is to smart off in return. Unfortunately, the internet makes it all too easy for us to spout off things we later regret. With the various outlets to express ourselves, we really must learn to watch those impulse replies. Not only do they often result in shame, they accomplish nothing. Except maybe to feed the trolls.

Don’t feed the trolls. If something makes you really angry, walk away. Shut off the internet, shut down the computer if you must, and take a breather. Decide if it’s even worth your time. Most things aren’t. If it’s something you absolutely have to respond to, wait. An hour, a day, a week, if that’s what it takes for you to calm down. Then open up your word processing program (not the comment or reply on the web site!) and write what you need to say. Read it. Walk away and read it again. If by now, you feel confident your words are strong and convey your message in a fashion that portrays your passion and intelligence, make it public.

You may still get trolled. People will almost certainly still disagree with you. But those same people will respect a thought-out answer and will hopefully reply in a thoughtful way as well. Everyone wins!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Criticism

Something I’ve learned, not only from my tentative prodding of the publishing world, but from life in general, is that we will receive criticism. Whether it’s on our looks, job performance, or in many of our cases, our art. And I’ve learned, particularly with the last one, that I must be prepared for it.

I am a writer. I want to share my characters and their lives and loves and adventures with every last person willing to read about them. And I want them to love them as much as I do. Some people do love them, think they’re perfect and wondrous… and some not so much. What do I do with the not-so-much people? I accept their criticism with a thank you and see what I can learn from it.

They aren’t always right. They’re not always kind. Some may be harsh without realizing they are harsh. But if nothing else, I know that that person is not my target audience. I’ll admit even constructive criticism given gently can spark the urge to knock my head against the desk a couple times in frustration. Do I do this? No.  I take a breath and I try to learn.

The thing is, almost always, there is something to learn. And in the end, if I can’t learn from it, a criticism is like advice. I don’t have to act on it.