Long Weekend, and An Update on Regular Programing

Personal stuff first, directly video game related news after the Nessie pic.

This weekend was great, a close friend got married, TI5 wrapped up in spectacular fashion, and I came across this blog/podcast.

My-now-married-friend is one of the youngest in our little circle, and still at the head of the group in terms of finding his soul mate. I think we’re at about 50% locked down now, out of the original gang? So weird. These are people I’ve known since Middle School, tying their lives to relative strangers, setting a course for the next ten, twenty, fifty years. It’s crazy.

Although I don’t know the bride very well, I understand why they decided to get married; the series of beautiful vows and speeches painted an amazing picture of what their life together will look like. Wedding ceremonies like that one capture the deepest and most transcendent parts of the human spirit I’ve experienced, so much so that I’m surprised I can ever be sad, knowing that kind of thing exists in the world.

In hindsight, the wedding symbolized for me a reflection on all of the people in my life so far. By luck and happenstance, I know a collection of pretty inspiring people, connected by a series of interesting interests. It makes me wonder what we could do together, pointed towards some goal we all strongly believe in.

TI5 successfully concluding, and distributing over 18 MILLION AMERICAN DOLLARS, on the other hand, is a much less personal, but much broader reaching event. I don’t think it’s at all an exaggeration to call it world changing. The amount of money TI5 generated AND invested in next year’s TI is unbelievable. That’s really what headlines should read: Valve Releases Content Pack, Invests Profits Directly Back Into Business. Imagine all the little girls and boys that went to bed the night of the finals, not thinking about being a firefighter, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or even an actor or sports star, but of being a professional gamer.

Forget how already unbelievable it is that Valve is raking in the kind of participation and viewership that they already are today (I haven’t been able to find accurate stats on the viewership side, but I personally saw it peak over 3 million, and DotA 2 itself had over 11 million unique players in the last month), think about what Valve’s larger corporate ecosystem is going to look like in 10 years time – they’re going to have an established and incredibly invested player base that has grown up with the dream of playing DotA X for a living. Little Johnny will want to be a professional DotA player – not a firefighter or policeman.

These are kids who are going to perfect their level of play, who are going to push the boundaries of what we think is possible both in terms of human performance and entertainment value, and usher in what I’m not too afraid to call an Entertainment Revolution.

"He's so realistic, he even acts disinterested while we cuddle!"
And I’m not just talking about SexBots

I’m not going to get very specific about what I think that Revolution is going to look like, mostly because the kinds of stuff I’m imaging are so tenuous,  probably so wrong, that it’s not worth committing specifics. Futurists are notoriously and eternally optimistic with their predictions – I don’t think it’s worth saying anything because  what I can imagine is entirely too reasonable. I think what everyone is thinking is entirely too reasonable. The only prediction worth making is that the future is going to be so much wider than we currently think it could be.

This year at TI5, one of the star players on the winning team was a 16 year old kid named Syed Sumail Hassan (/Suma1L). This past weekend, Suma1L  won 1/5th of a SIX MILLION DOLLAR pay out. I feel like I have to specify “American Dollars”, because otherwise that looks so absurd, like I can imagine myself reading that out of context and saying, “wait, like six million Zimbabwean dollars, right?” How are we living in a world where a teenager is able to out-earn the vast majority of the American working population, playing a video game.

I think it’s because that video game actually represents an extremely complex decision tree, that incorporates not only high level competitive thinking, but also the dexterous physical manipulation of an omni-tool – the mouse and keyboard. When you say it like that, it sounds like some kind of ultra futuristic job description. You see, we’re already living in a technological paradise, if we’re willing to slum with professionalisms.

But really, despite corporate and geo-politcal attempts to stop it, I think there is a national, maybe even worldwide, “OH SHIT” moment coming, and that thinking has been very recently reinforced by the discovery of this podcast, Review the Future. Over the past three days I’ve been dealing with the choice of whether I want to listen to as many episodes as possible as quickly as possible (there’s 61 to catch up on !!!), or digest them more slowly and thoughtfully, as each episode links to, at least, a handful of related ideas that I’ve never heard of before. If you’re familiar with a lot of popular futurist concepts (Basic Guaranteed Income, overcoming aging, machine-man similarization), then the topics won’t be alien to you, but I’d rate myself as above average on that scale, and nearly every episode adds a fresh take and new information to what I’ve heard before. It’s invigorating to hear critical and sophisticated discussion on subjects I think are going to define this century, because these guys agree, and they talk seriously about it with serious people.

I’m getting seriously off-track; my larger point was that I think in the long run, the ideas on Review the Future will end up being a much bigger impact on my life, because they are so far out there that there’s no way we can imagine completely their ramifications. My friend’s wedding is good news for me and my friends, TI5 being so successful is good news for people involved with video gaming in general, but the Review the Future stuff is good news for humanity as a whole. [Personal opinion]

When I was in high school I remember taking a Modern History class and thinking, “The biggest mistake people make is thinking they can change the world on a MASSIVE scale. Just don’t expect too much out of life, and you won’t end up following a Stalin/Hitler/Jim Jones.” I didn’t understand how people could continually let their hopes rise so high that it blocked out all dissenting thought. Now, I think I understand it a little better. Futurism is a kind of infection, so rapidly consuming all of my thoughts and excitement, that working towards anything other than that vision feels like zombie life.

Which is where the real world project supposedly backing all of this existential masturbation comes crashing back into focus, and Nessie tells us it’s time to get down to business.

Yup, still a hoax.
Yup, still a hoax.

Finding the discipline to sit down and edit a video clip has proved…difficult. With the weekend excitement I decided to give myself an extra day off, not doing much Monday, except for a stint on a side project (albeit, a potentially very lucrative and interesting side project).

A couple of updates on the blog front. On the content side, I’m going to add a new section! Tentatively titled the Gamer’s Guide to Good Living, this section will comprise a variety of tips, food pics, more typically bloggy stuff, that I imagine will eventually include the more personal side of these blog posts, as the gaming side matures. That’s the hope anyway.  In terms of schedule of production, I’m now going to start doing one blog post a week in this Project section, instead of the everyday format I was doing last week. I’m glad I had those rapid fire posts to soak up my background feelings about the project, but doing one of these a day cuts into way too much time. Far too many other things to take care of, far too much stuff I’m already behind on. Speaking of which.

I’m going to cobble together a video this week if it kills me. It’s going to suck, I’ve accepted it. I’m going to work on it until it gets better. I wish I was better now, I wish I had matrix like technology to download everything digitally into my brain, but I don’t, so. Stupid people in the future don’t know how good they have it with their matrix technology.

For today, the rule I’m adding to the List of How to Succeed at Entering The Video Game Life/How NOT to Succeed at Entering The Video Game Life If I Fail is somewhat at odds with the message I’m trying to focus on. I’m trying to focus on working hard, producing good stuff, and trusting that the writers of the 1989 classic starring  Kevin Costner were tapping into something cosmically applicable to my own life. I should be listening to a steady drum beat and chaining myself to my desk until I get what I need to do done.

Instead, I want to remember that so much of this is out of my control. I could work myself into ulcers and an eating disorder and still come up short, still fail spectacularly, still wish that I had embraced sweat death by fashioning my umbilical cord into a noose when I had the chance, rather than face whatever the future COULD hold. I’ve already stated that I think there’s a high chance of failure (I think 80/20 against is a pretty fair estimate at this point), so it’s not like something I didn’t know coming in. Every successful person I’ve ever heard of admits that luck was a huge part of their success, and I’m aiming for a considerable level of success.

He also makes his own toupees.
Every successful person except for The Don, of course. He makes his own luck.

So here is the new addition I’m thinking of, plus the rest of list:

  1. Figure out why you’re in this.
  2. Do what you say you’re going to do. 
  3. Incorporate feedback, but not too much
  4. Do the Right Thing

By “Do the Right Thing” I mean, somehow figure out exactly the combination of events you need to propel yourself into the public limelight, against a saturated competitive field growing more so every day, like a fungal colony left in the shower corner because it’s just impossible to get the angle necessary to clean it, I mean you really have to get some muscle power involved, but it’s this wonky angled ceiling that people thought was somehow a good idea, like yes, let’s make half of this already cramped shower unusable for an architectural aesthetic that NO ONE likes for longer than 3 minutes, which is how long you go before banging your head into the nasty, uncleanable, moldy corner that somehow doesn’t detract from the ever increasing price of rent.

Funnies aside, whether I personally succeed at this lifestyle change or not, I think following these rules is a good foundation for anyone else trying to make it, because rule number 4 basically boils down to, “get fucking lucky kid.” Too much is out of your control, too much is unpredictable, just hang on, do your best, stick to your guns, and don’t get too angry if things don’t work out, because life is all just a cruel film, projected onto the back of a gigantic space turtle, and we’re all “living” on just one out of an infinite stack of these projection-screen-space-turtles, suspended in some unknowable aether, existing for only as long as it takes a ray of light from some GREATER space fart to pass through a creative medium that comprises all of reality AND unreality, anyway. So, I’m really good at procrastinating…

The right things are the things the internet wants; mostly cats, some turtles, a couple jews hiding in old paintings during the holocaust, etc.
You really can find a picture of anything you want on the internet, as long as you want the right things. I am not the creator of this masterpiece, and can’t find the individual to whom I owe thanks for it’s usage.
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