Lessons from inspiration

Inspirations, role models, whatever word you wish to ascribe, there are always people you look up to and say, “I want to do what you do, and you have given me the encouragement to do it”. Throughout my gaming life, 2 people have stood out to me, who’s views on games and just the way they approach games have really inspired and challenged me.

Take a bow Ray Narvaez Jr.

I first got to see Ray’s work through Achievement Hunter (AH). His passion, his laid back style; everything about what he did just made it all so much more enjoyable. It’s no stretch to say that he was the main reason I watched AH and I think many would say the same. Just over 18 months ago, Ray left AH to start a full-time career streaming on Twitch and he brought his passion with it. He is probably my favourite streamer on Twitch. Over the time, I have been increasingly inspired by him to take up streaming myself and if you’ve been reading my previous entries, you will know that I have recently started doing so.

When you first embark on any project, it takes a while to gain momentum; it takes time to build a following and to hone your skills, and it was no different for Ray. Before working for AH, Ray made achievement guides and uploaded them up to YouTube. He then did the same for Community Hunter (the community section of AH), before he was approached to produce them for Achievement Hunter. That was about 2/3 years worth of work just to get to the hiring stage. He was then with AH for nearly 3 years which is where he really built up his reputation and following. He moved on to Twitch, and the hard work hasn’t stopped; he continues to build his Twitch following through the base he established at AH. He gets a couple of thousand viewers a stream and has his own merchandise line. I asked him during a stream whether he would be streaming if he hadn’t worked at AH. His answer was pretty unequivocal:

No, absolutely not! Definitely would not be streaming if I did not work at AH

So step forward Danny O’Dwyer.

I’ve become a huge fan of Danny’s work since I watched his series “The Point” on GameSpot. He looked at games in different ways than many in the industry and tackled subjects others dared not tread. His video “Gaming through your stress” really resonated with me and much of his work has inspired other blogs that I have written. A couple of months ago, Danny left GameSpot and embarked on a project called NoClip, a project funded entirely by gamers, for gamers (including, I’m proud to say, myself); through Patreon. NoClip is a project to create dynamic and insightful documentaries about video games. I didn’t donate to NoClip because of the premise (though that did play a part), but because Danny O’Dwyer was the creator behind it. He has an established reputation for high quality work, but that started even before he got to GameSpot. He was a member of the GameSpot website before he started working there and he ran his own video games website called CitizenGame. Much like Ray, he did a lot of hard graft to even get into the industry he loved and then worked even harder to establish himself. I asked Danny if he felt he could have done NoClip without his time at GameSpot, and this is what he said:

I’m not sure I would have, no. I think the only reason Noclip got as much support as it did was because I had somewhat proved my ability, or at least pointed in the direction of what I was trying to achieve, via my work at GameSpot. I also think GameSpot, and Giant Bomb exposed my work to much wider audiences which is 9/10ths of the battle sadly. Marketing is everything. I also wouldn’t have had the ability to do this work without years of doing it under a stopwatch at GameSpot. So I really don’t think I’d have done much streaming at all – at least not professionally – had it not been for GameSpot.”

Being inspired to take on a challenge because of the success of another is not wrong, but sometimes the graft, hard work, dedication and time those people have invested to get there is overlooked. We want to jump straight to the successful part which is not guaranteed to arrive. Without keeping their journey’s in mind, it’s very easy to become disheartened when you aren’t having the same level of success they are. So I know this will take time, and I’ve only just begun my journey in becoming a successful Twitch streamer. As Danny has pointed out, marketing is the big battle but whilst marketing gets people there, it’s the quality of the content that keeps them coming back and this is where my work is focused; improving the quality of my work but again, that takes time and lots of learning from my mistakes. I guess my equivalent of working for AH or GameSpot, marketing wise, would be having a streamer with hundreds or thousands of viewers host my channel or raid my chat after one of their streams. But that is something I have to earn or possibly just get lucky with. You could say Danny and Ray both got that stroke of luck when they were offered positions in Gamespot and AH respectively, it gave them an audience to present their skills to. But they also earned that position and through hard work cemented their reputations for providing quality content and are now being rewarded with dream undertakings.

If it never happens for me, then it never happens but I don’t want to have any regrets, or think “if only I tried harder”. Some things are just out of my control; it doesn’t matter how hard I work or how good I (hopefully) become. We all started somewhere, and if I can achieve a fraction of what Ray and Danny have, then I will be very, very happy.

My very cool week

So this week has been a great week for small reasons but sometimes I just need to grab the small things.

IGN have been previewing the Halo: The Master Chief Collection and this week released footage of the remastered cut scenes done by Blur, as well as Halo 4 running at 1080p and silky smooth 60 frames per second. This is a collection of games that I’ve booked a week off work to play. On top of that, Marvel released a new teaser trailer for Avengers: Age Of Ultron. The 8 year old in me is running around going “this is so much awesome!”

Then on Friday night I got to see Michael Flatley’s new Lord of the Dance show with Sarah, which included an appearance by him at the end, but the highlight was to see my favorite dance being performed live! I just love the sound of rhythmic tap.

Speaking of tap, tap dancing lessons are progressing nicely as we learn a little sequence that we will be performing in March next year, but it all started on Monday when I went to martial arts training. There is a grading today but I informed my instructor that I would not be going. Long story short, I am not mentally or physically able to cope with the demands of a grading at the moment. Going into Mondays lesson knowing that seemed to take so much pressure off, so much so  that I enjoyed the lesson more than I have previously. My enthusiasm returned and as a result, I seemed to put in more effort. This doesn’t hide the fact that I have a lot of work ahead of me to get back into a position to be able to grade, but I just felt good and it went from there.

In my mind, I can already hear the naysayers; “It’s just a game” and the Christian version; “you shouldn’t take joy in worldly possessions but joy in the spirit”. My response to them is I don’t care. This time of the year I need things I can grab onto to pull myself through the day. My inner 8 year old geek has had one of his best weeks ever. These may have come all at once but it’s been a very cool week.

It’s the little things that add up and make the difference.

Finding the release valve

Since moving to Slough back in March of this year, I’ve been trying to get back into doing the things that I really enjoyed but had to give up when I was living in Abingdon. I’ve found a darts team and a martial arts class, and I’m just waiting to hear back  about a tap dancing class; but it’s all been a bit stop-start, and it’s pretty much been all my own doing. Injuries, other commitments and being too tired from playing the XBox until stupid o’clock has meant that I’ve not been doing these things as regularly as I would like, and this frustrates me. These activities are not bad in themselves though. One of my other commitments has been training with the Great Men Value Women project, learning about gender equality and how to lead workshops in schools. Unfortunately, some of these discussions triggered some past memories and emotions and I’m now faced with the question of how to handle them. My fiancé has suggested that I see a counsellor, but I have no confidence that it will work; I’m not even sure what ‘working’ actually looks like. My default action is to retreat into myself, to hide, which is where the XBox has been both a good and a bad thing. It really helps with unwinding and de-stressing and chatting to new people (plus the games are a lot of fun), but it can also be too much as I get obsessed with gaining achievements and scheduling time online over doing other things like housework. This is before we add my fears about finding a church here in Slough; not just one I attend occasionally, but one that I can go to every week and settle and feel part of the community there.

My prayer life is not exactly good at the moment. I chat to God occasionally but I’m not exactly running to Him for help. I suffer problems like anyone, and I kick myself for giving into temptation instead of going to Him for help; whether that’s prayer or just picking up the Bible and reading it (something else I don’t do enough of). Then I hate myself for having given in, and question whether I really know Christ and/or whether I’m “saved” (hint: Romans 8:1). This is just an addition to my normal questioning about theological subjects, virtually all impacting how I look at life and the decisions I make. This inevitably affects relationships and being engaged to my wonderful fiancé Sarah, the situation is compounded. Wrestling over sex before marriage and having been together for 3 years, engaged for 2 and another 15 months before we get married, it’s easy for things to get to breaking point. She’s studying for a degree which brings its own set of pressures, and we’re both mindful of adding to those of the other. Yet we still want to be open with each other and support each other through difficulties, whilst at the same time learn about each other. Trying to find that balance can also be quite stressful. Within all of it though, I’m still able to answer an atheists question of why I’m a Christian with confidence, and spend 5 hours on the phone, listening to a friend cry their heart out due to the levels of pressure they are under.

I do need to get into a routine where I can go to martial arts, darts and dancing during the week, along with any workshops I’m scheduled to run. At the same time pick up the Bible more, even if its just for 5-10 minutes a day. Weekends can be for whatever I choose them to be, they’re certainly ideal for change and mixing it up. Sometimes it’ll be an XBox day, or a visiting friends day, or catching up on my Bible reading, or planning the previously mentioned workshops, or doing something very random. Sunday mornings are my chance to hang out with other Christians whilst just being me and letting someone else speak. Some people will say this is me scheduling God, to which I say possibly, but God is everywhere, so whatever I do, He’s already part of it. Others will say that I’m very busy and there’s no time to rest. We all rest differently, and sometimes my idea of resting is doing something. Sarah likes walks in the park; I will happily go with her but they’re not really my thing. She knows this, but it’s not about the walk, its about being with her. She’s getting into playing the Xbox and learning the ways of the action movie with me. In a way, being busy is my release valve. I do need to stop feeling so guilty if things get dropped. Sometimes I feel I have to learn that by having established a base. I do get committed though, I don’t take anything on unless I can give 100% to it. This all or nothing approach does add to the pressure I already feel and does take a little while  for me to wind down from. Going full throttle helps me to escape everything else, and though being busy doesn’t get these thoughts out of my head, writing this certainly has.

I know I’m going to need to escape more than ever as I do more research into other views about gender equality. I’m going to read things I disagree with and is going to upset me. It may also put me in another firing line in a similar way that LGBT rights has done. I know that friends will let me vent, I know Sarah will too, even if it upsets her seeing me struggle with things. I may even go and see that counsellor one day. I’m still going to need to find that release valve every now and again though, I think we all do.