All the Stuff You Never See

“Show us all the stuff you haven’t posted and the games you abandoned!!!”

I write a lot of stuff that no one else is ever intended to read. Thoughts, theory, reflections, problem solving. Lots and lots of stuff. But it’s just for me, to help me figure things out. If you did read it, it probably wouldn’t make a lot of sense, because I haven’t put the effort in to turn reflection into communication — I haven’t taken the time to explain to the reader my mental starting point or the big picture I’m trying to address. Because I already know that, and I’m the audience.

That’s the vast majority of what I write, day-to-day.

Then there’s the flip side, the outward facing stuff, that is intended for other readers. Stuff like games I publish, ars ludi posts… or this thing you’re reading right now.

My two key criteria for putting out material are that, one, I’m putting in the effort to provide context and explain what I’m talking about so that someone else can understand my point, and, two, that I think what I’m writing about is actually useful to someone else.

Point one is about time and effort — you can just do more work to make it clear what you’re talking about. Time is the ultimate finite resource, but in fact it is almost never the work involved that stops me.

Point two is entirely more fundamental, and it usually is the thing that stops me from publishing something, either a game or a blog post or whatever. If it doesn’t seem like it’s really a new idea, or it doesn’t convey something useful to the reader, why post it? If a game doesn’t add something new and interesting, why make it?

I can get very far along, do a lot of work, and then just decide nope. The world is full of lots of people talking already, so I try to save my voice for when there is genuine merit. I’m not saying that’s how anyone else should operate, but that’s how I roll. One could argue (and I’m going to argue it right now) that deciding what part of your work has virtue and what does not is a big part of the job of a writer or game designer. Editing out the parts that don’t have merit. Scrutiny. That’s why we get paid the big bucks harhar.

But even the work you never see accomplishes a purpose. It helps me shape thoughts that will (often) lead to posts and games you do get to read.

Even as I type this, I question where this post lands on point two. If I decide it isn’t truly interesting and I put it on the discard pile, it will not be lonely.

My instinct is to give this essay a thumbs down. But I’m going to post it anyway. An exception that proves the rule.

    Ben Robbins | July 4th, 2022 | | show comments