Trained to Look Outside, Needing to Look Within

You are born, and hopefully cared for. Eventually you are taught. Most likely you are taught in a school. If you are taught in a school than you are taught to strive for good grades. You are trained to pursue a reward for the pursuit of knowledge.

This is the unintended lesson that is going to screw you up if you let it. The reward for pursuing knowledge is not just the knowledge itself, but also the benefits of applying that knowledge to different situations in new ways. Yet we are trained through years of schooling to get a reward of recognition. A good grade, a respected degree, and other such representations of success.

We are not taught to apply knowledge beyond the lesson being taught. We are taught to stop at the reward.

Note that these rewards are merely representations of success. They are milestones created by others so that you can correlate your achievements with others interpretations of success.

The A+ only matters to the teacher who grants it. The degree only matters to the institution that awards it. For the grade and the degree to matter beyond those who award them the society that we belong to  must recognize the people rewarding the grades and degrees as reputable.

An A+ from a stranger on the street is worthless, as is the degree from a non-accredited fly by night institution.

So why do we care so much what others think about what we are doing with our games? Why do we want others to acknowledge and encourage our personal projects?

I am sure that some people do not care what others think about their games at all, but I have observed others looking for acceptance of their next campaign idea or adventure outline. I know that I do this myself, and I have been trying not to. Looking outside of ourselves for recognition is not really a bad thing, but it can be a crutch.

Reviewing the projects that I have worked on in the past this is common even with highly creative people. We keep looking to others for approval. We want that A+. We want to be reassured.

This is a creativity killer.

We are taught to produce according to what others will say of the results. We do this at school. We do this at work. We are so comfortable with this being the way that things are done that we do it with our games.

What if instead we “gamed bravely” and just let it all hang out? No search for outside approval and recognition. No testing of ideas by bouncing them off of our friends.

What if we just ran the game that was lurking within? What if we produced the product that was swimming about in the ether of our minds?

I am going to find out.