Sunday, March 16, 2014

Kurt Vonnegut and why I keep working on things I will never get to play

Vonnegut mural in Indianapolis
After growing up in Indianapolis, I have a particular fascination with things that are related in some way to my hometown. Not the least, of course, is Kurt Vonnegut, the onetime Hoosier that fled the state and became one of its most notable expatriates. I enjoy his fiction, but I mostly enjoy his appreciation for things midwestern without the fawning devotion and xenophobia that often go along with that. I also appreciate his ideas about creativity and writing. I have often heard him say that you need to keep creating, whether your creations are wonderful or terrible, simply because creation and the creative process are good for you and make you more human. They help you discover things about yourself and the world that you would not have without trying to express them.

Today someone linked me to an article about a letter that he sent to some high school students in 2006. I think it expresses this well.

It immediately made me think about gaming. I spend a lot of time writing and developing gaming ideas and material that I know will never actually make it to the table top. I paint a lot of miniatures that will most likely sit in foam trays and be auctioned off to someone for pennies when I'm gone. I draw maps and write adventures that sit on my hard drive or fill up notebooks on a shelf. I post things on here, musings, ideas, and fragments that hang in electronic limbo. Sometimes I get lucky and get to play a game using these things. Most often, I don't.

I still consider all of this activity productive, though. I am exercising my creativity and making something new that teaches me things about myself or how I see the world or lets me imagine and see the world in new and different ways. If I share that with others and they enjoy it as much as I do, great. Even if they appreciate it just for the effort I put into it, great. If they pan it or ignore it or never see it at all, it's still good. I created it and, in the creation, made something more of myself.

So even if you're not actively playing a game, the adventure is still worth the effort. Thanks, Mr. Vonnegut.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting, as I've been feeling the same way myself lately. I've been working on 3-d dungeon terrain that I doubt will ever seen any actual game use. For some reason it doesn't feel like a waste of time.