Earlier this month, I received the devastating news that Kendall Johns (editor of The SPIRIT magazine) had passed away on Friday 19th June, just three days after being informed he may only have a few weeks left. No, this wasn’t a COVID-19 related matter (as far as we know), but it was most certainly Cancer-related…
This insidious and malignant disease will affect at least 50% of the population at one time or another during their lifetime, and although it comes in many different forms (not all of which are directly harmful), the majority of strains ultimately end the same way. It’s not nice, it’s not pretty, but it remains very deadly.
My relationship with Kendall was mainly through regular email exchanges and working on the layout and graphics of The SPIRIT, but in recent months I found myself taking on more and more of an editorial role for the magazine, mainly because Kendall was in and out of hospital and struggling to keep up. He never really let on how bad things really were, though, so this news has genuinely come as a major shock to me, and predictably, had an adverse effect on my productivity and ability to focus on things… well… my ability to focus on just about anything, in truth.
I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to continue working throughout Lockdown, and together with my family and friends, have a supportive local network available to lean on for help, but I fully appreciate that many aren’t so lucky. Even with this support, I’m finding it quite difficult to keep myself going, and generally just feel demotivated and somewhat lacklustre.
Given my last update was only three weeks back and the devastating news above, it’ll come as no surprise that I’ve hardly played anything this month — a demo / playtest of Numbers Station on TTS (Tabletop Simulator) was pretty much my lot, and because I was consciously trying to do something different to what I did last time, things didn’t go well, anyway. It’s an excellent medium-weight game, however, and to his credit, Robert (@StartPlayer — the designer) is playtesting the merry hell out of it on TTS at the moment…
The increased use of digital tabletop platforms like TTS and Tabletopia for playing and playtesting during Lockdown looks to be one of the things that will remain a key aspect of game development moving forwards. As more and more companies see the benefits of a general increase in visibility, publicity and awareness through these platforms, the opportunity of widening playtesting circles and bringing new fans into the fold hasn’t been lost on them, either. Post-Lockdown, I think this is at least one good thing that’ll come out the other end, so to speak, and some companies are even starting to insist on having an accessible, playable digital version available as part of the pitching process. From a practical POV, this could save a fortune on postage costs, and probably speed up the overall process if it’s a game design that a company ultimately chooses not to invest in.
Porting my own designs onto these platforms feels like it should be a priority for me, and something I need to try and do for several of my games: Agents in Time and Aliens Ate My Planet! in the first instance, although Roman Trader and Wine Cellary (prev. Wine Collector) strike me as being a bit easier to digitally port. Either way, finding the motivation to ‘get things done’ is still proving a bit of a personal struggle.
It’s very easy to blame Lockdown for everything, but in my case it feels like it’s only now catching up with me, almost four months on, and perhaps ironically, just when it looks like more generic social restrictions are finally being lifted. And Lord knows, it’s not like I don’t have a whole stack of games I’m looking forward to finally playing and getting in front of other real-life people, so to speak. I’m hopeful that getting the opportunity to play games face-to-face once again will be the catalyst I need to shake me out of my current flunk, but waiting for that moment also strikes me as an excuse to put things off, a classic sign of procrastination, or perhaps laziness.
I am not intrinsically a lazy person, and the pragmatist inside me is insisting that procrastination is just a bad habit rather than a mental condition, but I am wondering if everything else that’s going on right now is negatively contributing to my own health and well-being.
I wrote about my personal struggles with #AGameADayInMay last time — Personal Diary / Update (May) — and how’s this for irony: I am currently wondering if trying to get myself motivated enough to play a few solo games this month will help me out of my current situation. Regardless of what works and what doesn’t, these are tough things to write about, but I think owning and accepting them is a valuable first step…
June 2020 Gaming Stats: 1 game (0 wins) — via Tabletop Simulator!