All Roads Lead To Rome

Fell off the Earth for a while there. Haven’t had time to wrap up my Japan series or to publish my writings and musings, so what’s happened this past year?

Life continues.

Back in September 2018, I started – and will soon finish – an MSc Digital Marketing course at Northumbria University. The subject got pretty intense a few weeks in and has occupied my time since. This forced me to put some things on hold, with my blog being one of them and video game development being the other.

Right now I’ve finished the majority of my modules and have done well in some areas, not so well in others. With only my dissertation to focus on since May I’ve been spending time raising my family and trying to figure out the best direction for my business going forward. I’m even more developed now and it’s become easier to know what I want from life and to live by my values. I’m also more focused on me and have begun to trust and respect myself more in the decisions I’m making.

I (finally) took Steve Jobs advice and realised that I don’t want to be chasing contracts to produce someone else’s work anymore. I want to bring my ideas to the world. I want to create.

The last non-games project I agreed to was for a peer at University who wanted to record his stand-up gig. I love live comedy and the guy is talented so this was a great project to end on.

The most pressing decision I’ve made is to stop taking on non-games related contract work and to stick to my passions. Where before I would happily use my skills and knowledge to hustle contracts here and there I’m now putting that all aside and have developed a long-term business plan and set of personal goals which are more meaningful to me and are influenced by my values.

This sharp turn away from floating project-to-project has come from a period of personal reflection that I’ve had the comfort to enjoy these past months. “What am I doing and why?” has been the key questions I’ve asked myself to help me realign my day-to-day actions with my fundamental beliefs. Rediscovering my love of philosophy has ignited my critical reasoning and stoked drive to make the most of my life.

“It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.”

On the Shortness of Life by Seneca

When I’d read about philosophy in my 20’s I’d sometimes see what future I could imagine myself in if I were to pursue a PhD in the subject. However, I was just flirting with a grand fantasy of leaving my mark in a corner of history as some great thinker. My interest in philosophy was just as bright as my interest in biology, physics or any of the endless subjects I’d seek late into the night.

And like those other interests, philosophy fell into the 10 PM to 4 AM timebox for things to read about when my mind was restless couldn’t sleep. I was seeking perspectives that would blow my mind and make me wonder about life and the great scale of time and space. These things are quickly forgotten when the eyes roll shut and the morrows alarm bell jolts you into a present filled with worries, anxiety and the dull routine of modern living.

This time, I’ve found a way to use what I’m learning.

Having order and routine was something I despised when I was younger but I now see how valuable they are, allowing me a more stable and productive life with more room for creativity, sporadicity and enjoyment.

While I may follow their timings only loosely on certain days I’ve found it most helpful to stick to my morning and evening routines, which include goal setting, reflective writing, meditation, breakfast (yes!) and exercise. I find myself more mindful, more energetic, more grateful and more dedicated to my own wellbeing. These benefits go a long way in enhancing my ability to balance work, life and family.

It is essential for you to remember that the attention you give to any action should be in due proportion to its worth, for then you won’t tire and give up, if you aren’t busying yourself with lesser things beyond what should be allowed…”

—  Marcus Aurelius

Decisions are quicker to make their prioritisation is easier to manage. My workload has gone from being critically unstable to being something I can juggle with greater ease. Though I still have to reschedule appointments, delay planned work closer to its deadline or to cull my to-do-list every now and then – dropping tasks I’ve habitually added which would be nice to do had I been guaranteed an eternity to live.

I’m living leaner than ever and I’m loving waking up every day because of it.

“I have lived!” and every day is worth it.

Looking forward I’ve got a lot going on over the next few years.

I’ll be redirecting my business efforts into building a VR arcade in my local area, with the purpose of opening a revenue stream for the business which can help support and accelerate the development of my game and hardware ideas. I’ve put into a low-fi landing page for now till I mould it around this new vision. Updates to that should be sometime in August or September but I’ll post again nearer the time.

Japan has seeped into my soul and I still think and talk about it at least once every day without fail.

My partner and I are still eager to revisit Japan and have left ourselves options to move there in future, whichever way our commitments here pan out. We plan to at least visit again soon, as at the time we left we promised each other to do whatever it takes to return there as soon as we could. It’s now over a year and we agree that we failed to live up to that but I accept that choosing to study a Masters was a sacrifice that should make that return journey much sweeter than if we’d done so otherwise.

We also enjoy experiencing our children growing up and are working and sacrificing as much of ourselves as we can to make their lives as full and joysome as possible.

They are my meaning, my reason, my joy.

Wherever we end up and whatever the future holds I’m more ready than ever to face it humbly and with honour. There’s nothing left to add for now except that there’s no turning back…

Be excellent to each other.

Vermillion – Japan, Intermission B

It’s an overcast sunrise on our final day in Kyoto as I pace down still and sombre streets towards the Lawson (hail, Lawson!) next to Kyoto Station. Despite teetering on the brink of total exhaustion and with only four hours sleep at best, I’ve somehow managed to get myself out of bed on time to take first pick of the freshly delivered goods at the combini. I proceed to stuff my backpack with everything that catches my eye, knowing I’ll need all the energy I can to get me through the rest of the day.

It’s Mt. Inariyama today and it’s the first time since touching down in Japan that I’m alone.

Continue reading “Vermillion – Japan, Intermission B”

Gently Down – Act 2 Scene 3

It’s our final day in Kyoto before we head back east for the bright lights of Tokyo. After our ludicrously ambitious Miyajima and Hiroshima day trip yesterday we’ve woken very late in the day and as a result won’t have enough time to do everything we’d hoped in Osaka, our planned excursion for today. The main reason for this is that I’ve managed to book a special dinner at one of Kyoto’s top-rated restaurants. Before any of that though, we couldn’t ignore the massive temple we’d been passing every day, on our way to the train station.

Let’s get started… Continue reading “Gently Down – Act 2 Scene 3”

Manifesto Reflection

In 2013 I wrote a Change Manifesto, which I dug up a couple of months back when I was adding some of my old websites blog posts into the archive. I didn’t have enough time to reflect on this back when I got to it, so I’ve kept it unpublished until now. The reason being that I didn’t just want to link it on social media under #ThrowbackThursday or #FlashbackFriday, without explaining where I’m at five years after originally making my vows public. Continue reading “Manifesto Reflection”

Kintsugi – Japan, Act 2 Scene 2

By the time I wake up properly I’m standing on the Shinkansen platform at Kyoto Station, waiting for our 6 AM bullet train from Tokyo which will take us to Hiroshima. From there we board a local express train that will take us on towards Itsukushima – also known as Miyajima island.

Waiting on the platform looking east towards the mountain peaks of Otowayama and Gyojagamori.

I don’t know it yet, but there’s a feeling. Today will be something special.

Continue reading “Kintsugi – Japan, Act 2 Scene 2”

Still Raining, Still Dreaming – Japan, Act 2 Scene 1

The gentle patter of lukewarm warm rain contrasts the cooling clang of Japanese wind chimes as I awake on the first morning in Kyoto. The high rise silhouettes of Tokyo’s cityscape haunt my vision as the lashes of my eyes flutter and I focus in on a piercing grey column of light that splits the curtain folds of our Japaning apartment. My mind is completely still for a second before I roll into the duvet and shut my eyes.

‘…Wake up, you’re dreaming!’ Continue reading “Still Raining, Still Dreaming – Japan, Act 2 Scene 1”

ToKyoto Makuai – Japan, Intermission A

Reinvigorated from the fresh sea air of the Shōnan coast I find myself scrambling around the apartment on the morning of our third full day in Japan, worriedly tidying our possessions away into the single large suitcase we brought with us.

The only recurring nightmare I have had as an adult is playing out in my waking life. A sock under the bed, a charging cable that slipped down behind some furniture. I catch them all but none of these things really matter. We’ll be returning to this same apartment four days from now after we spend the rest of our week in Kyoto. Continue reading “ToKyoto Makuai – Japan, Intermission A”

By The Sea – Japan, Act 1 Scene 3

It’s a beautiful morning when we awake from our neon-infused Akihabara dreams… Except, it’s closer to midday. Shit!

We throw ourselves together and make haste to Tamachi Station. As we fly through the turnstiles we find a train waiting at the platform ready to take us to Shinagawa Station, where we can change from the Yamanote Line over to the Yokosuka Line.

At the end of that line? The sea-side retreats of Kamakura and Enoshima.

Continue reading “By The Sea – Japan, Act 1 Scene 3”

Electric Town – Japan, Act 1 Scene 2

Akihabara – or Electric Town as it is known – is probably the image most of us have in our minds when we think of Tokyo.

A brightly lit multi-floored media madness that extends as far as the eye can see in all directions. Impressive by day and dazzling by night. The area is abuzz with the hustle and bustle of tourist, geek and otaku from around the world. If there were ever a mecca for anime, manga and video games, this would be it.

Continue reading “Electric Town – Japan, Act 1 Scene 2”

First Class Baird, Reporting In!

Bachelor Of Science (Honours) Computer Games Design And Production With First Class Honours

Thanks to my family and friends for their encouragement, to the sage guidance and advice of my lecturers and business mentors, and of course, to my glorious and beautiful fiancé for her grace, compassion and support…