I had a conversation with a friend this weekend about in-school social workers using Wide Open Games in their work with adolescent boys. My friend was saying how the games could help start conversations in a way that regular talk therapy sometimes struggles to with teenage boys. I love this idea, and it’s not something I would’ve ever thought of on my own.
I was thinking of what sorts of games I would make for these hypothetical sullen middle-schoolers. I was getting a little stuck. Sometimes this happens when I think of what messages I could possibly have to send out into the world. What do I know? Do I know anything??
Then my wife asked me, “What sort of advice would you want to give yourself at that age?” That unlocked me. Instead of focusing on what I know now, I started thinking of everything I didn’t know then. There’s a hell of a lot more of that!
What do I wish I had known? What messages do I wish I received? Yes, if I have learned a specific strategy that’s useful, I can share that, but I like this idea of thinking from a more audience-centric point of view. What’s worth hearing rather than what do I think is what’s worth saying? If there’s something I needed to hear, I know that there are others who could use hearing the same thing.
And this doesn’t only apply to my teenage self, either. I’m giving my current self advice all the time. I don’t need to know any great secrets of life to do so – they’re just little things I’m working on.
I like thinking of my work this way. It’s humbling. It’s less pressurized, and I believe it will end up being more friendly and useful to players and readers.
So here’s my advice to myself with this piece: Don’t worry about needing to impart great wisdom to your readers. Just think of what advice you want to give yourself.