Sunday, January 23, 2011

Creativity and... OH! LOOK! A kitty!

Just over a decade ago, I fancied myself as a game designer. Specifically, a role-playing game designer. I figured "why not"? I had been playing table-top RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, Chill, Top Secret, and Champions for over twenty years by that time. I was a smart guy, and had enough gaming savvy and experience to know what works and what doesn't in a game system.

So, I began working on a random game design project I wanted to do. I plowed ahead getting mechanics just right and tweaking the setting just so... and then I'd get an idea for a completely different game. Invariably the need and desire to work on the new idea became overwhelming, and I dropped the the first game in mid-project to work on what was to be my REAL masterpiece. Then that game got dropped in favor of another... which got dropped in favor of yet another.

I have no fewer than SIX RPG game systems in various stages of completion on our computer's hard drive. It was when I realized that fact that I thought something my be wrong with me.

I had just started therapy for what I thought were some other mental issues, when this came up in session. The therapist then asked me some odd questions which brought even odder answers from me. After a session or two of back-and-forth discussion, my therapist stated that s/he thought I was mildly Bi-Polar. That sort of hit me like a brick out of nowhere. Doing some research on the subject led me to believe the "diagnosis" to be correct. Doing more research on the subject discovered that I couldn't take any of the medications they typically prescribe for bi-polar disorder due the universal side effect of screwing with my heart.

I don't think I've mentioned in the blog that I have heart issues, and have had heart issues since birth. Born with a congenital heart defect, I had open heart surgery to correct it at two and a half years of age. By the time I was thirty-two, I had become the proud owner of a pacemaker. I have flat-lined more than once in my life, and been defibrillated once (NOT RECOMMENDED IF YOU CAN AVOID IT). So yeah, I have a few heart issues... and the heart issues interfered, and are still interfering, with the treatment of the head issues.

Thus, I'm left to muddle through as best as I can. I've got fantastic support in the form of my lovely wife, our children, and our friends and customers at the store. I still tweak on the occasional game design, but I recognize it for what it truly is. It's a way to keep my brain occupied, especially when slogging through a manic phase. I have far less time to work on that kind of creative endeavor anymore, but it's okay. Running the store facilitates my need to keep my brain going.

Instead of games, I work on signage... or policies... or inventory... or financials... or sorting Magic cards... or tracking down items for customer special orders... or any one of a hundred things that need to be done at any given time. Our store has become where I burn off excess energy during my manic phases, and doing what needs to be done leaves a LOT less time to actually focus of being bummed out during the cycles of depression. In its own way, the store has become a form of medication to keep me sane... ...and I'm good with that.

-- GopherDave