IDEAS

Ideas are why I live. I'm passionate about intellect. About ideas. About discussion. About thinking. About reading, getting inspired, learning new techniques. And writing, expressing my thoughts. The life of the mind is the most important thing we can nurture. Intellectual discussion is the most important of human activities.

This is really the fundamental core of who I am. It's my primary means of understanding and relating to the world. I am an idea person at the core, and ideas inspire everything I do. Everything I design begins with a concept. Everything I value and care about springs from a conviction.

The fundamental unit of the Universe is not atoms or quarks or strings, but ideas. Everything we see around us (the physical world and what takes place in that world) can be reduced to ideas. The mind is all we really have. There is no objective reality. We have only our perceptions. Our ideas change our own world and world we share with everyone else. To live is to think. To die (spiritually, emotionally, mentally, socially, physically) is to stop thinking.

 

Gaming

My primary hobby. The thing I look forward to. The thing that centers me. My pleasure and my escape.

I'm drawn to "slow" games. By "slow" games I mean those that require careful deliberation and thought. They are more strategic than they are tactical, more focused on planning than on impulsively responding, powered by the mind and not the fingers. They are like a game of chess, where there are nearly infinite possibilities each with its own consequences. Ultimately they are optimization scenarios, where the player needs to assess the landscape, consider and prioritize a multitude of factors, and then take the most informed possible action (based on inherently limited knowledge, mind you). The next "turn" or event then inspires a new round of tweaking or even rethinking the approach given the new feedback. Some of the best games are elaborate puzzles that test the mind. Role-playing games, especially of the tactical variety, best embody this philosophy, and that's why they're my favorite genre.

I'm also drawn to the idea of games as art. Certainly in terms of beauty - the proliferation of minimalist indie games has been heartening - but more importantly in terms of the experience. Monument Valley comes first to mind. It's a profound experience - so marvelously beautiful and clever that it's no longer a game or a digital artifact or even a work of art - it's a whole paradigm of its own. It's striking in the same way the iPod was, because it suggests a new way of thinking. It's the kind of game you could mount in a gallery and consider among the master works of this generation.

Of course, because of stereotypes about what games are, can, and should be, games get no such recognition. (Angry, violent, sexist gamers don't help). I hope that my support of games as a serious medium will help change that.

No one deserves for more credit for making games that shaped my childhood and teenage years (and still do today) than Shigeru Miyamoto. It's difficult to express my profound gratitude toward and admiration of what Miyamoto has done, but this piece from The New Yorker explains it well. I also contributed significantly to his Wikipedia page, primarily because I want others to realize the sheer magnitude and depth of his contributions to the industry. Beyond the grandiose sales figures and critical plaudits, his work is deeply personal to me. Miyamoto led the creation of the game of my childhood (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time), the game I played with my grandpa (Super Mario Bros. 3), and the game that reignited my passion for games and spawned a love of games journalism (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess). A multitude of other games produced by Miyamoto or inspired by the series and characters he created have impacted my life in a meaningful way. Super Mario 3D Land comes to mind, because its sheer delightfulness reminded me of the power of games and their gameplay mechanics to inspire us, and to return us to the innocence of our youth. I owe Miyamoto more credit than anyone for shaping my childhood, and in turn my view of the world. He has inspired me to courage with the model of a boy who faced the impossible and faced his demons, saving the world and restoring justice. I wrote a college application essay about the game. It was painstaking. It took me many hours over the course of several months to communicate my themes properly. The consequences were so high, and the subject matter so deserving of serous effort. While it didn't result in my acceptance, I would do it over a million times. I need to remind myself just how much meaning he has added to my life. (I encourage to read my essay here).

 

Design

Design is important to me. It interests me as a form of precise artistic expression. I appreciate the impact of design on how we go about our lives. I've not always had a strong interest, and I don't have the formal education. As such, I am now working to refine my skills, and to establish myself as a bona fide artist - someone who creates important work that goes beyond the functional.

The challenge with is to articulate my ideas in a tangible way - to produce things that reflect my inner workings. My philosophy as I do all of this is minimalism - a clean, stark, Bauhaus aesthetic that reduces complexity and uses stylistic elements for dramatic effect. It is a purposeful and political type of design - one that proudly defends modernity and liberalism.

My mom was a graphic designer, and helped spark my interest. Andrew Kim is a great inspiration for the way he thinks about and analyzes design. It's very intuitive, and he does a good job of explaining that intuition in an intelligible way. He's got amazing taste. And he does fabulous photography. He's introduced me to to the work of many design visionaries - including the other big two I admire.

Jony Ive and Dieter Rams have defined the technology objects we use in the modern world. I've been steeped in computing from a young age, and their designs have shaped my experiences. Ive, though I didn't realize it at the time, added color to my elementary school education with his fruity iMac. In college I took his iPod touch on as a companion, typing up notes, taking photos of curious things, and playing music to fit the themes of my day. Now the iPhone has defined a clean and purposeful way of interacting with devices. I hope the Apple Watch will bring about a more intimate relationship with technology. One that's symbiotic, that enhances my life, that blends itself in with the analog and the organic. One that complements and extends.

 

Minimalism

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