by BONZO, HSM Editor
We often do things, like engaging in activities and taking them as a matter of consequence, rarely considering if the things we do would change us in any significant way.
Can you say that playing any specific games changed you? Probably not — at least it’s not solely responsible, anyway — but I can personally say playing many games over the last two decades has changed me profoundly. In mostly positive and in some negative ways.
Can I say Home changed me? No. Home is an application for social networking with other gamers. And like with many other social networking applications, and social networking even in real life, they can only change you as a result of how you engage within them. If you use Facebook but aren’t engaged in it, it doesn’t do much for you. However if you use it, engage in it and actively seek a social network, it can change you and how you interact with others.
How does it do this? It opens you up to other ideas, other groups, other people, and even if they don’t necessarily share your views you learn what your views truly are either as you agree or disagree with the people you interact with.
Has Home done that for me? Not directly. But through interaction in many of its communities it has. Particularly with this specific publication. In the first HSM writing contest I entered, one of my entries won. The second contest I entered, another one of my entries won. Besides the generous reward, it gave me something else. An interest and a confidence in a skill I didn’t really think I had.
I started drawing as soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil in my hand. Sometimes, after campfires had burnt themselves out, I would use singed sticks to draw on walls. I honestly believe that my early interest in drawing helped me tremendously to learn to read and write. I don’t mean the ability to write comprehensively, but rather the technical ability to write letters. They were just symbols for me as a kid, no more relevant than drawing a wheel or a leaf. But I learned to draw these symbols and recognize them for what they were long before my first day of school.
Reading was something I picked up before I even went to kindergarten, and I loved it. I was an avid reader as a kid. By the time I was nine I was reading Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, Tolkien and Anne Rice. In retrospect, those books probably warped my mind a bit…
And when I discovered comic books, it was game over. I was hooked and I fell in love with the graphic novel. Then the early days of RPG games involved a lot of reading, and this was reading for an interactive experience. It blew my mind away. It opened up worlds, and sucked me into an alternate reality. Both comics and games made me love the art more, and I aspired to draw and explore the artistic side of me.
Writing was something I picked up from time to time, I didn’t think I was particularly good at it, but I kept returning to it. Drawing and visual arts were my main focus, whereas writing was a nagging bug that every so often surfaced its head. Story after story would begin to formulate itself, and before it was completed it ended up being abandoned because I pursued something else in the visual arts. Even through my most rebellious periods in school, writing became one of my strengths that generally resulted in a GPA lifesaver. School wasn’t challenging for me; I was just a rebellious little smartass that lacked motivation, and more to the point, I was bored.
I’ve pursued — and continue to pursue — visual arts. From tattoos to murals to graphic design, and now in motion graphics in video, it continues to be something in the dead center of my mental reticle. The mistake I see in retrospect is the notion that visual arts and literary arts are strictly separate skills. That somehow these two can not coexist, at least not in me personally. While I’ve received kudos in school for writing in the past, I never thought much of it; it was just a passing grade to me. One more task completed in the process of completing a longer journey, which in and of itself is just a means to an end.
When HSM held its writing contest — the first one I personally entered — my own doubt in the ability to write was a deterrent. Not being one to back away from a challenge (call it tenacity or stubbornness), I tried it anyway, figuring I really didn’t have anything to lose. If nothing else, it would just be an exercise in writing which seems to persistently nag at me still. The response I got, not just from the community, but from the HSM team itself, was very encouraging.
I entered their second writing contest, perhaps still coming down from a high after winning an entry in the previous one. One more entry won, and although I had been invited to join the group after the first entry I didn’t pursue it. Mainly because I didn’t think I would have the time. I was invited again after the last writing contest, and have been a team writer since. Though this group functions primarily on a volunteer basis, I have taken the opportunity to write as much as possible, under no obligation to do so — primarily as an exercise, and thereafter because I truly enjoy it. HSM also provided a purpose to write, over just rants on a personal blog. While this is a fan blog, it serves the purpose of both bringing attention to the social impact of Home and its content on the users — us.
Home itself is a tool, it is a software we use for entertainment and to socialize. The communities within Home have the power to change us in a profound way by engaging us in activities and social interaction. This group, above all others I have joined, has gone above that to take us to a level of voicing our approval and disapproval through more constructive methods that go beyond the reproachful fanboy rants of a free-for-all forum.
Therein lies the real challenge behind writing for HSM.
It isn’t about having an opinion; everyone has one. It isn’t about having an outlet for said opinion. There are plenty of places to post it. It is about having an opinion, understanding why you have that opinion, and posting it in a constructive way.
It’s also about having an outlet for creative expression, and thinking about your criticisms beyond the simple statement of, “I don’t like it.” Whether you like something or not, this publication challenges you to ask why you like it or don’t like it, and then think about how it could be better. And that philosophy of analyzing your very own opinion and expanding on it is how HSM, the Home group and fan blog, has changed me.
If you feel you aren’t good enough, or can’t really write nine-hundred words about something, just try. You may surprise yourself how much you may be holding in, and how much you can truly expand on some subject in Home. If nothing else, you may just discover a little something about yourself.