Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Vincent Baker and Creative Gaming

Second only to the gambling business, gaming is the largest industry on the planet. It includes card games like Magic: the Gathering which in 2011 had a record 12 million players and video games like Grand Theft Auto 5 which grossed over $1 billion in the first three days of release. For a lot of devotees, gaming is an escape. The instigation of imagination fuels a heartwarming sense of vicariousness, as you use your character as a catalyst to achieve things otherwise impossible.
Vincent Baker is a 22 year old from Starr, South Carolina. (Not to be confused with STAAR from Area 51) Vincent, like myself, is a dreamer. As a true dreamer, he has an undying will to satisfy his creative itch. With blockbuster titles such as Final Fantasy and Borderlands as favorites, Vincent pulls creative inspiration from every spot imaginable. A few years ago, Vincent started work on what he believes will be his life career path, a tabletop role-playing game called Otherworlds. What is a tabletop role-playing game?

A tabletop role-playing game is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting or through a process of structured decision-making or character development.

This is how Vincent describes his tabletop Otherworlds:

"Otherworlds is a tabletop RPG, based on adventuring to different worlds and collecting tons of awesome weapons. There are ten playable races in the game to play as, as well as twelve playable classes such as an Assassin, Battle Mage or Reaper. The options are limitless as the character you make can be virtually anything. If playing as a dragon-like warrior that wields dual machine guns, while breathing fire on his foes, sounds awesome to you, then you’ll enjoy this game!"

Vincent is very passionate about his dream. So passionate in fact that he won an entrepreneurship award for the game in 2011. Since then, Vincent has hosted games at five conventions, (including MonsterCon) Set up Q&A sessions, written articles, made videos, drawn art, hosted over one hundred public events, and is currently in the process of setting up some charity events in order to push his career farther. However, Vincent does not only do this for his career. When I asked Vincent why he chose to make a tabletop RPG, his answer was not about himself, but rather how about how others could benefit from it. He alluded to "living vicariously" through your characters. Having the same mind as them, and making their decisions as you would make them. Vincent says:

"I believe that world conflict, anger and aggression would be less of a problem if channeled through gaming instead. I hope that my games inspire others to be more creative, to provide escapism from unkind circumstances and to encourage them to also follow their dreams."

It's this type of mentality that will keep kids "playing with fire" in their minds, instead of burning down their kitchens and hurting someone.
Notice also how Vincent says he hopes his games inspire others to be more creative. Notice that it isn't just about him, but instead about the people who are inspired. A role-playing game is designed for immersion, and like acting, not for 'role breaking'. You, as the player, create your history, and with a little help from your team, determine your future. The idea is to "re-create' yourself into the character in your game so that your ideals align, and you can make intuitive decisions based off of your scenario that affect you and your party members.

Vincent has been hard at work on Otherworlds for many years now, and continues to push himself even further every day. I asked Vincent about his work schedule for Otherworlds and the struggles that have been relevant to his line of work. He talked about two things: emotional and financial support. From his friends and family, Vincent has been showered with emotional support from many sources. From friends who are willing and wanting to test the game, to parents who support his decision to become a game maker, Vincent's success and drive stem from the people who have invested their time and resources into Otherworlds, and ultimately into Vincent. When asked who supported him the most, he couldn't even give one name out of respect for every other person who has given him support... they all support him.

For me, the most important question I like to ask people is "what do you do each day to pursue your dream?" A lot of people don't know how to answer a question like this. Many times people try to set too many goals for themselves in a day and in the end everything ends up collapsing on top of them. Vincent's answer was direct, well thought, amazingly delivered:

"I make a list in Microsoft Word that stays open the entire day. This list has different categories, 'Dreams, Missions, Completed, and Accomplishments.' The dreams are the big goals, the ones that will take a year or more to complete. The missions are my weekly goals and I try to get at least 8 hours worth done a day, once they are done, they go under my “completed” category. Finally my 'Accomplishments' sections, is to remind myself of all the things I've accomplished that year.
Also, every week I clean the completed list and start building it up again. It’s a cycle I’ve grown accustomed to, but believe it helps to make your goals come true, when you see them fifty times a day"

I believe that the categorizing that Vincent has done, accompanied with his "Do or Die" mentallity is 90% of his success. He sees the big picture in his dreams category and knows what he is working towards. He has very clearly defined weekly missions that keep him working eight hours a day. His completed category helps him track progress so he can always know how to pace his work. Finally, his accomplishments show him how far he has come and maintains his morale. THIS IS PERFECT DISCIPLINE. However, it is also hard discipline.

Vincent's accomplishments have not come without struggle though, what has been his greatest struggle? He says it's facing the unknown. As with starting any business, you are always subject to the things you haven't experienced yet. Even though he is a very prepared person, Vincent finds dealing with a "plot twist" to be the most difficult hurdle to jump. After all, he likes to be proactive, not reactive. Vincent also knows the value of mistakes. Like with Edison's light bulb, Vincent knows mistakes to be learning opportunities for the future, and not a just simply a mistake, but also true knowledge. After all, if you make a mistake... you just learned how to NOT do something.

Vincent has a few different places where you can get information on his game Otherworlds, as well as places you can contact him with questions. You can keep up to date with the latest that Vincent is doing by “liking” Otherworlds’ Facebook page here:

Or by following Vincent's twitter @TheVindicated

From Vincent:

"I’d love to say thank you to everyone that took the time to read this and thank you to Matt Hoos for being awesome and featuring me. If anyone wants to talk more, discuss games or anything, contact me. I love making new friends."

From Matt:

Thank you for reading, please feel free to leave comments, questions, or stories either here or on my Facebook! Thanks again!

Now... What should I write about next...?


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