One-Way vs. Two-Way Roads

Been a while since I wrote one of these, but based on the topic of this post, I’ll probably be doing a lot more.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety from game design lately. It’s been going on for a while. Sometimes it flares up real bad, other times it’s just an itch in the back of my skull. We’re in major flare up territory right now.

I’ve been thinking about why that is the case, and I think it’s because what I’m calling “One-Way” and “Two-Way” roads of being online.

One-Way Roads (OWRs) are places where the flow of conversation is largely one direction. Someone is posting information without the intent of creating a conversation or dialog of some kind from it. This blog post is an example. Even if someone decides to comment below, I don’t anticipate this will be some bastion of deep conversations. Other examples are posting videos online, or the design streams I do to a certain extent. In all of these examples, I dictate when I engage with them, and can minimize (or even eliminate) the ability for it to turn into an opportunity for discourse.

Two-Way Roads (TWRs) are places where conversation is just that, a conversation. Someone is posting in such a way that they are either encouraging, or at least just more open to other people chiming in. Twitter and Discord are key examples of this. Discord truly is a 24/7 TWR for you, if you have your own server. Twitter allows you to slow to flow of the conversation with circles, muting words, notification settings, etc., but it’s purpose is in allowing multiple people to “talk” to each other.

Here’s what I’ve realized. TWRs give me massive amounts of stress. I know lots of people who experience a certain phenomena: One person says one shitty thing to you, and your day is fucked. When your presence online is largely through TWRs, you open yourself up to that happening 1000x more than using OWRs.

That’s not to say that people can’t say shitty things on OWRs. Just look at the comments section of a YT video and you’ll see that pretty clearly. But, the comments section is not (at least for me), the purpose of posting videos. I just want to put some info out in the world, such as a game overview or design commentary, without hearing back from folks.

This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how platforms like Twitter just keep you glued to them, and angry the whole time. That’s a whole other conversation, but one worth having some time.

So yeah, I think moving forward I’ll be using way more OWRs than TWRs. Some folks might think that strange, to not want to have conversations around design, but it’s genuinely what I want to do.

And here’s why. When I make a game, I want to make my game. It sounds narcissistic, and it is to a degree, but I generally just don’t care what other people think when I’m designing a game. When people complain about balance, or little things that bother them in one of my games, I just don’t care. I made the game I wanted to make, and you don’t need to be part of the “conversation” of that happening.

No grand thesis statement to be made here, just thoughts on what my online experience will be like moving forward as a designer. Look for me to be doing more OWRs, like this blog, videos on YouTube, and streams. I’ll be a lot less present on Twitter and Discord (except for DMs). I already know that this will make me feel less connected to the “community”, but I’ve been feeling disconnected for a while honestly. People that I used to vibe with or interact with almost feel like strangers, through no fault of their own.

A while back I said I wanted to be that design hermit who goes to his cave to design, only to emerge with things to show off. And I think I’m just looking for that cave now.


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