Wednesday, December 18, 2013

See If You Can

I think a lot of achievement comes mostly from a mixture of curiosity and stubbornness, taken in high doses.  One of the ways that I see people cultivate innovation, probably more than anything else, is they keeping asking themselves, “oh, do you think I can…” and then they follow the question past the point when most others would give up.  In a close second place is the question, “what happens if I…” followed by something silly.

What generally happens when people start learning a new game or system is they start practicing the things that they think are “right.”  You look up a list of combos and you drill them, you ask “does this move win here,” "should I win this matchup," whatever. You seek out known information.  That’s a great starting point, because if somebody has done a ton of work for you, it can be grueling and annoying to retread examined ground.  Why spend a year developing combos that you could have just Googled?  You could be spending your time on something else.

There is a value in developing your own stuff, because it encourages you to push your limits.  Where many people falter is, having learned the “right way” to do things, they stop thinking.  They automate, they wait for somebody to show them a new “right way.”  As a result, they’re heavily limited by the community around them.  The people that keep getting better regardless, the ones that learn and innovate and do crazy new stuff, are the ones that keep testing limits.  They keep seeing what stuff they can get away with.  From “can I get this special move to link into this one?” to “will this move beat another one in this scenario” to “can I whiff this move and mash out my super to bait them?”  You just ask.  You often get no, but then the no tells you something new as well.  Other people’s information is like having numbers filled in on a Sudoku board for free, and it leads you to success if you keep pushing. Otherwise, you just have a mostly filled-in board and a confused look on your face.

You don’t have to settle for this attitude with regards to just game-mechanics.  You can treat yourself as a continually expandable frontier.  See if you’re able to predict what the other person does 100% of the time.  See if you are able to stall or run away forever, see if you can dodge attacks by a tiny hair with consistency.  See what kind of goofy stuff you can do.  Ask yourself lots of silly questions and try to learn ridiculously difficult skills to see if you can.  The end result is rarely “I got nothing out of it.”  You almost always find something as a result.

It’s not just an issue of being of innately, magically creative.  I know a lot of people who think that I am creative, when most of what I do is generate stupid ideas, and eventually I get ones that work.  If you want to be innovative, just keeping asking dumb questions until one of them gives you a smart answer.

Because even if the answer to “can I?” or “will this work?” is “no,” sometimes it has a “but you can do this…” attached to it.  Finding those is just as exciting, and it’s as much a point of the exercise as being right from the start.

Thanks for reading.

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