When I was a kid we had a Sega Mega Drive (or, Genesis as it’s known in the US). I recall how a lot of the games I played, and a lot of the games I remember most affectionately, were acquired with some degree of fluke.Sensible Soccer (originally on the Amiga) was probably the single best game I owned on that console. It was supremely fun, and no game since has captured football in quite the same way. The simple graphics left so much of the game to your imagination, whilst responding subtly to inputs that let you realise pretty much everything you wanted to imagine. Tiny, cute little sprites performed their crude movements at just the right pace to inspire an imagination running free.Sensible Soccer remains the game that I’m desperate to acquire for the Genesis at Twitter HQ (if you have a copy, we should talk,) but the point is that a 20 year love affair with a video game started by chance, by seeing this game on a shelf, with well-designed box art, with only an inkling of reputation, without knowing for sure what it was all about. Then buying it anyway and living happily ever after.When we first got Internet access at home and I started using Instant Messaging networks, I used Microsoft’s MSN Messenger. Actually, I used ICQ first, but since I’m not that old, and I tagged on off the back on the Quake 2 gaming scene, I was in only just before the service fell out of favour. MSNM seemed worse in so many ways, and I hated the cutesy emoticons, but I used it because my friends did. No other reason. There was no assessment of function verses ICQ or AIM, it was use MSN or don’t talk to friends online at all.Some choices we make based on informed quality. When we can, we choose an Apple computer over a Windows OEM because it’s a better made tool on which to run better designed software. We choose furniture made from solid wood rather than veneered chipboard. We research and assess our options, weigh costs, and concluded that one product will last longer and prove better value that another, along with whatever other criteria we hold.Other times we make inevitable choices based on local ubiquity. We have Facebook accounts because a terminal number of people now expect you to access their up-to-date contact information from a profile they keep updated, rather than sending you an explicit notification every time. Also, because we’ve hit our late twenties and the friends you left behind in England have started having babies and stuff.Finally there are the choices that we barely make at all. There are the accidents. There are the times you discover some place, or website, or service, or game and for whatever reason you go with it. You want to play chess against your Dad and you just search for it and you pick the third result. Some subtle combination of aesthetics and emotion takes you over the top and now you’re using a service that you knew nothing about, but it’s working for you, and might even grow into a very important piece of your life.Now we’re all grown up. The things that we build have the chance to be beloved, cherished discoveries for someone new. No matter the scale of your success, it’s going to matter to someone. Make it count.
18 Jul 2012