In Depth Post #2 – “The Trials of Text”

This week my mind of In Depth has been heavily occupied with the Talons class integrated essay based on my in depth. I’ve been researching the origin of text based games this week, as well as in my own free time beginning to familiarize myself with the choicescript program I am going to be using for the remainder of the project. I’ve learned a lot about not only the history of text games, but video games in general, as well as the devices behind them throughout my research and I believe that while it may not all be directly related to my own personal in depth, I think the knowledge I’ve gained throughout this week will prove useful for me. Prior to all that has happened during this week, I began writing a very detailed plot line for my game in a word doc so I may refer to it when I actually start coding the game.

These past two weeks I’ve also been in contact over email with two of my own personal favourite video game developing companies, as well as the creator of the choicescript program; so far I have not had anyone accept my requests for a mentor but the two gaming companies have agreed to have a representative answer any questions I may have concerning my project. I also have had some minor assistance from a few students around the school, who have managed to compile a few textbooks on the topic of coding for video games, in order to help increase my learning. Even without one true mentor at the moment, I have a wide array of people willing to support me and my project, so while I can not reflect on the How to have a Beautiful Mind chapters in reference to my mentor, I can still reflect on my findings about it with those who have helped me so far.

When it comes to agreeing, De Bono’s book has a lot to say, most of which I’ve been doing my best to keep in mind at all times since reading it; however, I’ve been playing even closer attention to the words while speaking with those who’ve been willing to help me so far. An excellent example of this arose in a series of emails sent back and forth between myself, and a representative from Telltale games: The representative informed me that while they loved the idea of the project I was doing, and they wished they could mentor me closely on the project, their job was to focus on working and developing on games for their company. This upset me a little bit, but I did my best to understand what she was saying, and agree that from her point of view, what she was saying was the ideal choice. In these emails I remained positive, and did my best to reach the greatest possible solution, which I believe in the end I did achieve, as the representative did agree that she’d be able to answer any questions I might have, should I ask her via emails in the near future.

Aside from the previous paragraph however, I don’t believe I’ve been able to really disagree with anyone (much less a mentor) when this project is concerned; further, I’ve yet to really meet my mentor, so any differing of opinions, or anything similar to De Bono’s “how to differ” chapter has not yet arose in concerns to my project.

In the next two weeks I plan to be spending as much free time as possible working on in depth. My first priority is to confirm someone as my mentor, and as soon as I’ve completed that I’m going to move on to my next task, continuing the actual project itself: creating my own game. The deadline I set for the first part of the game falls before my next blog post, so I look forward to seeing if I’ll be able to stick to that deadline. It’ll be tough to get so much done in only two weeks but I feel confident I’ll be able to do so, and with luck (and possibly a little help from some of my more blogging advanced peers) I’ll be able to find a way to embed a brief sample of my game so far into my next post.

Until then, goodbye, and good luck.

360 Degree Leadership Challenge Questions

Challenge 1: How do you deal best with tension in a stressful situation?

I tend to deal with tension in many different ways, depending on the exact details of the situation. That being said, I’ve found my own personal best way to deal with tension and stress is to just get away from the situation for a little bit. It’s not that I put off doing anything about it, it’s just that I find time to subjectively think about it all from an outside perspective always leads me to a solution. In the occasional cases where leaving the problem for a while is not an option, I find that my second best method is to just sit down, and tackle the situation head on. It may not always seem like a great idea, but I’ve found that I’m constantly surprising myself with what I’m capable of doing when I truly set my mind to it, and after all, once a problem or situation has been dealt with, odds are it wont be stressing me out much any more. That is the thought behind my latter method of dealing with stress.

Challenge 2: What should you do when you find yourself following a leader who is ineffective? How do you continue to add value?

I think ineffective leaders may be more common than effective ones, so this question seems like a valuable one to reflect on from time to time. Oftentimes people find it hard to invest themselves in someone leading them who frankly just doesn’t do very well in their position. In some cases like the previously stated one, I think the best option can be something as simple as planting a smile onto your face and driving through with whatever it is you have to do. Just because a leader you’re following isn’t effective, doesn’t mean you don’t have to as well. You may not end up becoming the top ranking leader in whatever organization you’re working in, but it’s as simple as becoming a positive role-model, and influence to those around you, below you, and above you. The odds are effects might not take place right away,  but I think it’s safe to say that if you act as a leader (no matter where you stand in the organization) that at least some people will be influenced to do the same, and so on until that ineffective leader of yours, has possibly became a little more effective.

Challenge 3: How do you normally react to change? What can you do differently to become more flexible?

I like to think I’m pretty comfortable with change, but I know in all reality that I’m not. My main method of dealing with change is to just sit back, accept it, and let it happen. Now that method for dealing with change may seem to work from time to time, when the change doesn’t really affect me all that much, but should a change of sorts arrive that does affect me more, I think the best possible way for me to become more flexible would be to stand up, and do everything in my power to encourage (or discourage the change, depending) the change, and even speed it on its way to becoming normality in my day to day life. If I am able to early detect possibilities of change, and do what’s best to help work with that change, make it change I’m prepared for than it will obviously be much easier to react to.

Challenge 4: Do you tend to focus more energy on production or promotion?

This is another question where I’d like to think the answer is one thing, but in reality I know it’s not. While there are (as with most things) some exceptions to it, I find that in my past, I have expended way more energy on promotion than production. As I grow as a person, learner and leader however; I think I am beginning to balance out my energy output a little more evenly.

Challenge 5: List some of the advantages and disadvantages of being out front.

There’s always advantages to being out front, and leading, such as everyone looking to you for answers, and following after you. That being said, the same thing could be considered a con, people look up to you and respect you if you’re a designated leader, which means there is a lot more responsibility and pressure put on your shoulders. A small mistake made by a low level employee might not get ridiculed as much as the same mistake made by one of the higher ranking personnel. Another reason for that would be that, the higher up you tend to go, the more eyes there are on you. A good example of this could be celebrities, social leaders of sorts who can never seem to get away from the eyes of their followers. Some thrive in that condition, but as so often heard of on the news, so many crash and burn as well.

Challenge 6: What would you rather do: see your own vision put into action and come to fruition, or help others fulfill theirs? Explain.

I have many reasons for answering this question with the latter option, the first of which being that for as long as I could remember, I’ve been rather fond of helping those around me. I find that putting a smile on someone else’s face, is always a good way to put one on your own. Secondly I think many people can agree, they often think the ideas, or works of others are better than their own, for whatever reasons. While I don’t like using that as a reason to effect my choice on the matter, I think it may still indirectly end up effecting my choice. My third, and personally appointed most important reason is that by helping others, others may feel obliged, or end up being more likely to help you in the future, meaning that so long as there’s time enough for both my own vision, and the vision of the ‘other’, both could be completed, and both could be completed with less overall effort, and more overall success.

Challenge 7: Describe the qualities of a leader you trust. Do you possess all of these qualities? If not, how can you become more trustworthy? 

For as long as I can remember the number one thing I look for in not just leaders, but people in general is trustworthiness. In my mind it just makes sense to have trust as that first brick on the bridge to building a better relationship with someone, be it your partner, casual friend, or leader. Things that make someone trustworthy to me however, tend to vary by the person I find. One that I do see recurring often is their level of seriousness; if I’m going to be following this leader, I need to know they’re serious and dedicated to what it is their doing. That being said, I feel there is such thing as too serious. Sociopaths tend to reach high standings in large organizations and corporations simply because they’re so devoted to their work that they don’t empathize with others around them, should a situation where one would normally empathize occur. So with that brief thought in mind, I tend to like my leaders with a little sense of humour as well, a part of them that lets me know they are a real person, they do spend time outside of work, and they do like to have fun from time to time, all on top of their dedication to the task at hand.

360 Degree Leadership Myth Questions

Myth 1: Discuss if People need to possess the top title to achieve results and help others become productive.

The obvious answer to this question is no, you do not need to have the highest title available to encourage productivity in others, nor do you need it to get any different results. There’s no doubt that for some people, it may be easier to encourage others productive from a higher title in the system, but that in no way limits people lower down in the system from doing the very same thing. While we have only spent one block on this unit so far, I feel comfortable in saying that the entire point of the 360 Degree Leader book is about encouraging everyone in any organization, be it a workplace, a sports team, or anything else, to all do everything in their power to learn, and help others learn, no matter their standing on the hierarchy of the organization. Both my parents own and work for their own businesses, where they stand in the highest possible position but more often than sometimes I still hear them speaking to each other during the evening about how certian employees took initiative that day, or how the very same employees showed my parents newer, faster, and oftentimes simpler ways to things they’ve been doing in their jobs (and dreading doing) for years. Everyone should be able to increase productivity of others, and achieve results of their own, no matter their standing in the organization in question.

Myth 2: How are you learning to lead? What opportunities do you currently have that could further develop your leadership skills?

This year, as a grade ten in the talons classroom (like all other tens) I’m taking up more of a leadership role. It’s safe to say that the last year or so of talons has taught me more to do about leadership, than anything else combined (So far in my life, at least). Talons aside however, I’ve been starting to be more comfortable in leadership roles around the community. Last summer I volunteered as a counselor at a camp on Vancouver Island, this summer I hope to get a job. Again as the previous question stated, it doesn’t matter where you stand on the ladder of things, you can still lead. A good example of this could be something like tutoring. Obviously the leader in such a situation would be the tutor, but that doesn’t mean that the student can’t influence, or effect the tutor in any way. I hope to keep this in my mind as I continue with my life, and find new opportunities and ways to lead in every situation I come across.

Myth 3: Do you automatically follow your “boss”, or do you sometimes question his or her direction? Have you ever supported someone who did not have an official leadership title?

Last year a friend of mine gathered a bunch of people to sign a petition concerning pink shirt day in schools, and the fact that the entire concept behind the day was being lost on some in our elementary school. The school had this idea to design ‘cool’ shirts, that both boys and girls would wear, the thing about these shirts though was that they weren’t pink. The only thing pink about them was a few letters on the chest. Now while this may not be the best example, and I may not really care too much about how it turned out in the end but I think this small story is a good way to start this question. This group of friends got together for a meeting with the schools PAC committee, in an attempt to express our worries about the idea of pink shirt day being lost on the kids, who’d now be wearing black instead. At this meeting, it’s safe to say that the leaders would be the PAC themselves and while they had no direct link with me, and in no way were a direct boss of mine any more, they had been put in a position of leadership, and more than a few people were questioning their choices on the matter of pink shirt day. Similarly, my friend who came up with the idea was just a student, she was no leader in regards to any titles but she still found many people to support her side of the situation, many people she could sort of lead concerning this situation. While this is just one example of someone with no leadership titles taking up a role of leadership in my life, I feel it does again reinforce the overlapping point to be found, your position or social standing does not mean you cannot lead.

Myth 4: What makes a leader valuable to an organization/ committee?

Using the term ‘leader’ in a similar context to John C. Maxwell, a leader is someone who influences others in the committee, and encourages them to be as productive as possible, while still being productive on his own part. Judging from that definition, a leader, or leaders provide the organization with the metaphorical oil in the term ‘a well oiled machine’. There doesn’t need to be one designated leader for a group to work at maximum efficiency, rather I’d think that if everyone considered themselves as John C. Maxwell’s form of a leader, then and only then would a group be performing at its top possible tier.

Myth 5: To whom do the chairs in a committee answer?

I’d say the chairs in a talons class committee should answer not only to the JAM squad, but the members of the committee, as well as other committees. They answer to the teachers as the teachers are the highest ranking authority when it comes to those in the talons classroom. They should also be answering to those members of their own committee as a chair of a committee may not always be (and should not always be) in charge of every single tiny detail of the committee, especially when it comes to larger committees like the Adventure Trip food committee. And lastly, as all the committees are in one way or another working together to create one unified outcome, I think it would be wise for all talons committee chairs to keep in touch with the other closely related committees, both for their benefit, and the benefit of your committee as well.

Myth 6: Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” How does that idea relate to allowing a title or position to limit your *potential.

I think Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote relates to the latter half of the question because her quote could very easily be said to someone who does think that a title or position limits their potential. Someone who thinks like that may need a reminder that Roosevelt’s quote could very easily give them concerning the fact that a title, given by someone to you, should not stop you from working to your full potential in your committee or organization. The reoccurring theme pops up here again, it does not matter where you stand in the committee, you can still do just as much work, if not more than those members above you.

Myth 7: The reality for most people is that they will never be the CEO. Does that mean they should just give up leading altogether? Discuss.

I think this question is the best one possible to finish off with, and conclude this post. Like many things in the world, an organization can be thought of as a pyramid of sorts. More often than not, the first rank in pyramid of things contains the most people, and the numbers drop as the ranking rises. That in no way means that everyone in the lower ranks should give up though. Should the lower ranks give up, and not lead those above them as Maxwell advises, there’s much higher of a possibility for an organization to fall apart. In most organizations people rely on one another, regardless of their positions. A CEO can still rely on a mail runner, and vice versa, so unless everyone is doing as much as they can to influence and encourage those bellow, around, and above them, no organization will be working to its full potential.

Footnote: *I replaced position with potential, as I feel it made more sense for the question time.

In-Depth Intro Post 2015

This year for my in depth project, I knew I wanted to do something that would really captivate me. Finding something to do that was no difficult task however, and before long I had more ideas than I could count. However, after long periods of serious inner debate, and a lot of pros and cons, I’ve finally narrowed it down to one single decisive idea. For my second, and final in depth project I am going to create a video game, not just any video game though, I’m going to make a text based video game. Now a lot of you probably know what I mean by that, but for the clarification of those who may not, a text based video game is basically interactive fiction. Things like this go by many names (choose your own adventure stories, multiple choice games and so on) but more often than not, the idea is the same; to encourage readers/players to build and take part in a world built from their imagination. The writers of such games provide the words, which work as a sort of beam to help support and shape your imagination into the world of the game. Granted at this point, what I’m describing sounds just like any other piece of fiction, but the element that makes the difference is the choices. In a game like the one I plan on making throughout the following five months, the readers/players will often come across choices that will greatly effect the outcome of the story in one way or another, and that’s what makes things truly interesting. If my description is still leaving you confused, or if you’re interested and would like to know more, here would be my recommendation to do so.

Now, as to why I chose this, I have a couple reasons: first and foremost is the fact that it, in its own way, combines two of my favourite things to do in my down time (read/write, and play video games). Not only are those two things I do in my downtime, but they’re two potential paths I may look into going down later on in my life as well, which means that clearly, any experience I could get early on would prove greatly beneficial should I choose to pursue one of those paths. A second reason is because this in depth project is free of any cost; the only thing I need for this is a program called choicescript, which is free for anyone to download and experiment with should they wish to.

This in depth is going to be a challenge for sure I know that now, but that being said, I’m still sort of looking forward to it all. I’m excited to expand what little writing skills I already have, while learning (With the help of a mentor who has yet to be found) a little bit about the video game development world, and the programming side of things as well. I know that I may, at least for the beginning of the project be relying on my preexisting writing knowledge to carry me a little, but hopefully in the later months, I’ll feel more comfortable when it comes to programming with choicescript, and things will all even out. I’ve really got my work cut out for me with this one, but I know that with a little dedication and time management, I’ll be able to make something I’m truly be proud of.