Posts Tagged family

Friends & Family

Thursday, November 25, 2010
Who are you closer to, friends or family?

As evidenced by September’s entire month of posts about friends, and no such month about family, I think it’s pretty obvious I am closer to friends.  I travel the most to visit friends, not family; when I visit a place, I think first of seeing friends, not family; most of all, I keep in best touch with friends, not family.

There are a few reasons for this in my life, and one of the biggest is I didn’t grow up very close to my extended family.  I know a lot of folk whose family is concentrated in one locale, or who have big family events, but we had neither as I was growing up.  My mom and dad are both not super close to their immediate family, and although that’s changed in more recent years (both have become closer to their brothers, and also to their nieces/nephews-in-law), my worldview has been pretty fixed on the point of family since I was younger.  I do enjoy hanging out with family, but I mentally equate them to “friends I am not super close with,” since I have no special “family” category in my brain for closeness (with the slight exception of “mom,” “dad,” and “sister”).

Another big big reason for this is that I chose my friends, and they chose me.  I appreciate the foundation my family gave me for my life, but over time I have realized things about myself I don’t particularly like or that I really want to change.  Those realizations are almost always in part because of interaction with my friends.  Most of my friends are understanding and communicative enough that we get along very well, and yet they see things differently enough from me that I get a lot of insight into the world and myself through them.  With family, I often feel like we think mostly alike, and where others might get comfort from that, I can sometimes find it frustrating.

All that said, I am off to visit with family (Aunt and Uncle) today for Thanksgiving, so closeness might be relative. :)

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Nadia Drake

Nadia and I went to high school together, and above and beyond being a very intelligent, kinda snarky, lovely lady, she and I were pretty good friends. I recall having lots of fun with her, through numerous shared classes, study groups, movie outings, school dances (I took her to our Senior Winter Ball, which was by far my most fun high school dance experience) and all of the rest of high school stuff. Nadia’s just a great complement to any group, because she has such a great sense of humor and isn’t afraid to speak her mind, but she’s also great one-on-one because of her keen intellect and insight. Add to that her talent as a dancer and a smartypants in general and you’ve got a totally awesome friend.

Nadia also has a wonderful relationship with her family, something I strive to have as well with my family. She and her sister are literally the funniest together, and I recall her home being a warm place for everyone. I love my family, but sometimes I am not really patient or understanding enough with them, and Nadia’s (apparent) easy report with hers is inspiring.

Although we basically lost touch after high school, when I went to New York City for grad school we reconnected a bit and she almost made it over to join me for a sweet concert. Tragically, life and work got in the way and it didn’t work out, but one day maybe we’ll reunite and share more laughs and good times!

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Leigh Elion

I met Leigh because she is Chris’s sister, and Chris and I were friends and dormmates at Caltech.  Chris was kind enough to invite me to stay with his family in RI once when I was living on the East Coast, and I got to meet his family – all of whom are badass, and Leigh near the top of the list.  Leigh eventually ended up in Boston while I was there, and invited me to a party, which may not seem like much, but it’s often the small things that define the merit of a person – in this case, kindness to friends, even not-particularly-close friends.

Leigh and I have spent some time chatting online, since we are all connected in that way socially these days, and since I moved away from Boston I haven’t found the time to visit as many friends as I’d like.  She’s got a great sense of humor – probably the wittiest/most sarcastic I know? or at least tied with Alexis! – and has no problem chatting about random stuff like music and job envy and so on.  I should have found time to look her up in Madison, WI when I visited but did not 😛 so I will be planning another trip there sooner rather than later!

It’s always awesome when you find an excellent friend, and through them other excellent friends.  It’s like the system is working properly!

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Essential Qualities

My sister and I were discussing the game Carcassone, and I mentioned that I thought the interesting (kind of unique) quality of that game was its spatialness. By this I mean that the positions of the tiles that generate the board are mechanically relevant (they form regions that score points, for example). I compared it to Jenga, another game where the physical positions are the mechanics.

Debbie did not see it that way. To her, those two games are very different because the introduction of variance occurs in two very different places – Carcassone has it when you draw out pieces, but Jenga always starts the same way and the random elements come from the player vs. player interaction.

The conversation got me thinking about how a game designer can identify the essential quality of a game – especially when a game is many things to many audiences.  When we talk about theme, and how – in the words of Art of Game Design – all things serve theme, it assumes a unary theme, one thing that binds the experience together.  But mechanically, there’s not always one aspect to a game that is most memorable.  Maybe the key lies in streamlining mechanics, or even choosing a mechanical theme that corresponds to overall theme.  Alternately, one game can potentially be very different to a wide range of players (Werewolf/Mafia is one such game, Apples to Apples another).

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