Week 700

What’s this? I’m blogging about my work on a weekly basis – a simple way to track and archive whatever it is I spend my time on.

Last week was the 700th week of my independent working life. That’s actually not 100% accurate: I registered at the Chamber of Commerce in Leiden sometime during 1999, and because I’d been working on the stuff I was going to make my business for much longer, we decided to put the registration date at January 1st. So it’s a ballpark figure. Still: 700 weeks! Isn’t that amazing? Time flies, etcetera.

For those not intimately familiar with my working history, I started the Dutch games website GameSen.nl in September 1999, which was one month before Gamer.nl. So I was first, but they still exist. In those early days I also bought a ton of music CD’s on my company account, and told the Tax Administration I’d start a music site at some point, which of course I never did.

So what did I do to celebrate this grand milestone? Well, I translated some Nintendo product sheets, I set up some new indie interviews for the Dutch Official PlayStation Magazine, I updated my administration. On Tuesday I even went to the dentist, who drilled and filled three cavities. Yes, I truly am an expert at celebrating special occasions.

Also on Tuesday, I got acquainted with some folks over at VARA, who will be broadcasting a tv-show with alternate reality game elements starting in September.

On Wednesday, I met with the editor-in-chief of Gamer.nl, Gerard van Nieuwenhuijzen, for the first time. We both wore Nintendo-related T-shirts.

After that, I evaluated the Bashers Gameclub with Rik Nieuwdorp (of Claynote) and Martijn Frazer (of Martijn Frazer), who did the audio engineering, music and production of our show.

On Friday, I finished my article about Czech adventure game Botanicula at long last, based on the interviews I did quite some weeks ago. I delivered it to nrc.next together with a review by Alper Çuğun. It was in the paper today.

That afternoon, I met with Dimitri Tokmetzis, editor-in-chief of Sargasso.nl. Tokmetzis and his colleagues have managed to turn a niche blog into a business, so this was a very educational meeting for me.

Afterwards, I attended the semi-public evaluation of Gamefonds, the Dutch subsidy programme for game projects with ‘added artistic value’. I wrote about the programma two years ago.

That night I visited Exposure 2012, the exposition of this year’s graduation projects of Design for Virtual Theater and Games (DTVG) students. DVTG is the more autonomous game development course at the Utrecht School of the Arts, and projects ranged wildly, from a Discworld based tabletop RPG in which you play god, to a skydiving game controlled with your entire body, as you’re lying belly-down on a pivoting platform.

Then, on Saturday I left for Brummen, for a short holiday in the house of my parents-in-law (who are on holiday in France themselves).

Last week I also read two books and saw a film.

The first book was The Dip by Seth Godin, as recommended to me the previous week by Oscar Kneppers. I’m not fond of Godin: his writing is often so generalistic, it can mean almost anything to anyone. Of course, The Dip contains some useful metaphors, and reading a book like this forces you to take the time to reframe your own particular problems and see them in a new light, which is always valuable. Still, I prefer my self-help/management style books a little more specific.

The second book was Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success by Ken Segall. I could probably read about Apple for a year and still not get bored, so I enjoyed this, despite my criticisms.

Working for Apple’s marketing agency, Segall had regular dealings with Steve Jobs. Even though the book is presented as ‘X lessons about simplicity’, it’s really about Segall sharing his Jobs anecdotes. The theoretical framework is light and, to be honest, quite weak – I hate how it personifies ‘simplicity’ and ‘complexity’. To make matters worse, some of the anecdotes are really not very good, such as the one in which Segall describes Jobs pitching a free, ad-powered version of Mac OS 9, then deciding to scrap it. Illustrating… what exactly?

Finally, I saw Moonrise Kingdom, which was excellent.