I bought a videogame to get a job.
Ouch! I just got smacked upside my head by my wife.
I’m in kind of a tight position these days. I lost my job over a year ago and I’ve spent all of my money creating a graphic novel, writing a screenplay, starting a company, and oh yeah, bills. So spending money on a videogame isn’t winning me any points at home.
But I need it.
A few weeks back, I’m sitting in an Italian restaurant by myself, wallowing in self-consciousness. I’m waiting to meet a friend of a friend. The place is dimly lit, the wine is $15 a glass, and waiters pull stainless steel crumbers out of crisp aprons to clear the tables. He’s already an hour late, and I’m getting antsy. But he’s pretty high up at a videogame company I want to write for and I’ve got mouths to feed and dreams to chase.
A man in a black coat walks in. It’s him. Okay, game time.
Growing up, my friends and I drew videogames on paper, so I’ve been prepping for this meeting my whole life. I maintain my composure as I gush about that childhood pleasure and explain how I can turn a videogame into a cartoon series, reality show, game show, comic book series, even a movie franchise. I’m talking Harry Potter, X-Men, DC Comics, Transformers — that level of content — for any story.
I’m looking at him, trying to gauge his reaction to all my ideas. Is he buying this? Maybe he loves it? Will he hire me on the spot?
No. Instead, he suggests that I play their game, Overwatch.
Between Jax, Cole, and Balrog, black videogame characters are typically muscle-bound meatheads.
So the next day I cash in some old Xbox One credits and try it out. Between Jax (Mortal Kombat), Cole (Gears of War), and Balrog (Street Fighter), black videogame characters are typically muscle-bound meatheads. I’m always curious to see the latest iteration, so I immediately give Lucio a try. I’m pleased that they went a different way by creating a short, quick, beat-blastin’ hockey player. But once I figure out what his skills are, my jaw drops.
Lucio shoots sound waves at his enemies, boosts his teammates’ speed with dubstep, and heals them with ambient bass.
He’s everything I aspire to be. Sort of…
Let me explain. Months before I started playing Overwatch, I discovered something called binaural beats, which are a type of music therapy. Long story short, binaural beats put you in any state of mind you want to be in any time you want. They massage the parts of the brain that you want to turn on. There’s even research saying they have the potential to heal people. Music therapy has been used to treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, even autism.
I want to believe.
I want to believe.
I started self-medicating with binaural beats. I remember actually feeling so mellow at work that I didn’t mind being there. It was like a vacation at my desk. And though I felt like I was on cloud nine, I was actually getting work done. I finished tasks so quickly that I started doing other things. I wrote a few screenplays, self-published a novel, took classes on writing for videogames and a course on financial markets.
I keep playing Overwatch, getting better with Lucio. Still waiting to hear from the videogame exec I met with. I adapt my binaural beat app design. There are a few out there, but they’re not broadcasting their potential. I’ll help them. Gotta get the best developer so I don’t get laughed out the app store…
I’m sweating over the forge with all the irons I have in the fire. I pound every one of them every day, but I’m dying of thirst in a financial drought and it’s hard to explain to my wife that me playing this game is me pursuing a business strategy. I’m coming up with backstories and mythologies for all the characters in the game in case I get a callback from the friend of a friend and they need me to pitch the 360 experience. The more I play with Lucio, the clearer my purpose is…
When I Crossfade (Lucio’s skill) to boost the speed of my teammates, I think about how binaural beats can stimulate the parts of the brain that get you motivated to exercise and direct your focus. When I Crossfade to heal, I think about people using my app to recover from jet lag or increase the rate of recovery from working out.
It’s really coming down to the wire. My bank account is about to hit all zeros. Feeling like a freeloader is weighing heavily on my soul.
Then it happens. I get an email from the videogame exec I met at the Italian restaurant. He introduces me to the creative side of the company; it’s a huge opportunity. They want to talk to me about writing for their games, potentially about creating backstory and narratives that will expand their games’ universes.
I’m telling ya, it’s like climbing a barbed-wire fence knowing you won’t get cut.
This could really be happening. I’ve known all along I deserved this opportunity, but now it’s so real. There’s proof. I’m telling ya, it’s like climbing a barbed-wire fence knowing you won’t get cut. I’m pushing my mind the way I used to push my body. No money, no job, all dreams and responsibilities. It ain’t rock bottom, but my back’s against the wall. I’ve only got one direction to fall. Forward. This might have started one crazy night with my two best friends (wife and best man), but now binaural beats are taking me to those gardens of pure bliss you read about in the myths.
I’ve got to remember I don’t have the job yet, not to get ahead of myself. But it’s hard to contain this victorious feeling. The power I get from binaural beats, the high I got from the email — it’s all building up.
There’s a storm brewing in me. I see it brewing in everyone I meet.
There’s a storm brewing in me. I see it brewing in everyone I meet. There’s so much potential in all that energy. I hope to guide it positively. My heart and soul are moving full speed with everything riding on a dream that feels too real to go unseen. My kids are my motivation. My wife, my foundation. I’ll leave the villain tazin’ and wall blazin’ in the game with Lucio.
Will I bring to you life-boostin’ healing tones or stories on the big screen or games from the studio? Soon we’ll know.
Yes, sometimes I get carried away. My life is episodic, a little dramatic. That’s my M.O. I’m B.E. Howard… and I tell stories.
(Virtual mic drop)