Friday, May 20, 2011

An Open Letter To Author and Game Designer Jane McGonigal

Dear Dr. McGonigal,

Hi there! My name is Matt Shafeek. I'm a writer, performer and gamer from New York City. I started this blog 3 years ago when I decided to give up my lifelong habit of playing video games for one full year as a personal challenge (there was a contract signing and everything). It was quite an experience - I wrote more, I started cooking regularly, and I ran the NYC Half Marathon, amongst other things (you can read more about it in my FAQ if you're interested). It was a great year. But after it was over, there was no doubt in my mind that I still wanted to play video games. I loved them too much to give them up forever. Ever since that time I've thought a lot about what continues to draw me to games even though logically I clearly could be doing a lot more "productive" things with my time, like learning how to sew, or open up a savings account.

This is you! (In case you've forgotten, in which case don't panic the next time you look in the mirror!)
I first heard your name when a friend forwarded me your interview on the Colbert Report. I saw the interview, and was intrigued. But I was convinced buying your book would be somehow masturbatory - not because you're super hot (you are) and I really can't control myself (I can't), but because then I'd just have a book I could show off to all my friends that justified my addictive habits.

Then I missed your keynote speech while I was at PAX East this year, because, well, you weren't Wil Wheaton. But then I finally took a look at your book at the merch stand while I was there, and I decided it would be a more valuable purchase than another t-shirt with the Fruit Fucker on it.

Seriously, I can't get enough of this guy.
Reality is Broken was, for me, the equivalent of Einstein uncovering the theory of relativity, only way more personal. I shouldn't say that. For all I know, Einstein's discovery was deeply personal, and it totally made his year, saved his marriage, and maybe sex was better for him afterward. Who knows. The point is - you finally made all the pieces in my head make sense. You put into words what I've been trying to say for years using my very limited vocabulary.

It wasn't anything like the apologist manifesto I assumed it was going to be. You thoroughly explained why we all love games, and what draws us to them. Why we experience such thrilling highs and get them by seeking out 'unnecessary challenges' and 'hard fun' was incredibly insightful. "Fiero" [for any non-Jane McGonigal readers, it's the euphoria we feel after triumphing over adversity, something we are capable of doing over and over again in our games] is honestly a word I've been searching for my whole life.

Then you go on to posit what we as a society can do with that love to better improve our lives in the real world (right after we max out all our levels, open every last treasure chest, and beat the final boss in all our games, of course). And it's not just some empty theory - you back it up with tons of projects, many of which you started yourself, that show gamers in action, working towards a common goal of making a difference in the real-world. Really amazing stuff.

This is me! (Full disclosure: I'm not actually six feet tall. I am however, brilliant with photoshop)
Let me stop summarizing your own book to you and get to the point of this letter: I've been inspired by your writing, and your work and I would very much love to work for you and/or your organization in some capacity. That's right - you just fell for the classic "flattering blog post into resume drop trap." Don't worry - it happens to the best of us. But don't stop reading now, because there's definitely something of vital, earth-shattering importance to you coming up really soon.

While my game-creating skills are still in their infancy (technically I've made zero so far, but it is on my bucket list), I do have many other talents. I've written and performed in a one-man video game-themed show. I've been an improviser for the past 9 years or so. I also perform with a group called Improv Everywhere who did something at the New York Public Library, where your upcoming game is being held. I've also done quite a bit of writing on this blog. On the business-y side of things, I've managed offices, assisted an executive or two, and I even ran my own small business for a while. Finally, I belong to not one, but two different board game groups, who will totally attest to how much fun/beer I'm known to bring to the table.

What is there not to both love and hire here?

Jane McGonigal, the world needs people like you. And the world also needs people like me who are able to assist people like you in realizing their vision. After all, what are you even doing reading this right now? You have so many more important things you should be doing instead! If I was working for you, I would totally have screened this nonsense and flagged it as: "distracting - disregard."

So, in closing:

1) Thank you for writing such a fantastic book.
2) I'm Matt Shafeek, I think I'm pretty great, and hopefully by now you do too.
3) If there is ever an opening within your organization, I would love to be considered for it.
(I'm leaving this section bit-free to ensure there is no confusion about my very real intentions)

Have a terrific, stupendous, gamified day.

Matt Shafeek (matt dot shafeek at gmail dot com)
McGonigite 4 Life

PS: If you haven't played Portal 2 yet, you totally have to.

PPS: Super bummed I discovered Find The Future too late to participate in its inaugural launch. But I hope to participate in whatever the second iteration looks like.

PPPS: You know you have both a Ben Folds and a Barenaked Ladies song named after you? Both songs are great, you should totally check them out them if you haven't heard them before.

1 comment:

Googs said...

This post is amazing, but even moreso because of that t-shirt logo. I need links to the Fruit F**ker t-shirts! I will buy them all! If they don't exist yet, I will start a t-shirt company and start cranking them out!