To all my gamers and the people who love (or tolerate) them

"It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." - Sir Edmund Hillary

This is an ode to gaming, change and coaching.

Recently, my involvement with the (video) gaming community has turned to academic interest in its themes, the mechanics and economics, or how long I can hold the living room ransom while the Kinect is on. Gone are the years when weeks of my life were laid at the temples of Final Fantasy or becoming a 1st Dan in the cluster of Mishima-hosted tournaments.

Every subculture is unique, and gamers, however much they’d like to deny it, are no exception: they have their own nomenclature, rites, habits, stereotypes and – sadly enough – social structure (which you can either choose to abide or disregard entirely). There are good and bad aspects, like every shade of humanity, but these are the parts of which I’m most fond.

Gamers know what it’s like losing weeks of your life to a story so engrossing you had to play it over to perfection, unlock all alternate endings and Easter eggs, and then a part of you expired from bliss when you saw the characters you so loved, hale and whole, realised through cosplay at the next convention.

Gamers know what it’s like forgetting to eat or being afflicted with dry-eyed dehydration headaches, your hand cramped around your mouse or console controller. And some gamers have enjoyed that wide-eyed disbelief when applying these skills in the real world to slay the clay shooting competition (you know who you are).

We commiserate over perfect team configurations torn to shreds; we bond over that guardian we had to challenge nine times before victory; the opening frames of that new world that blew us away; or that one theme song that still makes us cry in our feeling place more than a decade on. We dance with the Kinect, we shred like Heroes, we sing like stars, we crush your candy; God forbid, we even explore with Dora. We are everywhere.

But whether it’s in front of a television, a wooden board, a tabletop, smartphone or interactive billboard: games are about having fun and making shared memories with people you love.

Shortly after I came to NZ, I decided a bit of external accountability couldn’t hurt with my future planning, so I jumped when one of my mates, Jarrod, offered to take me on as a client.

His organisation, Heroic Coaching and Consulting (described a bit later), provides trade mark consultancy services, creativity coaching and workshops, personal coaching, and business coaching and workshops.

Most importantly to me, Jarrod is a gamer and former public servant who’s preserved the best lessons of his time with the Government. When Jarrod took me on, it was as my personal coach.

Simply put, a personal coach helps you get from where you are to where you want to go, wherever and whatever that may be. Once there, coaching also helps people who want to maintain their performance and benefit from the support, motivation from and constructive input of an outsider.

It's not that different from sound-boarding with your mates when you want to make a change in your life. The difference is that a coach is trained with tools and techniques to keep you moving, directed and accountable to the goals you set for yourself.

He’s based in Canberra, welcoming new clients with a particular focus on (but not exclusive to) gamers, nerds and geeks; and I can’t recommend him enough.

Jarrod models the business philosophy on two strong beliefs we learn from the hero’s journey in every story: that you can be your own hero, and that you can make fantasy a reality.

He does this by virtue of being that welcome intersection of educated geek, nerd, grounded and proud. I treasure people who love what they love and make no apologies for it because their enthusiasm is infectious.

He doesn’t hire people across the Tasman to follow me around blowing a whistle or bark into my ear, he doesn’t even post snapshots of conquerable mountains or runners in mid-lunge to their next motivational meet-up (okay, I do that myself, but I get high on that shit).

He helped me define my goals. He helped me work out a plan to get started. He helped me define measures to track my progress. He guides our conversations through the paralysing miasma of “All the things, all the time, which one first ermahgerd” to “Here. Let’s start here, and see those stones ahead of you in the swamp? Which one? We’re going there next.” Stepping stones, a terrible analogy, but we’re all works in progress.

Much like counselling, personal fitness and the sixty degree uphill ascent of the hero’s journey, you only get out what you put in. Change is confronting, it can be uncomfortable, but it can also be hella exciting. It has been said that change is the only constant in the universe. So, you can either let yourself be dragged (very uncomfortable, so much gravel burn), react when it happens (quite disgruntling; did they warn you about this?), or you can choose to plan ahead for change and cut through the incoming tide (it’ll come in either way). And a little help goes a long way.

I’m not sure if it could be this way for everyone, but it’s easier for me to share my hot air balloon plans for the horizon with someone who bears a love of things a little left of center. I’m almost halfway through my year off, but thanks in big part to Jarrod’s coaching, I’m making progress.

So, if you’re curious or you can think of someone who’s been looking for one of the services mentioned above, I strongly recommend reading the brief on the organisation linked below and dropping Jarrod a line, no obligations. If nothing else, challenge his pop culture knowledge for a laugh, he's an awesome dude (much thanks to Nickn for introducing us).

Heroic Coaching & Consulting