Gaming for Motivation and Creative Inspiration

Computer Games For Creative Motivation

Classic gaming can make for some great motiviation for creating user expoerinces.

Computer games are an amazingly creative medium. As well as being wonderful way to relax the mind after focusing on writing code all week, games combine music, art, graphic design, storytelling and theater to create a rich experience and a virtual environment that I believe can be very positive.

I’m having a bit of a flashback to childhood right now as I was exiled from the land of video games just after leaving school as I managed to damage my nerves due to too much keyboard based gaming and writing code with a poor physical posture.

During my career in IT, web and software development and the long keyboard hours involved I have had to stay out of the gaming world until very recently as keyboard time had to prioritize work only.

I’m now in a position to have a slightly more balanced lifestyle and have been picking up some classic games from the past decade or so as a way of switching out of “work mode”. I’m sticking to controller based games though as RSI through keyboard abuse is just not worth it.

The environments that games create provide a mental space that are often all about improving problem solving skills and thinking differently to progress through a story.

Early games gave me the inspiration to pick up the ZX Spectrum BASIC manual and work through all the examples until I could make very simple games out of text characters.

There is something about being able to build a user experience like this that is hugely satisfying.

The reward of creating a fun user experience can be a motivator for building a website or any kind of software that has a user interface of some kind or the ability to delight through the results it provides.

These days technology has come a long way and we are now entering the world of virtual and augmented reality experiences which I believe is soon to be internet based and shared through projects like High Fidelity.

This just makes me more excited to build and create more experiences in whatever small way I can.

Whether your creative project is art, photography, music, an app or a business, I encourage you to stay connected to whatever it is that makes you excited.

Seek out inspiration whether it comes from memories of past experiences, virtual world or the events and possibilities of life right now

Excitement means motivation and drive and there is little that is more important in making your project a success.

Bootstrapping Is Like Riding A Bike

Black Isle Cycle Route

Today after finishing work for the day I got on my Muddy Fox hybrid bike and took a 15 mile ride around the roads, farm and forestry tracks around the local area.

I consider myself lucky to be able to do this. I’m part of this wonderful new world of remote working and distributed teams that the Internet makes possible.

It’s counter-intuitive but the freedom to set your own schedule often means spending way too much time at the keyboard and not enough time getting outside or getting active.

These days I am making an effort to make fun physical activities (for me it’s cycling and swimming) a high business priority because I want to operate at peak performance to produce the highest quality code, databases and web based software I can for my clients.

Cycling clears my mind and I find I make more creative connections. I’m currently training for a cycle marathon and while I sped and bounced along the country paths it occurred to me that there are parallels and similarities between these two activities that I enjoy – cycling and building my business.

Here are six reasons why bootstrapping a business is like riding a bike:

1) It takes time and effort to build up momentum

When you first get going you start in a lower gear and move up each gear as you pick up speed and gain momentum. It’s the same with a business – start with smaller projects or offers until you hit maximum speed at that level, then you can use the momentum you have built up (this could be knowledge or money) to change to a higher gear and move your business forwards faster.

2) There is always a new direction to explore

When biking there are endless directions to choose from. You could go with the main road, go off the beaten track or totally off road it.

When you have a business you can always refine and improve your service, products or pivot in an entirely new direction. You can serve an existing market or create a new one. The possibilities are limitless.

3) You can travel great distances under your own power

You don’t need funding or a bank loan to start a business now. Bootstrapping your business is getting easier with the proliferation of free online tools, software, services and marketplaces you can tap into to find clients, manage your business or build your product.

4) You sometimes get a face full of bugs

This one is for the software developers! Things don’t always go to plan. You may spend a lot of time fixing bugs in the first version of your product. Your business systems may have some holes to begin with. It’s just part of the process you have to deal with.

5) The more you do the more you can do

When out riding the bike this is kind of a mantra for me. I’m going a little further each time and leveling up my stamina allowing me to go on longer or harder journeys in the future. The more customers or clients you serve the more you learn, the better your skills become, the more refined your product becomes the more valuable it will be to your customers and the further it will take you.

6) It’s all about the journey

When out riding the bike this is kind of a mantra for me. I’m going a little further each time and leveling up my stamina allowing me to go on longer or harder journeys in the future. The more customers or clients you serve the more you learn, the better your skills become, the more refined your product becomes the more valuable it will be to your customers and the further it will take you.

It can take all of your time and energy to get a new business up and running. If you are in it for the long haul you have to enjoy the work for it’s own sake, not just for the end goal – whether that be money, autonomy or something else.

I love solving problems with code and creating something from nothing in this digital medium. If you love your craft before starting a business you can enjoy your journey too.

I am currently training for the Highland Hospice Black Isle Cycle Challenge and will be doing a 26 mile on and off road cycle challenge. If you would like to help to provide care for the terminally ill in the Highlands of Scotland then please visit this link to sponsor me.

To find out more about the challenge please visit the Highland Hospice Black Isle Cycle Challenge event page.

Scotland and Your Independent Creative Powers

Loch NessI’m writing this on the morning the Scottish independence referendum have been announced.

It has been a roller-coaster with a very close result and a record turn out.

I voted yes because I believe in empowering people to make positive changes in their own lives and communities and to be able to have a fair say in the resources allocated to help them do so.

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A New Year Of Creativity Is Yours

Strathpeffer Woods

Strathpeffer Woods courtesy of MacPherson Landscape Photograpy

A million roads of exciting possibility stretch out ahead of us. This is always true but some experiences – like sharing your stories at the beginning of a new year with the people you love – makes it all the more real.

To kick of this new year I am helping my talented photographer girlfriend with a 31 day photography challenge. Every day in January Mo will be posting at least one new photograph on MacPherson Landscape Photography each day.

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Is Your Work Important?

Sometimes you really have to take a good look at how you are spending your life and decide if you are doing what is important to you.

I’ve just watched Adam Baker’s amazing documentary “I’m Fine Thanks” which captures the stories of many people who while following the traditional path through life of corporate jobs, mortgages and 2.5 children found that something just didn’t feel right. I highly recommend watching it here.

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Learn from Everything

ZX Spectrum +2A (The A meant it was black..)

ZX Spectrum +2A (The A meant it was black..)

One of the best things about working for myself is how much I learn constantly.

As a web developer I’m already working in a field which is changing rapidly as Internet technologies evolve.

  • New techniques for building websites are invented every day
  • New phones and tablets with ever-better capabilities are released constantly
  • New programming languages and Frameworks are constantly being developed
  • Web browsers are constantly being updated with new features added

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Inspired Internet: TED Talks

I have been fascinated by the development of the World Wide Web and Internet in general ever since I first heard of the concept. After studing Internet Technologies and being immersed in the web for many years I still find myself delighted at the amazing uses to which we have put this global communications system.

One of the websites which never fails to impress and inspire me is the TED website.

“TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader.”

So begins the very understated About page on the TED website. The TED conference also features many of the worlds greatest minds sharing ideas about science, environmental issues, anthropology, music, art, society and so much more.

The common theme among all these talks is making the world a better place and overcoming the huge environmental and social problems we now face. What is particularly inspiring is the fact that all these short talks are available to stream for free on the TED website with a new talk added every day. Watch a few clips and you will hear about the latest research on how we can keep the global ecosystem in balance, see a prototype for a new computer interface powered by brainwaves or find out about a project to prevent cancer through food. Speakers include everyone from Benot Mandelbrot and Bill Gates to LA Philharmonic Orchestra violinist Robert Gupta, nuclear physicist Steven Cowley, musician David Byrne and hundreds more.

The TED conference and talks have sparked a huge wave of interest, collaboration and progress in tackling some of humanity’s toughest problems and celebrating our greatest achievements,

If ever there was an example of how to use the Internet to make a difference, this it is. I would encouage everyone to take a look.

The most recent talk at the time of writing is unusually by the curator and host of TED, Chris Anderson and is about the impact of web video and the future of TED and their plan to involve more interaction and two way communication with the global audience.

You can find the latest eposode here, and the main website is at

The most exciting thing is that you don’t have to be one of the world’s top thinkers to run a website like TED. The web is an open platform that everone can use. The next world changing idea could be yours.