Category: Articles

May 8th, 2017
Blog Entry

I’m not that creative – but that can change

Until recently I considered myself a creative person: writing, drawing, and making music were all things I was interested in doing. But then a few things happened to make me less sure.

Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but I always thought of creativity as a recurring strong desire to express yourself in creative ways. I considered the things I do often – work, games, chores – as distractions preventing me from being creative, which I saw as one of my major identifiers. But take those distractions away and I’m not actually creating more.

This has been a bit of a revelation to me, to be honest. A lot of my identity is tied up in that word “creative”, so if I’m not that, what else am I? It’s like when I told a friend that I like RPGs, then thought about it a bit longer and realised that the last proper RPG I played – with turns-based battles and all that – was probably The World Ends With You about 8 years ago. Before that it was Skies of Arcadia. Not such a big RPG fan after all.

But while I can admit I actually don’t like RPGs that much, it doesn’t mean I’m not playing as many games as I’d like – it just means I’m playing other kinds of games. But there isn’t that balance with creativity: I’m not avoiding writing because I’m producing so much music. I’m just not doing much of either.

That might be unfair, though: when I look at my output this year, I have written more music than I have for the last ten years, and it’s even music that I actually quite like as well. I’m on a decent blogging kick too, and there’s still the usual threat of wanting to write something fictional. Plus a big creative project keeps popping up and threatening to be accomplished.

Reading Scott Belsky’s book, Making Ideas Happen, I realised that “I’m not creative” actually means “I’m not that productive”. I used to think the two were opposites – creativity is play, while productivity is work – but Belsky equates it differently:

Creativity x organisation = impact

My aim for the coming years is to work more on that middle part – the engine room of execution – to help bring my creative ideas to life. I’ll be documenting some of them here on this blog, and I hope you’ll stick around to read about them.

September 15th, 2015
Blog Entry

What running has taught me

For Christmas 2012, Hannah bought me a GPS watch. It’s one of the best presents I’ve ever received, as I’ve told her about a thousand times since.

I didn’t run much in 2013; I got to 10km once, thought that was good enough, and stopped. In 2014, though, I did a lot better, completing about 600km over the course of the year. In total I think it was about 70 hours of running (yep, I am very slow) which gave me plenty of time to think. I haven’t run at all this year because of injury, but I still wanted to post this. Here’s what I’ve learnt from putting one foot in front of the other.


February 2nd, 2014
Blog Entry

Celebrating 10 years of

On 13th February 2014, celebrated its 10th anniversary. What started as a dark blue site to host my music became a place of experimental blogging, then truly a “collected writings” as it evolved to capture everything I ever wrote at Nintendo Life, and later its sister sites.

Primarily for my own interest, here’s an evolution of over the last decade.

The first archive: 17th February, 2004

OK, so I had the domain from 13th February, but the site didn’t go live until a bit later. The text was a reference to that Grolsch advert, but we changed “beer” to “website”, setting a high standard of linguistic creativity that the site continually fell below.

Prosody version 0.1: 9th May 2004

This very, very blue site had everything a musician nobody had heard of could need: a guestbook, forum, biography, that sort of stuff. I think at one point the forum had around 20 members, so you can tell how big things were getting.

In January 2006 (I forgot exactly when, and Web Archive did too), I started writing at It used Pivot and had a really nice rainy blue theme with a fountain pen, if I recall.

This was the first time I felt excited about writing online.

The first “Collected Writings”: 4th June 2006

(Note: this link is actually to November 2006, just because it’s the first archive of this page that looks right)

I changed from Pivot to WordPress in June 2006, and launched the first proper “Collected Writings”. This was the first design I really loved – the top banner changed every month, and I did banners for special occasions, like this one for Tails’ 14th birthday.

This version of the blog was home to a lot of ideas, as I basically did anything I wanted. I wasn’t studying or working full-time, so I had time to write diaries for my Harvest Moon farmer; virtually cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats using an exercise bike, Microsoft Virtual Earth and Wikipedia; do podcasts, and that sort of thing. Truly it was a golden age.

What this site means to me has changed enormously over the years. What started out as a promotional site for my ill-fated musical endeavour turned into a place I could try any idea I wanted. I created a Blog Carnival, podcasted, wrote match reports for Pro Evo 4, and loads more. It helped me develop my writing style and create a portfolio – there are over 1.25 million words here, spread across more than 7,200 published posts – and have a huge amount of fun in the process.

Since moving to Germany for work, I haven’t shown this site any attention. I’d like to change that in 2014.

Happy anniversary, URL. Thanks for everything.

August 17th, 2010
Blog Entry

Learning about my character


Normally in a game everything’s mapped out for you along the way, and you learn about the character that someone else created. Not so in Fable II, which has given me the only example I can remember of learning about a character that I created.


September 18th, 2008
Blog Entry

The collection is complete!

It’s taken fifteen years and hundreds of pounds, but my dream console collection is now complete*! Yes, what started with my beloved 8-bit Master System has reached its fruition with my final purchase, a beautiful 8-bit Game Gear. Funny how things work out, sometimes!

Of course, I’ve been missing a Game Gear for years, so why did I choose to buy one now? Good question. Truth be told, the idea hadn’t even crossed my mind until a few weeks ago, but if there’s one thing to be said about collecting consoles it’s this: it’s really very addictive.IMG_0101-small

Around two months ago a chap came up to the counter and asked if he could trade in some retro consoles. With 99% of customers this translates as “buy my PS1/N64”, so I wasn’t all that excited. That is until he mentioned my favourite four-letter word, and began to produce black console after beautiful black console from his bag.

On any normal day the appearances of a pristine Sega Saturn (Mark One, incidentally) and Mega Drive II would be cause for concern, but I was much more interested in what was attached to the Mega Drive unit. Only a bloomin’ Mega CD 2! It’s always been something of a boyhood dream to own a Mega CD (along with anything else bearing the Sega logo), but I’d never seen one in the wild. And here I was, holding one in my hand!

Just when I thought I couldn’t be any more excited, he played his stunning trump card – a 32X console! It’s a good job there’s no such thing as a lethal Sega overdose. Although there was only one game with it – Doom of all titles! – I was so thrilled I didn’t really mind. In all my years of visiting game shops I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much Sega goodness in one place.

Welcome to the Family, People!

I even bought the Mega Drive II, mine being packed away in the loft somewhere. It goes without saying I paid a reasonable price – there’s no such thing as overpriced when it comes to classic Sega consoles and games!

Since then I’ve only bought one game for my new systems, the completely stunning Sonic CD. Sadly the first copy I bought was lacking a manual and froze when playing he opening movie, but my new copy is in stunning condition and the absolute apple of my eye at the moment. I feel bad that my first copy has since been destroyed – for a Sonic fan, it’s hard to reconcile being responsible for there being one less copy of Sonic CD in the world – but there was no way I would settle for second best in this regard. I’m going to own Sonic CD for the rest of my life!

Shortly after completing Sonic CD, I realised I was only one game away from a complete home Sega console Sonic collection – Sonic Shuffle on Dreamcast. I’m not duplicating titles – I have Sonic Spinball on Mega Drive and Sonic 3D on Saturn  – so Shuffle is the only original title I’m missing. I wonder what my next purchase might be…

This got me thinking about other Sega-shaped holes in my life, and by far the biggest was my lack of a Game Gear. Yes, I knew all about their sub-PSP battery life, blurry screen and wasp-in-a-bottle sound, but love is blind (and deaf). Just the other day a package of pure beauty arrived at work, containing a Game Gear, mains adaptor and around a dozen games, including Sonic, Sonic 2, Sonic Chaos and Shinobi II.

For all the joy this collection is bringing me, it feels very strange to contemplate my last Sega console purchase, but I made a promise and I fully intend to keep it. There will be no Multi-Mega, Nomad or Mark III in my future collection, but I have included a (secret) clause that will allow me to buy up to twenty thousand Dreamcast 2s.

I also no longer own any Sony consoles, having traded in my PSP to afford a DS Lite in time for Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood next week, which is shaping up to be awesome. I feel at least 90% purer than I did three weeks ago.

If you just skim-read this article, here it is in picture form:sweet6-small

* I say complete, but what I really mean is “I’d better stop now before Hannah kills me”.

Complete Archives