It’s always saddening to see the old hobbies gradually slip away; I can hardly remember the last time I wrote something in a roleplay, or hosted the bulletin-board variant of a werewolf game, or spent hours working on an art piece. Looking back, they are my most treasured memories, and also the most invaluable experiences I could possibly ask for.
Four years ago, I was asked to prepare for a TOEFL ibt examination. Soon enough, I realized what I had been taught at school and language centers would not bring any satisfactory results. I self-studied; this is a luxury word; and took on various interests that have the four core skills as preconditions. There, I followed Discovery channel for listening, I wrote two guides on playdota.com for writing, and I read Wikipedia for reading.
In the end, it had not been casual enough for me to dismiss the invasive hindrance of studying in these hobbies. I merely did not have the right mindset for the trick. And then, chances had it that I came across forum-based roleplaying.
This singular activity requires a great deal of reading, writing, research and communication. I had to read other people’s writings, I picked up a lot of new vocabulary and writing styles from the others. I also had to bring myself to read more Wikipedia articles, but this time, I was not reading for the sake of reading, I was reading for the sake of the game. Similarly, I had to write a lot more, and I had to write with a deadline in mind as the longer it took to finish my turn, the more likely my partners would drop due to the loss of interest.
It was a collaborative process and it was very personal, I knew someone would read my writing and write something based on it.
Some time later, I took interest in graphic design. It began with the desire to “spice up” my character sheets in the roleplays, then it became a useful hobby that complemented my other skills well as the know-how in photography, in color blending and proportionality are applicable to many seemingly unrelated fields.
As for the werewolf games, the games I designed were very mechanic-intensive with emphasis on balance. Pride of a writer did not allow me to go easy on the story and I often spent two hours on a game’s day report. Had it not been for the spreadsheet and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), I would have given in to the time pressure of a 40+ player game with 3x A4 pages of game mechanics and novel-worthy material for a backstory.
People actually followed through and loved those games.
Oh the good ‘ol time!
In a nutshell, I learned more about HTML markups from creating forum templates, project-time-and-human management from hosting games, database accounting with VBA and Excel, game design, graphic design, theatrical story telling rules, Medieval history, Nordic lore, Greek mythology, World War II, weapon facts, Meteorology, Physics, Chemistry, etc. and etc. from hobbies than from any teacher. Best of all, as these know-how are spawned from needs, and are put into practice right away, they come easily and tend to stay in mind longer as is the case of learning how to swim.
Those are ancient history. Time moved on, life moved on and I moved on:
Like seasons, they come one morning, knocking on the door, and with them is an irresistible charm, begging to let them into my life. I let them in. They become a part of the juggling routine, they leave their mark, and at some points, before I know it, they also become the world to me.
Then one afternoon, they depart, vanishing in the last falling leaves of autumn, the first snowflakes of winter. Until next year when they come again, the new arrivals take their place.
At the moment, I’m an active administrator for Kantai Collection English Wikia and I have just turned in my second major article revamp earlier. I’m also a hobbyist in both engineering and programming. Barring the implication of terrorist-wannabe building IEDs after reading this blog, I would cover the details of a simple project to activate a pump via mobile carrier network in a blog post if not for the fact that it failed and I have to spend time redoing it next month.
Luckily, the programming side has been progressing well and I might be able to cover part where I implement a runtime XAML/C# loader from XML files in a soon-to-come blog post; again if things don’t just die on me this weekend. Which reminded me that I need to swap the base on my github project now that developments on the main branch has ceased.
Rambling asides, I must also be the worst blogger you can think of: one post in a whole month! And here I thought it would be fun to blog an anime review every week. Meanwhile, the inner novelist is still hitting that block, guess I’ll wait until NaNoWriMo season to get into the writing mood.
Oh, I’m procrastinating again…