An incomplete puzzle

Someone asked me the other day, “What about your other half?”

What a weird phrase. “My other half,” as though I am an incomplete person without my wife. Was I just a partial human for the first 21 years of my life, until we started dating? When she’s at roller derby practice, or on a trip in another city, am I back to being unwhole?

If she’s so important to completing me, how did she end up with this Spencer-material I’m apparently missing? Did she inherit it at birth from her parents? Was it specifically tuned for 21-year-old Spencer, or did it mature and grow as I did?

Did I get auto-Horcruxed?

If people can have other halves, could some people have other thirds? Other quarters? Do you become less yourself the more people you love? Are asexuals and aromantics intrinsically more whole than the rest of us? Can the majority shareholders in Spencer outvote me?

Okay, I didn’t just land on this planet yesterday; obviously, I know it’s just an idiom. But it’s such a weird one. I’m not an incomplete person without my wife. She’s not part of me, and I’m not a part of her. We’re two independent, complete people who have chosen to build a life together, not because it was written in the stars or because we’re two halves of one soul, but simply because we want to.

That’s enough.

Photo of someone welding, with the NISEI logo superimposed

Over the last three days, I’ve examined the work of Project NISEI, the fan-run program to keep Android: Netrunner alive after its official cancellation. In the first post in this series, I shared a brief history of Netrunner and NISEI and highlighted the strengths NISEI has exhibited in their first seven months. In the second post, I switched to my critic’s glasses and pointed out areas for improvement in NISEI’s handling of their first spoiler season. Yesterday, I went further, criticizing what I believed were NISEI’s substantial weaknesses in their web communications, both on their website and social media. Today, I want to cap off the series with recommendations for ways NISEI could address the challenges I identified.

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X-ray of a ciruit board, with the NISEI logo superimposed on top

As I discussed yesterday in the first post in this series, clearly, Project NISEI, the fan organization dedicated to keeping Android: Netrunner alive, is doing a lot right. From my outsider perspective, it appears they carefully prioritized the achievements necessary to build a solid foundation in their first few months. NISEI seemingly identified where they needed to shine in this early stage of their project, and dedicated their efforts to excelling in exactly those areas.

But now that NISEI is solidly established, I believe their priorities must necessarily shift. Areas that were less critical in their first stage, and thus left with room for improvement, will become more important as NISEI moves to release their second set and beyond. NISEI is no longer trying to earn the trust of the established Netrunner community. They are the face of the game’s future, which means they need to pay increasing attention to a second audience: new players.

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The NISEI logo superimposed on a bright sunrise

In June 2018, Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) announced the end of Android: Netrunner, their cyberpunk card game. Though I had only been playing for a year and a half, and was decidedly a casual “kitchen-table” player, I was devastated. Netrunner was, and remains to this day, my favorite board game, a unique asymmetric game of cat-and-mouse that drips with theme. I wasn’t alone. Netrunner had an active and passionate fan community which was left reeling by the sudden end of the game. On October 22nd, 2018, FFG pulled the plug, and Android: Netrunner was officially no longer supported.

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Desert and tree

This post was originally shared on Medium.


Drafts (23).

On the rare occasions that I log into my blog, that number greets me from the dashboard. My Drafts folder is littered with nearly two dozen abandoned posts. Some are one round of polish away from publishing; “long multi-part thing about election, prolly too long idk” is a full 3,500 words. Others, like “writing long arguments = not caring,” exist only as note-to-self titles. There’s enough to post twice a month for the next year, if only I could motivate myself to write.

The cogs of my brain, it seems, have locked up. In August 2014, I challenged myself to a “Blogathon” and published 19 posts in 31 days; in the past year, I published two. Drafts (23) makes it clear that it’s not for lack of ideas. Something else must be jamming my motivation.

I’m not alone. Back in November, Alex Gabriel acknowledged his struggles with writer’s block and launched a daily writing challenge to pull himself out. In December, Miri started something similar. This month, it’s Greta. My blogging game is a league or two below these three, but their openness about their challenges with writer’s block nevertheless inspired me.

I have a basket full of lemons right now labeled “inability to publish.” In the interest of making lemonade, here’s what’s holding me back — good excuses and bad. Continue reading