So who is Bejopi?
In terms of his approach to coding, basically Bejopi is everything that Gatmalvo isn’t.
He’s not slick; he’s unrefined.
He’s not incredibly knowledgable; most of the time he’s just bumbling along. But, to borrow a phrase from Sarah McLachlan, he’s “fumbling towards ecstasy.”
In Bejopi, I see unbridled enthusiasm. He wants to be an awesome programmer, but the act of programming itself brings such joy to him, that he won’t beat himself up if he never becomes incredibly proficient at it.
Bejopi admires Gatmalvo on one level, but pities him on another.
On the one hand Bejopi can’t help but marvel at the scope of Gatmalvo’s knowledge, but on the other hand, he pities Gatmalvo’s rigidity and inability to experience the zen-like joy of programming.
Is Bejopi Really Me?
My wife Jill says I resemble Bejopi. Perhaps it’s the facial hair/fur, but I admit I never noticed.
Never-the-less, yes I admit I relate the most to Bejopi.
There is a spirit inside of me that is still young, generally disorganized, a bit reckless, but that loves to code and develop games above all things.
Beginners Mind and Magic
I remember some of my first programs. They generally consisted of poking values into RAM on a Vic 20 and utilized a formula I thought I’d never figure out (7680+X+22*Y).
When typed in correctly, those programs could make a ball bounce around or a bird fly across the screen.
I watched the screen for hours. It felt so good just to create something new. The whole process seemed almost magical.
There is real magic and an art to coding.
Cynics can be forgiven, to some degree, for getting mired in the minutia of coding practices. Well-written code is less buggy and easier to maintain, after all.
But at its heart coding should be an enjoyable experience. It should be blissful. For Bejopi it is.
I feel it’s critically important to always get back to what Zen Buddhists refer to as Shoshin or “beginners mind.”
To quote Shunryu Suzuki, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
I keep a container of Play-Doh on my desk to remind me of this.
As I write code, every once in a while I kneed it and smell it. Ahhhhhh! That smell really takes me back!
Bejopi, to me is the embodiment of my beginners mind.
Advice to Beginners
Not long ago I had the privilege of giving advice to some students who were just beginning to create games.
One of them asked, “What order should I do things in?”
My advice was simple; do the funnest thing next.
Here’s my reasoning behind that advice:
- It can be a very long process to make a great game.
- There are many tasks all of which need to be done eventually.
- The most important goal is to finish the game.
- Most people never complete their projects.
- If you keep the process enjoyable every step of the way, you have a greater probability of completing your project.
- Even if you decide it isn’t worth finishing, at least you’re having fun.