Friday, September 29, 2017

The Wonderful Human Psyche

So very recently I felt a need to try to learn and study in the field of psychology and understand a few things if possible in that area. I was usually interested in matters related to psychology in the past, well at least the rather recent past since I didn't think about other people that much in the far past, but I never followed the topics in a structured way.

The reason this need was suddenly a high priority for me was the fact that I talked to a few of our folks at the office about some issues they were facing that I really wished I could understand and help but that wasn't the case. The interactions reminded me of the therapy sessions that you usually see in the movies and I thought how blessed the therapists can be to understand the very deep and hidden causes for symptoms and really enhance the life of their clients. That was when I thought how valuable those insights can be for anyone at work so that she/he can really be influential and effective for the colleagues. Why shouldn't normal people know more about this field. The reason we go to offices is to interact with other people anyway, the better we know our minds the better we should interact.

So my journey began and I started researching about therapy and of course found out what a huge world it is and learned about the different methods and techniques for doing it and the various schools of thoughts related to it. One area that seemed to be quite interesting was a rather new method called Coherent Therapy. The reason it seemed interesting to me was the fact that it does not categorize the symptoms as problems that need to be fixed directly and considered illnesses but tries to search for the hidden unconscious beliefs that are the reasons our bodies try to willfully generate those symptoms. In other words the symptoms are a good solution our bodies create in order to fix or reduce the negative effects of some other issue, something we are not really aware of, which are usually found to be incorrect subjective beliefs. The goal for the therapist would then be to find those hidden reasons and try to make the client change his belief system in order to eliminate the symptoms.

Brain science proves the methods used in Coherent Therapy and it shows how memory re-consolidation happens during therapy, mostly rewiring of the implicit memory which is the type of memory that we are not very much aware of. You yourself changing the way your brain is wired in order to feel better, how cool is that! No medication involved.

There is a book I am currently reading on the subject which has been the main source for this method called Depth Oriented Brief Therapy. It has been quite an interesting read so far. There are a few books queued after this.

The human mind is the only important resource in what we do. The way this mind believes, decides and acts for the needs of the individual and for the role the individual plays in a team is the root of anything needed for the processes needed for great projects and products. The better we know ourselves and have control on ourselves and the better we can be useful for others and have positive influence on them, the better work environments we'll have and the better results we'll get.

I already know I should have started reading and practicing in this field earlier.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Wise Black Sofa

Sees the joy like bright sparks in the room ... sees the passion flowing like rivers east and west ... sees a connection forming everyday ... sees the door as it opens, it closes ... sees the looks direct and otherwise ... feels the slow motions of solitude ... senses the fresh beginnings after the ends ... thinks wisely about the right and wrong ... clears its vision when returns in time ... senses the bond getting stronger ... hears the sound of laughter from where eyes don't see ... contemplates at the green next to it ... hides its worries behind the happiness witnessed ... feels their weights as light as angels ... empathizes with the one left alone ... realizes the glances quick and warm ... mourns alone for long periods ... celebrates the events quietly ... feels the love ... remembers the past while one does in the smokes ... laughs quietly at the jokes ... worries about the future ... forgets all that can go wrong and watches the footsteps ... closes the eyes and embraces the music ... stays in the same location for ever and always... watches those come and go ... longs for their dance of life and delight ... hears the hearts as they beat faster ... feels the heat when it snows outside ... thinks and thinks and thinks ... lets go and enjoys the creation of time ... wonders what stories it will tell ... 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Pathos of Things

Mono No Aware, a hard to translate Japanese term which literally means the pathos of things is about the awareness of impermanence. Being aware that everything will change and nothing is permanent. While the concept seems really simple, it is one of the toughest things for the conscious mind to consider on a usual basis.

A sadness and melancholy that persists in you when you know that things will not last forever. A sadness that can also bring out the beauty in the current moment and make life more meaningful. Extreme beauty that can only be sensed on top of a deeply sad foundation. The best symbolic representation for the pathos of things is Sakura, cherry blossoms, that are very precious and beautiful while they last, and they last for a very short time.

I have been thinking about this concept a lot lately, very much looking into including it in our latest project, Tale of Ronin, as we have been researching Zen concepts very much and mono no aware has deep roots in Zen concepts and is about the human side of the Samurai which the game is all about.

My current plans are to study various literature and media related to this very important feeling. This is very much intuitive for me since I feel myself very much in a mono no aware state lately. A strange feeling that opens your eyes to the aesthetics of things you know will not be there soon.

I might be consciously thinking about it lately but I think the concept has been dancing around in my subconscious for quite some time. This post called Finally Alive from 2008, which is probably my most favorite post here, was exactly all about mono no aware!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Team Synergy

Synergy enables the emergence of something new. It makes the aggregated value to be more than the sum of its parts. Team synergy makes a team accomplish something much more than what the individuals could have accomplished if they only added up their works. The important reality about synergy is that it is not simply adding the parts and saving time when it comes to teamwork, something new needs to happen in the team and in a new level, something emerging.

I've wondered about this in teams quite a lot and where and when exactly it could happen in teams, as an example in a game development team. One interesting and important answer seems to be related to personality types. People have various personality types and during a long project, various personality types each can have their benefits and advantages, they can complement one another in order to have a creative, effective and efficient team.

Various personality types can be categorized in the broader topic of cognitive diversity in a team which while looks like a big challenge, it contains huge opportunities for a good functioning team. Other matters related to this type of diversity include different work cultural backgrounds or experiences.

I will try to write more about various personality types in game development teams and how they can be challenging or create opportunities if managed well.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Alchemy of Teamwork

Thinking about teamwork and the ideal specifications for teams has turned to be my curiosity for a while now. I've always been part of various teams (at school, basketball teams, at work, ...) and you always feel some differences between teams and how they deliver results but I had never had a chance to delve into the subject in detail and try and analyze it.

The fact that something happens between the members of the team that makes them become a new whole, the synergy effect, is absolutely interesting. The magic in teams with normal players that lets them deliver much more than teams with stars has always been a beautiful phenomena for me.

Learning about the mysteries of teams and teamwork will have actual practical benefits these days too since our game development activities are all heavily team based and have got various challenges which require highly functioning and productive teams to tackle them. The fact that great products are made by great teams is extremely true for game development.

Looking at our past experiences, I can easily see when we were a good team and the types of results we've got. This is something that can be felt intuitively but my concern these days is to try and find out some details about what was exactly working in those teams and what wasn't at other times.

My aim is to write and summarize the various things that I study or think about in a few blog posts, hoping to integrate them in the near future and wishing to uncover part of the teamwork mysteries.

One very interesting book that I had read close to ten years ago was Herding Cats by Hank Rainwater. I read it when we were working on software development and this is a book about programming teams and how there are various personality types among programmers and how tough it is to manage them, therefore herding cats. I would get reminded about the paragraphs in the book when engaged in daily work with our team members, never knowing how it would all get insanely more challenging when we start game development. If programmers are varied and tough to deal with, adding artists and game designers to your pack will instantly make everything in that book seem like a very introductory tutorial to the chaos of dealing with the extremely different type of people gathered in one place called a game development studio.

My journey to explore the land of team mysteries has led me to reading quite a few books, various articles, thinking and talking to many people and most recently a plan to do some actual computer simulation about teams.

I will be writing about all of the above in the coming posts.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Slides Time

Slideshare has become very convenient and feature rich for some time now and I recently decided to upload a few of my past presentation slides on it so here is their new home:

http://www.slideshare.net/amirhfassihi

Monday, September 21, 2015

4 Decades

I have always had a special feeling about a 40 year old person. Partly due to having heard about the lives of people who revolutionarily changed when they hit 40, somewhere deep inside me has always been the belief that I will experience major changes when I get 40 years old. A belief which has always been mixed with excitement, joy and mystery. Wondering if anything will really happen and occasionally sensing doubts that it might all be part of the myths of life, somehow wanting to believe that there is some truth in it. Maybe because I just enjoy changes, maybe because I despise a routine deterministic life or maybe since I am hoping for an empowered self that magically happens at a point in time.

I should know the exact answer in 4 months from now when I turn 40. The good news is that I have already been feeling the change coming. The world is moving slower, phenomena are seen and understood better, mindset is changing, patterns are being seen in memories and they have found more meanings, balance is even more king, there are more "nows" in time and all in all it appears that the miracle of 40 might in fact not be stuck in the books. Can this be me shedding skin? I will embrace this new self with arms wide open! This new consciousness.

What enhances this euphoric feeling is that I still sense a childish joy inside for many joyous experiences from the past. The beginners excitement towards learning many things, doing many things and becoming many things is still there. Getting back to the ring with better gloves and still loving the fight!

Maybe it is my subconscious making all this up, maybe there is in fact a miracle of 40, but does it really matter? What matters is that I am feeling this miracle with my bones! Getting a chance to be more of yourself sure feels good.

Hello me, get ready to see the new me very soon!

"Life begins at forty." - W. B. Pitkin 
"The first forty years of life give us the text: the next thirty supply the commentary." - Arthur Schopenhauer
"We don't understand life any better at forty than at twenty, but we know it and admit it." - Jules Renard