This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue.
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I began to touch on this in the last Confession but as it’s close to my heart thought I would finish this series with a closer look at creativity.
The thing that first drew me to Traveller at the end of the ’70s was the ability to roll a few dice, produce a handful of numbers and have an outline of an entire planet encapsulated in that tiny amount of information. Of course, much detail could be added and needed to be to make it interesting, but it was that process of creation and the inspiration it provided for then thinking up interesting worlds and societies that really grabbed me. I soon set to work generating a subsector or two by hand and eventually an entire sector with the help of a Commodore 64. Of course, that was already too many worlds to detail in full, but I found the process intrigued me, the possibilities for adventure inspired me, and the opportunities for creative writing abounded. Indeed, with that and the Game Designers’ Workshop universe, I had friends whose parents knew me as “the guy with a universe in his bag”. I know few Traveller enthusiasts who haven’t enjoyed the creative process at whatever level they’re comfortable with, whether it’s generating characters, building vehicles or starships, writing adventures, or throwing their heart and soul into role playing an interesting sophont. I’ve had a go at all of these and more and loved the way that they not only have their direct relevance, but also an indirect encouragement to observe and examine the world I inhabit more closely to see how people or things or stories ‘work’.
As a Christian I believe in a creator God and I believe we’re all made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26-27) For me, that’s where the creative urge comes from. I regularly speak to students in my lectures who don’t think of themselves as ‘creative’, but I firmly believe we’re all creative. Perhaps in different ways – Belbin team roles can be helpful here in suggesting we might be creative as ‘completer-finishers’, creative as ‘resource-investigators’ or creative as ‘plants’ (the ‘idea generators’ that many think of as the only creative types). I’ve written about this professionally and endeavour to encourage all the students, and others, that I speak with to see themselves as creative: whether it’s in their work or raising a family; their hobby or their approach to life. The satisfaction we get from seeing things we’ve made enjoyed by others or hearing performances we’ve put on connecting with audiences or loving children we’ve brought up and seeing them blossom is second to none. Perhaps Traveller fans take a godlike approach to building a universe a little more literally than others, but whatever your creative impulses are, seek them out and develop them. If you’ve not previously thought of yourself as creative, think again!
Traveller offers so much opportunity for self-expression and is such a wonderful encouragement to play and to think and to write that I’m sure it will continue to go from strength to strength as it has done across nearly four decades. One final word must be to thank Marc Miller and the other original creators of Traveller for giving so many of us such a lifetime of fun and adventure. Thank God for that creative spirit! This will be my last Confession, at least as a ‘newbie’ referee, (some have pointed out I’m no longer that new). I hope they’ve either been helpful, thought provoking or interesting.