Thursday, January 8, 2015

Toca Race Driver 2 and The Road That Led to February 8

This is the first of many posts this year looking back on the events of 2005 and how it played into who I am now. I did state on a post either at the end of 2014 or on Friday's post that February 8th was the first time I wrote without being forced. This is only somewhat true as I was writing, willfully mind you, on a whole different topic.

On January 8th, 2005 I started the "All Series Championship" on the Xbox game of Toca Race Driver 2. I've blogged about that game several times on how it greatly aided my ability to speak and have conversations but in all of the times I've written on this topic I never have written that I wrote about that game.

Toca Race driver 2 came out in April of 2004 and the competition was thrilling at the start. To this day this game, along with its sequel, Toca Race Driver 3, remain my favorite console racing games of all time. However, as with most games, the user base begins to dwindle as time goes on. Full grids started to become scarce and just getting a room going with more than five other racers proved to be a challenge. That said I had to do something that brought back the notable names, the racers that challenged me, so to do so I started a league that would go through each championship the game offered and I also came up with a point system to determine the overall champion.

In that first week the races were awesome. It was great once again battling hard for victories, but now it was even sweeter with the point system that I created. However, I realized I had to do something more than just offer a series as anyone can do that. What could I do that would make people want to come back the next week? My answer was to write a recap of the day's action. But, I couldn't just say that driver X won race Y and has a 10 point lead over driver Z. Nope, that just wouldn't do. I'd have to write it as if these races were on par with the Indy 500, or the Grand Prix of Monaco, or the Daytona 500.

When the final race of that first week was over, which I'd say we raced for about 90 minutes, I assembled the score sheets and headed to the computer to write about the day's action. This, at that very moment, would be the first time I wrote willfully with no assignment being given, no due date, and no reason except to do it. Well, I guess I had a reason and the motivation was to keep the great racers interested in the game.

I spent about as much time writing as I had racing and when I was done I uploaded the post race report to the Xbox.com Toca forums and the write-ups were a hit. Week after week drivers would ask if a certain moment would make it into the race recap reports. The goal I had set out to accomplish had succeeded.

Now why am I writing about a game and the write-ups I did a decade ago? I do credit February 8th as being the first time I wrote, and it would be the first time I wrote on the emotional level, but the writings I did on Toca gave me confidence that I was able to write. Had I not been spending the hours I put in to write the race recaps I don't know if I would have started writing about myself on the emotional level. There was a big difference there; with Toca I was writing about facts and points and passes. That was easy for me as I was motivated because I wanted to keep the game alive. Would I have invested the same amount of time on any other topic? Ha! Absolutely without any doubt in my mind the answer is the biggest no possible. With that, this is why I stress to teachers the point of needing to start from within Kansas and expand outward.

It was a total of five weekends of writing recaps before I would sit down at my computer, in the still of the midnight hour, and write about myself rather than an online race. With each week I became more and more confident and eventually it spilled over and allowed me to write about myself. It's odd to think of how seeds in our lives get planted and that hobbies, events, chance meetings, a word of encouragement, or any random event can lead to another thing that puts a person on the road to something else. For myself, that's what Toca 2 was. I loved that game so much and the competition that I was willing to write to keep the fast people on the game. That's saying something because before that, as I would say, "writing is the most awful, painful thing imaginable!" It's amazing how things change and that change began 10 years ago today.

1 comment:

  1. It is interesting that writing about something else led to writing about your experiences and then later turning into books. That is a good idea as far as getting others to open up about themselves as well. Thankfully Xbox put the game out and allowed you to start your writing career. Excited to meet you in a couple weeks in Dexter Mo!

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