It was hard to define, but unmistakable when he saw it.
Now I spend more time teaching than making games, but everyday I see a similar phenomenon as I craft learning experiences. To me, education is about helping people reach their potential. In the span between physical death and achieving one's life purpose there are various levels of existence. I want to help others get closer to the end of fulfillment, to becoming fully alive.
As with games being played, there is a spark I've seen. It's the moment of vision, when the learner sees what isn't there, but what could be.
Whether I'm training teachers or helping with a lesson in class, I notice the spark. I introduce someone to a new tech tool and they realize how it can be used to bring out something they love about life.
I showed some students how to edit movies last week. One student realized his iPhone could be used for this and I heard him telling his friends how he wanted to make movies at home. He would like to be an actor. I asked him to share any movies he makes with me. I try to blow gently on the spark, hoping to make a flame that will spread.
I show teachers how to do something with Google Apps. Several are in the room and they go through the motions, but some move ahead and go further than what I asked. I talk to them and they can hardly contain the excitement of the learning experience they are planning.
Say what you will about what sets us apart on our journey toward success. It might look like grit, intelligence or a lottery involving DNA and opportunity. I think it is simply the ability to see the spark and to know what to do with it once recognized.
This goes for seeing it in my own life or recognizing when someone else catches a glimpse.
I don't believe this ability to see it should be viewed only as a gift. I don't think the failure to see it is like blindness, as if something just isn't working and could never work.
I have to hope we all can see the spark of what could be. It's just that many forces in life have made it more or less likely that we'll notice it. Some have learned to recognize it. Even once they see it, some have learned to fan ideas of what could be into flame while others were taught to smother them out.
The art of staying inspired so we can inspire is nothing more than looking for the sparks and letting them burn as long as as far as possible.