When I go rambling on about some odd topic that has struck my fancy or answer some obscure question off the top of my head, my wife likes to claim that I have a mastery of inane trivia. I prefer to think of it as esoteric knowledge gained through years of research and life experiences.
inane – [ih-neyn] – lacking sense, significance, or ideas; silly
esoteric – [es-uh-ter-ik] – understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest; recondite:
What do you think? Inane or Esoteric? In truth, I think it depends on the topics and answers I am giving and to what audience. Quoting Calvin & Hobbes to my kids probably leans toward the inane while remembering geometry equations while building Aldo Leopold Benches freehand leans more toward the esoteric. Many of us gain knowledge and memorize trivia through repetition. That could be through school lessons and homework, daily/weekly projects at work, reading multiple books on the same topic, or practicing a hobby like an instrument over and over.
Freelancing, I have found, has been adding to the volumes of esoteric (and sometimes inane) snippets of memory because of the repetition. While focusing on a project and reworking it numerous times to get it correct, one cannot help but absorb and remember much of the knowledge it contains. Artists develop a style that becomes consistent within the game they are working on and becomes visible in other projects they do. Writers return to locations, characters, events, and genres so often that they feel comfortable and at home when returning to a familiar series for another story. Editors and Proofreaders reread the text so many times that they can’t help but learn and memorize much of it.
That has been my personal experience as a freelance editor and proofreader. I come away from each project with more knowledge and trivia than when I began. Many games today are heavily researched to give them validity, which means much of my knowledge is factual along with the creative elements and mechanics. Let’s look at a two strong examples from my recent projects.
Achtung! Cthulhu is historically grounded in the actual people and real events of World War 2. I studied WW2 in school, but proofreading the various books in this game line has opened my eyes to so many other elements of the war, especially the viewpoint from Europe. Working on these books gave me the impetus to do further research online and pick up some books from the library to learn even more about little bits of historical information I had read in the game books that I don’t ever remember learning in school history class. Info in these books have even helped answer questions for my daughters and point them in a direction to do further research for class.
Mindjammer was researched to be scientifically grounded in astrophysics, planetary science, and stellar cartography. With my degree in Physics, I had some familiarity with the subjects, but this book enlightened me even further. It brought back to light my interests in astronomy and made watching the movie Interstellar so much greater. As I watched the movie, the various planetary types and features from the game kept coming to mind.
As you work on your freelance projects, contemplate what you are learning from the source material you have before you. It is very likely with today’s games, you are learning more than just rules and imaginary worlds.
What esoteric and inane bits of knowledge have you acquired while working on a freelance project?