The Growth Mindset Challenge

How I’m ensuring I am forever learning and growing

Steven HK Ma
Apr 18, 2021 · 5 min read

tl;dr — I’m going to spend 42 hours making a game from scratch in my free time, to see what can be done and to grow myself.

What is growth mindset? Why care about it?

I teach a lot of classes, emphasising to companies large and small and people senior and junior the vital importance of the growth mindset, a concept popularised by Dr Carol Dweck. Summary: a mental framing that enables one to learn, grow, and build skills and capabilities that one does not currently have helps to overcome the opposing mental framing — that our skills and abilities are fixed and unchanging; with the behavioural conclusion that one should not even start to try.

Growth mindset doesn’t make you successful; but if you don’t have it, you’ll never even start. If you’ve got raw talent or lots of experience and are good at something; not continuing to having a growth mindset means that your current level of good becomes the enemy of you being great.

At No Moss, the company I have the privilege of serving, this is a culture we try every day to strive for. There are a few more elements, like ikigai (life purpose), abundance (Star Trek economics), eudaemonia (the good life) and akrasia (self-directed, positive freedom); but the focus for this post is about growth mindset, somewhat a precursor to many of the others.

So, what are the specific things you are growing?

A few different things, from learning Italian (I have a self-perception that I am terrible at languages; which is something that this learning is breaking) to trying to build a website in an hour (I’m pretty good at websites — after all, No Moss started with us building websites for A$100); but the artificiality of the difficulty constraint makes the challenge actually super hard.

For this blog, I’m making a Twine-based game called Rooks Errant, free and public to play; intending to put it out on web and mobile. Something like the wonderful Seedship by John Ayliff. My reasons:

  • As a CEO and ex-Director of Agility, it’s been a long time since I really built something directly with my own hands, code or otherwise. This is to make sure I’m also learning and growing in ways in which I expect our wider ecosystem of people to.
  • We’re building a game to teach agile training called Hexgrove Books (pre alpha trailer). This game is set in the same game world; and in fact I’ve got a working prototype of a boardgame as well as this computer game. I’m inspired by places such as Amplitude Studios, that create very different games (with divergent tone, gameplay, art direction et al.) all set in the same lore universe. To me, it’s fascinating how this works to cultivate a fandom with diverse tastes; and I want to try it out for myself.
  • building a habit of doing something that I love but is hard to start and do; super difficult to find motivation and unbroken free time for; especially as a primary carer for my 27 month old daughter.
  • forcing myself to write; something that I love the result of but not the task of doing.
  • recording myself attempting to make a game in 1 hr (here’s the result).
  • recording myself making Twine-based games in a very limited time — I’m thinking total time on this writing/game should be 42 hours — representing the life, the universe and everything. (also making it equivalent to about a week of “real work”).

What are the games?

  • Hexgrove Books is a couch co-op action game, made by No Moss Studios, for the Switch, PC, website. Fun, irreverant and easy-to-play.
  • Hexgrove, a puzzle/co-op boardgame, like a rogue-like you can co-op and play with your friends in physical format.
  • The Rooks Errant, the Twine-based digital choose your own adventure style game.

Our website for all of these is here — you can sign up to hear news when we have it.

The diary

You can open these files directly in any browser and play the game! Here’s my progress at:

I’ll keep adding to this list as I progress, as a nice diary of how things are going.

Current status

At 20% time spent — 510 minutes (of 2,520 minutes)

I’m going to limit myself to exactly stop at 2,520 minutes.

I’m really happy with where it is now. I had a design in my head that I sketched just 20 minutes prior to actually executing; and as a math nerd, there were quite a few calculations I needed the system to do in order to make the game work like an Oregon Trail type survival game. In the game, we have:

  • a workable introduction to the major concepts
  • the complex battle calculations I had planned
  • the mechanics of the Oregon-trail style game I originally wanted to build

At the 510 minute mark, the bulk of the more calculation and mechanically intense parts is now complete.

From here on in, it’s a more pure writing exercise, to set the tone and feeling and build out the overarching story (which itself also following a plan I set outside of these hours).

The backlog of items at this point are:

  • detailed location descriptions for every location (target: 20 locations total)
  • detailed character arcs (target: 6 characters I’d like players to care about)
  • art supporting the tone/mood/feel; plus character art, landscape art, location art (which I will cheat and outsource this to the wonderful No Moss Studios team).
  • the framing for the overarching story
  • final scoring calculations

I’ll keep blogging now and then to let you know how I’m going!

No Moss Co.

Tech, Agile, Innovation and Games Development.

No Moss Co.

Tech, Agile, Innovation and Games Development. Articles about how to elevate yourself and the people around you.

Steven HK Ma

Written by

Chief Purpose Officer of No Moss Co • Executive Agilist • Non-Profit Optimiser • Purpose Maximiser • Speculative Fiction Author

No Moss Co.

Tech, Agile, Innovation and Games Development. Articles about how to elevate yourself and the people around you.