>mfw I was acknowledged by the elemental archangels
Before you read this, I am not trying to be a pretentious pseud, this is something that has been on my mind for a couple of days and I wanted it to write it down. I apologize in advanced because of how messy this might end up lol. 始まるよー
Since I began to think more about stuff in general, I have been wondering of what creativity is, and what can I do to be more creative. You might say: "Just look up the definition on Google and stop wasting everybody's time". Ok, let's try that. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, creativity is "the ability to produce or use original and unusual ideas". Well, yes, that's what it is, but how does it help me to be more creative?
A very common cliché is to say "just think outside of the box". Clichés are clichés because they are true, however, how does it help me be creative? First of all, what even is the "box"? And how do I get out of it?
Let's say I have a basket full of things, and you don't know what's inside. Then, I kindly ask you to name something that is not already there. "An apple!", you say, but to your surprise, the basket is almost overflowing with apples. Now, knowing that the basket is full of apples, it is easy to name something which is not an apple, right? Like a orange. This means that by knowing what's in the box, it is easier to know what is outside of it.
But, in order to do that, you already need to know what a orange is in a first place. Let's say that the only thing you have been ever shown in your life is a red apple and you are asked to name some fruit that is not a red apple. How would you do it? In my view, you would have to analise the fundamental properties of a red apple, what makes it be that way, and change them. If you change whatever makes an apple, well, an apple, you are surely gonna get something different. We can start by the color, instead of red, we say it's orange, oh, and make it more spherical with a thicker skin. We have something different now, and we call it orange.
This means that to create something we don't know, from something we know, we have to fundamentally change the properties of the known, which will surely create something different. To achieve this, the existence of the known is MANDATORY, the unknown cannot form from the unknown. As in, you don't simply "come up" with stuff with no previous knowledge.
With that, we can say that the theoretical "box" represents everything (including ideas) that already exist. However, to create something different (out of the box), we need to be knowledgeable about what's already inside, and modify its fundamental properties. "Thinking outside of the box" represents the desired goal, not the means.
THE STRUCTURE OF THE BOX
You might say that as time passes, it's more difficult to think about new stuff and get out of the box, because with each day that passes, the amount of new knowledge increases. And that is correct, it is harder, however, which gets harder is not getting out, the difficulty of that has always remained equal, what is harder though, is getting to the center of the box, since we are progressively farther. Yes, you read right, it might sound counterintuitive, but to get out of the damn box, you actually need to venture deep inside it, right to the center.
We are mere residents of the outer rim of the box, we are so close to the outside, but at the same time so far, as we cannot get out. Approaching the center, we begin to see "inspirations", ideas that come from other ideas that are closer to the center (by modification or combination). I don't really know what idea dwells in the exact center of this structure, I do not wish to know so, some platonic fellows might say "the Form of the Good", or whatever, other people might call it God. Anyways, if, according to my hypothesis, creativity comes from using what is already there, it means that the closer to the center, the better, since the change will be more radical, and thus, more creative.
Let's take Dark Souls for example, what makes Dark Souls be Dark Souls? To me, the medieval setting, the use of swords and traditional weapons, it's magic elements, the devastated and violent world full of despair, the weirdness of the creatures, the esoterism, and the list goes on and on. Knowing that, you could say that having included all that, the creator is, well, creative. But did he come up with everything on his own? No, it is a well regarded fact that a lot of Dark Souls comes from the acclaimed manga, the one and only, Berserk. And at the same time, Berserk was inspired by all sorts of different ideas like alchemy, hermeticism (religion in general), the medieval times and the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Was Kentaro Miura creative? Without a doubt. What's more, Lovecraft was inspired by religion and the occult, was he creative? Again, yes. All of them used ideas that were already there, and by modifying and/or combining them, they created something new. If you modified the fundamental aspects of Lovecraftian tales and tried to make a game out of it, you would branch out and get something like this, instead
Another example is the metroidvania genre. What makes levels in a linear puzzle game like Mario be levels? You start somewhere, you reach another place and then you are transported to the next level, always moving forward. What if instead, we make it so that you can return to the levels that you cleared, add enemies again to make it more challenging, and add puzzles that allow you to traverse them quicker? Voilá, that's roughly what metroidvania is about. It's something new that came from modifying the fundamental properties of what was already there.
I am sure that you will also come up with similar examples.
To sum up, the point I was trying to make is that to break the rules, you need to know them, and simiarly, to think outside of the box, you first need to know what's inside of it. Something can't come from nothing.