I’ve been rather depressing on this blog lately, so let me turn the talk around a bit, just to let you know why I stick around in game development. It is after all a new year, and it may be time for a new view. Or maybe I just like to brag.
First off – game design is a craft and it is creative. Much like any type of design it has to do with pushing limits*, solving problems and creating something out of – in the case of digital games – nothing. What draws me to design is not only the opportunity to do something unique. It’s also about solving problems. I’m more of a McGyver than most people probably think, and it runs in the family. “Thinking out of the box” was something I grew up with. Repurposing, altering, combining, changing and making better is my middle name.
I like to use my brain. I also like to think with my hands. I also like systems that make sense of the world. This may be the worst kept secret in the world, but I like rules and I like following them. Sounds awfully boring, right up until you start using and creating your own rules. So problem solving, and making something out of nothing and rules, hierarchies. That’s the biggest reason why I’m in games.
Secondly – shared realities. I think this is something that’s been with me for quite a while but it didn’t hit me for real until one evening when I was running through Newland Desert with a couple of guildmates**. We saw the sunset and collectively stopped and sat down and looked at a world that didn’t exist apart from as digital information being displayed on a monitor. Ho-lee shit. This was a world. It did not exist, apart from what we had seen in game, but we could move within it, we could affect it, we could almost touch others and we could share this existence with each other. Major brain/ philosophy/ meta meltdown on my part to have that insight or perhaps epiphany. To facilitate more of those shared experiences in digital or analog format – I had to keep doing that. I build worlds where people live. Sort of. I play god, in a good way. It’s a power rush but it is more than that. It’s mental ecstasy, the joy of creation.
Third – I’m bloody good at it, and I get appreciated for my skills. I have very wobbly self-esteem. My sense of self worth is pretty crappy which means I don’t feel I’m worth anything unless I do stuff.So I do stuff and I do it well and people praise me. So far (I’ll give you the highlights, not all of it. My ego doesn’t need inflating. Never mind…) I’ve been given a gift certificate for a dinner at a fancy restaurant, I’ve been called “the best recruitment [that person] had ever made”, I’ve gotten praise from a publisher stating that my documentation was the best they’d ever seen (and the game turned out well too), a colleague told me that the hadn’t appreciated how good my texts/ dialogue/ missions actually were until she compared them to a similar game. I’ve been given a 3DS for doing my job real well, I’ve been given gift certificates etc for the same reason and I keep being told I’m really good at my job over and over. I love hearing that. For obvious reasons, it’s always nice to know I’m doing a good job.***
The fourth reason is pretty obvious. I get paid doing something I love, something that – on occasion – blows my mind.I also get a cool factor and some geek status doing it. I’m happy that my job does all this for me, and it is the main reason why I stay in game development despite the micro aggressions and petty misogyny.
I love solving problems and making sense of the world I live in, and when the world I live in fail to make sense, I can make rules that do.
* Okay, not all games do. But some do. Some are memorable and fantastic, but so far most of them are analogue.
** Anarchy Online. Excellent game. I was a nanotech. Always with the casting…
*** Apart from #1reasonwhy, Why can’t I play? and But honestly and The Proving Ground situations. It is a major effort to keep faith in myself and the work I do. I don’t know how well I do my job, and sometimes I think I suck at it. And then there are moments when I know I’ve done a great job and those are the moments of joy.