A Game Designer By Necessity

They often say that a great at something is “born, not made” or the other way around “made, not born.”

When I think about this, I have to say that both sayings suck.  People are both born into life and made through it on a roughly equal level.   Scientists who tend to study Nature versus Nuture notice this correlation all the time.  Those are sayings you’d say to get a rise out of somebody – they’re theatrically excellent, but not necessarily true.

My recent activities leave me with a belief that I’m destined to be a game designer right now.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be a game design great, but it seems I’ve found a calling.  There’s actually quite a bit of things in my life pointing in that direction right now.

That whole “nature versus nurture” thing again…

Despite my having no love for either saying, I could actually reasonably argue I was born or made to be a game designer.

Was I born a game designer?  Well, my mother was an English major who went in to be a teacher, and my father an Cultural Anthropologist who went on to be a compulsive gambler.  Thus, I’ve a genetic preponderance of sorts.  An English major’s creativity that enjoys toying with abstract concepts.  A teacher’s love for teaching (Raph Koster did say fun is learning, after all).  A Cultural Anthropologist’s fascination with broad cultural appeal.  Finally, the compulsive gambler’s addictive personality to keep playing games even past the point of reason.

Was I made a game designer?  Well, I did take my free time over 25 years – over a quarter of my life – and spent the vast majority of it playing games.  Why?  Because that’s what I love the most in life.  Just as a musician may be unusually attracted to music, or a writer to literature, games have been my reason for living long as I could use a computer.  I’ve developed a sort of deep, philosophical connection to them that sets me apart from most other people (though personal opinions will vary on whether such a separation is good or bad).

Put those two together, and it seems the forces of the universe are either grooming me to be a game design great or fail at living if I never try.  It’s a self-fulfilling fate; a reasonable course of action driven by the events of the past.   (Of course, this does not guarantee success – knowing the sense of humor of the Powers That Be, I could get hit by a comet immediately after I post this.)

A Game Designer By Necessity…

I think even closer to the possibility of being born or made one, I’m a game designer by necessity.   I still love gaming, but I’ve been playing games for 26 years now and it takes some pretty damn compelling gameplay to impress me these days.  This creates a certain void that needs to be filled.

That void is not filled enough by today’s professional game developers, and the trouble is that different people will enjoy different games.  By and large, professional game development these days is geared towards casual gamers’ tastes.  Casual gamers outnumber the core gamer hundreds to one and, unless we could actually afford to buy that many more games, big name professional game developers have no interest in making games for gamers like me.

It does not matter how technically advanced a game is: if it is developed to satisfy simple gamers, it will be a simple game.  I am no simpler gamer, and so long as games are designed for simple gamers, I won’t find any lasting satisfaction in them.  If I want a game that truly suits my tastes, it seems that I’m going to have to be the one that makes it.

Thus, as long as my love of gaming persists, the game design bug has me by the throat.   If finding diamonds in the rough is so hard for you, maybe it is easier to create them yourself.

Reborn, Remade, or Reprioritized…

Over the past 2 months, I’ve lost about 20 pounds on my diet.  Sure, people treat me a little better as a result, but I didn’t do it to look better.  What I wanted was more motivation to do things, and perhaps my emerging interest in game design is a positive indication that this is happening.

Previously, my default free activity when no game entertained was to try to find better ones.  Now, this activity is to dabble at creating my own.  For now, this manifests as BYOND work, but I could see this extending into other platforms as well: content, mods, applets, maybe even stand-alone programs.

The game design bug has me so hard that I even neglected my university homework over these past two weeks.  Good, maybe my love of games will result in some actually useful products for a change.   (Though, I will have to pry myself off my new found calling and do my homework if I don’t want to fail this semester.)

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