The First Step Is To Decide To Start Making Games

Alrighty, so I wanted to write a few posts about The Year In Games. So here we go on that idea. Also not so secretly an attempt to get my rhythm back on blogging in general, since I let it slide for a while there. I’m sure you mourned its loss and all that. For now, I just wanted to write down something about how I started making games in the first place (as if I’m sitting on some overstuffed leather armchair smoking a pipe and seeing my youth through its hazy smoke). (This will get a little memoiry I guess. Sorry.)

I started making games in 2011 for two main reasons, one a bit negative and one positive. One reason was simply that it started to feel embarrassing not to be making games. For one thing, I was about to teach a course on programing for game designers. For another thing, I’ve been involved in researching and critiquing games for a long time. To me, this (along with my long ago degree in computer science) meant I really ought to have made some games.

The positive reason is that I have the incredible good fortune to be around some inspiring people. The faculty in the Center for Computer Games Research are all amazing academic with amazing ideas, and that helps in being excited about games and what they could be. To strike a more specific note, being around Doug Wilson (of Die Gute Fabrik, doing a PhD at the Center, among other things) has been really important. Doug makes games at a pretty furious pace, makes deeply interesting games, thinks about those deeply interesting games, and is a real enthusiast for other people’s work. Along with the support of Rilla and also Miguel Sicart, there was this early sense of fun and possibility surrounding starting to make some games that was at the core of being able to do so.

The rest of it, mundane or not, the “doing do” bit, instead of thinking about how great it might be. Have an idea and make it, something I had “trained for” in putting things on stimulusresponse for so long. The first idea for an actual game was, for whatever reason, GuruQuest. So I made it. And then it existed. Importantly, it was fun and interesting to make it, and fun and interesting to think about it during and after making it. In fact, my blogging ended up being totally colonised by my reflections on making games (something I’m keen on reversing a little this year). But the key thing there is that the process of making games was rewarding not so much in the sense of “I’ll make a rad thing people will enjoy”, but more for the possibilities it led to for thinking about games themselves, and what I might be able to do with them. Journey not the destination blah blah blah.

And by the time I had GuruQuest done it was very clear I should make another game.

So I did.

5 January 2012
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