The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 12
A lot of people ask me "Oni, if you like games so much, why don't you design them? After all, you've got to have a great idea and want to make it real!"
To this, I have to reply, "No. Not in a million years."
I may be willing to give feedback into what works and what needs improvement (or to be scrapped altogether), but I'm not a tech-ie person. I don't like C++ nor do I want to understand how to write controller code.
As far as graphics, I can draw, but then again, my chibi doodles are generally not up to the standards of quality that I would expect from a present-day game, not even one of indie design. And to be honest, I would rather NEVER make a game, then be known for making one that makes people go into convulsions and eventually a boredom-coma if they're forced to play it.
I stink at flash, and I generally can't even animate an image by taking post-its and drawing a little stick figure running around and exploding when you flip through the pages.
So to be honest, when people look at my creative writing and they say, "Wow, you should make that a game!" or hear my suggestions about where something could be improved or even the premise for what makes a game good, I have to stop them before they invariably say, "Well, YOU should make that game!"
So, to clarify, I love games, and I enjoy immersive stories as well as intuitive game design. I am willing to provide feedback, backstory, and support if asked, because I am good at ideas, even if my execution in programming is abysmal.
However, I am getting somewhat tired when others seem to think that my desire to play games and to enjoy them or constructively critique them is somehow expressing a hidden desire to become a game-dev person. Now this is not a dig at the GIO community, but largely something I tend to encounter with friends or those in casual acquaintance. When a person generally likes games and merely says as such, they are considered a "gamer", and yet if you're like me and talk about games not only in a critical context but also in regards to how they relate to other larger issues as well as our society, suddenly people turn their heads to the side and say "Wow, you seem to be so knowledgeable about this stuff, so have you ever thought of going into game design?"
It's not like it's sarcastic, like when your parents say, "Are you *SURE* you really want to major in THAT?"
Liking games =/= wanting to MAKE them
My husband didn't understand this very large distinction when we first met (remember, though, he was only 15 or so). When I asked him if he had thought about what he wanted to do career-wise, he said he wanted to make video games. Of course, after he figured out the sorts of things that would go into the majority of jobs in game design, he quickly decided to go with something that was more suited to his talents and temperament. He has since understood that he loves to PLAY games, but designing them is a completely different kettle of fish.
Many people say that they want to "play games for a career" as a game tester. I mean, doesn't it seem like an ideal job? Being paid to do what you love best seems like a great thing, right? Well, not so right. As far as being a "game tester,"I also have a friend of mine (C) who has done a large amount of game testing (mostly with EA). She's done testing on Sims games as well as various other titles, and her current job is working on Facebook games (and it actually does pay something on the order of 17 bucks an hour). The big problem is that most of these jobs are:
1) Temporary-once the game is ready to release, the job goes away (although you may get signed onto other projects
2) Have no benefits (if you need medical or dental benefits, you won't be getting them here)
3) Tend to be located in a large city (San Francisco or San Jose, among others) so there's either a commute or you have to live in a big city, either of which might not be ideal for you.
4) You don't really get to choose which game you get to test. Yeah, from time to time, it might be a game you are really hot for, but most of the time, you're going to be playing and playing and playing a game that you may be lukewarm about until you want to put your head in the blender and turn it on if you have to look at one more pixel or hear that repetitive music ONE. MORE. TIME.
So choose wisely and do your research before you start looking at game testing opportunities, because it's a mixed bag, and sometimes it can be more trouble than it is worth.
And finally, I wanted to talk about the rigors of actually creating games. I was very close to a small game-dev company that has since gone out of business, but employed a large number of my friends. One of them described working there as "The most fun job you will ever hate." The hours were grueling and the pay was not really proportionate to the amount of time put into the work. Many of them kept running into severe problems with the publishers and the copyright holders for the games that they were making because everything they did that was actually new or interesting kept getting slapped down and denied or endlessly "revised" by people who had absolutely no understanding of game development/software limitations. Plus they were forced to do a lot of "Leapfrog" games and other inane products just to stay in business. Unfortunately, they were unable to actually get to the point of making enough money to do their own "make your own game" thing, which really saddened me, because all of the people I met there seemed to have such great ideas of their own.
Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, the game industry is a vicious and predatory industry indeed, so you can't underestimate it! Even though we may idealize a life in making our own video game desires a reality, the practical truth of it is that it is hard and often thankless (and the worst of it is that you can get so far in a project only to have to cancel it before publication!).
I am sure that many of you feel similarly, but I'd be interested in how you all might have encountered this sort of situation (although I am sure that some of you desire to get into careers in gaming).
As far as I'm concerned, I'll be willing to stand on the sidelines and give input to those who would listen. Besides, as far as I'm concerned, as long as I can get my thoughts out into the world, maybe just maybe, it will be heard by those who actually can make the changes that I would like to see in the industry and bring more quality games to the table for EVERYONE to enjoy!
It was a very interesting blog to read and I would never connect gaming with making games. These are very different activities. I've seen the world of basic game making and even that has too much coding inside.
Just like your problem, I have mine which always pisses me off. Now, I'm a very tall person, my height is over 210cm which is over 6,89 feet. And since I'm a disabled person, I have the physical weakness that really limits my sport activities, but at least it's not severe to limit my life completely (I can walk and run and do everything like everybody else, only cardio, endurance and strength are very low.)
Now everybody, I say everybody who doesn't know me personally will ask me a question when the first meet me: "Do you play basketball?"... Well, the first 10 times was normal to answer it that "No, I don't play basketball!" and then explain why; but after like 200 times, it just make me furious... I run to one basket and back again and I cannot play anymore, cause my endurance is 0 and I just fall into the floow.....
I design games quite a bit.
My son and I often eat at this local diner. When we order our food, we encounter several minutes of nothing to do. One day, I got out a piece of paper. I made a 3X3 open end grid on this paper. I called it grid defense. The gameplay is that each player takes turns making a mark inside one of the 9 grid spots, let's just call them squares. The next player is supposed to counter the move by either directly or indirectly blocking. Turns alternate until all spots are filled or one player fails to stop the other player from making 3 marks that touch each other, either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.
I've tried to sell this several times, nobody wants to pay what I think it is worth. Although I spoke with a mobile developer named Gameloft, they said they didn't like it, but the following week an eerily similar game showed up on the App store:(
Serioulsy though, I'm with you. Maybe if I had some talent, which I don't, for programming, coding, art, etc., I might feel differently. I do enjoy writing, but I am not sure I could do a good job of writing a game story. I would never be satisfied and it would take longer to finish than Duke Nukem Forever.
Great blog again Oni.
Exactly! I, for most of my life, wanted to make games. That was what I really wanted, and no one was going to tell me otherwise! Then I learned how it really works. My u c k ***=dreams feel flat. I learned early on that game making was a huge undertaking, and I just did not have any desire to code, draw, or any of that.
On the other hand, there are other jobs available for people. Story board, or writers. Team Managers, advertising, ect. Any of those are doable things for me, so I may still have a chance yet! Testing on the other hand, sounds like the worst job ever.
SIDE NOTE: While the Gamer Girls pic may have nothing to do with this blog post, I love it. That needs to be your hero picture.
I'll have to agree with you on this, Oni. I like to play games, too, but I don't wanna design them.
I use this line when people ask me why I don't work hands on with computer/electronics. Just something I prefer to keep as a hobby, ya know?
Gaming however, is something I am drawn in by no matter the situation. It's in my blood, the art of digital interactive entertainment... it's my own apprehension to move away from this generally predictable job that pays the bills well enough, to try and pursue the dream. The vision is becoming much clearer though... and that's something.
I'm the same. I love to play games, but if I designed games I wouldn't have very much time to play them.
You know, this is how I feel on the matter. As a kid I wanted to be a game designer but when I got a little older I realized I want to be a writer about games; a critic. I've been a critic my whole life anyway. I can easily say what works or doesn't work but I don't want to physically MAKE a game. Not to mention I hate math and programming language. That might be the more decisive reason.