Thursday, May 18, 2006

Why We Do, What We Do.

The question is often raised “what motivates people to write games and also write them independently?” The same question could be asked of artists, authors, poets, musicians, and film makers and I think you’ll find the answers to be similar. Although there are tons of things that could motivate us, I believe the answer to this boils down to two basic motivators: “Passion” and “Profit”. The drive for money and profit is pretty easy to see, but where does “passion” come from? Why would someone devote many man-months or man-years into a game that may never make a penny? Again it’s because money is not their driving force. I suppose one could be a motivated by a thirst for fame, though if this is your only desire, then don’t expect to get much fame in game development. Our culture hasn’t put game designers on the same pedestal as actors, singers, and sports heroes yet.

I think that “passion” is that love of something that goes beyond just mere appreciation. It’s where you love something deeply enough, that you want to be a participant, and not just an observer. In my case, my passion comes from a few things I think. First is just simply a love for games. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, right during the golden years of the arcade. I can remember the first time I ever saw an arcade game (Space Invaders), and how it just “wowed” me at the time. I can remember playing “pong” at my grandpa’s house for the first time. It was all good, and many more good experiences followed. Second, is a desire to pass some of this on to my children, and in a very small way “create a better world for them”. There seems to be much garbage in games nowadays, especially stuff coming from the main games industry. I see very little of what I want to play sitting on the shelves at the local Wal-Mart. There are either formulaic rehashes of the same old stuff, or they contain gratuitous amounts of language, blood, gore, realistic violence, and sexuality, that I won’t touch them (let alone my kids). I cringe at the thought of my young kids playing that kind of garbage, when I know there are many older (and often better) games out there to be played. I think it’s this motivation that got be to the point of starting my first (and still unfinished) Indie game.

If any of you have watched some VeggieTales videos, then you may have seen a little video clip (right before everything else) that shows a bunch of children playing in a park with the words “Why We Do What We Do” showing up at the end. I think that clip sums up my main motivation as well. I do it for them, so they have something better than the soulless garbage that is so prominent out there. I started on this path before I knew about the Indie Games community out there. I know now that I am not alone in this quest, and there are lots of good things coming out of that community. Again I feel there is some hope for the future of games, and I hope I can make a good contribution to this effort as well. I encourage you all to go play some Indie games, and discover what you’ve been missing. Then if you like what you find, please help support those developers, by buying the full version of your favorites.

Now that being said, I would be lying if I said that profit was not a motivator for me, but it is not my primary motivator. It would be nice if I could support my family doing this, but it’s “not in the cards” for now. Maybe someday …