Sometimes we find ourselves already making a game and wondering how we got there. We just go along, thanks the to initial inertia. Then, we strive to reach that publishing or releasing goal.
But when we are about to embark on a new game project, whatever the scope, do we start by thinking the right reason to do it? What are the right reasons anyway? Do we need to convince ourselves that there is some thought behind it or should we act upon our impulses and then adapt accordingly?
In short, what are our motivations for creating a game?
Ideas are everywhere, anytime. Everyone has them, the thing is knowing when to grab the elusive ones and put them into a coherent textual or visual description. Most of the time, they are just garbage and a simple introspective dismissal or a friend telling us “are you completely nuts?”, should give us a cue (on the other hand, that could be an indication of a great idea as well!).
Thanks to our senses, we have a huge amount of information hitting us everyday. Images, sounds, smells, even touch. I like to think that these are sparks that light up our imagination.
Now, one of these sparks hits the right spot. Eureka! We are all of a sudden bursting with joy because we just “got it!”.
A collective body of knowledge
From the first painter and musician, to the latest book or movie we saw, we are bombarded with ideas from other people. They had their own mind processes and maturity, which undoubtedly influence us in some way and then we add some experience of our own, which hopefully will bring something new to the table.
However, nowadays is increasingly difficult to find something truly unique. Some say we have seen it all, others say we are just being lazy. In that regard maybe we need to go back to the roots and let us influence ourselves with very basic data instead of pre-processed one, but I digress.
So let’s forget about inspiration for a moment. Let’s just assume we are already in the verge of creating something, we are filled with enthusiasm and a great idea. It’s time to approach the why and let reasoning sink in.
A methodical approach
Specialists say that the left hemisphere of the brain involve things like logical reasoning, math, order, linearity, discretion.
If we go by these parameters, our motivations usually lead us to project planning, design documents and feature/check lists. So in that spirit, let’s put a few bullets as sample motivations:
- To make money, to break even or just to be able to pay the wages.
- To have at least a few games published. To be successful.
- To bring an existing education method into the technology age.
- To demo a specific set of tools or technologies.
Games created along these lines, tend to have a well thought out plan, a specific set of objectives. A bulleted list of features that need to be done to be considered “finished”.
In a nutshell, a methodical approach to game development.
A creative approach
The same specialists describe the right hemisphere as being more akin to visual stimuli, randomness, emotions, symbolism, chaos.
Experimentation, trial and error and drifting around are our ways. Senses as a catalyst for changes and ideas. Iteration as king.
The motivations here may involve deep feelings inside us. Maybe we are making a game out of a grudge, why not, maybe we want to express something we can’t through words. Maybe, through empathy, we want to make others feel joy, or sadness, or even anger and despair.
We can easily associate this with the indie industry (I might just get yelled out just for using those two words together), or with unique ideas, gameplay mechanics, aesthetics or sounds.
The moral side
Yes, we have matured enough to start having responsibility about what we do. We are not that brat anymore, we are a full-grown adult know, so we should act like one.
This could be the sole motivation. Are we trying to make the world a better place through gaming? Do I want people to gain awareness of a certain worldwide or local issue?
The opposite is true as well. There are games that explicitly tell you that, it’s just that, a game. You should not abide by that imaginary world rules or you would at the very least, get into trouble.
We are reaching a point of “realism” (yeah, even if it’s cartoony, it still could be loaded with allegories) where the message gets through loud and clear.
Of course, one could be selfish about it. And that’s fine, or maybe you just want to have plain and direct visceral fun, nothing wrong with that. That’s why we have age gates and ratings for, right?
Okay then, which is the right motivation?
That’s the thing…
There is no right motivation.
And also, it really doesn’t make much sense to have a strict separation between creativity, logical thinking and morality.
I truly believe all of them are the right motivation. As long as they aim at objectives worth pursuing. Which objectives are worth pursuing you ask? Well, in that case just fill in the blanks with common sense towards the betterment of the species.
Or maybe, the right one is the one that you found to convince yourself that the game you are making, is what you want to do. And if you are building it and most importantly, if you finish it, the motivation just becomes sidestepped by the very own game you just created.
Congratulations, you are now a game developer. And if you are one of the lucky ones, the drive that pushed you forward was a worthwhile one and then, you will be able to tell others about it and become an inspiration yourself.