Defining Success

26 Jun
June 26, 2015

When I think about releasing System Crash, it brings up a flood of emotions. Hope, excitement, anxiety, fear, all jumbled up together.

But fear, unfortunately, is a powerful, primal emotion- focus on it too much and it can grow, overshadowing all the others. When fear takes hold, excitement fades, motivation leaches away, and the brain switches to distraction-seeking activities in order to protect itself from being overwhelmed by anxiety.

And the more you’re invested, the greater the hope, the stronger the fear.

I’ve talked about this before, but the way I fight this is by reframing. I consciously choose to look at the situation differently. That might seem like ‘faking’, but it’s more self-persuasion. We’ve all experienced talking ourselves into or out of things, right?

For myself, this involves redefining what I consider to be a ‘success’. Choosing to look at success as not just the outcome of the making, but also what I’ve gained in the process of making something.

I can’t control how many units System Crash will sell, pinning my definition of success/failure solely on that metric leads to fear and anxiety. So instead I look at what I’ve achieved. I’ve built my first commercial video game, something I’ve been dreaming about my entire life. I’ve levelled up my skills in so many areas, in design, art, UX, networking and more.

And most importantly, I’m no longer a spectator cheering on the fighters in the arena, idly arguing over “how I would have done it”. I’ve left the stands, donned my armor, grasped my sword in sweaty hands and stepped out onto the blood-stained sands of the arena. I’ve put myself into the fight. And whether I win or lose my first battle, I’m out there putting myself to the test. I’m learning, in blood and sweat and pain, what works and what doesn’t. Where I need to improve, what my strengths and weaknesses are, and how to take a hit and keep on going.

That is real success. Progress. Challenge. Growth. Loving the process.

When you look at it like that, the last 3+ years are already a success. I know that sounds like some cornball hippy crap, but it’s the truth. And when I hold that firmly in the front of my mind, fear loses its hold. Eagerness, excitement and joy bubble back up, and I’m rearing to get back into the fight again.

5 replies
  1. Matthew says:

    Hey is there a release date yet?

    Reply
  2. Matthew says:

    I like how you have defined success. Some of the greatest art has gone unappreciated. As Aurelius says in The Meditations: “Sure, life is a small thing, and small the cranny of the earth in which we live it: small too even the longest fame thereafter, which is itself subject to a succession of little men who will quickly die”.

    I guess the point is, that pinning success on anything external to yourself opens it up to chance, and the whim of silly little people. Almost none of whom will have even approached what you will have risked, and achieved in the production of this game.

    Congratulations on your success.

    Reply
  3. gareth says:

    Matthew – Exactly.

    And the release date is, tentatively, early August. I’m basically looking at finishing off balance testing in July and then it’s ready for release.

    Reply
  4. Matthew says:

    That’s exciting. Good luck.

    I work as a technical writer for a digital surveillance software company, so I know all about tentative release dates 😛

    Reply
  5. gareth says:

    Haha. 😉

    Reply

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