Why I Make Games : 18 developers answer the question

27 Sep
September 27, 2012

Lovely piece up on Edge where 18 well-known developers answer the question “What motivates you to make games?”

I found it rather inspiring. I’ve mentioned before, sometimes I wonder if I still want to make games, if I still enjoy gaming. Sometimes, you need something to remind you of what you love about a thing.

Certain quotes particularly resonated with me.

Warren Spector

My desire, my need, to make videogames goes back to my very first Dungeons & Dragons play sessions. I’ll never forget the emotional high, the joy, I felt. I’d always known I wanted to tell stories for a living, but until D&D, I assumed I’d tell them to people. What D&D taught me was the power of telling stories with other people.

Five or six of us – working within a framework created by a dungeon master – could craft our own experiences. We could see and do and say things no one else in the world had ever seen, done or said… We could do things in our imaginary worlds that would be at best unacceptable in the real world… We could walk in the shoes of people from ancient civilisations, have adventures that put to shame the exploits of real explorers… We could all become storytellers.

Harvey Smith

My friends and I also played a lot of pen-and-paper RPGs. Story drama and game/verb drama blended together in RPGs. Then I discovered videogames: the way the bat in Adventure changed the game dynamically, the bullfrog puzzle in Ultima Underworld, which I solved in a nonstandard way by exploiting spells and physics…

Ultimately, the reason I make games is that I still find it fascinating to explore the dark, the potentially threatening or hostile space; it’s thrilling to me to solve problems under duress, to fight monsters in the metaphorical sense. And I want to do it myself, expressing my own desires and quirks. I’d rather be there as an active agent in a truly dynamic, changeable situation, and games do that better than film or literature.

But perhaps the best line comes from Adrian Chmielarz. Summing it up perfectly in one line.

Because games actually allow me to see the attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.

Fuck. Yeah.

3 replies
  1. Joseph says:

    Any chance of a little blog post going into why you make games? 😀

  2. C. says:

    It’s an interesting subject. And when I write “interesting”, I mean the more general topic of “why people do what they do”, not the particular instantiation of “why people make games”. Unfortunately the responses of those 18 developers are mostly tired cliches. My impression is that they either don’t know why they’re making games or don’t know how to explain their reasons. The only real, believable to me, reason was a general “uhh, I used to play games when I was a kid, kinda liked it, so uhmm, I decided to become a game dev”. Not a particularly inspiring reason, but much better than the one from Adam Chmielarz. Why? Well, just look what kind of games he is making: generic shooters. The only thing he sees is a generic Polish corpo making generic shooters.

    Which brings me to VD. I really hate to mention the guy for the second time in as many months, but his Internet-story (with the latest “I quit my daily job!” twist) is so much more real than the generic answers of those 18 devs! Possibly not your typical inspiration story, and most probably without happy ending, but it does answer the “Why I make games?” question, unlike those 18 generic titbits.

    [hmm, did your spamfilter just swallowed my prev comment?]


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