Kicking Ass & Making Games

I have the best job in the world. I make computer games for a living, but more than that, I do it as part of a small team (regrettably, at the moment, composed of only myself). Being part of a small, agile team has both advantages and disadvantages, but the former far outweigh the latter. As a large contributing part of the team, I am involved with all stages of design, development, and production. I get to have a say in everything from the box in.

At an interview for an EA internship, the interviewer was trying to find a placement for me, and she was talking about an object script writer for the Sims. The job, as she pitched it, was about writing the code that determines how chairs behave, enabling them to be sat in, pulled out, etc. It sounded like pretty much the most boring job in the universe, and like all of the bad stereotypes about working for a giant, that is, you get to work on your tiny, meaningless piece and that’s all. When Sprattler came back from his summer of doing that job, he put quite a different spin on it. His little meaningless piece was a garden gnome, but the code he wrote set it up so that if you had two there was a very small random chance that they would reproduce.

The way he described his work, it wasn’t meaningless at all, which isolated for me the source of the meaning that I glean from game design, and the reason I now hold the best job in the world. The satisfaction comes in putting some of yourself into the game. Taking the work you are doing, no matter how small, and making it your own. Some people will realize that this is obvious, as is the immediate conclusion. Namely, the way to get the most of yourself into the games you make is to have the maximum amount of creative control possible. The small team development approach does exactly that. It allows every person on the team (with a balanced, well chosen team) to put their full passion, effort, and creativity into the game without being at all stifled. Each person makes their game, and not someone else’s game. I get to make my game, again and again (the disadvantage to working in a small team is that you do not make games that are fantastically large in scope, but to me, that just means I get to make more games).

24 Responses to “Kicking Ass & Making Games”

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