Game Jam and Peanut Butter Friendship

Post date: Jan 30, 2013 6:06:54 AM

I came to the conclusion that developing video games is for crazy people during the 40+ minute conversation with my grandmother attempting to explain the concept of a global game jam; and why someone would do such a thing without sounding like some sort of insane cult or private, free-masons style, club.

The first concept I had to explain was the act of constructing worlds to present ideas to strangers by constraining their control over the world. I explained plainly that it was hard to control the ghost because the player was supposed to feel sort of like a ghost; invisible and whimsical, only truly controlling their hearing for their understanding of their location, they could see but not like a normal person. She had trouble understanding the idea of self identifying with a game character. Like when she took control and the player moved the very moment she pressed the input, and the human player moved, she felt almost indifferent of the fact that she was in control of the player. But once I had explained this was intended to be like a story or at least a narrative, we could move on to what the challenge of the game, like a card or board game, meant for how you should try to play it.

"The ghost is very slow, He looks so big and fat. Like santa." brought up the fact that he was slow for a reason, he was slow because he was very dangerous to the opposite team. The humans are quicker but they're also a bit difficult to control, this is intentional to give some sort of semblance of the situation meant to play out during the game. It's about balance grandma. "If you say so".

I started to question if the concept I was laying before her as a bit loopy, asking her to pretend to be a ghost or some wild human who runs around picking up haunted objects. but perhaps I should question if it's not video games in general that are loopy but the stretch of imagination involved with excusing out design decisions/limitations. All the same, video games usually or perhaps should ask the player to take on a new identity, ideally one which they can easily grasp, in order to escape reality and enjoy a joyful and entertaining gameplay experience. Are games a bit loopy in the eyes of history? If so, should we push this idea to the limits (Shaders and VR; Heavy Rain) or pull back on it to see the clarity which existed under limitations, showcasing a true creation and definition of a new medium(8bit).

The final concept I spoke to her about wasn't as difficult for her to understand. As I started to question the sanity of investing your mind and deep thoughts into the super analytical aspects of game design and development, I realized that was actually the thing about the game jam I enjoyed most. Discussing, arguing and brainstorming with people who are just as invested in best understanding game design and development brought a great deal of relief, acceptance and even a greater understanding of #GameDev myself. It was the realization that it was quite crazy to give up an entire weekend in an attempt to make something which is simply an expression of thought into a culmination of every modern medium, that brought me to think how much I appreciate the career I am forging through. The crazy people I met allow me a bit of solace in that others care as I do to make something great; because it is just the right or best thing to do. :D