When I first started this blog post, its initial beginning was:
“Game Development is art. Sure…it’s not about…”
But then, I stopped. I stopped, stood up from my rustic farmhouse table, reheated some stale coffee in my faux stainless steel microwave then returned to my seat, contemplative.
I hated my initial sentence; it oozed condescension, like I know what ‘art’ is. I’m not sure what art is and I’m also not sure what a ‘game developer’ is, really. Is it some dude who makes puzzles in his basement? Is it some woman who makes crossword puzzles in a corner office for the NYT?
When I started this journey of finding out what a game developer is, I was consistently explained what a game developer is not: Black. Female. Poor. It was in my late 20s when I was ‘educated’ what a game developer was; granted, it was at my old gig over Friday morning bagels with one of the producers I worked for, but it stuck with me.
The Melancholy of Talent
Well…shit. Guess I’m out of the runnings now, aren’t I?
When I worked in Los Angeles and Seattle, all I got from my game development peers was ‘talent this’ and ‘talent that’. Talent. Talent. Talent.
I believed it. I bought that I had no talent. That I was a fluke, a weird black nerd that just so happened to come across the right people at the right time. The beautiful girl (note: I’ll be 37 this year) with the purple hat and the glasses. The Street Fighter Stick Modder. The rabid video game enthusiast. The Sage. The Bitch. No one knew where I came from. No one knew why I was here in their circles. I didn’t have ‘teh talent’, ‘teh pedigree’.
And you know…I still don’t have talent. Nana’s Pettin’ Emporium is done and I am dry of ideas. Can I admit that, internetz? That I’m untalented enough to admit that I have a few loose ends waggling around but not a clear stream of creative juice splooging across my keyboard?
I’m still working. I’m building a survival game boiler plate right now. Heck, after I finish this blog post, I’m going back in C# and finishing my stamina script, but why should I lie? I feel insecure about my creative output right now. Don’t know about you, but this strange, high collared, societal evil monkey followed me through my entire life and it’s chilling right next to me, sing in that high pitch monkey voice of hers: “I lack talent, I do not listen/follow instructions and I’m too rigid (aka: not playing political ball).
I sum up those ‘in the light’ criticisms as one thing: the audacity to have GRIT and this monkey hates that I’m not giving up.
Less ‘Talent’, Mo’ Grit
I think grit is left out of a majority of Game Developer narratives; nix that, it’s left out of all success story narratives. No one wants to hear that someone failed over and over and over again with no praise, multitudes of criticism and next to no money. Everyone wants to hear the Talent Lottery story, but that narrative is not true either. Perhaps this is what art is; perseverance to find your true voice and to be unapologetic when asking compensation for it. It’s a weird fact when you grow up, see your heroes as the people they are and realize every one of them were not talented; they were just gritty as hell to bump up certain skills and take the cash when offered.
Grit is key in the creative process. Grit polishes and now that I’ve completed a major project from ‘soup to nuts’, I realize how important it is for all indie, and mid size, developers to have a healthy dose of it. It’s the key for better stories. Better design and better- hell, more personable – marketing. It doesn’t matter gender, race, sexual orientation or preference: to be heard, one must scream for a long time until someone finally does hear and see that their work brings value to the world. That takes guts, blood and grit.
So after Nana, I am working through my creative block but….
Some times, it doesn’t hurt to have a few victories to inspire one along the way.