This is a collection of words.

Be In Games

I don’t like making games.

I never have really. I don’t get any joy from the process at all, more often than not I find it a wholly miserable thing. Making games is a thing I endure to get the game out at the end of it. I like that bit. I don’t relish solving a problem, I don’t long to get lost in code. I get no joy from the challenge of solving a thing. If I could press a button and have a game appear I would.

I’m not a guy who deals well with code, I’m in my eleventh or twelfth year of using GameMaker now and without it, if I hadn’t found it? The games I write by myself likely wouldn’t exist.

It’s why I’m wary of the “everyone must learn to code” mantra. Nah. You’re alright. “But it’s the future”, says the dude with an interest in preserving a workforce first and foremost rather than having anyone’s best interests at heart. Probably better off learning knitting, we’ll need jumpers as the weather takes its turns for the worst.

When I started out I looked round for things to ease the burden. Then, I didn’t even know if what was in my head would translate to screen as anything that would be considered kinda alright.

There was never a greater calling here. I didn’t always want to write videogames. Over the years I’ve done plenty of things that couldn’t be further from writing videogames and it’s sort of weird looking back at a few of these that were more demanding of my time and existence in real terms but less consuming of who I am than games are. But no, I didn’t sit down one day and play Elite or whatever and dream of universes bigger than mine and dream of coding them or one day stumble upon Cave Story and realise it could all be mine or I don’t know how this works, just don’t ask me. It’s a mystery.

I was bored. I started making games by myself because I was bored. Also because I had a few ideas I at least wanted to try at some point but mainly boredom.

I’ve done so many things just because I thought it would be funny, y’know? Sometimes it maaaaybe wasn’t like that time I wrote a game about a hamster disappearing up someone’s bumhole and having to dodge poo, sometimes it only amused me. Getting in The Guardian or in particular games press or on game sites. So many of these things just to see if I could because it’d be funny.

It’s why I smiled as Shahid and Yosp tickled the internet over DRM. I’d have done that. That’s very me.

Because the things I find fun in making games aren’t under the hood. It’s the cheeky things, the small silly things. And if I’m honest about stuff, there is a degree of proving people wrong that gives me a cheeky thrill. Everyone who said I couldn’t make games unless I learned to code, I couldn’t sell small games because no-one would buy them, I could never be in the papers, the press, I could never be on Steam or write for consoles.

I like proving them wrong. I like proving them wrong because every time I manage something like that, I know something has shifted in games. I know that if I can do it, the door is open for someone else now. That’s fun. We’ve still a long way to go and a lot of people to lift up but every bit helps.

And I guess what I’m getting at here is that it’s OK to be in games, to like games, to write games and not believe in the beauty of code or videogames as an island or whatever else. It’s OK to be here as you, y’know?

I know well enough from experience that along the way there’s plenty of people who’d prefer it if you were them or you followed their way instead and they’ll make all manner of convincing arguments as to why their way is the right way and they’re the reason I don’t turn up at many conferences, really. Well, that and my wanky health, natch. But you don’t have to listen to these dudes (and it is nearly always dudes), you can just be.

We don’t really make enough space for people to just be in games, y’know? We probably should.

Thank you for reading. My writing is made possible through the generosity of people who enjoy what I do and want to see more. If you liked this piece, please consider joining them in donating to my Patreon which helps fund new writing here and on Take This Machine.

Standard