Eating Your Own Final Boss

Purpose

I’ve been thinking a lot about why someone creates a video game, and contrasting that with why someone creates an app. The much-repeated Valley-ism, “Build something you want to use,” starts to fall apart when it gets applied to games, so what’s the motivation? I don’t pretend to have an answer to the question quite yet.

Something Missing

There’s a hole in my heart right now, and the only thing that can fill it is the most perfect video game that has never been created and is super specifically tailored exclusively to me, my life, my expectations, and my preferences. The technologist in me is saying “you can build that experience”, but I worry that by creating it, I will destroy my ability to enjoy it.

What do the people who work on games feel when after their game is released? Do Nintendo’s engineers head home to relax and play some of the new Super Mario? Have they already, throughout the development of the game, played it to Hell and back, and despise it? Do they notice every unnoticeable quirk, and does it kill the experience for them?

If they know the story, the twists, the optimal way to build their character, the best strategy to get through the hardest part, the most interesting level in the game, the coolest boss, the end, the alternate end, the secret area that only they, as the developer, know how to get to...if they know everything, is it fun?

It’s hard to imagine that, to its designer, any game fulfills its design goals (whether that is fun, fear, education, whatever). But it has to, right? Or, at least, it should. If it doesn’t, it’s defeating - why (or how) do you create a fun experience without experiencing the fun you are creating? Is the designer’s reward supposed to be the creation of the experience? I hope not; that sounds like a cop-out.

In the tech industry, the common wisdom goes, “Build something you, yourself, want to use”. That’s fair enough. It’s pretty easy to swallow if you’re talking about the utilitarian, functional stuff most of us web people work on every day. Using what you build has a whole bunch of benefits. Entertainment, the purpose of a game, is usually not one of those benefits. I’d actually be pretty afraid of being entertained by utilitarian code I wrote.

It does feel like the user and the player are the same person. But, related to their product, the game designer peg and the web designer peg don’t fit into similarly-shaped holes. Their skills and technology have a weird crossover–what goes in is more-or-less the same. But what comes out is pretty damn different. There’s clearly a lot happening between that I still have to learn.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. It’s not the only one! Please enjoy reading another from the list of selected posts below. You can see all my posts here.

How much does it cost to sell stuff online?

Looking at the current state of consumer ecomm fees.

Respre

Introducing a new tool for Responsive Design.

Anxiety Debt

Mental overhead from our digital social lives is getting us down.

Three from Last Week

Company retreats, client projects and babaganouj.

For the Love of the URL

A love letter to the endangered visible URL.

The Internet is a Mirror

Reminding myself that the internet is what you make of it.

This Website

Consider this my "About" page.

Fall

Motivation, cold weather, and moving to New York City.

Finishing

The journey can be so addicting, I might never arrive.

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