So, I went to GDC earlier this year and found meeting and hanging out with all of the indie game developers very inspirational. It made me raring to go to get working on a) my writing with focus, dedication and commitment; and b) making games for fun!
As someone with zero relevant expertise and since I am busily procrastinating on part A as much as I can, I decided to write myself some advice on part B, and came up with these top 3 things to work on...
1. Start making games
Now? Yes, right now, like actually today. Maybe I don’t know how to code, or draw, or anything at all. But I do know how to use Google, right? I just need to download a few of the programmes that people who have no skills whatsoever can use to make totally playable games! Then share that game, get feedback to improve, rinse and repeat. Easy as.
Spend 30 minutes per day making games (everyone has 30 minutes they can claw back from somewhere) and in a month I will have spent 15 hours making games, in 3 months 45 hours, and in a year 180 hours. Wow!
2. Start saving
Can I put aside €10 this week, €20 next week, €5 the week after and so on and so forth for the next year? Maybe pop in a bit of savings money, maybe forgo an evening out drinking or a new book/game/movie? Mine some Bitcoins? I bet I can. What for? So I can attend GDC again next year.
* Airfare = €500 if you are willing to book in advance or fly inconvenient routes
* Accommodation: Staying in a dorm at the hostel where all the indie developers stay (which is almost as good as the conference) = €29/night, or €145 for the 5 nights of the conference
* Food = €20/day will have you sorted just fine - you get bagels and fruit in the hostel, massive burritos cost about €5
* Drinks = free at all the parties of which there are 10+ per night.
So, save up €750 and I am basically covered. That is €14.50 per week for the next year. Yeah, the actual tickets are astronomical, but I can get at least an expo pass free in the weeks prior to the conference or volunteer or get sponsorship, etc.
3. Eliminate “Yeah, but” from my conversational repertoire
So let's get down to brass tacks here Char. You know what all of the people who really succeed in the games industry, the tech industry and the world in general have? A good attitude. I don’t mean a roll-over-and-take-whatever attitude or an everything-is-so-beautiful attitude. I definitely don’t mean a perky-pollyanna attitude. But what is a good attitude?
Make games, talk about games...and don’t be dismissive of other people/games/ideas by rebutting everything positive you hear with “yeah, but…” You know what I mean? I mean “yeah, but that’s fine for him, he has loads of money” or “yeah, but she knows someone who knows someone” or “yeah, but he did programming/art/writing/business in college” or “yeah, but THE ECONOMY”. You know what I mean (of course you do, you're me).
Nobody has everything it takes, nobody has a perfect life, and nobody is right all the time. There is an awful lot of “yeah, but” in the lower echelons of all industries, and it is unsurprisingly pretty absent at the top, since people displaying it tend to get whittled out at entry-level. It’s a conversational dead-end, there is nowhere to go from it. A little cactus of bitterness fighting to survive in a desert of fear.
Check out anyone you truly admire and watch their speech and actions, you will find it pretty free of shutting conversations down with “yeah, but” and much heavier on clarifying questions. I mean “Have you got any tips on how you manage to create games alongside your 9-5 and your family?” or “How did you fund it? Oh great, thanks for the tip!” or “How did you get this done within that engine? Cool, I didn’t know you could do that!” or “I understand there are lots of difficulties, but how can we get this done anyway?” Believe in yourself, believe in your creations. If you don’t, who will? And believe in being open to others and what they have created without bitterness or fear (the base emotions of “yeah, but”). Don’t you want to be treated the same way? Yes, I do.
I may know less than nothing about game design or development, but I’m pretty sure that if I actually practice these 3 things every week over the next 52 weeks? I’ll be a game designer, someone who has made games (with at least 180 hours kicked in? Games plural!), chatting and laughing about games with other game designers, at the largest games industry event in the world (which is also the most fun crammed into 1 week that is possible).
Sound like a plan?