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GDC 2011: My Introspection from GDC2011

Filed under: Thoughts — Tags: @ 18:09

GDC 2011: This past week, a sizable (though sadly incomplete) contingent of Universal Happymakers spread their probing tendrils into the warm light of the Game Developers’ Conference. Each of us saw our own successes, had our own stumbles, and learned our own lessons. This series explores the Happymakers’ reactions to this peerless event.

/*This was wrote as an assignment………..I somehow feel there might be things that I could have talked more……….but anyway……….*/

This is my second GDC.

I can still remember, last year, when I was carpooling with my classmates heading to San Francisco, and wondering what kind of world was in front of me that I’d step into in a few hours. I was too excited to think about anything, just try not to act like an idiot. New things are always so attractive that I can hardly really see whether that’s what I want or not.

This year, I was a volunteer for IGDA and so that got an expo pass. Although I wasn’t able to go to those great sessions, I met a lot of new people that share the same passion about making games. I saw how energetic, creative and friendly people are in this industry, no matter what genders, ages or occupations.

But more and more, I started to think about that whether I was doing the right thing, whether I was going towards the correct direction, whether what I had been doing for a long time was valuable.I like games. I want to make games. But am I really suitable for being a game designer for the rest of my life? When I  was wandering around the expo area, people were still waiting in long lines in front of the big heads, leaving those small booths play with themselves. I asked myself, do I really want to go to those companies as a designer or an artist or a QA and work as a tiny part of those epic titles, which may not even happen in 3 years? Of course, they are probably not interested in me either, who doesn’t have computer science back ground, couldn’t draw or model awesome robots, and even have trouble talk about today’s weather or TV show in fluent English. And there’s another huge gap that caused by different cultures, which might be even more crucial. I turned around and didn’t really see many indie companies that would welcome student designers, as they were starting up and needed more help than screwing up.

I used to be an engineering student, and I studied math for quite a long time even before that. I am good at organizing, observing or analyzing things, making, discovering and obeying rules, and as a result I can learn new things pretty quickly. But correspondingly, things get boring really fast, and unless there are other motivations or accomplishments, I can hardly repeat the same thing even twice. Meanwhile, at the opposite extreme, it’s hard for me to move on or give up if there are still parts of  what I’m doing that are “undiscovered” or “uncompleted”, and sometimes just for a small goal I can repeat the same steps for hundreds of times without stops. Maybe because, subconsciously I know, I will never come back once I leave; or maybe because, I need a “perfect” ending. Like during the 5 days of volunteering, I was super excited and concentrated because I had never worked like that before, but then became less active just the second shift of the day because I was basically repeating the same dialogue and action less than every 5 minutes, and since there were so many people, I couldn’t really talk with or get to know anybody. But during the last 2 days, I was quite energetic when most of others looked like burned out, because there were less and less people, as well as volunteers, so I got to do more new stuff or dealing with different people just by myself.

And here comes some other issues. Since I am good at observing and analyzing things, it’s also not hard for me to cater people, if I really think about it and treat it as a puzzle or challenge. But I have moral issue about interacting with people when it relates to utilitarian, and I hate to cater people if there’s other reason than simply making them happy. That’s probably also why during the first two days of volunteering, I felt quite uncomfortable when people were trying very hard to network and tend to grab any chance to talk with whoever looked “valuable”. I wanted to find an internship for this summer, and I could talk with HRs without problem, but I hate to make friends because they may give me a job in the future. So when there were some people randomly standing next to me labeled as “CEO/CTO/etc…” from some big companies, I usually didn’t have the desire to start a conversation. And when I put off my idea about finding an internship, I somehow became more “talkative” and quite enjoyed the last two days.

But normal human beings can hardly live their lives by just doing what they want, so I used to try hard to fake my feeling and do things that need to be done. And like I said, I was a good learner, so if I really enjoyed it I could have already became an engineer or a business guy or a general manager. But the more I faked, the more I hated it. And because of this, I may be doing good, but I’m not going to be doing great. So I told myself, I would not touch business or management any more, let me do something else, something more interesting.

I like playing games, especially those great puzzle games. I feel being challenged in every new game and I’m learning new things. So I came here, I jumped out of my past and entered a totally new environment, and I keep telling myself I am going to be a game designer, not a programmer, not an artist, not a producer.

But now, when I finally start to look at it, I feel I just want to LEARN game design. Do I really want to be a game designer? I am actually not sure. If you really think about how the world is working, a lot of designers are not really designing games. They are busy programming, or making art assets, or simply feeding themselves. A lot of designers are too busy running their own studios/business or  just don’t have the rights to design the games they are working on.  A lot of designers are implementing games that their bosses, clients, customers, investors demanded. I enjoy making mini-games to make my friends happy, but more than that I want to make something big and valuable enough to change the world in a good way. To achieve it, being a game designer might have the longest way to go.

Besides, though I am trying hard to be creative, I feel I am lacking something that very important. At the same time, I can still see my advantages of being a producer or project manager, although I am actually losing them by being antisocial.

It seems already pretty late to rethink about this. I am not making any decision here and I am not willing to. I’d like to give myself the remaining time before graduate to think more carefully, giving the truth that thesis project will probably be my last chance.



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