Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Video Games

A little history... I was born in 1980, I was there at the beachhead of the game resurgence that came with the Nintendo Entertainment System. Video games have been a part of my life since I've had the ability to recall memory....

In 1988 my father suffered a severe head injury while at work. The result of the accident put him into a coma for 6 weeks and when he came out of it, half his body was paralyzed and he was severely brain damaged. He would never be the same again.

For four years he was in and out of different rehabilitation hospitals. The hope was that some functions could be restored. While he did make progress, it was limited and it was ultimately decided the rehabilitation had reached it's conclusion. I was 12 or 13 when my father came home to us. A shell of his former self.

At 13, just entering puberty I already had the odds stacked against me socially. I was always a chubby kid, but at this point I had started to reach the threshold beyond chubby to obese. I was into nerd culture, although we didn't call it that back then in the early 90's. Star Wars, Comics, Fantasy, and books. These were my interests. Above all were video games. More than any other media, video games presented me with an escape the others couldn't. Faced with the horror of what my father had become. The intense ridicule my peers laid at me. Video Games allowed me to be the hero. When Kefka laid waste to the world, it was me and my "friends" who stopped him. When Adol and Dogi went wandering through the land of Ys I was with them. Nothing else existed, these worlds, these creations made life bearable. It fueled my imagination, my sense of purpose.

As I grew up, as I matured and learned to deal with, and accept my life, my family, my place in the grand scheme of things; I knew I wanted to create these experiences for others. So I decided to dedicate my life to the creation of video games.

I wanted to create worlds of escape for the people of the world that needed it most. A safe haven to forget the harshness of reality... at least for a little while.

I learned something though in my career thus far though... unlike a book, or a comic, games are not the expression of any one person (albeit save for a few exceptions). Therein lies the rub. The medium of expression I have chosen is not one of individual expression at all. Sure there is joy to be found in the pride of job well done, a craft well executed.

Is is it though, the expression of an individual?

I don't know for sure.

If you are a writer and want to tell a story, you write a book. If you are a filmmaker and want to shoot a film you pick up a camera. A comic? Pick up a pencil.

If you want to make a game you....
learn to code
learn to make art (sprite, 3d, text)
learn to make sound
learn to animate
learn to design "fun"

There are examples of unique individuals who have done this. I applaud them. Knowing my limitations, knowing my skill. I doubt in my ability to do this. So I lay myself at the mercy of a studio. To perhaps, maybe influence a small part of a game. To maybe make something that will allow a child out there, one who is looking for an escape to find respite.

This Saturday I turn 36, the age my father was when he had his accident. I find myself looking back at that overweight kid, the one who found acceptance and escape in the fantastic world of video games so long ago. I ask myself. Have I fulfilled that desire, that yearning to create the worlds that saved me when I needed saving?

I've created levels, I've created characters, I've HELPED create games. However was it art? Were the games I played as child art? Or were they merely romanticized memories of a hurting boy?

Graphic designer James Victore says to Make work that matters, have an opinion, and love something other than yourself.

I believe I have fulfilled two of those mandates... I'm still searching for a way to fulfill the other.