The World Doesn’t Need More Video Games

According to research by Jacob of Gaming Shift, roughly 1,181,019 games have been made for modern platforms (so excluding the many thousands of games from the 1970s to the early 2000s). Chances are that anything you can think of has already been done, but if you feel like making a game, go ahead and make it anyway. Just do it because you want to rather than out of some sense of duty towards humanity or whatever.

Maybe it’s just me, but I have the feeling that many others also suffer from the oppressive feeling that the things we do with our time must have some greater purpose or function than simply our enjoyment of the experience. And I think that pressure can be the catalyst for twisting something we enjoy into something we actively try to avoid. Personally, my best example of this is RocketTux, a game that I wanted to finish two years ago, which I honestly no longer work on, yet I regularly chastise myself for neither completing nor following up on.

So what went wrong?

Well, the initial purpose of RocketTux was pretty simple. I had just gotten a Chromebook and I thought it would be fun to use said Chromebook to make games that can run really well on it. The idea of “couch dev-ing” seemed pretty great after all those hours at my desk working on Legend of Hondo. So I did some research on Chrome Apps for ChromeOS and the various tools I could use for graphics and sound creation, which lead me to Phaser CE for Javascript game development and various online tools.

It only took a few months for me realize that working with Google’s Chrome App platform sucked. There were so many needless complications and constant changes that even with my crappy little app, I had to keep changing code I had already completed. If ever you’ve read my blog, you’ll know that I really fucking hate revisiting completed code due to, “like, changes man”. Meanwhile, I had written all of my game design on the premise that Chromebook hardware kinda sucks and the overhead/limitations of using the Chrome browser puts a lot of stress on the crappy hardware. As a result, the game I envisioned, the game I designed, and the game I ended up building were very different. Disappointingly different.

Eventually I threw up my hands and said, “screw it, I’ll make it a generic web app rather than a ChromeOS app!”. I had already moved the development over to my Desktop PC anyway and it was very easy to use NW.js to wrap a Chrome browser around the game…

So there I was, back sitting at my desk working on an open source game that I will probably never play so that I could learn… what? What exactly was the point of the exercise again???

Creating RocketTux was supposed to be a stepping stone, a way for me to learn how to use PhaserJS so that I could go forth and make other games with my Chromebook that struck my fancy (I already knew how to make games in C/C++/Lua/etc on a normal PC). But, somewhere along the way my mind twisted it into also being other crazy things, like “a gift to students and the open source community at large” or worse, “proof that I don’t suck and that I can finish what I started”. Over time the project morphed from a fun hobby into a tangible portion of my very self worth, yet it was also trapped in a crummy system with a design full of compromises, all of which was locked behind the “sunk cost” of having completed so much already…

I had lost my way. I felt bad about myself. I gave up.

But you know what?

The world doesn’t need me to make computer games.

It’s OK for our hobbies to be nothing more than stuff we do simply because we enjoy doing it, even if we’re not “good at it” or we never “make anything out of it”. I hereby give all of us permission to start knitting a blanket and turn it into a scarf three months later, because, wow, blankets are big! Yup, if you want to make crappy paintings on bits of cardboard with paints you bought at the dollar store, like I do, go for it. I even painted a yard gnome one day – he was looking shabby and you know what, it was fun! Truly, enjoying the process is what hobbies are all about.

I need me to make computer games, because I enjoy the creative process and the puzzle solving. However, I don’t need to make them in a way that isn’t fun for me; The world doesn’t need more video games.