Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Very Long Post About How to Become a Creator.

Even by my wordy standards, this page is super TL;DR. I suggest just reading it until I get to the bit where I plug my new game.
It has come to my attention that quite a few young, aspirant creators find my opinions to be of value when it comes to making a career in the game industry.

It's true, and it terrifies me.

Kids, most mornings I don't know whether to crap or wind my watch. (You used to have to wind up watches. Also, people used to wear watches.) My own kids don't pay any attention to me. I see no reason why you should. If I'm so smart, why am I old?

But I do get asked for advice about making a career as a game developer. A LOT. And some questions come up again and again. So I’m writing an answer to the question. I know it is hopelessly, bone-jarringly arrogant for me to do something like this, but I wanted to put my answer on one web page so I can send them here.

These are the answers that worked for me. Your answers will definitely be different. But still, this is a set of possible answers.

(Also, I have a new RPG, Avadon 3: The Warborn, to promote. I need to get it attention to buy food for my kids. Sorry. That’s how the sausage is made.)

As a bonus, much of this advice also applies to other fields. This blogpostlet might be useful if you want to be a writer, or a comedian, or a sculptor, or make naughty needlepoint.

Much of it is focused on encouraging you to actually create something, by yourself or in a small group. There's a reason for this: If you want a real job in AAA gaming, the best way to get it is to have a portfolio to show them. Being able to point at something and say, "See? I made that!" is a huge advantage, if not a necessity.

Here are five bits of advice, elaborated in my trademark snarky, excessively-worded style. Each bit of advice comes with an exercise for you, the aspirant. Do not skip the exercises. They are more important than the advice.

This person took my artistic advice once. Then he embarked upon a memorable career in hotel management.

This is MY advice. Mine. It is what worked for ME.

My advice is mostly oft-repeated cliches, written thousands of times already by more attractive people. My advice may not help you. It may, in fact, harm you. Do not use my advice without consultation with a physician.

A young lad in Dublin tried my advice, and he came down with simultaneous scurvy and rickets. He travels with the circus now. For four shillings, they'll let you poke him with a stick.

This advice is worth what you paid for it. Opinions are like assholes: Everybody has one.

That said, let's begin.

When you make 1000 things, make sure you make 1000 different things, not the same thing 1000 times.
Advice #1: Make Games.

"Eighty percent of success is showing up." - Woody Allen

If you want to make games, make games. You don't need permission. If you want to make board games, make them. If you want to make computer games, learn a programming language. Or learn GameMaker, or RPG Maker, or Twine. No wrong answers.

Or mod one of the many video games that are moddable. Again, you don't need permission. You can make a Skyrim dungeon and upload it and people will play it and let you know what they think, and this is amazing.

Once you have a game/mod/whatever, show it to anyone who will look at it. Get their feedback, and LISTEN TO IT. More specifically, listen when they say, "I liked this," or "This confused me," or "This made me want to quit." They will also give you advice for how to fix the problem. Ignore it. They're not the creator; you are. Just listen to how your work affected them. That is the precious feedback.

Then make another thing. And another. This is a very difficult craft to learn, and you will have to spend a lot of time and endure a lot of failure. In the end, the only way to ever learn how to make games (or sculpt, or write plays, or knit) is to do it. (It's the same for everything else. Want to be a carpenter? You'll have to saw a lot of wood.)

If your job and/or kids keep you too busy to do this, please believe me when I say you have my sympathy. Look at the bright side. At least you have a job and/or kids.

(Note that I am not saying, as some do, “You must create EVERY DAY or you FAIL.” You’ll probably need to take breaks sometimes. Just remember that, whenever you put the weight down, you do have to pick it up again eventually.)

It is sometimes possible to make a mod or adventure for a game so good that some company will just up and notice you and offer you a job. It has happened. Good, dedicated, serious talent is rare and valuable. (Warning: The quality bar for this is VERY HIGH. Yet, your goal is to be that good. That is what you are working toward.)

Exercise #1:

You should have these things around your home: A chess set. Checkers. A pair of dice. A deck of cards (any set of cards, from any game, even Candyland). Paper and a pencil.

Use some or all of these components to make a game. (If this exercise is too wide open, try using these materials to make a game where the players are trying to win a race. Limitations aid creativity.)

Teach the game to someone else. Play it 2 or 3 times.

If you want to create something (a game, a story, an earwax sculpture), and you've never tried to create that thing, STOP READING. GO DO IT. NOW. NO EXCUSES. YOUR LIFESPAN IS LIMITED, AND YOU WILL BE DEAD SOMEDAY! GO! You'll learn more from an hour of creating than from reading a thousand blog posts. This article will still be here when you're done, and blogs are dumb.

Real artists ship. Heck, I once had a big success with a game that looks like this!
Advice #2: Play Games. Thoughtfully.

If you want to excel in some art form, it is extremely valuable to be very familiar with that art form. Play games. A lot. Experience it. Know the history of your craft. Know how it developed and the mistakes and clever inventions people made along the way. The more you know, the more tools you will have in your happy little toolbox.

This is meant to be work. Playing one game fifty hours is fun. Playing fifty games of different genres and styles, for one hour each, is work. Really picking them apart and figuring out what worked, why it worked, what didn't work, and why it didn't work, requires effort and concentration.

It also provides an invaluable education, and you don't need to pay one penny beyond the cost of the games to get it. With freemium titles, bundles, and Steam sales, you get honestly get a ton of games (and thus a ton of education) for really cheap.

Exercise #2:

Think back to the last 3 (or more) games you played for more than ten minutes. For each one, come up with a list of three SPECIFIC things it did well, and three things it did badly. Then come up with one design element you can see yourself wanting to use in a game of your own.

You should be able to do this for any game. Every game has problems or rough spots, and I've never played for 10+ minutes a game so bad it had nothing to offer (even if it's just a cool little animation on the title screen).

A great example of inspiration from varied sources. Also a great topic for the "Find three good things. Find three bad things." exercise.
Advice #3: Absorb All Media.

Be a voracious consumer of media. Books. News. Movies. Even music. The more you understand humans and how the world works and stuff, the more resources you have to draw from when you create.

People always ask artists, “Where do you get your ideas?” Often, we get our ideas by filling our brains with as much stuff as possible and letting it swirl around and recombine until weird stuff pops out. The key step is the “filling” part.

For example, I am a news junkie. I read the New York Times every day. In 1996, I was writing a game called Exile 2: Crystal Souls, about a war in a huge series of caverns far underground. (I recently rewrote this game. It's pretty sweet. Check it out.)

At the time, the Siege of Sarajevo was going on. I read about it, and, as I did, it infected the story I was writing. It filled me with ideas for encounters and infected the mood of the whole thing, making for a grittier, realer, cooler game.

But others drew much deeper, more productive inspiration from that tragedy. For them, it inspired a terrific indie hit called This War of Mine. I can think of no better example of how being attuned to your world can improve your work.

Exercise #3:

Go look at a reputable newspaper and read the headlines. Pick an intriguing one and read the story behind it.

Now design a game based on that. Not just a few quick sentences. Really think about it. What genre? How would it play? What are the goals? What makes you fail? Try to get your mental design to the point where you can close your eyes and picture a minute of actual gameplay.

Then think of one aspect of your design that really intrigues you, and one aspect that is underbaked or unfun or won't work.

(For example, at this moment, I'm looking at an article about a young woman who died young and had her head cryogenically frozen. It is very sad, yes, but it also makes me want to write a funny, macabre business sim set in a second-rate fly-by-night head storage facility.)

I tried to come up with the best royalty-free image to convey the concept of "College Debt."

Advice #4: Be Careful About College.

At some point, if you're young, you have some formal education ahead of you. Perhaps college. In these exciting days, you don't have to teach yourself to make games. There are educational programs specifically designed to cram game stuff into your brain folds.

I am REALLY nervous about giving kids advice about where to throw tons of their post-tax education cash. I'm not trying to ruin anyone's life here. I must, however, say this:

Most people who try to get into the gaming business don't succeed. And most people who do get into the gaming business leave within 10-15 years.

When choosing a place to buy your diploma, ask yourself: "If I don't work in games, will my education plan still help me get a job?"

If the institution grants standard-issue bachelor's degrees, the answer is yes. Otherwise, be honest. If the answer is "no" or "probably not," think VERY hard before going into debt to go there.

Established creative types tend to be somewhat suspicious about schools that teach art. If you have drive, talent, and inspiration, you don't need a degree to express it. If you don't have those three things, you probably aren't going to make it no matter how many degrees you get.

Don't get me wrong. Going to college in your chosen field CAN help. It really can. You get to spend several years focusing on nothing but honing your craft, relatively undistracted by the hassles of life. Even better, you get to do so in the company of passionate, like-minded students, who can work with you, challenge you, and provide valuable networking contacts later on. These things are truly precious.

Also, a real college will require you to study a wide variety of different subjects, and this can be very valuable to a budding creator. Revisit Advice #3, above.

Yes, college can help. Just, if games don't work out, be sure you have a Plan B.

One more thing. College can be fun. Live a life. Just never forget one thing:

Somewhere in the dorms, there is a young woman who is working her ass off. She is going at it hard, day after day, studying like her life depends on it, because it does. You don't know her. Nobody does, because she is too driven to leave her room.

In five years, she is going to be your mortal competitor. When you start your business, if you aren't ready, she is going to kick your ass.

So I think it might be a good idea for you to be ready. Don't you?

Exercise #4:

If you're in college, finish your blog-reading break, and then get back to work.

If you aren't in college, you have saved yourself a ton of cash, but you will need to educate yourself. Go do Exercises 1-3 again. And again. And again. Also, find your own community of like-minded folks, online or in reality. Challenge each other. You can make your own college experience, if you try.

This article is long and I am tired and coming up with incisive images is a lot of work why are your still reading zzzzzzz.
Advice #5: Find Your Own Voice.

You are a unique being. Humans are unimaginably complicated. There has never been a person exactly like you, and there never will be again. You have within you, somewhere, a game/book/song/scarf that only you can create. Your job is to find your way to let it out.

This is called Finding Your Voice. If you can do this, and your work is good, you are very close to attaining your dream.

(Of course, it's possible that, in the end, nobody will want the things that only you can make. Don't feel bad. Happens every day. It will happen to me someday. Then I'll get a soul-deadening job writing database software until I die. Oh, well. I had a good run.)

The problem is that, as you work, everyone in the world will be screaming at you what you should and shouldn't do. These loud people come from all design aesthetics and from both ends of the political spectrum. They all have one thing in common: They want to control you. You don’t have to let them.

Academics and college professors will tell you the true meaning of "Games" (or "Ludic Creations" or "Interactive Oppressions", or whatever intentionally obscure term they come up with). If your professor comes to you with friendly, concrete advice about improving your work, give them a serious listen. Otherwise, duck and cover.

No matter what you make, someone will try to bully you for it. Everyone in the world will have an opinion, and it will be LOUD. Don't let them into your head. Find your own voice. It's more fun that way.

This is art. Nobody knows anything, really. Just remember that, at several points in your learning, a trusted authority figure, in person or online, will serve you up a plate of pure, good olde-fashioned crappe.

This is OK. It's part of the process. Often, figuring out why someone’s bad idea is bad is far more educational than just meekly absorbing a good idea.

Just don't ever take anyone's words as Absolute Truth. Your path to success might be proving them wrong.

Never forget that, in the end, all of the teachers and web commenters and friends and family and me will fade away, and it'll just be you sitting there staring at a blank screen. It's all up to you, friend.

Exercise #5a:

You might profit from spending a little time developing confidence and humility. You should know about and beware of Imposter Syndrome. However, you should equally beware of its evil opposite, the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Learn about them. You have to be confident enough to persevere, but not so confident that you can't tell that your poop stinks.

For a little reality about the road ahead, you should hear about the 10,000 Hour Rule. When you are 5000 hours in and not sure you're making progress, this will remind you that you are still getting better. Just slowly.

Exercise #5b:

You need to be able to recognize when your own work is flawed. Go back to the best games that you made. For each, identify one flaw or way it could be improved. Then make it better.

Sometimes I can't resist ending with a bonus inspirational quote.
The Hard Truth Of The Thing

A career in games is hard. You really have to scramble to get a long-hour low-paid position, and you may well be laid off right after your game ships. In other words, it's as harsh and demanding as most artistic careers.

Don't try to do games for a living unless you're pretty sure you couldn't be happy doing something else. You can always write games as a hobby. It's still a fun creative outlet, and who knows? You might have a financial success and end up doing it for a living despite yourself.

Time For a Big, Rousing Finish. Cue the Trombones!

At least 20% of what I've written is useless garbage.

For you.

If you try to be a creator, you will end up developing your own way to do it, your own process, your own workflow unique to you. This always happens. Some of the smug, cookie-cutter "wisdom" above just won't apply to you. It's OK. You're a free person, and it's awesome.

I love making art. All guidelines can be ignored. All rules can be broken.

I especially love making games, because games are weird and new and nobody really knows anything about what they can do. Plus, games! Games are fun! Wheeee!

Your elders can give you a ton of advice, but, in the end, it's your brain on the line, splatting itself out for all to see.

You're a creator now, another in a lineage of creators millennia long. That is awesome. Be proud.

Get going.


Little nuggets of my dubious wisdom can sometimes be found at my Twitter. The really nifty retro RPG I just released is on Steam.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

We Released Avadon 3! (Also, a Few Words About Free Time)

Avadon is done. That's 5 years of my life, tied up with a bow.
I don't always write controversial, widely-read blog posts that make people way, way, WAY angrier than they should be. I also make games.

At last, we have completed the Avadon Saga! Avadon 3: The Warborn is out for Macintosh and Windows! We are selling this fine, indie, retro, story-heavy RPG on Steam, GOG, Humble Store, and our own site.

Our next step is to port the game to the iPad, and hope that Apple doesn't accidentally step on us with its big, lumbering feet.

I wrote in some detail about who we are and what the Avadon series is like in May. I don't like to repeat myself. I prefer to troll the Internet by bantering about whether or not video games are Art or not. (Answer: Good Lord! Who cares?)

It is very exciting to finish a fantasy saga, the third big one I've completed. I'm sure you find it perplexing, as taking forever to actually wrestle a story to the ground is a constant plague in the genre. My secret technique: 1. Sit down in a warm, dry place. 2. Figure out how the story ends. 3. Write that.

Anyway. What to blog about? I'm trying to make interesting blog post that people tweet about so I can get a tiny scrap of attention and maybe sell some games.

Avadon 3: The Warborn is my 16th full-length, all new game. (My 24th, if you count remasters. And I put a lot of time in my remasters.) This is a large number. I've been writing indie games an unprecedentedly long time, and aspiring developers, for some reason, are often interested in my advice about things.

So, since I'm entering my blissful quiet period between games, I wanted to say how I spend that time. Because I know some of my in-depth fans like to know how I make the stuff they like. And because, when you want to be a creator in the long term, profitably expending your downtime is vitally important.

(If you don't care about me or my process, and you shouldn't, your time may be more profitably expended getting a huge, free demo of a cool new RPG.)

So what am I about to do?

Screenshot of my game provided for crass self-interest purposes.
1. Rest.

"If you're going to rest, rest."
- Angry White Pyjamas 

If you are a driven, type-A person, it can be hard to rest. You might think, "Oh, I'll sit around for an hour, but first I'll write a blog post/make some calls/do some design work/not rest."

You need rest to live. Pick a time. Pick something that will rest you. Spent that time doing that thing. I know you're driven. That's why you are a success. You still need to refill your tank for when it really counts.

2. Play Games.

This is actually work.

While I write a game, I am filling my Steam library. If it's hip or gets my attention or is in a nice, cheap bundle, I buy it. Now is the time for me to try them. All of them.

The purpose of this is to evaluate the state of the art. Find out what sorts of designs are hot now. Sample all of the weird mash-ups indies have come up with. ("Procedurally generated tower-defense roguelike") Look for new interface innovations, and see what irritates me so I know not to do that.

I play each game until I think I've seen everything new it has to offer. Most games get 15 minutes, tops. I especially try games in my genre, RPGs, even though I hate the vast majority of them. (I am a VERY jaded RPG gamer.)

Every once in a while, I find that rarest of treasures: A game I actually enjoy playing. This is a true treat. I actually play it for a while for fun, to remind myself why I do this. (This time around, I'm playing a lot of Inside and Salt & Sanctuary. Great games.)

As always, terrific color art provided by Ben Resnick.
3. Gather Ideas.

When I am not formally working on a game, it's a wonderful time to just go for long walks and thing up ideas. Stare at a wall. Listen to music. Think. Imagine. Write down what comes to me. It's a wonderful bit of freedom, to just let my brain wander.

99 out of 100 ideas are never used. But that 100th idea? That might be the bit of gasoline that fuels years of productive development.

But Back To Avadon. There Is a Demo.

Demos of games are vanishingly rare now, but I'm cranky and stuck in my ways, so I provide them. I don't want to take your money until you are sure the game functions and you like it.

We still have the biggest demos in the biz. You can download one on Avadon 3's page on our site.

(By the way, since I am often asked, we get the biggest cut of $$$ when you order using the Humble widget on the game's page. This comes with a Steam key. However, I am very grateful when you order no matter where you do it from.)

I'm still really happy with this screenshot. Looks even better in the trailer.
I Hope You Like the Game

The Avadon trilogy was very different from what came before. A lot of new people loved it. A lot of our old fans really didn't. I genuinely enjoy playing them, so I'll vouch for them. I think Avadon 3 is really cool. It's a gruesomely tough market, but I'm optimistic. I hope you like it.

On to the next thing ...

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

No, Video Games Aren't Art. We're BETTER.

Do you think this should fill me with shame? Because it does not.
"When I was twenty, I worried what everything thought of me. When I turned forty, I didn’t care what anyone thought of me. And then I made it to sixty, and I realized no one was ever thinking of me."
- Bob Hope, as told by Patton Oswalt

I used to argue passionately that video games were art.

Then I stopped arguing about it, because why bother? Of COURSE video games are art.

Now I see that it's a waste of time thinking of video games as art. Why would we game designers ever aim that low?

I Don't Want Art. I Want Transportation.

I just finished playing DOOM. Like many, I was amazed by how awesome a game it turned out to be. Penny Arcade had the perfect description for it: "Playable sugar."

DOOM had three of the best boss fights I've ever seen. Punishingly tough and yet scrupulously fair. When I died, I could say, "OK. I know what I did wrong. I won't do that again." When I fought those bosses, I was utterly transported. The rest of the world vanished. When I won, I was sweaty, wrung out, and completely satisfied.

I love literature and theatre. I love great movies. Yet, I can't remember any work of art, no matter how good, that consumed and drained me as much as the Cyberdemon in DOOM.

When I beat it, I felt proud. It is dumb to feel proud about something in a video game. The feeling was real nonetheless.

Nobody considers DOOM a work of Fine Art. Nor should they. Bloggers are not grinding their gears contemplating the True Meaning of DOOM. Nor should they.

It's not art. It's simply awesome.

Why would I ever be unsatisfied with Awesome?

Put this in front of me, and I will be lost until the sun comes up. Nothing else has that power over me. Should I be ashamed of this? Because I am not.
We're Doing Fine Without You.

It always peeves me when some blogger says, "Video games are OK, I guess, to the simple-minded. But they're not enough. They are unworthy. They're [string of negative adjectives], and it is up to me, hero that I am, to FIX them at last!"

Get over yourself. Video games are fine. No, they're not fine. They’re doing GREAT, by every possible metric.

Number of titles? The market is gruesomely flooded. (Gruesomely for developers, I mean. For fans, it's an overwhelming embarrassment of riches.)

Number of fans? Video games are popular to the point of global invasion. Find me a human, and I will find a game that can addict them.

Financial success? We're a 100 BILLION USD a year industry. We're huge and getting bigger every year.

Artistic accomplishment? Creativity? Look up any Best Games list from 2014 or 2015. Video games are breaking new barriers in craftsmanship and artistic expression every year and turning profits while they do it.

Diversity? Pick any demographic group, and someone is making games to cater to them personally. It's one of the great advantages of a gruesomely flooded market. (Of course, not every game will cater to you personally, but that's not possible or desirable. Other people get stuff they like too.)

Video games are taking over the world, and they're doing it in style.

We're winning because we offer something better than art. We offer Experience.

If you don't think Pong is fun, try it with friends. It holds up.
I Understand The Last of Us On a Higher Level Than You

The Last of Us is a truly great game. Many have written about it, including me. I recommend it very highly.

But here's what bugs me. The cutscenes of The Last of Us told a very good story. Those cutscenes, all together, would make a solid B+ zombie movie. But when bloggers wrote about it, they treated the actual game part of The Last of Us as this sort of useless, irritating, vestigial limb.

Without the gameplay, the action, the battle, the fear, the dying again and again, The Last of Us is just an above-average zombie movie. The true greatness of the experience is in the sneaking and the stabbing and the shooting and the dying. (LOTS of dying.)

Here's Why.

Would You Survive the Apocalypse?

It's not a hypothetical question. I mean it. Think about it. Five seconds from now, zombies leap in through the window. Civilization is OVER. Would you make it through?

Well, here's a way to think about the question.

Imagine starting a game of The Last of Us on the highest difficulty level. (Or The Walking Dead. Or DOOM, for that matter.) Go into it blind. Try to play through the whole thing, front to back, without dying.

If you make it, you survive the apocalypse. If you're one of the 99.9999% of people who don't make it, you die. You help make up one of the mountains of skulls that serve as DOOM background.

Try it. It's an amusing exercise. It took me five tries to get through the tutorial of The Last of Us, so I know where I stand.

I had a much older relative once who thought she was immune to video games. Then this infected her. Eventually, she shook free, but she never again dismissed the power of our craft.
Of Course, This Isn't Literal Truth.

Obviously, the skills to win a video game are different from the skills needed to literally survive the End of Days. I know this.

The Last of Us, the actual game part of it, is trying to do something impossible. Like, literally impossible. It is trying to give us a glimmer of a portion of a sensation of understanding the experience of the end of the world. It doesn't succeed, of course. It can't.

But it does come closer to putting us INSIDE that experience than anyone else. We're not watching, we're doing. We are, in an indirect way, mediated through joysticks, living an experience. We are taking part in a compelling demonstration of how fragile our lives are. How utterly inadequate we are to the challenge.

The Last of Us can trick our brains, for a moment, into thinking we're struggling for survival. Similarly, Minecraft can trick us into feeling like we're building something glorious out of nothing. Cookie Clicker creates a powerful sensation of growth and progress, abstract but compelling.

When I write a game, I try to make you feel like you have power. Then I try to make you feel the awesome, terrifying responsibility of having power. When I force you to make a tough decision, for a brief moment, I can reprogram your brain and take your thoughts somewhere they've never been before. This is amazing.

That is, at heart, what the games we make are. They are tools we creators use to compel and rewrite your brains. We haven't begun to come to terms with the power we've unleashed with these toys, these addiction machines.

This is an integral part of childhood now. It will only stop being thus when it is replaced by something even more powerful.
SimCity Isn't Art.

Nor is Civilization. Or Halo. Or Space Invaders. Or Castle Crashers. Or DOOM. Or Super Meat Boy. Or Hearthstone. Or League of Legends. Or Clash of Clans. Or Minecraft. Or Pac-Man. Or Solitaire. Or Pong. Not art. Why would they aim that low?

They provide consuming experiences. They are compulsions.  I'm not going to argue that they're High Art. They aren't. They're SuperArt. They take over your brain and let you get lost in them.

I can see why Artists look down on what we do. They have no choice. They certainly can't compete with us. What we do is irresistible. Authors and playwrights are dinosaurs, and we're throwing the asteroids. We'll let Film and TV survive. For now.

Atari Adventure doesn't look like much. Yet I've seen this silly thing compel people, young and old, for a whole evening. Not an evening many years ago. An evening NOW.
"But What About Games That Do Try To Be Art, Smart Guy?"

They're great. I am a huge fan of video games borrowing storytelling techniques from obsolete art forms. Beginner's Guide. Gone Home. Her Story. Firewatch. All worthy titles that fused game elements with more mundane art forms to create things that felt new and fresh.

A lot of indie games now are movies that you stroll through with the WASD keys. You can make a neat game this way. I’ll probably buy it. Just don't think it makes your work inherently superior to more gamey games. If you're just telling a story at me, well, a lot of media can do that. When I play Overwatch or Dark Souls or Civilization, I am transported in a unique way only video games can provide.

This is my game. It doesn't look like much. Yet, for 20 years, I've gotten fan mail telling me how addiction to my work threatened relationships and livelihoods. Good.
I Am Done Apologizing For My Craft.

I have been obsessed with video games for as long as they have existed. These strange, shaggy, crude, profane, elegant, lovely creations are my life's work. I love them.

However, video games have a crippling self-esteem problem. We are desperate for validation, and this makes us targets for any shyster who wants to take advantage of us.

Roger Ebert says he doesn't think we make art, and we lose our minds. Some people seriously claim games don't deserve the journalism due any industry of our massive size, even while ripoffs and shoddy goods are an epidemic. Academics and print journalism write about us in terms that are condescending, uninformed, and occasionally slanderous, and we cravenly respond,  "A newspaper cares about us! Please act like we're worth something! Please!!!" When you are sufficiently desperate for validation, even abuse can feel like love.

Enough. Developers and gamers are working in a symbiotic relationship to create something entirely new, a craft unlike anything in human existence thus far. We are exploring a new realm of possibility, and I count myself truly blessed that I get to take part in it from its infancy.

I just finished a game called Avadon 3: The Warborn. It's pretty cool. It has a lot of neat scenarios, choices, characters, battles, and just plain good stuff. I made a little world for you to try on for size. I hope you like the little toy I made. I've already started building two more.

Video games are so powerful that they can even disrupt the Magic of Friendship.
We've Only Taken the First Few Steps of an Epic Journey!

Want to pitch in? If you have ideas, suggestions, or feedback, we designers need to hear them.

Don't get me wrong. While our craft is awesome, it's still young. We still have so many ways we can improve. There are so many sorts of things we can and should do (design, technical, storywise) that we aren't yet. We need everyone's feedback to make a great thing better.

But I personally do require one thing: That your criticism be delivered with respect and love for the craft. If you don't like video games, don't play them. Fine. It’s your time. But we're already pretty terrific, and we're getting better. Fast. With or without you.

Stop using the word 'art'. Erase it from your dictionary. It's too weak a word. I want nothing less than to compel you. I am coming to consume all your thoughts, all your attention. I want to absorb you to the point where it threatens your marriage and your livelihood.

Video games should not interest or impress you. We should scare you. Video games are taking over the world. You haven't even seen a fraction of what we can do.