Cascade of personal revelations incoming! TMI, so much TMI. Mute nao.
* I’m sort of terrible at being for-real competitive in creative spaces. I suck at participating in Game Chef. I’m neurotically frozen in place about that Civics game design thing. I compete in other parts of my life, no problem. I would even consider myself a competitive person. So what’s up with creativity?
* This extends beyond just game design. I went to school for music composition and I’m a published author. In school, I’d get discouraged when someone else submitted a modified-piano thing when I had been working on a modified-piano thing, and just pull out. But then again I also wrote a mountain bike guidebook when there were already several on the market, and I didn’t get hung up about that. Because I knew I could do better. You could look at the offerings and ways to improve were clear. Magazine articles, though? It’s why I couldn’t make a full-time career out of it: I’d think up a story angle, see the same story angle a couple weeks later, and toss my draft out the window. Story of my life. Ideas are cheap, work is hard, discouragement is an easy out.
* I think my deal started with that thing where kids who are complimented on their smarts and talent don’t do well because they don’t want to disappoint anyone. That’s why modern parenting theory says to compliment the work and not the talent, because the work is something you can do something about. You have no control over your talent.
* That somehow mutated into this thing where I value novelty over quality. Is it new? Has nobody ever done this before? It’s a way to dodge actual competition, right? I don’t have to be better if I’m different. Totally contra Roger Ebert’s “it’s not what the movie is about, it’s how it’s about it.”
* Novelty plays a part as well, especially in the game design space. Hence generations of fantasy heartbreakers that are (arguably) objectively better than D&D but aren’t different enough. Then again you’ve got niche fantasy like Earthdawn that’s different, but D&D squats the mindshare.
* Anyway! This isn’t about the big bad scope of all gaming everywhere, this is about me stumbling into a malformed piece of myself that I’m finally figuring out how to face. Because now I’m stepping into the ring for real, I hope, and I can’t (just) count on novelty to score a victory. It has to be new but it has to be better as well.