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Shut Your Mouth

March 15, 2009

Video games are an exciting medium. There’s no denying that. However, there is also no denying that video games designed by people who are not serious about designing video games usually don’t come out so well. Kind of like how movies made by people who don’t make movies are nearly unwatchable. I would never go up to a film director and say, “I have this great idea for a movie.” So why is it that people feel the need to come up to game designers and say, “I have this great idea for a game?”

People, please, for the love of God, keep your ideas to yourself. If you want to make a movie, go out, buy a camera, and make it. Similarly, if you want to make a game, go out, buy Flash, and make it. There is no need to get others involved. The quicker you get your mistake out of the way, the quicker you can move on.

The part that confuses me is what we are expected to do with your idea. If we even bother to listen to it in the first place, we are more than likely going to shoot it down. Why? Because as far as we can tell, you are all talk. Honestly, if you don’t already make games or actually want to make games for a living, what is the likelihood you’ll actually go out and make it, even with our approval?

The biggest issue I have seen with these so-called “game pitches” from people who don’t actually make games for a living is that they either end up being too narrow or too broad. The average gamer sees the big picture of the game, is not concerned with the minute details of the underlying design. What ends up happening is we hear you pitching not a full game, but maybe one feature of a game or one specific level, and usually there is nothing outside the box. Which means, of course, we don’t want to waste our time helping you expand it. We have enough to work on as it is.

People who do not design games do not realize you can make a game out of anything, that games do not have to all be about post-apocalyptic worlds, space marines, zombies, hookers, etc. One of my most recent creations is a simple game about hugs that you can play anywhere, any time. Another good example would be whoever invented The Game (you know, the one I just lost). That person is a genius and should have been awarded game of the year back in 2008. 

So kids, please, leave the game designing to the game designers and we’ll leave you to do whatever it is you do. Promise. If you do get the itch, though, pick up Theory of Fun by Raph Koster. I understand that there is a level of jealousy involved that makes everyone want to design games, and also that I can’t stop you if you do get that itch, but please remember that you don’t have to make a AAA game. You’re better off if you don’t. Make something indie or casual. Something that is less of a risk and possible detriment to your career elsewhere.

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