Why do you make games?

edited in General
Considering that the forum seems to be in a bit of a... heart to heart, serious mode nowadays, how about another form of real talk :)

There's a talk I want to do sometime in the near future and although the topic is something else an important segue is people's motivations for making games. So I want to have an ask around the forum - why do YOU make games? Money, self expression, storytelling, journaling your own experiences, challenging people - what's your reason? Another way of phrasing the question - what is the purpose of the games you create?
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  • Sometimes I make games because I have eight hours and I've been told to do something in that time. :P

    Sometimes I make games for money.

    For more premeditated work, I make games because I want to feel valuable. It started off with the flush of satisfaction when my friends would enjoy my card game during school breaks. Then I expanded my focus to give something to communities of players, and after that started wondering about forms of enrichment other than entertainment. For this shift in focus, I felt inspired by art games first, then serious games. I now want to maximise the value I offer by putting my skills and resources, where possible, towards the sort of people who need us most.
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    I think back in 2005, the first issue of the Escapist magazine came out, and in it Kieron Gillen wrote a piece called "Culture Wargames" that said a lot of what I felt was magical about video games. I think reading it again today, a bunch of it comes across as rather grandiose, but it's still meaningful to me.
    Games create a cybernetic system between you and the machine, with your senses eventually expanding to possess
    your avatar when you’ve sufficiently mastered the control system. This is the absolute magic of the form, where you stop thinking, “I need to press X to jump,” and start thinking, “I’ll jump.”

    Just look at the language people use to talk about games to show how much their sense of identity has merged with their in-game character. If someone’s enjoying a game, it’s, “It hit me,” never, “It hit my character,” in the same way that a human’s sense of self can expand to include the vehicle they’re in (“He hit me!” versus the actually correct “He hit my car!”).

    Videogames are the simulator which swallows your consciousness alive and takes you to another place. While other forms just let you look at how the creators believe the world to be, games let you step inside an artificial construct and allow you to actually be there.
    I particularly liked how he broadens the definition of what a game is, and how a game can encompass a very wide variety of skills. This mattered a lot to me, because as a kid I enjoyed art, writing, music, maths, science -- almost every one of my subjects, and I had a whole lot of trouble finding a career path where I felt like I could express myself in all of those ways. I still don't think anything can do that the way that games can.
    It even helps games’ case that film is a more limited form in what it can present. Games can and have consumed influences from all other arts, and integrated them into a seamless whole. While the academic fisticuffs between the mechanic-hungry Ludologists and the story-obsessed Narratologists have attempted to define what games should be, all either has done is make the grand totality of games smaller to fit their prejudices. As much as a classical Narratologist may snort at Tetris or a Ludologist take issue with a Final Fantasy game, to remove either from the canon lessens the import of the canon. That beloved games with real power have come from both traditions, and successful hybrids appear at every point between the two poles, shows how foolish such attempts are. Games are bigger than that. With games’ immersion through interactivity, they can abstractly take us anywhere, show us anything and allow us to do whatever we want.
    The piece is over a decade old, and as far as I know Gillen's now writing graphic novels instead of game criticism, and the landscape of the games market's changed a whole lot since then, but I still believe there's loads of magic still to discover in the medium, and that we're constantly on the cusp of new ways of thinking, new ways of interacting, new technology, and new art.

    I still get watery-eyed just thinking about it. :')
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    Nice question ... 8-}

    I have two motivating factors.

    1). I ultimately want to make games that I would want to play. Sometimes similar games have been done in the past and I want to change the way it plays or add a different dynamic to it. Other times it is to rekindle an experience I had when growing up, playing a certain game.

    2). I enjoy watching people play my games and seeing their reactions. This is ultimately what it is all about, having fun and enjoying what you are playing ... just as I enjoy playing a game ... I would like the participants in my games to enjoy the games as well.

    Obviously you want to make money, but as long as I can cover my costs and ensure that I am not going backwards financially, I am happy to do ... if the money does come in because it is a huge success than that is an extra bonus. I am in the fortunate situation where my day job allows me to spend time making the things I enjoy, so there is no real pressure on me to become financially viable and chase the money ... so to speak.

    Gobbo Games was founded on this principal:
    Gobbo Games is an Independent Games Development company and creators of board games operating from offices in Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. We believe in creating high-quality cost-effective games that remain true to the belief of Independent Game Developers around the world.

    Our goal has always been to make high quality games that are price friendly and provide maximum entertainment value. As an Independent Game Development Studio we are able to achieve these goals by being focused on making games that ultimately we want to play ourselves.
  • I've always enjoyed the feeling of creativity when it comes to games regardless of the type of game or the fact that I was not paid to make the games.

    That has always been my view although becoming older the view changes slightly. I think the dream is to be working full time making the games I have always dreamed of making.

    1) Making games is fun. It is fun because you are able to create something from your imagination and put it in a more realistic state close to the real life and show others. You are also then able to play it and have the game work the way you want it to

    2) To one day do it full time - This is the dream. Instead of working for a company where you have to do what they want I hope to one day own my own game dev company where I can have the team I work for do what I want. To make my complex ideas a reality.

    3) Because I struggle to sit and do nothing - I struggle to have nothing to do. I get bored beyond measure if I have to sit and look at series all day or watch the ceiling. Game Development is never the same, every project I take on gives me new challenges which is the exciting part.

  • I want to be able to create a character one day that is so detailed that even the creators of final fantasy will complement me. I havn't always done the arts in gaming, never liked arts in school as well, because it was always just about cultures. I was a gamer since a young age, but the thing that interested me was always the graphics of the game. When i was young and i played final fantasy 7, i was like WOAAHHH this is like the best game ever look how cool it looks compared to my video games i had.

    Then Final Fantasy 8 came and it changed my life. I was like amazing! The adventure started when my friend wanted to try making a basic game and i started learning it and started getting addicted to learning more and wanting to better myself, seeing that someone is able to do in the new Final Fantasy coming out just blows my mind and i would like to achieve that goal. I will do as much tutorials it takes, read as much as i can and practice everyday as much as possible.

    I work the whole day at a company, but it doesn't give me a excitement, but when i know its time to go home, i get excited to try something new tonight. Like for instance while i do nothing i learn techniques and at night i love to implement it.

    My goal in Gamedev is by getting us to work full-time in it. If i can pay my own salary with a game i made, nothing more, nothing less, the ill be the happiest guy around. But what i would really love is to get that game out there, and get people to say. "WOAAAHHHH this is like the best game ever" - just like i said when i saw Final Fantasy 7.

    It's more than just releasing a game, it's like getting something out there to get noticed and to show people that you also have a skill to show off, even if its not being a singer or a actor. And having that piece out there will have people remember it.
  • Creating games is my hobby...so for fun, an escape, to keep me busy, to allow me to express myself in a creative way and to challenge myself. I manage a hardware store by day and I can't think of anything more far removed from that than game dev. Don't get me wrong, I quite like my work, but it's nice to be able to break away from that kind of work in my free time. Also, my son get's a kick out of my on screen creations and that to me is PRICELESS. Would I like to make money out of a game? Sure, but that is the last item on my list of motivating factors. Making games is just f*#@ing cool.
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    Is this like the #1reasontobe reason?

    Why do I make games... I thought about this. And thought some more. I didn't manage to come up with "one".

    But what I know is I've always made games without even thinking about it.

    I remember a playground incident where a rich kid said his dad was a game company boss and could make anything. I drew a super handheld console and gave him the design and he promised it would get made. I was 7 or so.

    Before high school, I made a few boardgames based on SNES games, one favourite was a Ganbare Goeman game that had you wondering around Japan collecting lucky cats and killing villains.

    Highschool was Klik n Play, mods for Duke Nukem, Command & Conquer, Red Alert (flaming rotwielers ftw), Starcraft, and so many more. Was very sad that I didn't have an Amiga, read all about the SEUCK in Amiga magazines. Standard 9 and 10's computer class final projects were Turbo Pascal-made Space Invaders with a twist, and Columns with a twist.

    Varsity, I was one of maybe three kids who put in our own time to master Flash, and I graduated as the Flash guy, with a bunch of really dumb games in my porti. Then advertising swallowed me and I made banner games, website games, whatever. Favourite piece was an augmented reality whack-a-mole game with really cool ghosty characters.

    Then I ran into MGSA at the first AMAZE Joburg. The rest is (contemporary) history.



    Why do I make games? If I had to give an academic answer:
    - Because I love the art of engagement and interaction.
    - Because I'm a cynical, critical bastard and I play games.
    - Because it crosses all sorts of disciplines that I seem to enjoy.

    But I don't really know why I make games, it feels like I just do it anyway, so why not do it "properly" :P
  • The simple answer? Because I can.

    I had access to the tools and had time on my hands and community/friends encouraging me to give it a try and I had a few years experience playing games to build on.

    From there I became very interested in the social aspect of games. Why people do what they do, make the decisions they do, interact with other players the way they do, why the images or words on the screen make them feel something or something else.

    Now I make games to play with those aspects and ideas, to keep my mind from boiling down into a lack of creativity puddle, and to have things I'm proud of*.

    *I guess in some ways this is why anyone creates anything - to have a thing that they've made, which is a special kind of thing for that person and allows unique interactions (from being praised, feeling superior, earning money, being proud, being humbled, levelling up, etc).
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  • I make games for the same reason the average person, who picks up a guitar the first time, tries to play a riff of their favorite song/artist instead of trying to compose a unique melody from the get go.

    I am trying to imitate the artists/developers/games that have captivated and inspired me for as long as my memory serves.

    Once imitation is achieved, if ever, then hopefully further progression in the art... Maybe creating a similar memorable, but unique experience... something of value to someone else.

    I think creating something and seeing it take on a life of its own, where an audience can take something you create much further, in ways that you would never imagine, would be the ultimate achievement.
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  • For me I make games because I love the creative outlet it provides while challenging my somewhat small brain.

    The journey of coming up with an idea and building it and tweaking it and seeing what it becomes is extremely satisfying for me. That moment you get something working you have been struggling with for hours or days (yes I am slow) is one of the best feelings in the world.
  • I don't actually know why I make games. I think its because I've looked around at some of the other stuff we can do on the planet and there isn't anything that interests me as much as games. Perhaps maybe working at SpaceX. I would love to work at SpaceX :)

    I've been wondering about the purpose of the games I make for a while now and I've concluded they don't really have a purpose other than to occupy me through their creation. I would love to do games that are more like the ones Nicky Case make which really changes peoples perception of the world, but at the moment it feels like the games I am making aren't all that useful to people other than myself and I would love to change that.
  • I wish I had the time to make games :(

    Sorry, </end> useless comment :P
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    I'm not going to talk about why I am a creator. I enjoy making things, and I'd only be in a profession where I could make things (be it websites, or fine art, or industrial design, or film, or writing, or music etc).

    The reason why I'm in games as apposed to any of the other fields is that I saw games as offering an opportunity to make my own work and have control over distribution (in the form of releasing indie games).

    (So I guess the short answer is the blame lies at the feet of Jonathan Blow and Jonathan Mak)

    In film there are huge distribution barriers, making websites almost always involves working for clients who own the IP, music has some of the most nefarious publishers of any creative industry, in fine art the galleries control the distribution, writing novels puts you entirely at the mercy of publishers...

    So games seemed to me to be a way I could make things and put them in the hands of users with very little interference, and word of mouth seemed to be a strong driver of sales, meaning a good product could rise up with very little support from established industry players. It still seems an industry blessed in this way (certainly compared to the alternatives).

    In truth, I did love video games, and I made lots of mods and levels to games I loved while growing up, as well as pen and paper games, and I definitely love creating entertainment more than I love creating otherwise useful things, and I think I enjoy creating interactive experiences more than non-interactive experiences. So video games are a great fit for me.

    And I've found subsequently the video games industry to be wonderfully challenging and rewarding on many axis. But I didn't know those things when I was getting into this.

    That said, I've had more success with making games than any of the other creative fields I have tried, so I expect that's shaped what I perceive to be enjoyable. Maybe one-day I'll write a book about it, and hopefully direct and score the straight-to-DVD movie based on the book.
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  • For me, it's gaming's ability to transport you. Games take you places you've never been, let you see and hear and interact with things that exist only in the imagination. You can walk on alien planets, solve murders, befriend dragons, learn wizardry, lead the resistance against the alien occupation of Earth, fight to stay alive another day in a world overrun by the hungry dead, or guide humanity as it takes its first steps into space.

    Other forms of media let you experience those things too, but only passively. You can watch Sherlock Holmes solve the case, you can empathize with soldiers going to war. But you're not a participant, you're the audience, always one step removed.

    Gaming let's you be there. That's magical.

    And I want to build those kinds of experiences. I want to create my own worlds, and then give them to people to experience for themselves.

    Game dev also engages all my talents in a satisfying way. I'm a programmer, a designer, a writer, an artist. I can pour all of myself into it.
  • @EvanGreenwood 's answer put what's in my head, into words.
    Well said and so genuine.
  • I wish I could come in with an answer that's half as inspiring as those by @Elyaradine @Tuism @EvanGreenwood or @GarethNN, but really I come at it from a much more mechanical position.

    Sure, games played a crucial role for me growing up, giving me places to escape to when I really needed them. But ultimately, they were just damned fun, and I fell for the common trap of thinking if playing them was fun, making them would be even funner :)

    Then when I started programming, I began to get a vague understanding of the magic going on behind the curtain. I got (still get) a big kick out of solving technical problems, and games offered some of the most interesting and practically accessible to solve. That's probably why the games that really inspired me are the ones that showcase solutions to interesting problems: the AI in B&W, the sense of speed in Wipeout.

    That's probably also why I don't really make games anymore. I can meet those same technical challenge needs in what I do now. I do miss being able to hand over a phone with the latest game I made to someone and watching them play it though :)
  • I've done a lot of introspection lately on this question and I'm not even sure why I try to make games. In a way I am split between an innate craving to make things, a curiosity to try out new ideas, and sometimes just wanting to prove to myself that I can do it. I've always failed to look at it from a player's perspective, mostly due to the fact that I rarely play games at all, but also because I don't generally find myself in gaming conversations with other gamers.

    I do enjoy it on a primal level though, and have found myself on several occasions over the years literally abandoning everything else for a few weeks of pure creative bliss, only to burn out once the core game is built or when it's time for art and sound and effects.

    It still is hella fun though to release a game, and obsessively stalk the stats to see if people are playing, or to get feedback from the users, and then once that wears off, checking again in a year or so to still see people regularly playing your game :)
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  • Because I want to make games that only I can make.
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  • That's probably also why I don't really make games anymore.
    I'd actually like to hear more from people who stopped making games, and why. Or pursue making games less often or with less passion than they used to.
  • I'd actually like to hear more from people who stopped making games, and why. Or pursue making games less often or with less passion than they used to.
    The challenge there might be that most of them aren't frequenting forums like this anymore :) I have old gamedev contacts that have moved on to other things, but the chance of getting them to come and contribute here would be zero. In most of their cases though the reasons would be about work-life balance and income.
  • mattbenic said:
    I'd actually like to hear more from people who stopped making games, and why. Or pursue making games less often or with less passion than they used to.
    The challenge there might be that most of them aren't frequenting forums like this anymore :) I have old gamedev contacts that have moved on to other things, but the chance of getting them to come and contribute here would be zero. In most of their cases though the reasons would be about work-life balance and income.
    I know :( But to me that's more interesting, and perhaps more pertinent, than why the people who are passionate are passionate.

  • I didn't understand the movie matrix before I started making games and I make games because I wanted to be an inventor when I grow up and games include all types of invention.
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