Find what you need.
The game design training that I have been put through, shaped in truth more by me, my co-students and the internet than by any forces of academia, have focused perhaps too much on doing things the right way. Nothing shows it like the thesis presentations we've been doing this final week. Like true scholars, we have sought the truth of how games should be made and why they work their magic. And that's all very interesting, and I do believe it will work wonders for the medium in the long run. But as creators, we need something more than the recipes.
I believe that it is the the duty of every creator to find his or her own method. Duty sounds tough, but unless you do things the way that most appeals to you as a human being, I'm not sure you'll ever be doing your best. Let me explain.
There is a creator in everyone - but not everyone has found the way to keep doing it day after day. Writers, painters, composers, dancers, chefs, architects, game, industry or fashion designers. What we do is harder than people think. We are tasked with creating from nothing, diving into our own souls and try to bring something – anything - back up. Every day. At first I was worried that anyone could do what I do, but that was before I realized – not that many people want to once they've tried.
I pry the answer from all my teachers and every creator I admire; how do they do it? And yet the answer is never my answer. Get up and write a full page of anything the first thing you do after waking up, they say. Sleep less, they say, four hours is enough if you want it to be. Keep a journal, some say; get a dictaphone, say others. Never wait, says Jordan Mechner. Don't follow advice, say Notch and Brandon Boyer. And I'm finally getting the feeling that it's all excuses. They can't convey their method, because it's theirs.
Once again, I am inspired by actors, because they get paid to be in touch with their humanity at every moment – in the words of Swedish actress Marika Lagercrantz, they get paid to be alive. Marika had other words to share when I had the pleasure to speak with her a few weeks back. She said that deep down, everyone knows what makes them feel comfortable. The comedian Gösta Ekman apparently cannot act without first spending half an hour rabidly telling jokes. Others resort to decadence; drugs, wine, late nights and prostitutes. The late Per Oscarsson always had to take a moment for himself before he could stand before the camera. He would stray behind the scenes or into a corner and stare into the air, and then he would come back and work his creative genius. We may never know what went through his head during those critical moments, but we can know it was something he needed.
Find what you need.
People are not machines, so don't treat yourself like one – especially if you want to be a creator. Challenge yourself, but don't force yourself to anything you know you can't do well. It's okay to do things your way, even if no one else is. There is a way for you too, and if you're on this path, now is the time to find it. It can be anything, because it's you. Ironically, I suspect that the way of the artists at The Working Parts is to treat themselves like machines.
My way? Still looking, I'm afraid. I'm picking up bits and pieces. I wish I had started earlier, but it's never too late. Soon enough, I will amass the creative power to make that thing that no one else could make.