why

All posts tagged why

I sat down to think about why I am motivated to make indie games after I wrote this blog post. Honestly, I’d never really examined it before, at least not in any rigorous way. It took me an embarrassing length of time to come to any real conclusion on the subject. In the end, it all came back to one thing:

Q: “Why do you do what you do?”

A: I want to stir things in people.

At this point, the other questions were easy to answer.

Q: “How do you accomplish this?”

A: I craft things with a focus on quality and communicate with an audience through content.

The final question is simple.

Q. “And what do you do?”

A. I make video games.

As an unexpected bonus, I understand myself a little better now that I’ve completed the exercise.

For 10 years, I went to work in the professional game industry and executed on someone else’s vision. It was incredibly difficult for me at some of those workplaces. I spent a lot of time being angry, and way too much time complaining about my dissatisfaction. It was counterproductive, and it’s something I regret in hindsight. I worked with a lot of wonderful people, and I would apologize for the hubris and impatience I showed in my younger days.

This insight showed me that there was no alignment of purpose at some of my former jobs. The only thing we had in common was “what” we did. Personally, the worst times for me involved making quick games that lacked quality or content. Let me be clear, I am not in any way judging the people for whom I worked. I wasn’t in the shoes of the executives and it’s not my place to judge them. They were likely doing the best they could to make a little cash in an incredibly hard business, and I was well-compensated for my efforts through the years.

The blame for any misery I felt fell squarely on my own attitude and actions. I believe it was mostly my fault for not searching harder for work that aligned with my own desires. I rarely went above and beyond or tried to change my environment through positive means. I simply pointed the finger at the powers-that-be and begrudgingly accepted my lot. It was all quite childish.

Having taken the time to reflect on all of this, I feel more enlightened, more aligned with my own beliefs and values. It’s time to dig in and actually complete something that will fulfill these criteria and bring me some self-satisfaction. Answering my “Why?”, “How?”, and “What?” has given me renewed energy to get to work again, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do!

While doing some research on inspiration, I watched an interesting TED talk that has me attempting to answer the question of “Why?” for my own small video game business.

How Great Leaders Inspire Action (TED – Simon Sinek)

If you have the time, follow the link above, then come back.  I’ll wait.

So I have spent a bit of time digesting the examples provided by Mr. Sinek in his talk, and I believe that there’s a lot of truth in those 18 minutes. One of the examples used in the presentation was about Apple. It’s the one that rang true with me personally; I’ve seen people join the Apple movement. In fact, I guess I’m a member of that culture myself. After all, I have an iPhone in my pocket, and not even Google has been able to pry me away.

Here’s the way Apple thinks and communicates, wrapped up in a diagram (basically the same one from the talk).

apple-case-study-10-638

They inspire their fanbase and employees in a much better way than the big companies for whom I’ve worked (I would challenge Electronic Arts’ leadership to start thinking this way). I can’t stress enough that it’s about more than “what” we do or “how” we do it, it goes down to what can inspire everyone that makes or consumes the products. To do that effectively, the “Why?” must be answered and it must be a better answer than “We want to make dumptrucks full of cash.”

It has me working to find the right way to communicate the answers to my own “Why?” for my one-man game company. I have an intuitive understanding of why I do it, but it could do with being a concrete and well-defined answer. When I’ve figured out the proper wording for my own mission statement/creative vision, I’ll make another post about it.