Behind the curtain

When I was a boy I played a lot of Gameboy, NES, and Super NES games. I often wondered ”How did they do that?” More importantly though I just enjoyed them. Games were magical to me, and part of what captivated me about them was that magic.

Once when I was about 12 I was playing Castlevania at someone’s house and said something like “When I’m older I want to make games. That way I’ll be able to spend all of my money on them, spend all of my spare time playing them (like I did then), and have a great excuse for doing it – because it will be my job.”

Back then I didn’t have a clue what it really meant to make games, and it would be a long time before I found out (at least in kid-time).

When I was a sophomore in high school game development fell in my lap – but the circumstances surrounding that are a story for another day. The important thing is that once I learned it was within my grasp to make games I was motivated in a serious way – I think primarily by all of those magical moments from my past.

So now I’m an adult, I make games and love doing it (except when i don’t). But it turns out I was wrong. In the grown-up life I couldn’t imagine back then, I find I can spend plenty of money on games (I got that part right), but I can’t find the magic anymore. So where did it go?

Clearly the games I played back in the day were of lesser quality than the relative masterpieces of today – and no I’m not being facetious (if you think crap games weren’t pedaled back then, take another look.)

I think the magic is still there. The difference is that now I recognize it for what it is, and its not magic. Once you get a peak behind the curtain you see that it’s all smoke and mirrors, and exactly how they work to the most minute detail. You see that there really isn’t a little guy running through a field. If you make games you know what it really is. If you don’t, I won’t ruin it for you (not today anyway).

This may beg the question: Do I wish I had never started making games? The answer is a resounding no! I find the process entirely fullfilling and in most ways that fullfillment replaces gaming for me. Though, I do still search for those rare games that are so exceptionally made that they make me forget about how they work. And when I experience those they inspire me to apply my skills in the same way.