I know of no other medium that is as powerful as interactive video games can be. A person can fly to the farthest reaches of the universe, throughout the expanses of time, see things that never have and never will exist, based only on the limits of technology and human imagination. All while building thumb and butt callouses and not even standing up. As with all new media, it’s had a rough start, and rough acceptance in society, but video games have grown into a billion dollar industry.
I started coding when I was 8 years old. Inspired by the archaic video games of the early 1980’s, playing on an antique computer with a radiation spewing amber-monochrome monitor. It’s been my desire since that time to create games of my own. Some of my earliest inspirations were games such as Willy the Worm, Space War, Jump Man, and who could forget Lode Runner. All are quite simple by today’s standards, but once upon a time it was not such a crazy idea for *one* person to be making a game.
I’m not even sure how many times I’ve started working on a game for my own learning and enjoyment. In my youth I would enjoy making the concepts, basic rules, and game engine bits, but never followed through to complete an *entire* game. I once created a DOS sprite editor, it even had mouse support. Not such a trivial thing in the dark ages. It’s not until adulthood that I’ve come to realize that I was having so much more fun coding than I would have had playing any game I myself made. To be realistic here, as a child I thought I wanted to build an awesome game because I wanted to play an awesome game, a notion that seems outright silly to me now.
Fast forward to the future, where we’re all living now, the number of video games available is mind boggling. There’s more video game content being created each year than any one person could possibly complete in their lifetime. What was once just for us nerds has been thrust into the mainstream. Movie stars have admitted to playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Even among early video games, role-playing games were shunned as ultra-nerdy. Television networks devoted to sports are showing video game tournaments, what has this world come to? Aren’t those guys supposed to be beating up nerds?
There’s a gaming platform in the pocket of most people in the modern world. I wouldn’t go as far to say that everyone with a phone is a gamer, but I’m not sure I know anyone that doesn’t play a video game now and then. Jigsaw puzzles, solitaire, and match-3 galore.
Here I am now, an adult by most measures, with a nostalgia based love of video games. I’m a software developer, but not even remotely in the direction of games. Every now and then I get an itch to make a game, but the itch never lasts long enough for a completed vision to take form. Unlike many types of art, video games are not timeless. Technology progresses and old video games die. Someone building a game is fighting a battle against technological advancement. If technology progresses too far, a game that is being made might be left behind before it’s even completed, a potentially disastrous consequence for developers.
When dabbling on my own, I’ve not worked on any of these projects with thought to marketability or even with the thought to sell them. In that respect I’ve avoided the battle against technology. In recent years this trend seems to have gone weird, with retro pixel games having a resurgence of sorts. Games like Shovel Knight and Terraria are showing the world a thing or two about pixels in the modern day. Sandbox games like MineCraft and Creativerse are somehow seeming to bring pixels into 3d and it’s working.
These recent games are quite inspiring. Maybe there’s more people out there than I think that want to see what I can make, what WE can make. As it turns out I’m no artist, I’m a nart. We’ve rolled around a few ideas recently, but have not yet found the one, the one that must be made. We will find it and it will be awesome, and more importantly it will be fun to make.