Forest of Fun

Claire's Personal Ramblings & Experiments

Lessons from Europe

Altdevblog Motivation Personal Professional
Lessons from Europe
Originally written for #altDev

Often posts from a personal perspective are a contrite, self-promotion exercise of polishing the trumpets. They can also be an honest expression sometimes lost in the NDA red tape culture.

It is important to know why you do things, what drives and motivates you, bringing happiness and a sense of satisfaction. Though most importantly to admit when you made a gigantic cock-up and own up to being an idiot.

In my last post I requested contribution to a survey on why we create. The results were watered down when, by casual. non-formal inquiry of two large studios, I realised the results are not representative. In the inquiry I reminded myself that most people do not read industry press or actively participate in what I will term the "creators community". Instead the bulk of our co-workers are content in their enjoyable job, which they still see as a job. They are happy, good on them, and many are talented and motivated individuals. Individuals I enjoy working with and who make awesome games. Though for completeness the results of the online survey are presented below.

The reason for the lateness of this post and the original self examination which triggered this exploration was an honest peeling away of my own fate and career. Since leaving Mere-Mortals I have not published work of which I am proud, that is not to say I haven't worked on amazing things but they just will not see the light of day for a range of reasons, or when they finally do surface I shall not be credited.

Prompted by this situation a good friend whose creative ability and integrity I trust offered me an chance at a large publisher studio which sounded exciting. Much more exciting to me was a chance to turn my currently long distance relationship of almost 3 years into a no-distance relationship. So I packed my bags and moved to Europe with a healthy relocation package in the offering.

When I arrived the situation on the ground was very different. On day one I found out the project had changed from a traditional boxed console product to a free-to-play title. No-one's fault, things change.

Now the "sensible" thing to do would have been hold out in Europe in a well paid job, cash in the relocation package and enjoy my relationship. This while creating a style of game I have morale issue with and not being able to express myself in the hopes of a relocation or change of circumstance. This is what I like to call "existing while waiting to live", I have made a similar mistake in the past and refused to repeat it and possible watch my relationship and happiness fall to pieces over it.

So I swallowed what looks to be over £2000 in loss, cancelled my contract 3 days in on moral grounds and returned to the UK. There my previous employer welcomed me back in the most awesome way, way to go Climax. The only part of which I regret being the fact that my relationship is once again long distance.

On my first weekend back in the UK I found myself in my old flat living out of a suitcase, sleeping on the floor next to my heater cuddled in a blanket making a game in 48 hours on my chromebook with my phone providing internet. I was happy. It really doesn't take much to create and make games and that's what I enjoy doing.

My experience in Europe has taught me many things. Firstly that free-to-play, while a nuanced topic, will not resolve nicely if we stand on the sidelines. As opponents to it we need to actively offer alternatives to help shape it and lobby for a future without exploitation. Non-participation will not work when companies make the kinds of profits they are currently making.

The industry is secondary to the products it creates. It is a process and machine which aids the creation of games, but games can be created without it. To serve the industry as an end rather than a means to an end is raising the process above the product. Do not glorify the industry for its own sake.

Finally on a personal note I am an entertainer and a creator. I will make games, plays, art, things, watchmacallits and thingymajigs because I enjoy it. I want to enhance the world in some small way through entertainment or education. Yes I have bills to pay, making money is not bad, free-to-play is not evil but the games come first and should be a positive force, not a commercial parasite to maximise profit. To this end I’ve committed to the One Game a Month project for 2013 and to advance the conversation around Free-to-Play with my personal voice I will be launching a project in the new year.

My name is Claire, I make things to feel better about the world and improve it. This is my goal and purpose.

Happy New Years