17 Jun

Professionalism = doing what you don’t want to do

I want to be a successful game designer.

That is, I want to make and sell games, in such quantity and at such a rate that I’ll be able to take the income and use it to work on creating and developing more games at least part of my work-alloted time. In order to do so I must view game design as a profession, and I must perform it in a professional manner.

That means doing it even when I don’t feel like doing it.

It’s strange, thinking that I wouldn’t want to design games. Designing, alongside writing and storytelling, are my major hobbies. I like to design, I keep thinking about it and I find thinking about new designs fun and pleasurable.

But now I’ve got to send out prototypes to publishers. I’ve playtested them, polished them and generally pestered my friends with them. I’ve pitched the games, and I’ve gotten them past that first rejection gate. Now I find that I have to write up the rules in an understandable manner. Not only so I can understand them, not only so people who have me standing besides them to ask can understand them but so people who’ve never seen me or my game can understand them.

And I’m afraid.

You see, I’m a terrible game explainer. There are people who are great at explaining games. I’ve met them and I’ve listened to them and I’ve come to the conclusion, beyond the shadow of a doubt, I’m not one of them. And here I’ve got to write rules, rules that will be the make or break of getting my game publish, that will signal my skill or lack thereof to the publisher and their playtesters. There’s a lot riding on my writing those rules well.

So I’m afraid. I’ve got performance anxiety and I don’t want to do it.

That’s where being professional comes into the picture.

If I want to be a professional game designer I’ll have to write rules even when I don’t want to, design when I don’t want to and playtest when I don’t want to. I’ll have to accept high value commitments and deadlines, things that scare me senseless, and then fulfill them, which scares me even more. I’ll have to show my designs to others and watch them tear my beloved creations to pieces. None of this is pleasurable.

But I’m doing it anyway. Because that’s what a professional game designer would do.

And, as the sage said, I’m going to fake it until I make it.

Professionalism, here I come.

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