Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk

Historically, I’ve been of the mind that actually going out and accomplishing things is far more important than simply sitting around and talking about them. It’s a big reason why this blog is more of a development blog than a criticism blog, [1] and it’s also a reason why I don’t spend a hell of a lot of time blogging in the first place. Lately, however, I’ve been wondering: is this the right way to be going about things, if I want to achieve the goals I’ve set out to achieve? In other words, should I be making better efforts to sell myself?

Ugh. Selling oneself. There’s a big part of me that recoils in disgust at that very thought. I’d rather believe in the notion that all you have to do is make a good game, and the rest will take care of itself. Thing is, while the industry worked this way in the eighties and perhaps the early nineties, this isn’t how it works now. A lot of mediocre games do quite well, a lot of good ones fail, and altogether too many wind up practically forgotten. There are just too many games out there competing for virtual shelf space for it to be nearly as easy to get noticed as it used to be, particularly if you’re young and relatively unknown.

I don’t really see myself as much of a competitor per se, at least in this particular sense, because I like working on things that are a bit different from what passes as mainstream. Today, one of the biggest reasons I’m a game developer is because there isn’t enough out there that’s what I’d like to play. Indeed, I’m not sure I’d even consider myself a gamer today if I didn’t work in the industry. You could say I’m targeting other people who don’t play many games but would if they weren’t so superficial and thematically boring, or used to play a lot of games but stopped because they outgrew them, or people who do play games but want to know whether the medium is capable of more. And everyone knows it’s harder to target a market you’re not sure even exists than one that’s tried and true and Just Works, but sometimes, people need to do things because they must, not because it’s easier.

So, how do I find this elusive audience I seek? Where are these people hiding? How do I bring them to me? Do I just keep making more games in hopes that one day, one of them will be picked up by the right media outlets and find its niche, and if so, how many failures will I need to experience before I succeed? Or is it perhaps time for me to escape my bubble and promote my already-finished work to this wider world around me? The second prospect is the one I find most terrifying, because I don’t want to be someone I’m not; that is to say, a smooth-talking salesperson. You know, the obnoxious, intrusive kind you say “no thanks, I’m just looking” to. But maybe there’s another way. Maybe what I really should be doing is engaging in dialogues, because the truth is, it’s not just all about me making games and leaving it at that. No, what I want to do is contribute to a greater shared understanding of who we are and where we’re going as a human race, and to do that, I’m going to need to listen, rather than just talk. Or just make games, for that matter.


  1. I do partake in a little criticism, because I find it interesting and useful as a developer, because I read a lot of criticism and sometimes enjoy responding, and because I support the movement for better game criticism as a whole, but I wouldn’t say it’s my main focus.
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