How To: Create Computer Games

With $116bn of annual revenues, the global video games sector is three times as large as cinemas, according to analysts Newzoo. Yet, there is a perception problem around games.

Media discussion of video games often focuses on violence, gambling or addiction. Many people are put off by these kinds of games. Masculine power fantasies — often a feature of this medium — are not for everyone. For many people, violence and stress are simply uninteresting.

Yet video games can also be spaces for healing, for learning or for connecting with others. I know from my own experiences that interactivity has the power to provide more visceral insight than books or film. 

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A Future I Would Want to Live In

Where are we headed? I'm concerned that most of the stories we are telling ourselves, especially within the games industry, are dystopian. Dystopia, no matter how beautifully rendered, is a resignation to a view of humanity or to our fates that is brutal, fearful, uncaring, and incomplete. I don't accept this view. I am optimistic about the future.

I grew up in the countryside outside Vancouver, Canada, before the internet. To know about interesting music, I had to take a bus for one hour and a train for another hour, then I had to know where in that scary, big city (ha) the interesting record stores were, and also how to conform to a certain style so that the people working there would talk to me. And then maybe, just maybe I would get handed a flyer to an interesting event...

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Games for Personal Growth: A Design Process

I love video games, deeply. Video games have been a resource for me at key moments of my life. They have been a safe space for relaxation, for meditation, for introspection, for identity experimentation, and overall, for growth.

But most of my friends don’t like video games. In fact, when I talk with my friends, their biggest misconception about video games is that games are a waste of time and don’t help them grow or change.

At my company, Tru Luv, we’re making games with the intention of repairing this misconception.

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Slouching Towards Relevant Video Games

I wrote a thing a while ago about how I love video games but my friends find video games boring. I made the case that the multitudes of white masculine gamers who dominate the games industry have made experiences that are relevant to them but not to most people. 

I made the case that life is really difficult, that our world has changed fast, and that what my friends are looking for in art is a relief from the constant overwhelming shock of capitalism (and now the looming reality of fascism). I made the case that video games that are about care and characters would be more culturally relevant to more people. 

But I think it's not only for cultural reasons that my friends prefer care to shock. I think there's also an underlying physiological reason why this is so. I think it has something to do with stress reactions. And I think this holds the key to the future of the industry.

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The Best Candidate Is a Lie

I make video games with people who don't like video games. I made AAA games for 10 years. The turning point that sent me here was years ago when I was crunching on a particularly difficult game, contemplating where it had gone wrong, and noticed how one colleague of mine had tried to consolidate power by pushing away people who were different (in gender, sexuality, and nationality) and pulling close people who was similar. They called themselves the Wolf Pack. 

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Video Games Are Boring

Video games are bigger than moviesEveryone's a gamer. I've devoted my life-no exaggeration-to video games for 14 years, working on titles such as Company of Heroes, a few Assassin's Creeds, and Child of Light. But everywhere I go, I meet people who don't like video games. Most of my friends don't like video games. And one of my favourite things when I'm meeting a new person is to watch them squirm, to struggle to relate, after I mention I work in the video game industry. They'll mention some old game they used to play, try to say something nice about it, and then confess that they don't play video games. 

Meanwhile, our lives have changed radically compared to our parents' lives. As we adapt to new technologies, our lives are becoming increasingly fragmented, multifaceted, interactive. Linear novels and films are less relevant now for reflecting our realities. What forms of art and entertainment are most relevant now? Collage? Memoir? No, it should be video games. Interactive entertainment. Yet, many people don't like video games. 

Why?

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