The Pursuit Of Creating Happiness?

People don’t usually ask me why game design. But I do ask myself though. I’m quite introspective after all.

So why am I interested in Game Design? One reason could be because I’m interested in gameplay programming/engineering. From my one semester at ETC and my conversations with ETC alumni, I’ve come to realize that having a strong sense for game design can make me a better gameplay programmer.

But is there more to my interest than just becoming a better gameplay programmer? To be honest, I’m not sure because I’m quite new to the field. My uncertainty is one of the many reasons I’m taking Jesse Schell’s Game Design class. During class, we actually talked about why people learn game design. Turns out, many of the reasons resonated with me. One student said she has always enjoyed games and wanted to learn game design so she could understand why she enjoys them. I’ve played many games myself and have always wondered why I like it. In high school, I took AP Psychology and determined that things like positive reinforcement were why I played games. But there’s more to it than that. Why would I care about virtual currency, items, and rewards? What about the game makes me value rewards so much? These are questions best left for another blog post.
Class has only met twice but I have really enjoyed the lectures and material so far.

Gearbox’s CEO, Randy Pitchford, said that, “Of all the pursuits, the one to create joy and happiness is the noblest of them all.” I learned of the quote from Trey Davenport, who came from Gearbox to give a talk at ETC last semester. It stood out to me. Personally, I’ve always been more of the joker amongst my friends. Is it because of the attention? No. On the contrary, I don’t enjoy too much attention. From what I can tell, I like to joke because it’s funny. Jokes make me laugh, laughing makes me happy, laughing is infectious so my friends laugh too. As a result, everybody laughs and everybody is happy right? There are probably some logical fallacies there but you get the idea. I’m not trying to be noble, I just want myself and others to be happy. So in a similar vein, if I create a game that people enjoy playing, then I would be happy right?

3 thoughts on “The Pursuit Of Creating Happiness?

  1. Talking about becoming a gameplay programmer, I think there are more to think about but not just a gameplay programmer. This is not a criticism but a compliment. I think only “gameplay” programmer is a narrow term, you can do more than you think I believe. What about becoming a “game” programmer? A software engineer in game industry. Or maybe I am wrong, maybe the only thing you want to pursue is only in “gameplay”. However, “You can do more than you think” was the talk topic from Jesse Schell a month ago. I would like to pass it to you, “you can do more than you think”.

  2. This post resonates with me because I’ve had a similar lifelong relationship with games–I like them, but I don’t always know why. I like to make up games, and I know it’s because it makes people happy, but there’s a deeper layer there that remains unknowable. It’s almost like having favorite foods. People can ask you why you like a certain food over another, but most of us never get past the ultimate concluding line….”I just….do!” Kudos that you’re taking steps to figure out the “why” behind your “what.” I am surprised to hear that you’re new to the field–as someone who isn’t at the ETC, I tend to assume everyone must be seasoned experts!–and would be curious to learn what background you’re coming from and whether game design is your primary focus moving forward.

  3. I think it’s very important to understand yourself and understand your motivations. One of my favorite quotes is from Sun Tsu and it says, “Know your enemy and know yourself and in 100 battles you will never be in peril”. If you know your identity as a game designer and just as importantly what you do not want to be as a game designer then you’ll produce excellent games. As for being happy, don’t worry about that too much. Find joy in the entirety of the process, not just the end result of the finished game.

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