I, Globalist

I imagine a different world.
I imagine no countries.
I imagine religion as a personal conviction.
I imagine a friendlier, more tolerant world.

It isn’t hard to do. It requires only that we accept, that Our way is not the only way, and that it’s not about being right and wrong.

Why does it matter, where you were born? Or which team you root for? Or what god you worship, if indeed any at all? Or whether you’re more attracted to men or women? Or whether you love a multicolored piece of cloth on a pole?

None of that matters, except in these made up contexts, reinforced by teaching children that those who are different, are also bad. That We and Our ways are superior.

It’s a holdover from the days, where tribal survival could come down to fighting over limited resources needed to live. This is outdated by several centuries and uncivilized. And in the pockets of the world, where basic survival is still an issue, the rest of us could fix that, if we really wanted to.

It is dangerous think small, not past our immediate horizon. Not bothering with the bigger picture, with understanding, with curiosity or empathy. As a species who thinks so highly of itself, we fail in this on a regular basis.

We can do better.

I do believe humans have a basic need for possession, so let’s keep that. You can own your own things, including a plot of land, from which you can ban whomever you want, should you so desire. On an individual scale, I think this is healthy. Who doesn’t need a bit of privacy?

Although tribalism is inherent in us, we are no longer bound by the tribes we are born into, and we can even belong to multiple tribes at once. Your clothing identifies you as belonging to a certain tribe, whether as a corporate lackey, an all-black goth, or a skinny-jeans-wearing hipster. Going to a stadium for a sports event or a concert, is a tribal ritual. We form clubs and unions, churches, political parties and so on, to be with our various tribes.

Being social creatures, it is good to be among the like minded. But we don’t have to be stupid about it.

You can be part of your tribe without disparaging others. You can support your team without hating the opponents. You can dislike a musician without writing off their fans as morons with poor taste. You can worship your god without thinking of those who don’t as infidels. You can love your flag without thinking of those who don’t as hateful.

You may say I am a Globalist (since Dreamer means something else, these days).

I am fairly sure, I am not the only one.

This post was inspired by the current state of affairs, and by the wonderful song by John Lennon/Yoko Ono, Imagine.

Why I Make Games

Like most creative endeavors, making games is a labor of love. You have to put in many hours, and the results won’t always come out like you had hoped. This is especially true if you work alone, which is one reason, why working with others is a good thing. More on that later. First and foremost, making games is about passion.

Starship Traveller was one of my favorites as a kid.
Starship Traveller was one of my favorites as a kid.
I love to entertain others, and help them entertain themselves. Two other things I love, are stories and story mechanics. This is why I also dabble in writing.

Things started coming together, when I was introduced to the Fighting Fantasy game books. I was raised on books like “The Hobbit”, “The Never Ending Story”, and the Narnia series, but being able to shape a story as I was reading it, making choices for the main character, took things to a whole other level.

Immediately, I wanted to make my own stories in this style. This was some time in 4th or 5th grade, aka the mid 80s.

Fighting Fantasy became a gateway to Dungeons & Dragons, which completely blew my mind. Suddenly it was more than a story with choices, it was building entire worlds and epic adventures within them, all in the company of friends. I played it only a couple of times, before I took to the game master role. As much as I enjoyed playing, writing has always been a favorite activity, and coming up with adventures, characters and settings, and then sharing those with my friends, brought me immense joy as a kid, and continues to do so now.

Fønix nr. 12
Here’s a cover from one the issues of Fønix, featuring a fantasy adventure by yours truly.
I mentioned how working with others is good. As a young gamer, I sought out others with similar interests, found friends, and an interest grew into a lifestyle. We started meeting regularly, and grew in number until we formed a club, organizing events and helping out at conventions.

In the mid 90s, I was writing for a gaming magazine, and working part time as “the game guy” in a couple of after school programs. I was in my late teens the first time, I made real, actual money on anything related to games.

During this time, I played every kind of game, I could find. Board games, PC games, card games, tabletop RPGs and miniature battles, console games – everything short of gambling, really. It widened my horizon, and I started seeing patterns in how games work, in general, across various genres and types.

Skipping forward to present day, about 30 years after first choosing my own adventure, I am mostly focused on video games, however the reasons remain the same: I get to put elements together to form an experience, which the players will (hopefully) enjoy, which in turn makes me a happier person.

Why video games, then? Nowhere is a game mechanic purer, than in video games. A computer doesn’t do well with abstract rules that leave room for much interpretation. Everything needs to be precise, or interpreted within specified parameters. Fiddling with that kind of logic and balance is fun.

In conclusion, I make games because it makes me happy. It sounds almost selfish, and to some extent it is. I do believe we must find our own happiness in life (again, easier to do with friends), and I aim to do so, by creating good experiences for others.

All Games, All the Time

Working on AAA game titles by day, and my own little indie game by night. For a few months now, this has been my life. It’s fun, it’s everything 12-year old me could have ever dreamed of, and it’s a lot of hard work. Though I’m currently working overtime and out of the house 14 hours a day, I do not miss trying to eke out a living as a photographer, which is kind of awesome.

Bound by NDAs, I can’t talk about the AAA title I am attached to, but it involves Microsoft and some cutting edge gaming technology. And I can safely reveal that it’s exciting to be part of a huge production. My role, as an assistant LQA test lead, has me talking to testers, other leads and producers, and I get to see what goes on at different levels. These are multi-million dollar titles, and pretty much a completely different world, compared to the one I live in on the weekends.

My own game – Salvage Trader – has a four person team: an artist, a composer, a PR/marketing person, and me for everything else. I started a company, Tagunda, but there are no actual employees – everyone is a freelancer, except me. There is no office except the one in my apartment, and project management is all done online, using the excellent tool, Podio. Communication flows easily on such a small team, and everyone is genuinely excited to finish it and see the result. My only complaints are, that I’d love to have more time and a bigger budget. But when is that not a concern?

On the day job, there are many more people involved. In fact, I don’t even know how large the production is. I’ve never met the actual developers, nor seen a line of code. Assets come from multiple locations, depending on their nature, and just managing all these is a major task involving lots of people. With such a large production, communication can be a challenge. There are many links in the chain, and thus many places it can potentially break. Like I said, a different world.

So, while life isn’t all fun, all the time, it is all games. Somehow, though not often at the day job, I still find time to play. I do think playing is a necessary part of making games. It’s not enough to just do your own thing – you have to see what else is out there. Not because I see other games as competition, but because it’s both fun, eye opening and inspiring to play.

For more on the projects mentioned, check the sites linked to in this post. You can also find both Salvage Trader and Tagunda on both Twitter and Facebook, so feel free to follow/like, and you can follow the process and development.