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Oct 25, 2011



I think this is a red herring. If someone makes an awesome game I'll have fun playing it regardless of what job title it says on their contract of employment or the methodology they used to make it.

I strongly suspect there are great games that have been made by artists, engineers, dispassionate professionals and passionate amateurs.

As for indie cars there have been some tiny car firms that make cars by hand. De Lorean is well-known for its small size.

Indie houses are perhaps houses built by amateurs to live in. This was normal practice in rural Kenya when I was out there.


i think Adams overlooked that there are different kinds of passionate artists. he's only referring to the kind of passion where its like art-for-art's-sake and its about achieving higher skill and newer evolution which puts majority public's (gamers') satisfaction as 2nd priority. maybe there are a large number of game designers possessing that kind of artistic passion, but i'm sure some artists put their passion in relating to society and people. feeding the non-artistic-mass's demand doesn't mean there is no space for creativity. ofcourse some might define such passion as "passion in work" or "passion in your pay cheque", but haters gonna hate. i'm an artist myself and i've been working on an indie offline rpg game with a few other artists and code writers for half a year already, and that's my conclusion.


Anyone who tells you that designing a game is an understood discipline with clear, calculable rules -- an engineering discipline, in other words -- is an idiot.

This is not to say that engineering isn't involved. Also graphic design, visual art, sound design, UI design, and, yes, game design. These are, at the very least, crafts. And art is merely craft applied with intelligence, conscience, and care.

Is there an argument here?


Adams actually makes sense to me in the full article. He's telling people who want to work in the game industry that their passion won't impress people who want to hire them, and won't carry them very far when they are tasked with replicating some one else's ideas that they think are junk. But he uses Van Gogh (who was an indie artist if there ever was one) as his example of "professionalism," which must be combined with passion. And I think he's saying that professionalism = effort and craft. So he's really not doing a science vs. passion thing, he's pointing out that enthusiasm for a vision alone gets you 1% of the way toward making something -- the other 99% is craft, which is serious work.

Personally, I think 99 percent of the best stuff comes from the "indie" side of things. The *first* car and the *first* computer game -- the *first* anything, are almost always *indie* projects. You get innovation from people who are thinking for themselves. If you want "polish," look to the big studios and Hollywood for the latest Madden 20__ or Transformers __. That's what corporate creativity is good at delivering.


Just re-read the OP, and I think I'm getting what Ted was driving at now. Maybe? So the question is really: was EQ a better game than WoW in terms of design/art? Is WoW a grind? If yes to both, then why is WoW more popular. Relatedly, is Farmville and the Facebook game genre bad art? Is it based on a science of stickiness? If yes to both, then why are those games popular and why are designers gravitating toward them if they find them unrewarding as artistic endeavors? In other words, is the professional science of game design leading to jobs and consumer markets whereas the art of game design is losing, competitively.

(That isn't my question, just a guess at what Ted was really driving at with the OP.)


Games (and increasingly, the Web) are different because the challenge is to design a concrete environment (the sandbox) leaving room for a huge range of emergent behavior. I think the ultimate compliment to a game designer is not to have the player progress linearly through a story or level, but to give the player the tools to create any sort of play they desire. Second Life excels at this, as do some of the MMOs, and the various sim games. Participatory culture, co-creation, etc. are all about the player as co-author of the experience.

Henry Jenkins writes a lot about this stuff:


As the video game market became flooded with poor-quality cartridge games created by numerous companies attempting to enter the market, and over-production of high profile releases such as the Atari 2600 adaptations of Pac-Man and E.T. grossly underperformed, the popularity of personal computers for education rose dramatically.

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