Recently people have been asking me why I like making games so much – and more importantly why I’ve stopped writing short stories. So I’ve decided to use this blog to hopefully explain things the way I see them.
First and foremost I’d like to say that I haven’t stopped telling stories at all – in fact – for me personally, computer games are the premier story telling medium of the day. I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy and sci-fi films such as Bladerunner, Aliens and Terminator or even Lord of the Rings, but apart from those few special films – I almost never feel as immersed as I do in a book.
And for me it’s all about immersion – and gaming is immersive. After all, you don’t just get the visual and audio feedback that makes movies great, you also have interact with the story directly – in the same way as reading forces your mind to act out the story in a book – playing a game forces you to act out the story in real physical sense. When you’re hiding from the Alien in Alien Isolation, you actually feel fear, a sense that something dark really is hunting you!
And this feeling isn’t just limited to the new graphically advanced games either… If anyone remembers games like Zybex on the Spectrum or Zelda on the NES, then they’ll remember that sense of awe and amazement which led them to become fully saturated by worlds of those games. And those games had just 256 colours (in fact, I think Zybex may have only had 16 colours!).
And it’s this feeling of awe and immersion that I want to create – I want to drag people kicking and screaming into my stories. I want their imaginations to be running wild in the same way mine runs wild when I start playing a new epic encounter with the security systems of Deus-Ex or the fear of running from assassins in Dishonoured. And for me the best way to do this is to make computer games.
But it’s not just the story telling aspect which I love so much – it’s also the challenge. Despite having dreamed of making games for so many years, I’m relatively late to the party. I was never very technical and having mild-dyslexia made it hard for me to understand the strict syntax of early game languages. But these days I’ve got just about enough experience to get my head round coding (and I’ve picked up a lot of tricks to get over dyslexia!) and what I’ve found is, difficult though it is – it’s super F’ing enjoyable!
For me it’s the ultimate mix of brain-tease-challenge, art creation, story-telling, music making and just generally having fun. The programming – or rather overcoming the problems it gives me, really forces me to push my brain in way’s I’ve usually shied away from – I actually love the problem-solving aspect of it. This probably means I’m a total geek – but luckily my girlfriend seems to be into the geek thing so I guess I’m safe for now.
So there you have it – to answer the questions of my friends – I haven’t given up telling stories, I’ve just found a new, more visceral and intense way of communicating my ideas – I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!