Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Goals in Gaming

Nathan's asking the question What Are My Goals over on Hamster Prophecy, and since I'm off on vacation starting today, I figured I'd kill some time in a similar fashion.

1. I am sure as fuck not making a living off this shit.
By this I do not mean "this doesn't pay well enough to feed my kids," I mean there's no way in hell I'm going to hitch my personal finances and the quality of my life to something as thrice-fucked as the gaming market. I'll keep my day job. This is a goal because I want to keep a nice, stable foundation outside the gaming market. To those of you who support yourselves on gaming, I salute your bravery and worry for your future. I'll be over here. Not evicted.

2. Game design is my avocation -- somewhere between hobby and career.
While for reasons I outline in Goal #1 I am not making gaming my career, it's at the same time not on the level of 'mere hobby'. Designing and playing games is what I live for -- it's the activity that I work my day job to support. In a very real way, gaming is more important to me than my career; it's just that my career is not the most important thing in my life (just an utterly necessary one). I'll be all pretentious and compare myself to Robert Herrick, who was a clergyman in England who also wrote poetry. As most of his poetry is about various women's breasts, I think we can all agree on how central to his life his job as a clergyman was. Replace 'clergyman' with 'textbook editor' and 'poetry about boobs' with 'games' and that's where I want to be.

3. I want to write and publish a game that lasts.
As with Herrick, who is remembered for his poetry and not his sermons, I'd prefer that my notable works be games, although somewhat different from Bob, I am interested in my audience and reaching a wider audience. I want to be able to reach out and touch other people through games, to participate in a dialogue of merit through games, and to contribute to the vast noosphere of human culture through games. I don't care if my medium of choice is not something profound like the Great American Novel; in the end, it doesn't matter any more than Dickens was pissing his time away writing serials that would never stand the test of time (let's pray to all that is holy that they won't). I play games, you play games, lots of people play games. Let's connect about that. Let's raise our kids to play games. That would rock.

4. I want to publish a game that is relevant to people's lives and compels them to question.
I was an English major in college, and I know this much about good literature: good literature engages you where you are, and good literature makes you look at where you are in a new way. I know with far more familiarity that that is pretty much the exact mechanism of any worthwhile roleplaying experience. Roleplaying is a natural medium for questioning the self, questioning society, and questioning culture. It puts you in different roles and contexts and goads you to make choices. Gee, you think that might make you consider your real situation in a new light? There's no reason why roleplaying cannot serve the same purpose as good literature, excepting that it can do it better, more accurately, and more precisely.

5. I want to publish a game that doesn't look and read like crap.
This is a purely elitist aesthete goal, but it's nonetheless important to me. As a bookbuilder, the physical composition, layout, and content of a book are irrevocably tied together, and no part can be of excellent quality unless all parts support each other. The book should be as engaging as a physical object as the act of reading it, which should be as engaging as actually playing the game. My standards of what is and is not acceptable have earned me the disdain of quite a few folks who think I'm an elitist ass. I'd be sorry except that I'm not. A good book has a good binding and is printed on good paper through a good process depicting a good layout presenting good text. That's how it fucking works. Unfortunately, that costs money, which brings me to:

6. I want my avocation to pay for itself or at least defray its own costs.
Truthfully, I'm fine spending money on games that I'll never see back. It doesn't bother me, because I see it as turning pretty boring money into an entertaining, engaging, and fulfilling experience. It sure beats spending money on going to the movies recently. But it would be quite nice if my tinkering was subsidized by sales. So while I wouldn't say my goal is sales -- because if your goal is sales, you make your decisions based on those sales -- my plans certainly include sales. Sales are just a culturally-acceptable means of getting your product into other people's hands. A free pdf goes nowhere and doesn't get played. If somebody spends their hard-earned for a book, they're going to at least try to play it. And that is what makes me happy.


At 6:00 AM, Blogger Ron Edwards said...

High five.

At 7:37 AM, Blogger Laura Bishop Roby said...

I would like it known Robert Herrick also wrote about the ankle. The delicate turn of the ankle, lace playing in the light and shadow of (his) lovely Julia.

Boobs and ankles. Teh Sexxy!

At 9:43 AM, Blogger Nathan P. said...

Are you, like, my brain if it was attached to hands that could actually write coherently?

At 8:17 PM, Blogger Bradley "Brand" Robins said...


No, I believe Joshua had my brain that day. We share, sometimes. You could share with us too, it only hurts for the first little bit.

Of course, I get paid to write shit and whore myself out -- but I get paid poorly. That means I'm not only a prostitute, I'm a cheap one.

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Troy_Costisick said...


Bravo, Josh. I think that your six goals and the goals I outlined for myself for '06 are almost identical. I wish you a whole bunch of happy holidays and good luck in reaching each of your stated goals for the new year :)




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