Bits & Bytes is a weekly column where Editor-in-Chief Robert shares his thoughts about video games and the industry on a lazy
Sunday Monday ( a day late this week). Light reading for a day of rest, Bits & Bytes is short, to the point, and something to read with a nice drink.
I am a day late with my column this week. I’ve been late one other time since I’ve started writing Bits & Bytes (and have had multiple near-misses), but I’m shocked I’ve been able to be as consistent as I have for so many months now. Yesterday I just wasn’t able to get it done. I was mentally and physically exhausted. Plus, although it’s not really a legitimate excuse, yesterday was also an endless torrent of rainfall here in the Bay Area. After I got home and was intending to write, I made the mistake of lying down on my bed with the sound of the rain hitting the ground outside. That’s a recipe for instant sleep, for me.
Now, it’s Monday and I’m writing like I should have been yesterday and.. I’m stumped. I’m struggling to think of something to write. And now it’s got me thinking about all the other projects and pieces of art and writing that I need to be working on, too. I feel overwhelmed.
No, I’m not writing this for sympathy. My own tendency to procrastinate is why I am where I am at this moment. I’m saying all this because as I sit and I’m trying to drum up some creative inspiration, it’s gotten me thinking about the ways that I get my creative juices flowing. I think if you ask anyone who works in a creative industry that you’ll get countless variations when trying to learn how they inspire themselves or are inspired to create.
Which is what I ended up doing. I asked my students. We sat in a circle and I asked them the ways that they seek out inspiration when they’re trying to create. I got a lot of wonderful answers. Music. Tearing apart anime episodes from an analytical standpoint. Playing with LEGO. And I shared my own ways with them. Music, reading, drawing; after all these years I’ve come up with a lot of different mechanisms to try and cope with creativity blocks. It felt good to be in a room with so many bright, young minds and hearing how they work through their struggles and, hopefully, being able to help them by sharing my own methods.
As game designers, they’re constantly having to be both analysts and creatives. It can be draining to have to go back and forth between the two roles. As students, they do it with the burden of countless external pressures like part time jobs (and sometimes full time jobs), familial obligations, and the demands of numerous different professors. It’s hard enough to meet the expectations of any college curriculum, but being able to produce games, to create things that make other people happy, is a unique challenge unto itself, I think. It’s something I think regularly about when we talk about crunch in the game industry. Making fun when, for the creator, sometimes life is feeling like it’s anything but.
When class was over I headed back to my office and closed up for the night. Now, back home, I’m polishing off this piece of writing. I can barely keep my eyes open and I very nearly pushed this into Tuesday. But no, I’ve decided that I’m going to be like my students and find something to help me power my way through. This one is for them: they helped give me a jumpstart tonight when I really needed one.