What a dramatic title ah?
This post tries to answer the question why I decide to be a game designer instead of other thing profitable like, let say, a plumber.
Because I’m a mathematician.
I don’t want to waste your time. That’s basically the answer to that question. At least in my case.
But that isn’t the complete answer.
Let me put this straight: I’m not an artist, modeler, animator or screenwriter. I have experience in 3D modeling. Actually, I’m working on a little portfolio. But I’m not that good, at least not as good (should read fast) as the industry demands these days.
So that let me few options to be a game developer.
As Raph Koster points out several times (1 2 3) a game is basically an interface to solve an inner math problem. The underlying mechanic is a set of rules which can always be describe with a set of symbols and the relation they have due the rules established. Like algebra, geometry or calculus.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that. But if you want any examples, a lot of popular game genres have a huge math base unknown for most of the people: RTS games are all about to maximize the function which describes the units creation, RPG’s consist in finding a minimun in a probabilistic space; and even FPS, acused to be dumb games, are in fact fast paced decision making problems which can be describe as a non-linear optimization.
I think it’s very clear now that at the very end, a game is just the interface necessary to solve those problems. A very complicated interface, that has a lot of work behind: story, art, animation, sound, music. That is, an awesome interface.
And also, it’s very clear why being a mathematician could be a very good advantange in the game design field. An advantange, not a primary tool. There are a lot of game designers out there which have no mathematical background creating a lot of good games. But, to create a complete and non contradictory body of knowledge in game design math is a primary tool, because games are a subset of math. As a mathematician, that is an opportunity in a research field which mixes science, art and a lot of people of different backgrounds.
A paradise for me.
I want to be game designer because I’m a mathematician already. That’s the first half of the answer. The other half is the hardest part to share.
It took me a long time to know what “make a videogame” really means. I have to confess: I’m the guy who’s always late.
I had my first computer at my fifteen birthday, around 1999. And I’m talking about a i486. Oh man!, the Intel Pentium II was making its way to obsolescence by that time. I got my second PC around 2005, 4 years after I started my career in math. It was bought by me with some help from my mom. I still own that PC. Even when I have a very powerful laptop now (where I’m writing this) I use that PC very often. The story with consoles isn’t any different, I had an Atari 2600 (or it was 5200?) around 1990, and a Super NES my father gave me in 1995 (I’m pretty sure of that). Then, I sold the Super NES to buy some shit I can’t remember, and from then I didn’t own any console.
Yup, finances. You know want I mean.
For me, playing videogames in my childhood meant buy some snacks and try to convince my mom I was in somebody elses house studying . The only thing that has changed since that is the snacks thing: now I have to buy also some booze and cigarrettes.
Despite all of that I had played a lot of videogames. I played Doom around 1994, visiting an uncle for vacation. The impression that Doom caused in my is just comparable to the impression Portal caused when I played it in 2007. I’m talking about 13 years long for a videogame to make me think a big, fat and sweaty Wow!. Back in 1994 Doom was the very reason I said to myself: man, I wanna make video games for a living. Portal was the reason why I said to myself: remember when you were a kid and had the balls to say I wanna do this for a living?, is time to grow up a pair again.
Hey, I’m not saying those were the only games that had influenced me. Half Life series and Earthworm Jim 1 & 2 are among a very extense list of games that I love.
In 2001 I started my career (as you can figure) motivated by my desire to learn computer graphics in general. I finished it this year. A lot of reasons behind that spam of time (I will talk about them later). But I can ensure you I’m a very competent mathematician. I’m starting my postgraduate studies with a research topic already selected and a good chance of continuing them in Europe (which is what I want).
I get my first computer and console late. I finished my career late. I even had sex late compared to nowadays standards. I started to make videogames late.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not regreting anything. As you will see throughtout this blog, I had wonderful oportunities that I took, a lot of experiences I’ve lived and a lot of things I’ve learned.
Long story short: I’m a game designer because I’m a mathematician, I love videogames and I feel I started very late to work on that. I think I’m running out of time very fast.
And that hurts more than I can express here.
Yes, this blog is going to be very personal. Get used to that.