Prenote! I wrote this down pretty fast and its kind of a mess. There’s also a lot about me, so it might not be very interesting to YOU, but who knows, maybe you’ll find something relatable.
There was a college zoom meeting today with some people from a games company, they were looking at portfolios and giving feedback. When it came to mine, they clicked on Beetopia, a game I made in 2015. It was a 6 year old game, and I was a little embarrassed, I wondered if I should tell them how old it was; how would I explain why my portfolio had a 6 year old game front and centre, what had I done for those 6 years, why did I not have more to show?
In truth from 2015-2019, I was not making games, I spent those years being a programer and mostly living life, and as cliché as it sounds trying to “find my self”. In the end the people from the games company liked Beetopia, and it was one of my more recent games that failed to load for them, but I was left thinking about those missing years.
Something else that’s been on my mind, this time related to web design, is a trick I use called 200 year design and Iv wanted to write about it for a while, but did not know how until now. The trick is simple, whenever I add something to my site I ask “will this still be interesting to people in 200 years”, I have found that the best things can always answer this question with a yes. We will get back to 200 year design in a moment, for now back to those missing years.
During that time I went to Japan (twice!), the US twice and even lived in New York for the better part of a year. I looped the US by rail, I saw Nasa in Houston, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite Vally and a large water tower shaped like a corn in Minnesota to name a few. There were many people along the way who taught me many things. However before I saw all that, when Ireland and the small city of Cork that I grew up in represented most of my world; I remember being terrified because the world was so big, there was so much space and so many people, I was afraid I would be nothing in all that vastness.
It turned out to be the opposite though, I found that I grew to fill the space, and by that I mean, my vision of the world grew, my scope grew, the field of view got bigger, I became more because the world I existed in was more. Although as of writing this I am back in Ireland again, that feeling of scope has never left me.
Did I ever find myself? The thing is, I was never lost, the me at the start and the me at the end were the same person, the difference is the scope that I had acquired. The world that you live in is created in your mind, from your experiences, your friendships, hopes and dreams and disasters, it is the size of your world that defines you.
When I made a silly bee game in 2015, I didn’t know any of that; I thought a game was just a game, something to entertain someone for a while or if you really wanted it to be more useful, teach someone some information or fact. It took me a long time to learn that a game is a world, it is a scope, the time a person puts into a game is not time to be burned, it is time that creates the scope that creates the person.
From a game design perspective, and a philosophical one, time and space are the same thing, they both create a persons sense of scope, they make a person more. Perhaps that’s why 200 year web design seems to work, because when you make a website to last 200 years, you have a big scope, you are not just stuck in a moment; and perhaps that’s why people seem to love games, because they give them a vision of the world that is more; and by proxy make them more themselves. Thats true for any medium, music, art, film, books, but games (and websites?) have a tactile feedback that intensifies it more than any passive medium. Iv never been into drugs, but perhaps that’s also what people see in them, and maybe love is a kind of scope too.
Im not sure why people seem to be scope junkies, but at a guess its because our lives are limited, we all come to an end some day, that’s why people have bucket lists, death gives meaning to life, and if time is a form of scope, then the limit to our time gives meaning to the scope of our lives.
I'd love to say I had worked out some simple way to turn this idea into a creative process, but I haven’t figured that out yet, Im still lost, all I really learned is that knowing your lost is the only way to not be lost, or the more you think you’ve found your place, the farther you are from really finding it.
Beetopia, was a pretty good game, it was a lot of work, but it was also the very best I could do and most I could be at that time. My path towards games has been a meandering one, it’s never been certain and still is not. That uncertainty is the only thing that gives me hope it is the right path at the moment. At the end of the day you probably just have to say stuff it all and have fun, but remember that fun is not about you, its about what you know and the size and vision of the world you see.