I am a game developer and designer. I like video games. It does not make me a gamer and my taste in games does not reflect much about my work. Yet for many it seems synonymous. It isn’t.
Do you ever get harassed by friends and neighbors to fix their computer because you are the “computer guy/genius/geek/weirdo”? Or maybe people ask you to fix their Outlook’s account because you deal with software? Sounds familiar, huh? People don’t get the difference between hardware and software and between software writing and management. It’s all the same to them. But you should know better, right?
That’s why I was thrown off guard during a job interview when I was asked about my favorite game. I really think it’s about as relevant about me as asking about my favorite film (please don’t ask).
You see, a game developer is like a car engineer, sometimes like a mechanic. He isn’t a driving specialist! That’s why when you’ll ask an (honest) mechanic about his favorite car you’ll get an answer related to maintenance, not driving! On the flip side I wouldn’t ask a racing driver how to fix a leak in my car, either.
I also don’t like to choose a single favorite of anything, because taste changes over time. I may choose something today and something else tomorrow just because of my mood at the moment. And really can you compare sports to a turn-based strategy game? Does it make sense to compare classical and jazz music?
Truth be told I really don’t have the time to play games like I used to. Actually I almost don’t play any games at all. When I have some time to spare I’d rather cook, bake, or watch a movie (please don’t ask). Since lately I don’t even have time for any of the above, I’d rather just rest. Is it ideal? Of course not. Can I still develop? You betcha. Actually eating and sleeping well are more important to productivity than playing games, contrary to popular beliefs about Coke, Pizzas and Overwatch (or whatever) marathons at the office.
When I did have the time to play, I was really a lousy player in the gaming sense of the word. I really loved to cheat my way through games, especially FPSs. God Mode was my best friend. I now realize why. To me cheating enabled me to enjoy to mechanics and experience it more fully. Sometimes that tendency caused me to miss some great games, such as Spelunky, or Deus Ex, both of which I have failed during the tutorial! Yes, shame on me. Twice.
None of this is to say that I don’t have any taste in games. I do. It’s varied and I think it’s interesting enough to share and I will. Soon. It’s just not testament to my expertise, just a reflection of my inspiration.
So next time please ask me about inspirational games. There is no favorite.