My annual pilgrimage to the West Coast begins in a few days, and as usual I’m ambivalent about leaving. Past experience, however, clearly shows that once I’ve arrived I’ll be glad I made the trip. The power-ups of camaraderie and intellectual discourse that one finds almost littering the convention floor always restore my interactive entertainment morale.
As for my objectives, each year I try to have an overarching goal in mind, and this year that objective is to move past teaching and involve myself even more in the process of making games. Between the explosion of interest in the games biz from academic circles – little of which is focused on, or will ultimately yield, anything of practical use – and a disheartening freelance experience I recently had with a division of Microsoft, I am wondering if we will ever truly move past old arguments about the tantalizing but unattainable possibilities that originally drew many of us to this business.
While it’s to be expected that newbies will need to be educated on the state of the art, many newbies who come to the games biz do so with their own intellectual stamps of approval, making them less inclined to pay their dues or learn the ropes. While I don’t begrudge people their bushy-tailed energy or their bright ideas, and I support anyone who has done their homework and truly believes in their vision, I just don’t have the energy to fight the tide of ignorance anymore.
If there’s a silver lining in all this it’s that I now know why I felt no desire to submit my roundtable abstract for the GDC this year. Whereas before I felt it important to evangelize as much as possible about the craft of interactive entertainment, I no longer believe that one voice – or even a hundred voices – can prevent people from wasting time and money on these naive pursuits each year.
None of which should dissuade you from contacting me if you have a question about the games biz, or about interactive entertainment design. I’m still committed to education: I’m just not trying to save anyone from themselves anymore.
— Mark Barrett