Game Design: The Only Rule is Work

Corita Kent was an artist in 1960s. She began doing amazing things with silk screening, a medium she chose because she wanted to create affordable art for the masses. Inspired by Andy Warhol, she used pop culture images to spread messages of love and peace. She also happened to be a Catholic nun, and her art was her activism. This resonates with me on a lot of levels, but what really clicks for me at the moment is the following quote:

“The only rule is work. If you work, it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all the time who eventually catch onto things.”

Game design is like any other creative medium. If you want to be good at it, you need to do it. Repeatedly. It takes practice. It is work. Too many people that I have known over the year have had great ideas for games, but they never did anything about it. They might have made some notes, or ran a playtest or two with some friends, but they gave up. Many of them realized that it didn’t come easy, that it required work, and gave up.

One of the frustrating things about game design and, again, any creative endeavor is that people don’t always understand the work that went into it. They haven’t done it themselves, so they don’t know how long it takes. There’s no appreciation for the skills, or the raw effort, required. I’ve compared it to the people who obviously never worked in the service industry. You can tell who’s waited tables before, or run a cash register, based on the way they treat people in those jobs. If they’ve done the work, they’ve got empathy.

Like Corita Kent, I want to make affordable art for the masses. Some people think that requires less work than producing a $100 full color, heavily illustrated core rulebook. It’s just different work, because you’re solving for other problems. I’d like my creative output to be my activism, and that requires work, too. The messaging needs to be clear, but not heavy-handed. It’s like any other form of self-expression. The only rule is work. Eventually, things will catch on.

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