I went into the scratch session expecting it to be difficult, and knowing that I would not be able to create an awesome game in the span of under an hour and a half. I had still underestimated the task at hand though, and even with these expectations I was surprised (and at times a just a tiny bit frustrated) by how difficult creating even the simplest game can be. I do not think that I had fully comprehended the magnitude of creating an entire virtual world from scratch (no pun intended), including the most minute details and operating rules. My game consisted of a dinosaur chasing a shark, with the player scoring points whenever they caught the shark. I spent much of the period trying to make the shark move swiftly enough to create a challenge, without getting suck in the corners of the frame and flashing between the T-Rex and the border in what I imagine was a state of panic. I tried to introduce a timer, but never quite got it working the way I wanted. Suffice it to say, this experience not only gave me an immense respect for the scope and mechanics of the games I play, but also made me realize that every single aspect of a game, from the way an avatar moves when it walks to the color of the pain on buildings, is an extremely deliberate choice.
This relates back to some of the discussions we have had throughout the term about world-building and “place” in a virtual sense, making the concept a little more tangible. Every aspect of the virtual worlds present in games like Fallout and Call of Duty are constructed for a specific reason or purpose, whether as a reflection of the story being told and the fictional setting of this world, or as a reflection of the person creating this world. I am reminded, then, about the disparity between the number of male and female game developers, and the persisting male-dominated environments of many games. If the majority of game developers are white, heterosexual males, then it stands to reason that the games created are a representation (at least to some extent) of the values and worldview of a white heterosexual male. This accounts for the accusations of racism and sexism in many games throughout the industry, and points again for the need of a demographically diverse group of game developers.
While I definitely have neither the qualifications nor the desire to become a professional game developer, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience I had with Scratch. Working on creating a video game was a very welcome break in the middle of dead week (also known as Mt. Doom), and I plan on fiddling with Scratch some more over spring break. Also, the next time I am playing Skyrim, I might spend a little more time admiring the way things move when I run into them, and the details on the cliff face I am trying to scale.