Last Response Post: Video Game Making is HARD

Like KJ, I also thought I’d make my final response about our Scratch session today. My knowledge of computers and technology in general is, I will readily admit, pretty pathetic for someone in their twenties, so before today I cannot claim to have had any real idea of what is required in order to create a video game, or even how to program. After today though, I have a new found respect for computer and video game programmers. It is not that I had previously been under the impression that it would be an easy endeavor, it’s just something that I happily knew nothing about, and thus had no reason to form an opinion of. After spending an hour and a half trying to make a picture of a buffalo chase a  two dimensional unicorn around the screen, however, the magnitude of time and labor involved in creating a real video game started to settle down on me. The kind of time required in order to create something as simple as a classic platform game would be ridiculous, while more complex games are honestly entirely beyond the scope of my imagination. Even with experience using these programs and the assistance of a team of fellow programmers, I find it absolutely incredible that something as detailed, realistic, and relatively seamless as a game like Call of Duty or any of the other most recent games could ever come to be created. 

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Above: my game (Catch the Unicorn)

Below: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

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Though I might not be able to fully comprehend large scale video game production, the remarkable amount of time that must go into such a project does help me put into perspective why the field of game production is still dominated mostly by men. When this point was brought up in class, I didn’t fully appreciate why there persisted to be more male game designers than female. I suppose I assumed that such was still the case because the field has traditionally been worked by men, and not enough female designers have yet entered the field to even out the numbers. However, with a better understanding of how video games are built and the tremendous amount of labor hours that must be logged in order to create a good one, I am beginning to grasp Professor Stabile’s point that the requirements for the job itself are very male centric. Across all demographics, the kind of person that would most likely have both the training and time in order to accomplish this work is the college-educated white male, ideally single. While the work is surely incredibly difficult and mind-numbing, what it ultimately comes down to is there just aren’t many people outside this demographic who even have the luxury of considering this work, the time requirement and bar to entry is set so high. I think playing Scratch was an excellent way to end the term, because at least for me, better understanding the actual mechanics of game making has put a better perspective on the related gender theory we have been discussing. 

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2 Responses to Last Response Post: Video Game Making is HARD

  1. jtomcal says:

    I agree completely that making a video game is no easy task. There are so many variables that we often overlook as standard operating procedure, like which way a sprite faces, how they move, in which direction, their velocity and acceleration, the controls, and so forth. I recall making a short text-based rpg on the TI-89 back in high school out of boredom. I never really bothered with graphics too much. The most I did was create map grid matrix with just a theta to represent the character’s location on a x-y plane map. Managing graphical movement with the help of scratch’s GUI was already hard enough as we experienced in class. I can’t imagine spending hours starting from scratch (bad pun) to create basic movement of a sprite and interaction with an environment.

    For this reason, I suppose I was told by several comp sci majors that if I really wanted to get into video game creation and not have to begin at square 1, learning to mod games would be a good step in that direction, or experimenting with open source games. For a while, I experimented with a game called Sauerbraten, which is an open source game based off of Quake, which used the cube 2 engine. If modding code isn’t your thing, the game has a fairly hands-on map editor, and most of the maps are community made and amazing to boot (in my opinion). If anybody is interested, feel free to check it out. http://sauerbraten.org/

  2. cstabile says:

    K. — I’d like to hear more about how the Scratch session illustrated the gender theory. The session was led by two women PhD students and I don’t believe that there’s anything gender-specific about creating games per se. It’s certainly true that somewhere along the line girls and women are tracked out of those careers — key is to think about when and why that happens.

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