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Win, Don't Lose» Forums » General

Subject: My thoughts on game design rss

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Michael Nerman
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Hey folks,

I wrote the following for my game's Facebook page. Thought it might be interesting enough to share here:

I want to talk about something that's been bugging me.

I've been making games since I was a kid, and I've always thought of it as a part of my life. Making games and playing them with my friends has been a load of fun and very meaningful. I would occasionally hear people mentioning off-hand how I should publish them and make a bunch of money "like Monopoly" (or Trivial Pursuit, or Cards Against Humanity, etc, etc.) But I passed that off as being impractical, like buying a lottery ticket. It's easier to get rich through pro sports or acting than it is as a game designer. I was content to make games and just play them with my friends.

Then something happened with Win, Don't Lose. I realized I had something really great that I wanted to share with the world. However, I didn't think my handwritten-on-library-cards game was somehow inferior to mainstream "published" games, and at the time I had no interest in making it look like those mainstream games. Also, by writing it on library cards, it was a game that had virtually no negative impact on the environment (which as far as I'm concerned makes it superior to the later editions). So, I started handwriting extra copies on old library index cards to give out at conventions and to friends.

Fast forward to when I recently started showing off my Game Crafter cards. Now all of a sudden I'm hearing "oh, it's official", "it's legit now" and people are calling the library cards I gave them "prototypes". I noticed that I was starting to get angry when I heard these things. It suggests that what I have been doing all my life wasn't worthwhile, that the only way game design is "useful" or significant is when someone can make a lot of money off of it, when they commodify it. But I refuse to do game design for the money. I will always design games because I want myself and others to enjoy themselves.

So if you have a library card version of WDL, which by the way took me probably about an hour and a half to write and gave me a blister and/or hand cramp, don't call it a prototype. That was the first edition of Win, Don't Lose.

So I encourage you to dare to have fun and to create. Dare to do excellent things without expecting to be paid for them. And support people who do such things, go to local music shows, watch "amateur" theatre, play hand-written games and display your own art in your homes. Tell people that their creations are good for their own sake, and not just as something that could be sold. Connect with the people around you through your creations.

Thanks for reading. And thanks for playing.
Michael Nerman
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