Game Design

Make Better Games by Ignoring Games?

Filip Wiltgren wrote about the benefits of silence in Stop Gaming and You Will Be a Better Designer.

In reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (/me adds it to his wishlist), Wiltgren found a counterintuitive way to get more creative.

Instead of working on game designs, playing games for research, or reading game industry news, you give it all up for a week. And give up on television so you don’t have it as an outlet either.

And without the regular routine and habits, your brain will feel idle and anxious.

When you can’t expend your energy on consuming your habit then your brain will start to create your habit itself. You will, effectively, be pushing all that energy into creativity relating to what you like. If you’re a chef you might get ideas for great dishes. If you’re a driver you might get ideas for how to do that perfect tailspin. And if you’re a game designer you will suddenly be popping up ideas for games, mechanics and solutions at a rate that you’ve never experienced before.

Looking up The Artist’s Way online, I found people talking about this detoxification along a different line. One person wrote about a social media detox with good results.

So, it’s essentially media fasting. Wiltgren geared it towards games and the writings of people about games online. The key is to disconnect from what everyone else is saying temporarily, which gives you time and space to process and figure things out.

And I think I’ve done this recently on my own. I realized that I could keep reading pro tips and best practices and advice, but some of it is contradictory, and there’s so much of it to read these days from people who may or may not know what they are talking about that if I keep reading it, I’ll never actually get to try the advice out myself to see if it works.

So I stopped seeking it out, and I started using that time to work on myself instead. And I realized that a small bit of improvement with real results is infinitely better than seeking out the best method or perfect way before I start.

I think a news fast was helpful for my general outlook in life. I find ignoring the news for a bit means I find more to be positive about. As a part-time indie game developer, I worry that I already don’t spend enough time on games and paying attention to what is happening in my industry, so I’m hesitant to try out a game fast anytime soon.

Maybe a fast would be a good thing to do after a day or a week of doing nothing but absorbing games. Eat and breathe games, then give yourself time and space to process it all without any more input, and see what happens.

Have you tried this detoxification before?