Don’t make games with your SO

This is a very personal post. I feel the need to apologise for it in advance. It is hard for me to talk about this.

What is the meaning of life? This is a question that lies at the base of philosophy, and one that shaped the world as we know it. It’s an important question; it is what drives each and every one of us, regardless of how often we think about it. Even if we don’t think about it at all.

To me, the meaning of life is deeply connected with my desire to make games. I see games as an unprecedentedly powerful form of expression and the idea of crafting them challenges me hugely. Its not just the mathematical challenge of creating worlds, its the intangible, wonderful expression of music and beauty and interaction and stories and so much more. That is what made me quit a really good career in software and pursue my quest to define my meaning of life through games.

Lucky, there has always been someone besides me willing to be there all the way. Not only that, but he shares my passion for games, even if he does not share my view regarding the meaning of life. Yet while I am deeply passionate about the Making of games, Sebi is deeply passionate about the Playing of games, and we are both very, very opinionated when it comes to game design, gamedev and games in general. I am the bookworm, he is the experienced adventurer. I want to reinvent the wheel, he wants to improve it. I look towards the end goal, he lurks deep in execution. And we clash, constantly.

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Which is why I am still amazed that we actually worked together for so many years. We worked together for Level, writing about games and gamedev. We sat side by side at Fun Labs, literally side by side, and experienced the most creatively rewarding but also the most life draining game making process. We moved to Italy together, we struggled to work together, and did  the same in Sweden. The benefit of all this is that we have a very well oiled, deep level of understanding and trust. We often don’t even have to say full sentences to communicate something. This is I think visible and is what people see in us. And it is true, and heart warming, and this makes me very happy because I am indeed – as they say- lucky in love. I am very grateful for that.

But what people don’t see is the constant struggle to have this. And I think loving someone very, very much is similar to making games when you are passionate about the craft because both are essential activities that shape what I call the meaning of life. Doing something of value, with the people you love. The challenge lies in the word With. And I think that is why most sane people don’t mix and match their productive life with their love life. The idea is to do something of value surrounded by those you love. But when you do something of value WITH the one you love, minor clashes and misunderstandings are arguments about your very own existence. It’s always about love or loss, together or alone, onward or backward situation. And sometimes – oftentimes- it hurts so, so much.

I suppose making something of value has a cost; the greater the value, the bigger the cost.

And I have accepted this cost, both of us have, and we are now in this journey where not only do we work together at a game, we work together at OUR game. Every decision is important, every skill is important and every action is also a statement towards the trust we have in each other. And frankly, we all have flaws and we all have things that we evaluate incorrectly about us and about others. Who is best to decide whether the country size is appropriate? Who can say if the core game loop is profound enough? See, no one knows but there is a right and a wrong answer to all these questions, one that we have no chance of finding now, but we still need to try because failure means discarded work and doing very difficult stuff all over again. So we fight. And we will fight until the game is done, or until one of us bails out, or until we break up. Or! Or until we reach that bliss, that wisdom, that strength to temper ourselves and each other, to soberly analyse what is it we fight about, to find a better way to go through all these scenarios, and deal with all those trust issues and all insecurities and fears, and just sit back, relax, and find that compromise we both agree is the best way to move forward.

It’s not easy.

It is easier to reach that bliss when you make someone else’s game. Easier, but still hard as f. Making games is hard because it puts insecure yet very passionate and talented people together, to find a way, any way, to push their limits, trust each other, let go of their egos, and make something that is more than a book, an album, a movie, combined and enhanced by the idea of player interaction.

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So I tweet: don’t make games with your SO. Don’t do it if you are not ready. I don’t know if we are ready, and we have been together for 18 years, yet I fear to take anything for granted. I hope, I deeply, dearly hope, and walk on this thin, thin line of trust and love, so powerful, yet so fragile. Sometimes I despair, and cry, and sometimes I feel like I have been hugged and kissed by the entire Universe (Sebi’s hugs and kisses feel just like that *blush*). I am afraid, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Please thread gently with the tweets though, as you did and do, my amazing friends! <3