Making meaningful games as an impostor

One reason to develop Heart. Papers. Border. is because of the impostor syndrome. My day job is to help all the studios in the park to finish their games successfully. And while I learned a lot in the 7 years I have been making commercially successful games for Activision, Milestone and Simbin, the truth is my curriculum is not so stellar when it comes to DYI indie games. I only made one of those, called Know Inc., and it was a commercial flop. I worked on Know Inc. together with two very dear friends, we distributed the game for free with ads on Microsoft platforms only and we made the impressive sum of a little under 2 dollars – YAY!

This time, I want to test if I can make some noise. I deeply believe Heart. Papers. Border. is worth it, way beyond the lessons I am trying to apply. Just like Know Inc. – or actually, far more than that – Heart. Papers. Border. is on a subject that’s very, very close to my heart and that has a significant impact on my life and my philosophy. As a fairly well traveled expat, I have lots of stories to tell, and even more curiosity to learn about similar adventures. As an earthling, I fail to understand borders or discrimination based on where one was born. Yet there is a part of me that feels completely happy to roam freely, and another that occasionally suffers of loneliness and of not having roots. It’s hard to live against or on the fringe of socially accepted norms. But as I move through life and debunk my own core beliefs, the only thing I truly know is that I know nothing.

I just dream to make the entire world my home.

Heart. Papers. Border. is a question about freedom. And it is also a test for me to see if I can truly ask this question in a meaningful and impactful way. It needs to make money, because it is the only way it will draw the attention needed to ask this question. I hope it will be commercial success so that I can proudly urge others to make deeper, more meaningful ways with an open, trustful, transparent attitude. The project Heart. Papers. Border. aims to expand and test my design, leadership, marketing, PR and art skills through a game about a subject I desperately want the world to talk about.

And it does feel quite impostor-ish to write about it. It is just a game, after all, it’s a metaphor of today’s world clumsily expressed by one that’s barely a gamedev. And of course everything I write here also has a Marketing purpose, but oh how I wish I’d read more about the motivations behind indie games.

How do you want to change the world, my gamedev friend? What drives you to struggle for this poor life of an artist, where the certainty of success is so small? Please don’t tell me the reason to have or to create fun, cause I know its not.

Warren Spector talking game philosophy at Sweden Game Conference 2016
Warren Spector talking game philosophy at Sweden Game Conference 2016

That is why Warren Spector’s lecture made me cry. He spoke about why are we making games, about the questions we are asking, about the moral dilemmas we are facing. He spoke deeply, calmly, eloquently about empowering players, about shared authorship, about our powerful ways to decorate the space where we can have life changing conversations. If only I could have talked to him more…