demoralization

I should be feeling good today. Yesterday marked six straight months of being sober. I’ve begun making amends with people I thought I would have a lifelong grudge against. And I’ve been working on this game, which has allowed me to work on all these cool artistic ideas I’ve had bouncing around in my head.

But I don’t feel good. I’m mad. I’m upset. I’m lost. Granted, the current news of the world has something to do with it. But on a smaller scale, things are still fucked up. That ever-present reminder that life is not fair, and probably never will be.

No, it’s cool. It’s totally fine that a man who confessed to underpaying his employees, creating an abusive work environment for them, and uh, fucking attempting to rape two people in a hotel room gets to worm his way back to the top by producing the reboot of a 90s classic currently being promoted by Macaulay fucking Culkin.

Hey, remember Brandon Boyer? Remember when he got sacked from Juegos Rancheros because it turned out he was also a sex predator? What’s he up to? Oh nothing major, just hanging out with the creator of Katamari Damacy is all. And also being allowed to throw a party at GDC, at a venue that probably serves alcohol. Isn’t that great?

How about Nick Robinson? Surely a guy who was caught trying to get with underaged girls could certainly never be allowed to show his face in public again! Unless you’re like me, and he’s currently dominating your Youtube recommendations algorithm like he’s a Fuckboy Joe Rogan!

That is three men, in the last year or so, who did heinous shit and are now instantly forgiven for it. Oh, and that whole thing where THQ did an AMA on a child porn site that everyone forgot about. There are queer people who have removed their online presence and whose names are still spoken in hushed, condemning tones over petty social media bullshit that happened over four years ago. There are people who have lost their jobs in games for committing the heinous, unforgivable crime of “being a woman.” There are people of color just trying to do their thing of writing, or streaming, or making shit, and getting a deluge of harassment and subjected to a heightened double standard just because. But hey, some white dudes who did a couple rapes? It’s fine. The only predators that have ever been kicked out are the ones who were ultimately found to not be guilty of what they were accused of in the first place.

I’ve been working on my game for a while now. Every day when I get started, I ask myself one question: what am I doing? Because the answer is what I will be working on for that day. Am I working on some level design? Am I drawing new art assets? Am I improving older art assets? Am I going to (attempt to) work on sound? Am I going to try and implement some idea that I had floating in my head? And that’s what I do.

Today is one of those days where I am instead asking myself: why am I doing this? What is even the point of spending all this time and effort in a field where outright evil is rewarded and good is frequently demonized? Me making an 8-bit platformer influenced by a Wii game I thought was good ten years ago isn’t going to magically kill off rape culture, heteronormativity, and privilege. So why do it? I don’t have an answer. It’s demoralizing.

Sometimes, I might open up my game making tools and spent hours working on one specific thing. Making sure that the most basic movements are good. I have dedicated a lot of energy to making sure that simply jumping is smooth. That it has that satisfying feel, and it’s not all weird and janky. Is the shooting okay? Is the enemy placement okay? If I put in some secrets, could the player find them with their own intuition? I go in and pour over every single detail to a point of obsession because I want it to be just right. I don’t like to half-ass things; I go 100%, or I don’t go at all. And today, I feel like I’m wasting my time. I’ve wanted to make games for so many years. But now I don’t know if it’s worth it. Maybe that will change, but for right now, I’m lost. I don’t know whether to keep going forward, or to turn around and go back home.

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