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Play Games Like a Player

Do you remember what it was like to play a game? Not as a games industry insider, studying a competitor's game, or keenly critiquing your own work. Just playing a game because it was fun, and because you had nothing at stake, and because there was a ninja on the box.

I occasionally get to see games with fresh eyes when I watch my own kids play. I get to relive the surprise and the wonder and curiosity that is often pressed away from years of working on the inside. But, through my kids, I also get to live the frustration I've so often written off as "just the way it is". There's much we take for granted about games these days; Files are big, downloads are slow, updates are painful... nothing can be done.

But that's just not true. Something can be done. We're more in control than we've ever been. Just 10 years ago, if you made games for a living, you HAD to rely on brick and mortar stores. You had to hope your game got a good spot on the shelf, and if you made PC games you were lucky to have a shelf at all. After a month on the market, you'd walk into the local EB Games and hope your pride and joy wasn't under a pile of other games in the discount bin. With digital distribution, you've got a lot more power now to set prices, and manage promotions, and fix games well after launch.

Of course, with great power comes great worry (or something like that). In the old days it was comforting to know that some of your game's problems were out of your hands. When you sent it out the door, like an eager empty nester, you could force yourself to sleep at night knowing there's nothing more you could do. Now that you have almost unlimited tools and options, and a super long tail, the responsibility can be overwhelming.

As much as you might want to throw your hands up at the onslaught of choice, I beg you to take a breath and step back into the shoes of the gamer you were when you set your heart on a career in games. Look at every interaction and ask yourself: "is there something that can be improved?" And if you start to break out in a sweat, ask yourself, "is there someone who can help me make it better?"

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