I recently discovered a little gem of a documentary on the origin of video games as we know and love ’em.
If this kind of thing wets your willy, I highly recommend “High Score” on Netflix.
For the artists, writers, and business owners out there, it serves up some great insights and perspective on the creative process.
Creators can get a little egocentric about the stuff they make, wanting ownership and recognition and applause.
Which isn’t all bad.
But it’s easy to forget that the genesis of creativity always comes from someplace outside ourselves.
Take for example, Tomohiro Nishikado.
Nishikado is the legendary creator of Space Invaders, regarded as one of the most influential video games of all time.
But Nishikado grew up like most of us: in a certain time and place, eating certain foods, reading books and watching films and observing people.
He didn’t just create Space Invaders out of thin air.
In fact, he drew inspiration for the game, which was eventually sold to Atari, from another video game Atari already owned called “Breakout”.
Nishikado said of Breakout: “It was a game that made you want to play it again and again. It was amazing.”
Inspired, he set out to create his own game he hoped would have the same impact Breakout had on him.
He acted on the stuff he was obsessed with, addicted to.
Go and do thou likewise.
As a creator, pay extra attention to the things that amaze you, stop you in your tracks, or cause you to fall in love.
Think about how and why it grabbed you, and pour this energy through your own lens, into your own stories, products, and films.
The creative process starts with a take, and ends with a give.
Creating can be cathartic, sure, but don’t stop there.
The art, music, and architecture we revere and cherish and love only happened to us because someone had the balls to share it.
Right now I wonder what great works currently exist that haven’t surpassed the creator’s self-scrutiny to land in my doting hands.
Those self-censoring creators should ponder these powerful words:
“As a game designer, it’s not about what I’m putting on the screen, and it’s not about what’s in my design. It’s about what’s going on inside the head of the player.” -Howard Scott Warshaw, game designer for Atari
Now that’s a rich statement, full of many lessons.
But one thing he’s saying is the purpose of his creative act is to reach others: show them something to marvel at, invite them into an experience.
In this light, the creator is less like a god, and more like a medium or a channel.
Take the inspiration that moves you, innovate upon it, and share it as something people haven’t quite seen before, that has the chance to really touch them.
The problem you solve, the energy that ignites you, the vibe you are feeling – chances are, someone else also wants to know about it, experience it, and feel it.
And finally: the work of creation is all about experimentation.
When Nishikado was a child, he loved conducting experiments.
When he first created Space Invaders, he considered, experimented with, and discarded, multiple character ideas for the game before finally settling on octopus-like alien creatures similar to those he read about in War of the Worlds.
Study what impresses you. Channel that energy into your own creation. Think about the user experience. And enjoy the necessary experimentation that comes with the process.
P.S. In your path of creation, there’s a lot of legal issues that can get in the way. If something is plaguing you right now, just CONTACT PAUL below to set up a free consultation.