The Mental Yardstick

July 23, 2012 at 10:46 am (Uncategorized)

Its that time of year again when my social media outlets are filled to the brim with my friends flogging themselves for votes. There is something sad about watching this happen year after year and this year I stopped to wonder why. Now I won’t be talking about the award in question except to say that it is a much higher honor to be nominated than it is to win. What I want to talk about is the mental yardstick.

What is the mental yardstick? Its the thing that I looked at and saw that Daniel Solis had put out way more games this year than I likely would in my whole life. It is the thing that I look at and watch Fred Hicks branch out in fantastic new directions while I wander back into my past. It is the thing that fills me with equal joy and sadness as the Podgecast hits 200 and bows out. It is, very simply, how I measure myself.

I know I just made the mental yardstick sound evil but it is not. Each of those ways it has helped measure others successes against my own has also helped me set my course. When I measure where I am today, closing in on year two as a company with two products under my belt, I need to set that measure against something else to give that measure any value.

So this is what I do, what we all do, to one degree or another. Each year I do a reckoning of where I am this year against where I was last year. Last year, I had a product that was and still is languishing in obscurity and a game that was receiving pretty good playtest feedback. This year I have put my playtest on the back burner and started what looks to be a very successful line of adventures. I have another game in playtest that is way off my usual beat but a lot of fun. I am looking a lot more this year at where I compare to myself than to others. This has been a very successful year for me and the year beyond looks promising.

Why am I bothering to tell you this? Your smart people, you already know all of this. Except I’m watching really smart people put a lot of effort into earning an external measure that really doesn’t mean anything useful. Your ability to round up a lot of fans doesn’t mean that you make great games. Making great games means you make great games. There was a time we all knew this and laughed at those who didn’t. Now, I just shake my head and drink my beer in silence. I love you all and I hope you win. Whatever that means to you.

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