Hobby Game Developers Part 1: I Used To Hate Video Games

I used to hate video games.

I hated video games because, up until 3rd grade, I defined gaming as brainless, worthless, wastes of time, meant only as a distraction from homework and learning. (I was a pretty pretentious child.) When the Wii rose in popularity, I discovered that video games are more than unintelligent pieces of junk. I realized they are awesome.

As a child, I never spent any of my allowance. For the Wii, I made an exception. I remember being wide-eyed as I brought every dollar in my possession to Costco with the hopes of purchasing my very own Wii . With its glossy white packaging, I instantly fell in love. At home, I spent an hour setting it up; as excited as I was to get started, I wanted to examine and admire every component and read every page of the instruction book. I booted it up, created my Mii, and began with a game of tennis. This was new. This was exciting.

A few weeks later, I ran home from the bus stop to play tennis on Wii Sports, panting all the way up the hill to my house. I threw my backpack into the vestibule and sprinted to the television. As I was swinging the Wii Remote back and forth, my stereotypical asian tiger mother came into the living room, shocked. She was horrified that I would even consider playing a video game before starting my very important 3rd grade homework.

Wii Sports was my gateway drug into more hardcore gaming. Before I realized what was happening, I began to read reviews on IGN, dreaming of games I knew I would never own. In 6th grade, I was introduced to the Steam summer sale. Both Portal games were on sale in a bundle. I had played Portal at a friend’s house, and I knew that both of the games were worth much more than a mere $7.50 combined.

After much effort in convincing my mother, I made the purchase. This was the tipping point. I was quickly thrown into the world of video games, and now, here I am today, an associate writer for a gaming website. I’ve evolved from a level 10 video game hater to a level 20 gamer.

So why do I recant my story?

The Wii redefined video games in a way that nobody could ever have imagined. Today, many hobby game developers, those who design video games in their free time, are doing the same thing. However, instead of showing that games are for everyone, they’re showing that games are for everything. They’re more than just fun entertainment to relax. They can have a message in the same way a painting in a museum can convey an idea. They don’t need to be ten hour experiences of action and racing, they can be ten minute explorations of life and the universal human experience.

It’s a crazy idea, I realize. No Call of Duty is going to ask us to reexamine our role in society or question our core values, but no hobby developer is making Call of Duty. They’re making games that are more accessible, personal, and intellectually provocative. With this series, Hobby Game Developers, I am attempting to yet again broaden my view of video games.

Care to join me?

A Note About the Ouya in the Cover Photo:

While it has been regarded as a failure to many, it has succeeded in presenting a platform to a large audience, and regardless of its current status, it serves an important role for independent hobby developers, which is why it serves as one of the symbols of this series.

Next Time: An Interview with James Earl Cox III, a writer who now makes games.

You can follow Darwin Leuba on Twitter as he rediscovers video games, yet again. And yes, he loved the Smithsonian Exhibition regarding commercial video games as art.

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