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A green-eyed monster appears!
by Andrew Smith on 10/10/13 06:50:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Oh. Another post I nearly didn’t write. Something of a trend, perhaps? This time I’m really really hoping at least a few people out there can relate…

So I like to think I’m a part of the thriving and globally important UK indie scene. I’m a vocal, hard to ignore but admittedly not-as-productive-as-I’d-like part. I also like to think I’ve made a lot of friends in the UK (and global) scene and can count myself as a friend or at least professional-and-respected acquaintance to people like Dan MarshallMike Bithell, Ian & Paul from Mode 7 GamesTerry CavanaghStephen LavelleEd KeyBidds and Jasper Byrne. I even got an email from Arcen Games' Erik Johnson dropping me a code for their latest, and I feel bad cos it's been ages since we talked but we totally bonded at Gamecity last year.

Why the epic name drop, eh? Well partly because they’re all doing rather well for themselves. Thomas Was AloneFrozen SynapseGun MonkeysLone SurvivorStealth BastardProteusSuper Hexagon and English Country Tune are all games that should ring a bell - perhaps a ‘I’ve played it’ chime, or a thunderous ‘I’ve seen sales figures for that’ clang.

Some of them have done brilliantly in sales, some in terms of critical acclaim. Some are being ported to multiple platforms, some are already on all of them, but all of them seem to be doing well enough that their creators can do whatever they want to do next.

And because every time I hear about their successes, one of the first emotions I feel is jealousy (it might just be envy, but envy doesn’t have a coloured monster with which I can shoehorn a Pokémon pun into this post’s title). Most of me is excited, chuffed and giddy for them. A chunk of me is proud of my chums. But regardless a small part of me is jealous.

Jealous of success? Isn’t that delightful of me.

How dare these hard working, talented and lovely people be rewarded with acclaim and sales and money and adoring fans?

Silly isn’t it.

The more socially acceptable part of me takes my subconscious by the shoulders and slaps my envy-prone hind brain, and yells “stop being a dick!”.

Of course hard work is rewarded. As is being nice (or at least, not being a dick). Modern western society is set up in such a way that talent, given opportunity, can not only succeed but thrive. Which is great! I’m talented, nice and hard working (thank god being modest isn’t a requirement) so as soon as I release a game, I’ll probably see some rewards!

It goes without saying that this all hinges on releasing something (we’re so close, promise!) but it’s ultimately an immensely reassuring thought. It should reassure everyone reading this too. And that’s really what I think I’m being jealous about. Not that they’re seeing success - but instead that these wonderful, imaginative and skilled individuals and teams are releasing games and living off of them. Maybe not all of them off one game, but rather several… and the fact remains I’m not there yet.


I could go on, because this naturally leads into an exploration of what I’ve come to call Designer’s Guilt… but that’s a whole other blog post!

(I originally posted this - and so too all of my blogs - on my tumblr a day earlier. You can also follow me on twitter)

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Ian Richard
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Welcome to being a human being. We feel emotions that are self-centered and there is nothing wrong with it. Our brains have evolved around self-preservation and your brain is just doing it's human thing. You aren't being a jerk... your brain is just trying to help you survive*.

The fact that you recognize your personal bias means that you probably aren't a dick. You sound like you are glad they succeeded. You just want to follow in their footsteps and succeed... there is nothing wrong with that.

Jealously, anger, fear and greed... they all play's a role in our everyday actions whether we want to believe it or not. Recognizing them is the first step to keeping them in check.

Don't feel guilt over this, you are only human.

*Brains evolve slowly. In your brain, every tiny little thing is life or death.

Andrew Smith
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A very interesting take - especially about our brains! I've often thought the same, I'd love to read more about our actual evolution versus our self-perceived evolution.

Rob Lockhart
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I'm so glad you wrote this. I'm kind of in the same boat here in Chicagoland, USA. I feel like a failure because I haven't released a game on my own yet (and those I made for hire have never been big hits). I just have to keep telling myself to be patient, but patience is another one of those things I have to work on.

I don't wish my Chicago Indie pals anything but success, but their successes always sting a little, at first.

Andrew Smith
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Yeah it's purely a short sharp initial feeling for me too. Really glad that writing this kind of stuff helps others out, even just by letting people like ourselves know we're not the only ones! Best of luck with your own stuff man :D

Christian Nutt
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Let's face it; jealousy and competition can be great motivators for artists (by which I mean those who produce creative works, not the discipline in game development.) If you read about novelists who were contemporaries, or painters, composers, bands... very often they were motivated by the success of their contemporaries.

Andrew Smith
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Absolutely right, Christian. I hope to follow in their footsteps! We can but try...

Wes Jurica
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Ah, designer's guilt. I'm not sure what your definition is but I am experiencing my version hardcore right now. I had it right before release and now that our game is out in the wild.

"Why am I not doing more?"/"I should have done more."