You may have heard that there exists an article that tells people they can't make games. We're not going to talk about that article. There are only two ways to respond to put-downs like that: we can choose to be cynical or positive. Cynicism never inspired anyone to do anything great, so let's choose the latter, okay? That being said, let's begin.
You should make a game! Not "can," "should." I make games professionally and as a hobby, and I think that the world of gaming would be a better place if everyone made games. It's not just a fun experience for the creator - it's good for everyone.
There is someone reading this article right now who has never made a game before who would be incredibly good at it and go on to make games that many of us will love. But that person will never know how much fun making games would be, or how much raw aptitude he or she possesses, if he or she never tries to actually make a game. Encouraging everyone to try their hand at making games makes it more likely that humanity's undiscovered geniuses of game production will manifest themselves, and the world (read: you and I) will have better games to play as a result.
"But Evan!," you cry out. "What about all the bad games these people will create?" Here's an unintuitive leap: lots of bad games are a good thing. After all, it's incredibly common in every craft that a failed experiment often contains the seeds of its own improvement. I've spoken out emphatically against plagiarism, and I stand by every word of that post, but a bad game might nonetheless introduce new thoughts into the collective conversation about game creation - concepts that can be improved upon by their creators or others, clearing off the dirt to reveal the gem inside. Not every bad game will achieve this, of course, but we will get fewer games that do unless we encourage everyone to make games.
One consequence of being a part of a very new industry is that when I tell my friends and family that I make video games, many of them have absolutely no idea what this means - even the ones who play games. They know what the finished product looks like, but they don't know what goes into the process. If everyone were familiar with the language and techniques involved in creating games, they could develop a better understanding of how to deconstruct and critically evaluate the media they consume. This makes people more literate, more worldly, and more knowledgable about games in general, and this leads to more intelligent conversations about games and more discussions about what it's possible for games to do. Creators think about creative works in deeper and more insightful ways than consumers who do not create.
Yes, I want people who have never made a game before tinkering around with Flash or Unity or Xcode, because these are people who will better understand the work involved with making a game.
Yes, I want the bored high-schooler programming games on his calculator in class, because his experiments might encourage him to dream bigger.
Yes, I want that twelve-year-old kid making her Final Fantasy-inspired throwback RPG, because she's thinking about what goes into making a game interesting.
Yes, I want over a thousand people participating in every Ludum Dare, because in those thousand projects are great prototypes that could be developed into wonderful full games.
Yes, I want every single person who plays games to make games! It's good for them, it's good for you and me, and it will make the future of gaming even brighter.
Evan Jones is a San Francisco-based game designer and programmer.
It would make him very happy if you followed him on Twitter @chardish.