Saturday, June 2, 2012

ego, money, and free sex

On one hand, there is this egotistical desire that I, and I would guess that most other game designers, have - which is to see lots of other people enjoying the games that we make. It is satisfying to eat a bowl of soup which is very good –  it tastes good, it satisfies your hunger impulse, and it can also be very healthy and satisfying on a conscious level knowing that this is something that can help you live longer and function better. It is a level of magnitude more satisfying to make that really good bowl of soup –  even to just follow a recipe for really good soup –  to serve that to a group of people, especially people with whom you have some level of relationship with, who you have gratitude for, and seeing them genuinely enjoy the soup. Of course, along this same line of logic, (I'm no master soup chef, so I cannot claim to have experienced this, and am just going on logic here), it must be yet another order of magnitude more satisfying to invent a new soup, maybe even just a variation on an existing recipe, and see those same people enjoy that, perhaps even more.

On the other hand, everyone in this society is expected to “make a living”, by which is meant to earn some amount of monetary income such that they are able to live whatever lifestyle they choose to live. This in turn creates an exchange of goods and services, which, collectively, we call an “economy”. Sometimes, this economy is “good”, or “healthy” –  many people are doing well, and it's fairly easy to do well for oneself with an honest and consistent work ethic. Other times, this economy is “bad”, not healthy –  a few people may be doing really well, but the vast majority of people are living below what is considered “standard”.

What i think is interesting is that, by that definition, the world economy on the whole is probably not, and maybe never has been very good, even in times when it may have been very good for one country or another. I think it may not require a huge stretch of the imagination to consider that this may be a root cause for a lot of the conflict in the world, armed or otherwise. At this moment, I am of the opinion that the economy of the U.S., in both a monetary and a political sense, is not in a healthy state.

But I am no economist. I am simply someone who wants to get some bloody satisfaction in making some damn good video games for other people to play and enjoy, and to “make a living” doing just that. This means somehow getting paid for the act of making video games, and balancing that with the desire of having a lot of people enjoy playing those games. I think this is a commonality that I share with most of the people who call themselves game designers.

I think the differences start to arise when it comes to how we come to having this massive number of people enjoy our games, and how we decide to get paid for our work. I think it's very noble to give away one's work for free. It might not be at all profitable in most cases, but I've never heard of anyone faulting a game developer for giving away a game for free. I only ever see people taking issue with paying money to play a game. And a lot of the time there is no issue –  a person sees the value in playing the game, i.e. it looks cool and fun and whatnot, and is worth whatever price the developer or publisher or distributor or operator or whoever is asking. Money is exchanged for some enjoyment. Perhaps one of the oldest economic exchanges there is, if you believe what is said about “the oldest profession”. 

I like that analogy. Let's run with that. So, let's say a guy is walking down the street and happens across a prostitute who is offering free sex. Let's assume for the sake of example that she's clean and carries condoms, etc, so the risk of STDs, etc is very minimal. The guy, being a guy, does not turn down the offer of free sex, and follows her up to a bedroom in an apartment in a nearby building. They take their clothes off, and start having sex. Just as the guy is about to blow his load, she stops, and says “that will be $500”. The guy says “I don't have $500. I thought this was free.” “No, I said free sex, not a free orgasm.”

If you were that guy, would you be a little angry?


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