There’s no doubt, that computer games are here to stay. They have to be one of the most prevalent forms of software around. You can find them on PC’s, Macs, cellphones, pdas, and BlackBerrys. They even have their own genre of hardware. Specifically for gaming. There are living room styled consoles like Xbox, Wii’s, and PS3s. As well as a horde of portable gaming platforms, like the PSP, GameBoy, and DS. I can’t think of any other software that warrants it’s own hardware platform. We sure do like to play don’t we?

It’s a basic human need – for some even an obsession. Play time is a stress reliever, a much needed distraction, and arguably a self esteem builder for the winners. But another basic need that computer games can feed, is that of creation. Everyone loves to create. Whether it’s a five year olds finger painting hanging on the fridge, or Stephen Kings next great horror epic. Anyone with an emotion to express, story to tell, or movie to capture can do their thing.

I must confess to be a want to-be game developer from way back. I first tinkered around with building games on a Commodore 64. And if I really want to date myself, I’ll confess to writing a very basic random number generator type game in Basic on a Radio Shack TRS-80 computer. Fortunately for the inspired gamers of today, the technology supporting game building has improved by several light years since then. From the simple to use yet powerful GameMaker from YoYo Games to the Unreal Editor (UnrealEd) that ships with the purchase of most games powered by the Unreal engine. This enables anyone who owns the game to create their very own version of the game using the same tools as the professionals

It’s a beautiful world to live in, if you’ve got the itch to build games. Not only are the tools available, but the information on how to use them is freely given and discussed in forums all over the internet. A Google of the term “game developer forums”, shows 194 million results. WOW! I’m sure they’re not all totally relevant, but as I puruse the top few entries, I see a few places where I’ve spent lots of time. Including, but not limited to GameDev, and IndieGamer forums. The latter being an offshoot of the independent gamers forum started by Steve Pavlina on his old Dexterity website, back when he was a legend in the world of independent gamers.

While the tools mentioned above work great for building and designing games, there is plenty of opportunity for other skilled artists to create for the gaming world. Digital artists are every bit if not more a part of game creations than programmers and designers. It’s the visual styling of a game that often sets it apart from the competition, and garners kudos from critics and fans alike. Musicians and sound effects artisans can have fun helping to build games these days. While music and sound effects can often be rather forgettable in games, (especially some of the derivative casual games clones), the really good ones auditory aficionados can really add a whole dimension to the gaming experience. Games like System Shock 2 (Irrational Studios), and the more recent Bioshock (2KGames) come to mind as benefited from some incredibly talented sounds and music.



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