Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

A 5-Year Old Can Rock a Game Jam, Why Can’t You?

Posted by Rampant Coyote on May 27, 2011

… Though she does get a bit of help from dear old dad. Here’s the resut of their weekend game jam:

Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure

The “Ponycorn” part of it was, in fact, an invention of her father – sort of a joke (with My Little Pony as the visual aid).

My favorite part? The quote, “That’s what you get for being evil. AND a lemon!”

There is a complete story of how this game came to be over the course of a weekend – and the efforts of Cassie Creighton and her father to put together this game in a building full of indie game developers – that you can read about at this blog post.

So, okay. So the question, “If a five year old can do it, why can’t you?” is kind of dumb, I’ll admit. A five-year-old can get away with a game like that, but a twenty-five-year-old cannot.

But the finished product is not really the point. Nobody is going to make an awesome, fully commercial-ready game in a weekend, anyway. The point is that she took the plunge, at a stage in her life where nobody but her father expected it of her, and even he had doubts about her staying power.

With the barriers to creating and distributing games falling as they have, there are really only three major obstacles facing a would-be indie game developer:

#1 – It’s still an incredible amount of work to make a game. Most people have no clue how challenging even a “simple” 2D platformer is to create. For most people, it’s not worth the effort.

#2 – An indie has to know a little bit about a lot of different things to go it alone. Or get help from someone who can cover their deficiencies. This is somewhat related to #1 – because getting started can be very intimidating, and first-timers without related experience can be staggered when they realize how much they didn’t know.

#3 – Most would-be game developers have their sites set really, really high, wanting to imitate the recently-released AAA games they love. It’s hard to throttle back so that the first two obstacles are *possible* to be overcome by a newbie. Many can’t cope with the let-down of dreaming about creating the Sistine Chapel and instead having to start making a dog house with a single color of paint.

But, as in all things, these are things that get better / easier with practice. I’m still nowhere near a general-purpose expert, I still vastly underestimate the time and difficulty involved, and I’m constantly crushed by the reality of what I’m doing not quite matching my vision. But I keep going, and sucking a little bit less each time.

And we all have to start some where. I think Cassie Creighton is off to a great start.



Filed Under: Indie Evangelism - Comments: 3 Comments to Read

  • Brian 'Psychochild' Green said,

    As I’ve quipped a few other places:

    “Game Design: so easy a 5 year old can do it!”

  • Felix PleČ™oianu said,

    That reminds me of Sophie Houlden’s article from almost a year ago, Making Games is EASY, and I won apparently. Like Mr. Creighton, she exaggerates, but the point stands: the fact that game development is a lot of work should in no way discourage you if making games is what you really want. It’s easy enough to get started… and easy enough to keep going. And then there’s mostly a matter of where you decide the accumulated effort is too much.

    Point #3 is a different matter, one of psychology.

  • skavenhorde said,

    “Here’s my green ponycorn. I call her pooh pants.”

    Gotta love that.

    No words of wisdom here, just wanted to say thanks for linking that game and blog. 🙂