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Creative genius vs. competent craftsman?

Note to self... stop trying to invent yourself as a creative genius and start thinking of yourself as a competent craftsman!

Stop trying to invent yourself as a creative genius and start thinking of yourself as a competent craftsman!

In my own journey as a game designer I frequently find myself not exploring an idea because it isn't cleaver enough or original enough or mind blowing enough. I'm guilty of spending far too much time in an "arm chair" philosophically waxing and not enough time getting my hands dirty.

As people working in a creative field it is easy to fall into this trap. It is easy to forget that the greatest works aren't great because they crawled out of a genius's mind but rather because they are refined products crafted with attention to detail by hands well practiced in their art.

So this post is a call to arms to myself, and to anyone else likewise afflicted by this delusion: Stop trying to invent yourself as a genius and start thinking of yourself as a competent craftsman!

Further Reading:

I'm reminded of this rant from Chris Hecker where he tells indies to fully explore their ideas.

Or Neil Geiman's commencement speach advising students to "make good art" no matter what's happening in their life.

Chris Hecker specifically calls out Jonathan Blow's Braid as an example of an indie game that fully explores the depths of a game mechanic. It is incidentally a very polished product all around, it isn't just the game mechanic.

Braid, while seemingly a work of genius, is actually a refined products crafted with attention to detail by hands well practiced in their art. Like the Sistine Chapel it was a feat accomplished after many years of labor. Or to put it another way, genius is hard work.

And you know what, if you just want to release a bunch of not fully explored ideas, a bunch of experiments, that's fine! In fact, if you're just starting out, that's what you should do. But please do something. Do something, and refine your craft!  

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