Why?

This was a little essay I originally wrote as a Kickstarter update when trying to clear up my thoughts on why I wanted so badly to make this game.  I hope you enjoy it.  –Evan

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Creativity. Curiosity. I hold these to be two of the most fundamental, powerful and noble drives a person has. I think everyone’s creative–has the drive to give form to ideas born in their minds. But in day-to-day life, the majority of us (those who didn’t choose a life as creative individuals) keep those impulses to ourselves for shame in our artistic skills. As we fail to exercise them, they weaken and we lose touch with a very healthy activity.

The reason for this, I think, is changes at work in society. The internet and marketing propagate painstakingly crafted artistic product around the world. You don’t have to leave your house to see galleries of art or read volumes of poetry. Don’t have to travel the world to hear the words of great speakers and actors. All of that information–all the ideas and art in the world–converges in a small corner of the modern home. Or a shoulder-bag. Or a pocket. The internet is a wonderful thing.

Indeed, for the sheer level of distribution of information, many if not most of us in the industrialized world have become accustomed to taking in huge amounts of it on a regular basis. Our curious drive–our urge to seek out new things and understand them–is endlessly satisfied and becomes endlessly more ravenous. There are things designed to contend with that. More hours of video than could be watched in lifetimes. An endless outpouring of electronic games made by the enterprising as amusement.

The imbalance, then, is obvious. We take so much in and put so little out. Virtually all of us produce at least a little (social networking, among other things) but are often discouraged at the small reactions it produces and ashamed to see our work constantly alongside “greater” things.

Me? I’m a child of this generation, and speaking from experience. And I’m a part of the force at work, too. I make electronic games. In recent years my appetite for television and internet reading has declined, though. I put little time, typically, into social networking sites. I was never so interested in them as in my own projects. Like many others, I resolve to focus on my own work and throw it into a global arena.

But most of us just like being creative, rather than living it. We have lives of our own, and won’t devote them to an art simply to have a “vent”. The most serene among us make things and are content with them. But the rest see little purpose in creating things doomed to a dark corner or a closed notebook. A neglected weblog, or the dregs of a portal.

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Infinite Blank is a small manifestation of this. A small movement against it. Infinite Blank welcomes doodlers. It welcomes average people. So, too, it welcomes the skilled who are tired of competing and comparing. It offers a place to create freely, without the burden of expectations. It also offers an explorative experience that must be worked at, and so gains allure in lacking the immediacy we’re familiar with. Unlike most things that do this, it replenishes endlessly. It offers interaction with others, through a playful caricature of speech and movement. And it offers the satisfaction of having one’s creation as part of a wondrous collaborative artwork. It offers “I made this”.

It asks little in return. It asks respect for the unity of its world (by transitioning carefully with neighbors and keeping things navigable), and respect for the effort at hand (by taking one’s time while creating and taking the matter seriously).

Infinite Blank also stands as a counter to the majority of electronic games. Rather than an amusement crafted for the purpose of making money, it’s a piece of software made freely available in the hopes of providing a meaningful experience. While it certainly has peers in this sense, It’s a matter of sad practicality that more aren’t produced. Free games aren’t forced into commercially-viable designs. Aren’t forced to cripple good designs for the purpose of saleability. Not unlike players in my game, they don’t have to compete and so are free to be whatever they want.

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The world of ideas is boundless. Creativity is a beautiful thing in all its forms, and deserves to be respected as such. Curiosity is an equal and opposite force, demanding equal respect. I made a game about building and adventuring because I believe in those two things (and love) when I believe in nothing else, and I made it free.

I can only hope I’ll continue to have opportunities now and then throughout my life to escape “matters of sad practicality” and make more things like this.

Thanks for listening.
-Evan

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3 Comments

  1. Andy Bacon

     /  2010/10/20

    Evan,
    You’re awesome. My giddy congratulations to Infinite Blank! To you, for continuing to create this project.
    And thank-you. I can feel this game was born of love.
    As for your essay… Your words are eloquent and inspiring, they ring with truth. I admire your intention for this game – and your discipline and artistry in bringing that intention to life. Keep it up!

    The
    Difference
    Between a good artist
    And a great one
    Is:
    The novice
    Will often lay down his tool
    or brush
    Then pick up an invisible club
    On the mind’s table
    And helplessly smash the easels and
    Jade
    Whereas the vintage man
    No longer hurts himself
    or anyone
    And keeps on sculpting
    Light.

    -Hafiz

  2. bob

     /  2010/10/28

    I don’t understand.

    You say it is not for money yet you have a successful kickstarter project from this.

    It’s almost as if games that were sold for money can also be made with love.

    • cellulose

       /  2010/10/28

      I don’t plan to use the kickstarter money myself unless I have a severe financial emergency. It’s meant to fund the server’s running costs for as long as possible.

      That said, what you say is true, and I hope to incorporate meaningfulness into my commercial projects too.

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