You did it: you launched your game and now it’s available for anyone to play!
Everyone, including yourself.
That’s amazing, right? Being able to finally play and enjoy something you created either alone or with a group of people. Not everyone can say they accomplished something they set out to do, especially something so detailed and time-consuming.
The only trouble is, now that you’re playing your own game, you’re noticing a lot. The flaws, the pros and cons, the instances where you simply ran out of time. And like anyone out there, you focus on what isn’t there rather than what is.
The truth is, no game is perfect. There’s always something you could have done differently. But focusing too much on the negatives is a one-way ticket to self-doubt and an unhealthy obsession with trying to be better.
Here’s what we mean:
You’re Your Own Worst Critic
Not to be cliché , but it’s true. You are always going to be harder on yourself than anyone else could possibly be. That’s because everyone else out there is too busy criticizing themselves, worrying about their own day-to-day, to spend that much effort on you. It’s just how things are.
That means when you play your game, you’re going to review it harder than anyone else in the world. You’re the one who’s going to give it a 2-star rating, or comment on the “horrible” character development. Your heart will plummet with every bug and glitch you see.
But why is this? Surely, we’re not all wired to bash ourselves, right?
Anya Surnitsky described it best in her piece for Psych Central, titled “Learn How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Critic“:
“The inner critic’s purpose is to keep us safe. When something went wrong in your childhood, it planted seeds in your inner critic’s mind that doing that wasn’t safe. It created conditions where you learned what was safe and what was too risky…
However, the inner critic doesn’t grow up and mature in the same way. It’s rooted in absolutes and believes every danger is 100 percent true and will happen.”
In other words, when we’re young, our inner critic keeps us from touching the stove. It records everything that goes wrong when we do certain things, and then screams at us when we’re about to do it again.
For instance, your inner critic could tell you not to make another video game, because this particular one wasn’t your best. Your ratings are low, comments are negative, and the sales are enough to make you feel like the biggest failure known to man.
Too Much Focus on Your Game & Not Enough on Everyone Else’s
Here’s something else: when you play your own game for a long time, you spend less time playing everyone else’s.
Only, that’s like giving up on analyzing the market altogether.
Every developer, regardless of their experience, needs to play video games created by other studios in order to understand what players enjoy and don’t. It’s an easy way to get ideas, set a foundation for a potential conversation with the developers, and even get a boost of moral.
When you get a chance to explore a world that someone else created, the pressure is off you. You no longer need to worry about what you did right or wrong. And it’s that sense of freedom that allows you to truly enjoy yourself and learn along the way.
On the other hand, if all you do is play your own game, you wind up consumed with it. You can no longer keep up with gaming conversations, and the latest gaming news. You haven’t played the recently released games your friends have. And what’s more, you can no longer view your game objectively.
But There Are Positives that Come from Playing Your Own Game
That’s right, it’s not all negatives. We’re not here to tell you not to play your own game. It’s perfectly healthy to do so—and highly encouraged.
It’s just that like everything else in life, too much of a good thing can turn disastrous.
Assuming you do play your game a moderate amount of time, and still play other games, there is a lot of benefit to be had. For instance, you may be able to turn those negatives into lessons learned for the next game. Maybe this particular game tried a combat system that, while good, was poorly executed. If the concept itself was good, write it down and try a different approach with it next time around! Playing other games will also help, as it can give you ideas on how to better execute your combat system idea.
Reading your reviews and studying the feedback you get can also lead to improvements. You might even be able to improve the game with patches and DLC.
How Much Is Too Much?
If you only take away one thing from this post, let it be that you should play your own game, but not overdo it.
Playing your own game can help you figure out what you can still change through patches or DLC, and what you can do differently in your next game. When coupled with playing other video games, this can lead to some valuable research practices that ensures a better game in the future.
This is how people learn and improve. And your objective is to get better and better and better each time you launch a game.
On the other hand, playing your game too much can be self-destructive. You can become consumed by the flaws, the negative feedback, and the “failure.” This can shake your confidence and make you give up before you’ve even really given game development a chance.
So, how do you know when you’ve overdone it?
- You find yourself thinking about your game more than anything else.
- You dream about your game.
- You browse reviews and feedback religiously, multiple times per day.
- You no longer play other video games.
- You find yourself filled with doubt about your future.
It’s our hope that you’ll play your game and enjoy it. After all, it’s a truly huge accomplishment. Don’t beat yourself up too much, instead, seek to learn from it and other games.
Best of luck!
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