Making a game a month for a year? You’d have to be crazy. But that’s exactly what thousands of developers have pledged to do, as OneGameAMonth turns making a game into a game itself, and challenges aspiring and accomplished devs to reach the finish line again and again.
Making games is a tedious process; one that can take months, or even years, to complete. There are no shortages of videogames with long development periods: Fallout 3 was in development for four years proper, L.A. Noire seven years, and, of course, Duke Nukem Forever took, well, forever to go gold, let alone hit store shelves. This year, a considerable group of more than 3000 individuals have committed to releasing games at a much faster rate: they have each committed to releasing one game a month.
Inspired by radio personality Ira Glass, who asserts that creative people should “produce a lot of work” and set a goal of creating a work a week, Christer Kaitila made it his New Year’s resolution to make 12 games in 12 months in 2012. He met his goal and invited others to join him in 2013, launching OneGameAMonth (1GAM). Expecting only a handful to sign on, he has since attracted thousands, ranging from first time game makers to industry veterans, all of which are tracking and showcasing their progress through onegameamonth.com.
Starting is easy, finishing is hard
What, then, caused this unexpected explosion of support for the event? Kaitila thinks it has to do with experience: far too many game makers – and, indeed, other creative types – have started projects that would never see release.
“We all know that 99% of game projects never see the light of day,” says Kaitila. “I’d tasted the beginning of a game project fifty times, but only a handful were ever released. I wanted more of that delicious finish line flavour.
“Gaining skill in reaching the finish line is something we all seek. It is something that will have a massive influence over our careers. Building a portfolio of completed projects is essential to future employment.”
There are reasons that go beyond employment as well; reasons that showcase 1GAM is about self improvement, according to Kaitila. “OneGameAMonth is for boosting our egos; for increasing our self-confidence. We all want to hone our skills. Conquering the proverbial wall is what OneGameAMonth is all about.”
Ryan Kamins, a developer with 12 years experience making games, concurs with Kaitila. “I think a lot of developers, myself included, have a folder somewhere on their hard drive overflowing with prototypes that never made it past a few days of work, despite starting out as ‘good ideas,’” he notes. “With a lot of those, I couldn’t see myself working for the amount of time it would take to make something amazing out of it, so they would die before I had a chance to really explore them.” For Kamins, 1GAM is “an opportunity to take those good ideas, strip them down to their core, and see them through.”
An explosion of creativity
From the outset, 1GAM’s philosophy has been to accept any and all who want to share in making a dozen games in 2013 – though they make more or fewer – be they “an established pro with tons of profitable games under [their] belt or a student with big dreams but not much in the way of experience”. Kaitila calls it “a free-for-all explosion of creativity where everyone’s invited. The more the merrier.”
Such an open invitation appealed to Brianna Shuttleworth, who hopes to release her first finished game through 1GAM.
“I just haven’t completed anything I would want to put out, I always find excuses” she says. “Before, I felt like I was setting myself up to fail: I would tell myself ‘well, you’re not that great with programming, you’ve never used this program before, this isn’t how you envisioned it…
“I sat down and looked at my art progression through the last few years. I found there’s a lot of scribbles and sketches and silly test paintings…and then there’s work I feel proud of. It takes all that work, but you grow from it,” continues Shuttleworth. “Plus, if you enjoy what you’re learning it’s not really work at all.”