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The real question
No matter if I want or not my kid to follow my steps, what really matters to a father is that his child follows the path he chooses and, through it, that he achieves his self-fulfillment, be happy, etc. So I started to ask myself the following question:
“Is there any way I can help him?”
It seems pretty obvious that the answer is “yes”. I do have more than twenty years of experience making videogames. I also love teaching, a lot. And finally, because I know my kid (or I’d like to think so) and I feel that I am in a very good position to guide him.
But that thought threw me to another question, -the- question.
“And how can I guide and help him, without actually pushing or forcing him?”
This made me think on how did I get into videogame development. How did I move from playing videogames to making them? I owe that to my family, specially to my own father.
Once Upon a Time… again
Almost thirty years ago, my parents bought a brand new Atari 800 XL and four videogames: Montezuma (my favorite), River Raid (awesome), Moon Patrol (glorious) and a Star Wars game (that one was awful!).
It wasn’t the first time that we had videogames at home. My dad worked in something related to computers (I did not had a clue what exactly was at that time) and he sometimes brought hom a Sinclair. There was a super nice game with colored bricks and a tiny ball that hit and destroyed them, one after the other. It was incredible, marvelous, at least that’s how I remember the feeling of playing it when I was 5 or 6 years old.
But the Atari was even better because it was ours, just like the four videogames.
I’m not quite sure how long it was since the Atari arrived until we got to the D day. It may have been days or weeks, I honestly don’t recall. But that day, the D day, my dad told me he was going to show me something new. He turned on the Atari but he did not start any game. Instead, he let the Atari got into this blue screen with a white “READY” message.
Then, he typed in the following using the super ergonomic Atari keyboard:
10 PRINT “HOLA”
20 GOTO 10
And the word “HOLA” started to appear on the screen, magically, again and again, without stopping.
Disclaimer: I don’t really remember if the PRINT actually said “HOLA” or “BLA” or something else. But the impression it caused to me is still super clear.
Then my father explained me that he had just typed a program, and that the videogames I enjoyed a lot, those Montezuma, River Raid and Moon Patrol, all of them were also programs. He told me he knew how to code programs and he offered to teach me.
And that changed everything.
Until that day, I wanted to be an astronaut or an astronomer, not sure, but something that had to do with the stars. I liked stars a lot, I knew a lot of names, sizes, constellations, distances between galaxies, etc.
But that day, I changed my mind. I wanted to write code, I wanted to learn, I wanted to create. And not any kind of program. I wanted to be a Videogames Creator.
“Dad, I want to learn to make videogames”, I said.
It’s been a long way since then. I was 7 years old.
Now that I’m 36 I can’t help understanding the fascination that Diego feels (and most of the kids of his generation) for videogames. I also understand that feeling he is starting to get about not only playing then, but also making them, just as his dad.
Papa Game Dev
Around a year ago, I decided that I wanted to write about this, for several reasons.
Because I think that it’s a pretty nice power that we have, the videogame developers, to be able to create things that entertain people. We can create characters, worlds and make people interact with them and feel a unique experience.
Because I believe that, as part of this society, we have a special responsibility about the contents that the gamers receive, especially the children.
And because, as a father, I embrace the fascinating opportunity that I have to guide my son on this path that he dreams about, and that he may actually follow as his professional career.
It took me several months to actually start this project, but today, finally, I want to share with you this new website, Papa Game Dev (Game Dev is the short for Videogame Developer)
Papa Game Dev will start as a blog about being a father and a videogames developer at the same time.
It will be about what that means for me, and what it may mean to other developers that are also parents. I am looking forward to share experiences, ideas, projects and open a conversation around this topic because I know that I’m not the only one that feels it’s important.
Also, I have the fortune of having two smaller kids, Santiago and Samanta, and they may develop the same fascination for videogames than Diego. So, thinking on them too, I’d love to learn more about other parents’ experiences and grow myself as a father.
I don’t have too many ambitions but I do have tons of ideas and good intentions. And I would like to invite you all to leave your comments, suggestions and, even better, your ideas and own experiences.
Welcome to Papa Game Dev!
|Puedes leer este artículo en español en papagamedev.cl.|
Papa Game Dev was originally launched with this article in Spanish on March 2015. As I wrote at that time, I did not have any ambitions nor expectations beyond willing to share experiences and have a place to talk about topics that I feel very important.
Since then, I’ve published at papagamedev.cl around fifteen articles, one interview and one videogame review, and the site continues to get new contents on a 1-2 weeks basis. Most of the content will be also published on this English version of the site, along with some original content too.
Finally, I’d like to apologize for my written English. As a Spanish native speaker, I know I am still far for writing in English as fluent as I am in Spanish, and I am sure that this first article has a lot of errors that Microsoft Word did not catch (because it can’t do magic, of course!).
I’d very happy to receive any kind of typo/grammar/syntax/any correction in order to make the writing better. And I hope to get better with each published article. Thanks a lot in advance!