“I want to make a game, but don’t know where to get started.”
The best way to get started with making games is to, well, make a game. This is advice that I give all the time, much to the recipients chagrin. My goodness, it does sound fairly reductive after all.
In the back of my mind, I knew that there was a David Foster Wallace thing out there that alluded to what I was saying. I finally found the piece (must’ve read it in The Paris Review):
“How can great athletes shut off the Iago-like voice of the self? How can they bypass the head and simply and superbly act? How, at the critical moment, can they invoke for themselves a cliché as trite as “One ball at a time” or “Gotta concentrate here,” and mean it, and then do it? Maybe it’s because, for top athletes, clichés present themselves not as trite but simply as true, or perhaps not even as declarative expressions with qualities like depth or triteness or falsehood or truth but as simple imperatives that are either useful or not … Those who receive and act out the gift of athletic genius must, perforce, be blind and dumb about it — and not because blindness and dumbness are the price of the gift, but because they are its essence.”
In other words being creative is, at its essence, an imperative. We make things because we must make things, whether that’s a game or any other expressive act. If you want to get started, follow your imperative. There is truth in that.