Where does inspiration come from? I refer to creative inspiration, the kind that wakes up the mind of the artist, author, game maker, and the like to produce amazing works that is enjoyed by so many. Do people use stepping stones to lift themselves up high enough to see over the haze of the normal human mind into a universe of endless possibility? Or does creative inspiration come from some alternate universe through mystical inter-dimensional travel mechanisms that serve to enlighten the mind of us paltry human beings?
I know that there are a lot of people out there that make the attempt to create the ‘perfect’ game, whether it’s a MMO or FPS or even board game (yes, board games still exist in the 21st century). In their attempts they all fall short due to the seemingly endless definitions of perfection that are both a blessing and a curse to those who make and those who play the games. No game has been made perfect, at least according to somebody. Still, despite the failure to achieve perfection, and our recognition of imperfection, we play away at games that are surprisingly humorous, clever, artistic, intelligent, immersive, well thought, and even ingenious. The creativity that goes into a game such as World of Warcraft is no less impressive to me than the creativity of Beethoven’s 5th symphony.
(Although, I admit that Mozart writing his first symphony at age 7 is more impressive than any game I’ve played, but not in content, simply for the fact that he was frickin’ 7 years old.)
I have never been a stout follower of WoW lore, but I have started reading more things here and there lately and have come to really appreciate the depth to which writers go to create motive and move stories forward and introduce heroes and villains that I can both love and hate; and doing all this while remaining consistent. It’s incredibly difficult to maintain consistency in a fantasy story, as the writer’s mind is naturally engaged in ‘making things up’, there can easily be mistakes and slips of the mind which produce contradictory realities that require reconciliation in order for the reader to be satisfied. Again, there may have been inconsistencies in WoW lore that I know not of, but for the most part it’s amazingly consistent.
I believe that creativity is made easier, or should I say that inspiration flows more freely where there is already intelligence and knowledge. I used to work for a large mortgage company (accounting dept) and brought to the company certain skills and knowledge that their current staff of accountants didn’t have in the same degrees. I knew a lot more about the mortgage industry in general, and technically I could program applications like Excel to interface with our accounting software to significantly speed up certain processes and improve accuracy to near perfection. I used my knowledge in creating things that could not have been created by others at the company, not because they weren’t smart enough, but because my specific knowledge and skill set made it possible for me to see things from a different perspective and therefore find different answers to the company’s problems.
The same is true for any creator (of anything), and so Blizzard doesn’t just hire idiots or slouches that live in their mom’s basement to design their games. They, I assume, hire people who have demonstrated competence and specific knowledge in the fields necessary to do their jobs. Without this specific knowledge, these developers could not do the jobs that were needed. Their perspective would be limited, and therefore so would their ability to solve problems and receive creative inspiration.
Don’t think, however, that I would ever suggest that knowledge is the source of creative inspiration, but it is a factor. The other side of creativity comes from a place that I cannot explain or rationalize. I believe that everyone is born with some particular talent(s). These talents can be improved upon, additional talents can be developed through hard work, but there is ultimately some aspect of a person’s talent set that cannot be explained. How did it flash into somebody’s head to create a computer game that thousands or millions could play at the same time, could interact with each other in various ways, all the while throwing around fire balls, lightening bolts, and shadowy darkness at “bad guys” and, sometimes (just for fun), at each other?
I realize that MMO’s like WoW are part of a process, where through time one game or story has evolved into another, and where they merged the ideas merged, and the next thing you know we have what is available to the market today in the many computer games that we enjoy so much. All of them born out of creative inspiration of somebody, taken by another and added upon or altered depending on the second person’s own innate creativity.
I stand in awe of the super creative people of this world. Those engineers who can build giant dams and bridges and buildings that touch the clouds. Our world and our games are born out of the vision of many, and enjoyed by so many. I speak a lot about the vision of great authors or artists, but in that I must include those that first created the computer games that we now enjoy, and those that continue in the wonderful traditions of creative inspiration that permeate the game making world.
There are so many out there who will decry game developers for not making the perfect game, or at least one that nearly attains perfection. True, some may not contain the creativity necessary to hold my attention, but all of them are born out of somebody’s creative mind, and that inspiration is something to be praised. It’s not as easy as people think to create something truly great, or else great would be common place and no longer great. There was only one Mozart, one Tolkien, one Rowling. There are many game developers, all of differing skill and knowledge and talent levels. Not all games will be great, it is a human impossibility, and no game will ever be perfect, that’s yet another.
Speaking for myself I will continue to play games that I view have achieved a particular level of greatness according to may tastes. To me, WoW isn’t perfect and never will be. But I am in awe of the creative inspiration that seems to occur on a regular basis that that game company. All business decisions aside, their creative minds cannot be insulted, and I am grateful to be able to live in this day in age where they and many other creative minds can give us entertainment worth talking about.