Combine extreme passion with heightened competition, and suddenly this thought starts popping into your head on a regular basis: "Aw crap. It's midnight. Now, technically I am done with this assignment, but I bet if I did [something] it would be so much I bet [classmate] is still up working." Next thing you know it's 12:50PM and you're racing to zip up and submit your assignment that's due at 1PM. That or you're working on a group project and you think to yourself, "Yeah, I could stop now, but it's not the best level it could be. I feel like I'd be letting my teammates down if I didn't do everything that I could." No sleep yet, and you've got another thing due the next day. Rinse, repeat. "Should I keep going?" ceases to be an issue, and it becomes more a question of "Can I keep going?" If yes, keep going.

For the record, the Guildhall NEVER forces people to work any certain amount of hours outside of class. There is no "20-hour lab time." In fact, the building shuts down at 1AM to encourage students to stop working for the day (a policy we'd bemoan and petition to change over and over again to no avail). They do, however, give you plenty of work. Some students could call it quits at midnight and be perfectly happy with what they've done. The rest of us got hired. Ultimately, the guy sitting across from us in the interview wasn't going to know or care how much sleep we needed to get while finishing whatever portfolio piece. All he cares about is how good your stuff is when compared to everybody else's that's out there.

So yeah, there's crunch, but it's self-induced 99.9% of the time (as Drew Murray would say, "Hard Work > Talent"). The students at the Guildhall are passionate about making games and want to work in this industry literally more than just about anything. This can easily translate to "I will work insane hours to achieve my goal." At the same time, my tenure there contains some of the most fun I've ever had. I was glad to do the work and lose all that sleep for the right to be where I am, and *gulp* I'd probably do it all again if I had to.

- DiscoChild


In response to "Almost Art" from The Escapist forums:
Cool article! And a good call to arms: I think in particular your emphasis on reversing the process, of beginning with an idea, concept or 'thing' that is to be expressed through video gaming technology, instead of tacking it onto already existing rules is a potent thought. Still, I want to make two minor objections or, if you wish, points of discussion to your topic.

1) Videogames cannot avoid being art, although I understand you're calling for a more holistic approach to "games as art" than the following definition. What I mean is that the art assets (level design, creature design, lore design, sound design, graphics design etc etc) are all very much high art in the narrowest definition of the word. Consider Mirror Edge's minimalist, Scandinavian architecture and colour scheme: not only did it facilitate gameplay by making Faith's path easier to map, it functions quite well outside the confines of the game. There is really nothing much else to add - any and all games, simply by belonging to a visual (and aural) medium is absolutely suffused with creativity and meaningful aesthetics, and thus 'art' in all the meanings of the word.

2) Experiential art (or what-have-you) is what we're met with quite often when entering certain modern art galleries. One show I visited last autumn had a room where a sound-sensitive thingamabob of some kind would start vibrating when it picked up sound, creating patterns in water and various sounds based on, I guess, frequency. There were bells around the room you could strike, which caused certain effects. But laughing, talking loudly etc also produced a 'reaction'. In the context of the usually sombre, white-walled, shushed, srs bsns gallery, a room which 'spoke' back at you in such a way was quite amusing, and an experience (which had clearly been the artist's intention).

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