I think it's time to talk about my goals.
I'll lay this out in front of you right now, just to give you some idea of what you're going into. I'm not a tech. Computers aren't the focus of my life. I'm something which doesn't have a word in English as far as I know - the closest match is "creator". I'd be a writer or an artist, but what I've chosen to do is go into computer games.
See, I like creation. I like making worlds. I like creating things, that's really all there is to it. I've just chosen a different medium than most, and this is the crucial difference that few people seem to get.
Neal Stephenson is not a typesetter.
Picasso was not a paint mixer.
Hitchcock was not a cameraman.
I am not a tech.
Computers, to me, are a tool. They're a pretty fantastic tool, I'll admit that. I can things with a computer that most can't even dream of. But they're not what I'm interested in. If someone came up with a way of making my artform without computers (which admittedly seems rather unlikely - it would be akin to painting without a canvas, or writing without words, but for the sake of argument let's ignore that), I wouldn't have a problem with it at all. Okay, so it's time to learn a new set of skills - but that's okay, because I wasn't terribly attached to those skills to begin with.
This, incidentally, is why it's rather annoying when people say things like "Well, I'm sure you'll grow out of games soon and be interested in more important things." Yeah, and I'm sure Larry Niven is going to stop writing about technology and go into research. I'm just plain not interested. I *like* creating things.
I suppose the obvious next question is "why". That one, I'm actually not quite as sure about. I suppose it's because I want to create something that will never die.
"But wait," I hear you saying, "how can an act of pure imagination last forever?" Well, that's an interesting question - I think the answer is because it doesn't have a choice. See, if I went into algorithm design or mathematics, I might do something really spectacular. I know a few people talking about the Garland-Heckbert algorithm. Floyd's and Dijkstra's are far more famous. Andrew Wiles might not be a household name, but in the world of mathematics, it's as close as you can get.
But wait. Floyd's isn't really all that impressive. Dijkstra's is nearly trivial - it doesn't make anyone say "Wow, that Dijkstra guy was really something". Garland-Heckbert is more impressive, but it's also a lot more specific - if someone comes up with a better algorithm next year, Garland-Heckbert will vanish into obscurity. Andrew Wiles has probably secured a place for himself rather concretely, but here's the next question - what have they actually accomplished?
And this touches upon a very nasty question which I'm not even going to attempt to answer for everyone, which is the whole Purpose of Life thing. As far as I'm concerned, the purpose of life is to have fun. (Yeah, people are going to argue with me on this one. Quick rebuttals: (1) fun at other people's expense is a Bad Thing. (2) Yes, I could spend my entire life doing drugs - I would find this dull. (3) not everyone thinks being a slacker is fun. I'm one of those people.) Therefore, I want to do what I enjoy, and even more important, I want other people to enjoy what I do. And, see, I *can*. People like games. People play them and enjoy them. People talk about them.
If I can make a game that stays on the "best games of all time" lists, that will be the best success for my life that I could possibly imagine, because it means that my life has been worth something. I've built something that other people like.
And that can't ever be taken away from me - because even once the game's forgotten (if it ever is), the effects of the game's existence won't have vanished - it will *still* have made people happy.
So that's my goal in life, and please don't insult me by telling me that it's unimportant.
And if you'd realize that I'm not just interested in computers, that would be even better.