Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Is Unity Community a Nurturing Affinity Space?

BingoBob Profile

"I don't know what I don't know. Thanks for being patient with this newb." -BingoBob

A newb’s question

After spending some time getting acquainted with Unity Community, particularly the members of the “Game Design” forum, I started to dig into some analysis of this affinity space. Is it nurturing in a similar sense that Gee refers to in “Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game Based Learning?” In seeking the answer to this question I wanted to see how a newb, BingoBob, was treated when he posed a common and important question: “What do I do with my great game Idea?” Often times this is the question that irks someone enough to wonder if they should make games. Unity, being an engine very popular for learning how to make games or game assets by use of it’s software and learning tools means it’s a good place for newbs to get started. BingoBob’s question overall was received well, however a part of his statement opened him up to some mild flaming, and certainly, some sarcasm. BoredMormon says: “Just throw it away. It’s a rubbish idea anyway.” His sentiments captured a recurring theme in the thread that no one wants to pay for ideas, they want to pay for a playable experience. In other words, a working prototype of a game. Ideas are a dime a dozen.

Hard work is expected

Making games takes specialized skills, knowledge, and experience to do it well. But BingoBob said: “I've messed around with Blender and Unity and researched what assets I would need to execute this plan but I just lack the skill and experience. And I really don't want to do all that work.” This statement, although honest, just insulted a community of creators in the Unity Community. You are expected to be working at something. Usually something niche and specialized being programming, art, design, or all of the above. BingoBob seems to struggle with this. Even Gigiwoo, a moderator, jumps in with a few choice words but ultimately reminds him “Like anything worth doing, it takes years of try, improve, and repeat. The answers to your questions are here.” Gigiwoo uses his design zen podcast to help reinforce his stance on the statement and with the provided link. Ultimately this is nurturing and establishes Gigiwoo as a community member who knows.

How did I respond to the question?

I added my own advice to BingoBob in the thread establishing myself as a gamer and educator and relating to his struggle:

Bingo Bob,
I'm with you in some ways. I often think of ideas for new games or experiences out of my own interest. Sometimes I get so excited about an idea and I start exploring ways in which I can create this experience. What I usually find out, is that I never have all of the skills needed to produce what I envision. This can be discouraging of course, but what it lead me to was finding others who are good at things that I am not. And through the process of connecting with others, I've also found that I enjoy talking about games, playing games with others, and experimenting / playing other people’s games concepts or mods and critiquing that experience more than I enjoy making assets for games. You may find some similar things about yourself once you dive into a community, such as you've done here in Unity Community. So have you thought about being more exploratory in nature rather than executive? Surround yourself with people who enjoy making games, share and critique your experiences. Dive into Unity and a find a specialized niche you would like to explore. Make a mod and share it with others. Seek out local game companies and see if they are looking for testers. Essentially, get involved first, see what you find out about yourself and games. What will your trajectory be?
Have you checked out a local Unity group you may meetup with in person?
User Groups
I'm an educator, here's where I'm coming from with my advice to you:
John Seely Brown on Motivating Learners (Big Thinkers Series)

Joining participatory cultures

I have not seen a response to my posting however I think it’s sound advice and I hope to inspire others by the John Seely Brown video that was linked. In my experiences as an educator and student I always think back to those times where a teacher was able to take a look at me and see my struggles and get into my head to motivate me. Perhaps BingoBob is capable of producing games inspired by his ideas but he’s struggling to make the commitment? The responses in the thread proves there are many people in the community who want to offer advice and help freely. It’s definitely a nurturing affinity space, we are trying to get BingoBob to join us in our commitment to learning how to effectively create games. Many times taking that leap to join others is the hardest part.

Gee, James Paul; Hayes, Elisabeth; “Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game-Based Learning.” (2008)