Blog series: my gaming history (part 2 – Jader)

My True Game Story

“The ways that game design meaningfully connects to the many experiences in your own life…”

Jesse Schell, in The Art of Game Design

This post was written as a kickstart for my personal blog and replicated here at the Sertão Games website. I’ll talk about my personal experiences as a gamer and tell a little bit of this new journey as a game developer, which just begins to play its magic in me.

For those acquainted with family reunions, this might not be breaking news, but for those who are not, I have to tell you that I have not always lived in the city. On the contrary, for a long time (until I was 6, to be exact) I lived in a small village with my grandparents in the countryside of my home town. Because of this I haven’t had, up to that point, much experience with recent technology, among them video games.

During all that time I had the opportunity to have real contact with nature and live a quiet life, something many people of today can not even dream of, and maybe will never have the chance to find out about. To this day I like to exercise this proximity with nature at least once a year.

After that, I moved to a bigger town to study and live with my parents, where I could also exercise my imagination and creativity. This is duo to the fact that I had no brothers or sisters, my parents had to go to work, and then I used to spend a lot of time playing by myself.

It was in a tour thorugh downtown with my father that I saw a video game for the first time. It was an arcade machine, Street Fighter if I’m not mistaken. The place was a small game rental store, which were very common here in Brazil at that time, called “O Loc”. Now there is a snack bar in the same place, and I think few remember “O Loc”.

The “Loc” was my first contact with electronic games. It was there that I got to know classics such as Street Fighter, Bomber Man, Top Gear, Super Mario, Super Star Soccer, among others. Games have this incredible capacity to seduce at first sight, and I wasn’t different with me. I’ve been in love with all genres of video games since then.

Top gear

Top Gear

As all love story, mine with games was long and full of interesting discoverings. After knowing them I became a fighting games specilist. Please throw the first rock who never tried to learn all the Mortal Kombat combos. I loved fighting and adventure games, such as contra 3 and Metal Slug. The famous Super Mario was the most similar to strategy that I knew, unfortunetely that guys were not closer to that kind of game, so I only knew classics like Zelda and Chrono Trigger.

Street Fighter 2 arcade

When I got to know Sony’s Playstation I became amazed with the graphics and started to go deeper into my relationship with games, initially playing Siphon Fighter, Winning Eleven, Metal Gear, Twisted Metal, among others. Everything changed when I saw a friend playing Final Fantasy 8 and beating Ultimecia. It was so amazing that unquietness took me from assault, and in the following week I bought a memory card to start playing (and saving) a saga which I ended up finishing many times during about 3 years (I still keep magazines with articles on FF).

Since then I player many other RPGs and strategy games such as FF8, 9, tactics, Chrono Trigger 1 and 2, Front Mission, Age of Empires and Dawn of War. When study and work began to claim their schedule I had to keep some distance from gaming, so I started to enjoy shorter games and got into FPS fever (CS, Call of Duty), internet games and mobile ones such as Plants vs. Zombies.

Given that I chose computer science in college, eventually I found out that all the magic was not actually magic at all, then I began to question myself: How does a game work? How does everything moves? How can it possible be that when my character touches an object, something magically happens somewhere else? How do I program this and that?

I started looking for answers, but all I could find were unsatisfactory. By digging deeper, I started to think that the brazilian game industry didn’t have much of a perspective and I started to think of games as a parallel interest that maybe one day, maybe after grad school I could eventually get to work on.

Tried once or twice to start a project that I could finish, but it never worked. Fortunately, a great opportunity happend when some workmates and a former professor of ours decided to start Sertão Games.

As always, I didn’t let this opportunity to slip from my hands, so I tried by all means to be part of their group. Differently than the other attempts, this time everything worked better than I expected and all of a sudden I was finishing the first game. After a while, we were releasing it. Today we are planning greater and brighter things to our future as Sertão Games.

Before I expected, I’m living my dream of getting to know how and to develop games. I still want more, because we also expect to help other people, who are as lost as I was in this area, to find their way.

Today I believe, as Jesse Schell writes in his excellent book The Art of Game Design – A Book of Lenses, that all my past experiences will be very important in the challenges still to come in game design and development.

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