About the talk
How do you make deeply personal games? How do you talk about these things with your loved ones? How do you not have a panic attack while editing gifs of yourself having a panic attack? Jack describes the development on Museum of Self, as well as their up coming untitled project.
Jack Hart makes good game garbage. They believe in making games that push players to rethink what games are and what it means to be a player.View the profile
Hi everyone. I'm Carol Mertz. The executive director of fix laptop Festival. I hope that you've all been having a really great weekend and enjoying all of the conference sessions and the games that we created for you. The team has been working really hard to put this event together, and we are just so pleased that you've all shown up to watch and celebrate unique games with us. I'm really excited to introduce the final session of pics of Pot Festival 2020, which is entitled. My loved ones. Don't know the games. I make presented by Jack Hart. Jack is a pixel
Pop Festival alone. Who makes as they call it good game Garbage, which I certainly wouldn't call it garbage, but I see where they're coming from because they believe in making games that push players to rethink what games are and what it means to be a player. These are games that are unexpected. These are games that are different, and these are games that align extremely well with our goal here at pixelpop. We are the festivals, celebrate unique games and the people who make them possible. And Jack is one of the many people in this industry, who we
celebrate for going out of their way to create a space for Unique personal work. So, please, everyone give a very warm welcome to our final speaker. If the Jack Hart, Hey stop. This is my talk. My loved ones. Don't know the games I make. So real quick just stopped content warning. So let's talk there is going to be swearing and discussions of anxiety self-hatred and just like General talk about relationship, which is pretty obvious from the So, who am I? And what is
this talk? I'm so my name is Jack and I make sad games and bad games today. When we talk about this bad ones and why I'm making them is hard, but you should know about making them and maybe life shouldn't make them at all. Earlier this year. I realized Museum of self a game about ruminations, inside of my head, it originally started as a part of a series of vignettes about my relationship with mental illnesses. Yes, I'm space around me on the project was titled, the sad day collection. And for reasons that will become obvious of the
plan of the entire series of vignettes, was scrapped and I released Museum of self as a standalone work. I am Museum of self players. Answer questions at terminal is Juan Obelisk. Loop, two, gs of me. Having panic attacks on in between answering questions players. Could look at simple sculptures while I kind of monologue about my own issues with stone formations and game development. So this is kind of a real quick look, kind of like what the game was at. The game is
so these monitors up here, kind of the terminals that players would answer questions. And then this is a Jeff. I've been having a panic attack at this little guy would go over here on this Obelisk and then the general layout of the game. Look like that. So this is like an important distinction to make that when we're talking about games about mental illness, that is different than what he's doing. The self is not as partially, because it is autobiographical and
it is all around having to do with mental state and what it means to create things and how that kind of effects yourself doubting the Rosies. And there's a difference between that and a game like send you a soul sacrifice, which is a game that has a part of it that is about. It's funny. I said that it's kind of like an underlying theme throughout the game and a part of the narrative but is not, you know, deeply ingrained through the entire process. Something like depression is like I'm more apt comparison to what I did which is
a game where it's a game, where you are kind of answering questions and depression is not only the narrative, but is the there's a mechanical state of depression inside a bad game as well. And the burnout and emotional labor that goes into a game like that in my experience has been far greater than anything else I've ever made. And though this is a question. I wish I'd asked way sooner than mine development process than I had. Would you like? Why are they make this? What am I doing? What am I doing that? Because the answer is the score of which only
making and is kind of the core of what you will need or what I would need to propel myself this game for myself, but got this was it about ruminations. And if you want to make for some games that you are making personal games, I would even suggest that. Like, you write this down, like the first page of your design or like throwing up on the wall somewhere, because when this gets lost, you can oftentimes, like, get on this unhealthy cycle, or I would get, I would get in his unhealthy cycle of kind of being lost in my own mental state. How do I communicate this to a player? And
sometimes it's like that not even needed to be a thing that needs to be communicated to the player and just in general, making sure that you are staying focused, which is probably Game development. Evan General. And so and the main interaction is players answering these questions on terminals. I got zombies at some point that players have very limited range in the answers, available to them and those answers are actually how I feel about the game and my creative process and the player
character is me answering questions about my own game. And the reason I started making this came was so I was obsessed with this. Entire idea of kind of the narrative folding onto itself all the time, like a deeply personal story and one that I feel like when I investigated that type of thing about my own life, so I'm not sure like we're to be able to tell him the part that gets very messy and I want a game that felt messy while playing it. That's why I made the game cuz I can I get the game out of my head
which end of fold back into it being messy. And also like they said, things are important, right? Like that's what we keep saying and I don't know if I have an answer to this about. This is important for people to be making a style of game at all. Whether people should be doing those alone with like little to zero financial support, and not as much emotional support, and communities need. And you know, that like are all of those risks worth it are, the are these games in Port enough for the medium
of game design. Do they push genre or development at all? I don't, I don't know. I have not been able to answer this. Because like I think it's important, I think autobiographical games are important, they're rare if you look at them like as if you do get like game development and game production as a whole. Especially showcases for better. For worse. People seemed very taken aback by this style of game. I had to tell me that they wish they would make games like this, but that they don't, they don't understand how I
just had like fans and people going to Games events and showcases to tell me that they wish, they knew more games and the style in terms of like like personal an autobiographical. And I just want to say that if you are a person who feels that way about, how about games that these do exist and they're a lot of them on platforms. Special day about About people like dealing with their trauma or their mental illnesses or just top experiences in our life. And I really implore you to like seek out
and find them. And also questioned why you don't see them maybe as much as you should. What is exhausting making this style of game? I again, like more than any other style of game I've made. I have made metroidvanias. I have made surrealist platforms about Platformers. First person walking game about whales, I've made like, Tetris, clones, and Frogger, and brick breaker. And, you know, at the end of all of those, I'm tired of the way that I'm tired through any creative process, but I'm not just like
I was dead inside and it show it, show it in my actual like normal like 9 to 5 work job. It shows in my like, emotional relationships with the people I love and care about and it showed in my ability to like perform gained it, all then afterwards, like my development Cycles inside releases back in March, my development over. Past 6 months now, it's been six months since March huh, but also because I was burnt at the end of this project like the six months have been
stop-and-go at best. And additionally I could at least in this type of game can can leave you feeling severely exposed again. Are you like being open and honest with yourself and a way where you are tonight in your mental States? And so, you're having to ask yourself why you feel certain ways and then try to communicate those things, two players. You're also just being open and honest with people. You don't know or people, you kind of know, you know, like Twitter followers or put her mutual's where there's maybe a little bit of a closer,
possibly, a closer relationship and just like absolute grandiose playing. Download my game on edge and doing let's play it and now they know like more about my life than I will ever know about them and just like being aware that that is a deeply parasocial relationships and being ready for that. I wish I wish I was, I wish I would been more. I wish I'd been more ready for and prepared for that that style of relationship my life. Definitely just like editing video of yourself having a panic attack and being like, which part of this panic attack is the most engaging two players.
Not healthy. Left me like, feeling vulnerable and scared of mine. There are like a few assets. I pulled from other games, but in general, like the creative, the writing the programming and is all me and It. It's like a date alone. It's a loan working and they'll only work. And I think having like a team around me in the future when doing something. Like that's what also be incredibly. Important for me, like having someone to edit video of me having a panic attack would be better for me than editing video
of myself, having a panic attack. And everything. Turns out there is something like feeling about mechanizing your mental state, breaking down. Your behavior. Is why your fruit game mechanics, it's not nothing. Actually. I have a degree in Psychology. I'd study psychology for a while and a lot of the things you have to do to make a game. Like this is actually just want. My cord is an iPhone. We're good. Still recording audio any way. The things you're doing to mechanize growing inside of
a game is actually like very similar to some of the behavioral psychological processes that happen in certain types of behavioral therapy, but I'm also doing it by myself. Was a licensed psychologist and that is dangerous and knowing where that line was for me was incredibly difficult. And sometimes I cross the line and I stepped over my own boundaries and shouldn't have done. And there were days were like I was smart enough to know when to back off to take a break till like really work something later on in the day or in a week
and just like being honest with yourself and knowing how to Shield yourself from yourself, the game a title Museum self catching on. it's just an incredibly important thing to take note of But you will like trick yourself into believing therapeutic. I tricked myself into they're doing it. I tricked myself into believing it was their pubic. I think there are lots of people who would say part of game development are therapeutic. I think a lot of times They're
wrong. That is like an entire 20-minute. If not, like 20, our talk and of itself. There was no queuing during the process of a game like that. Left me at the end being burnt out. That would not happen in therapy. Hopefully driving. Good therapy. You should not leave like months of sessions being like I'm dead inside. Public making product is not therapy from like a completely capitalist standpoint. I am making a good and so therefore like I'm putting work
into it saying, you're not putting work into myself. I guess maybe put simply, I don't know if a product never be therapeutic and then again, like that's just something that's important to keep in mind. Exhausting making gains is exhausting. And against like, what? And like, what are we doing on spending all this mental energy. I am like killing myself over making a game. It's like, this comes back to like. Why am I doing this? What am I getting out of it? Is it to myself doesn't mean anything to people playing the game?
You know when you're two-thirds under development cycle, these are the questions you start to ask yourself as it may be better to not really something like this at all. You also inspire people though. And this is like something that I can't I can't like fully run my head around. I can't believe I put a price tag on it, but You know, I would not have made this game. If I was on a pixel pop in 2019, if I'm not late after hours by Which is an incredible
at the movie game she made and I like implore you to. I don't think that game is out yet. But the rest of her games are like also absolutely phenomenal narrative deeply personal games that I think I like. Some of the best work out there in this style of genre and I can't, I can't take that away. I can't take it away. That I played a game similar to mine was so inspired for it. I made a game in the genre and the question is is like if someone plays Museum of self and then push to make deeply personal
games. Is that worth it? Like do I if I'm inspiring other people to make cool experimental work is that is that like worth my emotional labor? I don't know. Also, I'm going to keep in mind. Lots of things to keep in mind taking public feedback on this side of game. Is interesting. And it's difficult, especially when the criticism is missing the point of the game or their criticism is disingenuous. There's what's playing my game with the player states that they've never been? As sad as I am in that game and all that
experience is completely valid. It hurts to feel that style. If I knew protect yourself when making personal games, Sometimes players well and not on purpose. Criticized parts of the games that are just your actual life and I can feel like you're criticizing your mental state which is not often what they're trying to do, and it's like, hey, that's me. Having a panic attack. Can't make the panic attack different. Anyway. I know you may have heard this but did you know,
games aren't active? That means people bring baggage to their to their game. People bring their baggage to your game. And this. Is why my loved ones? Do not play the game that I make. Are the tangible difference between playing Museum of self. When you don't know me or, you know, me from the Internet or you met me a handful times and play Museum of self. When you are a parent, might close friend, my partner, they all know some or all of my demons and they know me. And so when they see a game about my pain, it has different.
For my games are like raw output and understanding how that can make. Close to you respond. He's important. It is your job to make sure that they know what the work is and whether or not they should feel comfortable interacting with it. A lot for me. And like people who know me know this game before they play it. I think it's unfair for them to play it because it's rough. It would be masochistic to play a game where the child is like, I'm hella sad and everything I do is bad because I'm conceited and sad and the Roddick. It's an incredibly compelling experience. For people who don't
know me, like I feel good about meeting with self. I think it's a good game, but I don't. I would not be like, hey person. I've spent six years of my life with you should come play this game about how depressed. I am all the time. My partner knows I'm depressed all the time. Which is kind of like the final bag. 1 take away. The one thing that you should leave this talk with. You should have those conversations. You're going to make something like this. When I, when I started making Museum of
self, that's like the fourth, like, sad game. I've made I sat down with my partner and I asked her questions. Like, how much do you want to know about the development of this game? And do you ever want to play it? And knowing these boundaries allows you to protect, not only your loved ones but yourself and knowing kind of having those separations, you know, even when they can use email cell. There's no separation between me and the game. Like, the game is me, and I I put myself into the game, but I'm just
saying that that doesn't have to bleed into your personal life. Is really important as to take those those measures in those precautions. Which is what my current project is. My current project titled, a project titled sauce, and it is a game about jewels. A nonbinary architect who creates an Art Exhibit life, love the lack thereof. All these are some pictures from some of the pinata inside of a mimosa, which is kind of took the structure of the sad day collection, the previous series of vignettes, but we work them to give myself some separation on top
of everything, just gives me more creative flexibility, but it also means that like a lot of the events of jewels. My character's life can be inspired by my own, but he's not my life. And it's giving me a like a newfound energy for a project, but I'm excited to share with people. And that's not nothing. That is the end of my talk. Thank you so much for listening watching. If you would like to find more about me, how you can find my game at Jack of heart. Itch that I owe and you can follow me on Twitter.
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