The Importance of Doing What No One Is Asking You To Do

Jan 1, 2015
“Life is one beauty contest after another. School, then college, then work… If I want to fly, I’ll find a way to fly. Do what you love.”
-Dwayne H., paraphrased
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

The world demands certain things of us. The workplace, school, family, and friends place pressures on us to do this or do that.

Everyone has that.

If that’s all that you do, then aside from a few high pressure moments of deciding which schools or jobs to apply to, you’re leaving it up to outside circumstance to determine what you learn, what you create, what you do, and whose lives your work touches.

At the risk of sounding bleak, doing only what’s demanded from the outside world leaves it mostly up to chance and other people who you’ll become.

Maybe you’re already making videogames, but you’re doing it for someone else’s company or a classroom – someone else’s direction. This is a plea to make your own games, too.

Maybe you’re not making videogames yet, or used to but haven’t in awhile, and are reading this thinking about getting (back?) into it. This is a plea to not let another day pass before you dig in and break ground on a realistic and compelling project of your own design.

Whatever is being demanded of you is rarely asked only of you. Other people are being given the same assignments, the same requests, and the same pressures. Even if you’re in a school or company focused on videogame development, how many people are going through exactly the same thing at the same time elsewhere? Consider too all the years before yours and after yours. The machines mold and turns out people like one another, which is their purpose and strength, but you’ve got to let that be a baseline and not a limitation or you’ll be just one more out of many in an undifferentiated crowd.

You can’t get ahead or stand out by only tending to those outside requests and then calling it a day. Addressing the same prompts will at best keep you on pace.

This doubly applies to people who aren’t on that particular track in life. Your unique value can be in doing something different due to going differently about it.

You get ahead and stand out by doing what other people are not. That means doing and learning how to do things that no one is asking you to do. Pick a direction of your own.

Make what you want to make and see where that leads. Do you want to make a game about fending off aliens? Do you want to make a puzzle game about hacking? Do you want to make a game about being a street vendor? Maybe you want to make a game about something else entirely that I couldn’t possibly guess here because you’re you and no one knows or understands what you want to do besides you.

Great. Go make the game that no one is is asking you to make.

You can do that. You’ll be glad that you did. Good luck with it!

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