Ideas Are Cheap; Implementation is Expensive

Continuing to use the video from Extra Credits as the guide, the element of game design success mentioned after communication is a recognition that a game designer is not an idea person, they are an implementation person — they are not hired for their concepts, they are hired for their ability to turn concepts into reality.

Yeah, I’ve done that.

For me, this has come into play often when being on launch teams. My current Day Job is a pretty good example of that — we’re a team that I helped launch and construct, a team that is now a vital part of the greater organization. My own hands helped build this team, my own efforts blazed the trail necessary for us to do the work we do today. It wasn’t my idea — I wasn’t hired to conceive of new teams — but it was my effort that built it.

I also have some experience doing this in my Writing & Game Design, because this basically describes any process of writing an adventure or a piece of fiction. The effort involved is in bringing the work to fruition, not in conceiving of the work. It’s balancing the encounters, editing the sentences, re-jiggering the math, re-working characters. It’s the old cliche: everyone has an idea for the Great American Novel, but no one actually implements it. Well, I don’t have that idea, but the ideas I do have, I implement. I also implement the ideas others have: much of my professional game design experience to date is in writing on projects that others have managed. This blog itself is even a good example of that, as I run through the things that make a good game designer, and figure out how they fit into my life, or how to demonstrate them.

Weirdly, this has been an influence in my Retail experience as well. I launched a new store. I stocked the shelves, organized the gear, and eventually implemented the idea that the big box corporate overlords desired: to open a new flagship location.

It’s a recurring theme for me, professionally. My hands get dirty in building things. It’s actually where I’m happiest. Ideas aren’t worth much when they’re just ideas, and I’ve certainly done my share of turning concepts into reality in a functional way.