What’s This Thing about Passion?

For me, passion is like stacking the cards in your favor, so when difficulty comes along, you automatically plow through.  For me, passion comes at a cost. But the cost is not “hard work”.   The cost is being super honest with yourself about yourself.

I always thought passion was some magic thing, and only cool people knew what it was.  Like, if you’re successful, then you can talk about passion.  But if you’re not successful, then you obviously don’t have it and you can’t talk about it.


But I didn’t know that, so I would think about passion as if it were another word for “will power.”  If I worked hard enough or believed in something enough, eventually I’d get what I wanted.  Not true, in my experience.

This is what I’ve been told from self-help gurus:

  • Get up early. Eat well. Get plenty of sleep.
  • Never give up. Always be ready for a new challenge.
  • Have a good attitude. Be positive.
  • Be excited about life.  Have confidence.
  • If there’s a problem, go talk to yourself in a mirror and tell yourself you can do it.

However, nothing from that list has ever worked for me.

  • I stay up late, eat sugar, and get 6 hours of sleep.
  • I give up frequently, frustrated in seconds.  But then frustration goes away. Sometimes I have hope that defies logic. But then that goes away, too. Sometimes dull, sometimes a rollercoaster.  Some things are enjoyably challenging, but I’m not “always ready for a new challenge”.
  • I’m not positive.  I’m not skeptical.  I’m critical.
  • I appreciate being alive, but its frequently circumstantial, my bad.  I have moments of confidence, and moments of stupidity and embarrassment.
  • Whenever I talk to myself, I create problems and then tell myself they’re unsolvable.

I don’t mean be “meh” all the time.  To the point, I fit the passion checklist like 25%, but it hasn’t stopped me.  So, I think passion is something totally different than what people tell you.

I think you can discover your passion by being honest with yourself.  I think you can discover a much deeper and stronger passion.

One that doesn’t need to constantly avoid obstacles but can weather any change.

One that doesn’t have to always be positive, but is strong enough to accomodate any emotion you may have.

One that doesn’t make you into a dream junky, but helps you to enjoy the pursuit.  It can fail as many times as it needs, and still keep going.

I think you can discover that thing in you that can hold its breath for years until circumstances change.  It can die and respawn. It can survive extreme adversity.  If it gets chopped up, it grows back.

Specifically, its taken me a long time.  After years of working “even harder,” it suddenly dawned on me that pure hard work was not working.  Staying busy was preventing me from taking an honest look at myself.

Because if you can get to the core of who you are, and be cool with that,
then you can say what your passion is in terms of who you honestly are.
And your passion will be as strong as your very existance.
Where you go, it goes.
What you go through, it goes through.
It never goes away.

I haven’t gotten there, but I’ve gotten closer by being honest than by doing anything else. I’m just talking about my experience.  The pursuit of looking in the proverbial mirror (and not talking) has had a greater and more immediate impact on how I develop games than any amount of hard work, or positive attitude.

I realized:

I’m not someone who shovels games out the door.
If that’s what it takes to be successful, that’s not me.

I don’t like catering to the latest fads and trends.
But if they fit what I’m doing, I like to use them as tools — a means to an end to create an Experience.

And shockingly, I’m not actually a game developer. My passion is not tied to a certain technology in a certain time.
I’m someone who crafts experiences and transports people into another world.