I’m not complaining, mind you. I enjoy making puzzle games and running events. But here’s a snapshot of my hours worked, from January 2014 to early October:
I spent the most work time rewriting Waypoint Kangaroo, the novel which went out on submission in mid-October, but as you can see, the second-biggest time slice (nearly 18%) is Puzzled Pint.
That’s not surprising; in addition to our Portland Game Control meetings almost every week, PP grew to twelve(!) cities last year, which meant a lot more organizational overhead. It’s fun, but also a lot of work.
So what keeps me interested in PP, or the JoCo Cruise puzzle hunts we’ve been running since 2011, or any of the other volunteer events on which we spend dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars of our own money every year?
If you’ve ever listened to SnoutCast, you know we practice what we preach: RUN MORE GAMES. Puzzles—especially in-person, live events—are still not mainstream, and my impression is that they scare off a lot of people who might otherwise have fun with creative mental challenges. And I want more people to discover that they love this hobby.
But that’s an issue of philosophy. The other thing that keeps me interested is the über-puzzle (as opposed to meta-puzzle) of actually putting on these events. Again, as we’ve covered on SnoutCast, the puzzles themselves are only one component of a much larger machine, even if they are the distinguishing feature.
Recruiting GC members, scheduling meetings and keeping them on track, finding and booking locations, managing players who find creative ways of interpreting your so-called instructions—maybe these things are more challenges than puzzles, but they’re at least as difficult to solve. Especially when you can’t ask someone for hints.
The reward, though, can be immeasurably greater. It’s like any other piece of art: you have to believe in it hard in order to make it happen, to create something out of nothing, to persist long enough to actually finish it. But when you can make others understand what was in your head, when you can make them believe, too—I would argue there’s nothing better than that in the world.
This is why I run Games. This is why I write fiction. This is why I keep trying to do more.