Last Tuesday we had the great opportunity to talk to some fellow developers at Modern Jago in Shoreditch at an event organised by Dlala studios. Lots of chats and pizza were had and we got to chat to some amazing fellow devs like Nicoll Hunt, Reece Millidge and Luke Whittaker.
A little while ago we met a lot of awesome students at a talk we did at Anglia Ruskin University. We suddenly became very aware of how much we'd been through and learnt since we were at university and we just had to write all the stuff down, so we wrote a letter to our younger selves, saying all the things that we wish someone had said to us way back then. We met way back in 2001, fell in love and spent the next 10 years dreaming of building a games company together. It took us at least that to learn these lessons that made it possible for us to make our dream happen and we're still learning so much.
We presented the letter to the guys at the event and asked them what they would say to their younger selves...
DEAR SARAH & WOODY,
Before you freak out too much, this is a letter from the future.
It should be about 2001 where you are. You just met at college. It would blow your minds to know that you are still together 12 years later. We went to do a talk at a university the other day and it reminded us how much we have learnt. There are a whole bunch of things we wish someone had told you.
You always talk about making games one day. Stop dreaming, start doing. Even if it seems like a rubbish idea, even if you have no idea where to start, just give it a go! Don’t wait too long to show what you do to the world. I know it seems scary. But the scariest things generally have the highest reward.
Stop hiding your art work in cupboards… especially you Sarah! Ask for help, get feedback early and often, lose yourself. Let your empathy guide you. Collaborate with each other and others. Remove yourself from the equation. Humility and empathy can only be fully achieved when you let go of the idea that your opinion is the one that matters most.
Accept that you aren’t always right. No-one knows everything. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. You’ll be wrong most of the time. Don’t be afraid to fail. Just do it quickly and often. It’s how you learn from these experiences that counts.
Learn as much as you can about business. Go to all the seminars, read all the books. Even when it bugs the hell out of you that your mum says these things, she’s actually right. Especially when she says, “networking, networking, networking.”
Delve into coding as much as you can. Pull things apart. Use your curiosity to push you forward. Don’t worry so much. Just do what you enjoy. Follow opportunities that come your way. Travel, do crap jobs, meet lots of people. Even if it feels like you are going off track from your dream, don’t worry. It’s all a step along the way. Just don’t stop trying to make games while you do it.
Start small. Stop thinking of the big epic storylines and vague mechanics. Pick something to start with and build on it. You don’t have to have a full idea with a beginning, middle and end. Just get making. Put a dot on the screen, make it move, think of something to do with it. Polish this idea and make it awesome.
Think about the experience you want people to get. Think about the context they will play it in. Are they in their living room? Are they on a bus? Think how they might be feeling. Think how you want your game to make them feel. Then design it around the people who you want to play it. Don’t design it for yourself.
I know you are going to stay passionate, so you don’t need me to say that. Thanks for staying focused, dreaming and trying so hard to get us here.
A BIT OLDER SARAH AND WOODY.
When we finished we asked the audience what advice they'd give to their younger selves...
Nicoll Hunt said: "Buy apple stocks"
Nicholas Lister said: "Don't be who everyone else expects you to be, be who you want to be"
And a few other folks got back to us via twitter...
Matthew Martin said: "Learn how to code, you arse!"
Lee Chesnalavage said: "Go to the hairdressers & try harder in college."
Duncan Simpson said: "Stop being so damn scared of everything and grab life by the balls!"
We love asking this question, we'll probably keep writing letters to ourselves. If they ever invent time travel email we'll have everything all ready! lol. It's good to know where you've been and think about where you are going. So, what would you say to your younger self?