Michał Marcinkowski: Why We Need Emotions

By: Derek Yu

On: June 6th, 2010

I’ll be honest, when I read the title I thought Michał was trolling art games again, but it’s a real talk! The talk is about having the right motivations to carry out your dreams and move the world. It was given at TEDxWulkan (Polish for “Volcano”), where the theme was “It’s impossible. But it’s doable.” There are no big secrets revealed here, but I always enjoy Michał’s colorful analogies. Developers who are in a rut may find this inspiring!

Michał is the creator of Soldat and is currently working on a new game called Link-Dead (which, by the way, has a new artist, Victor Rojo).

  • phubans

    This is exactly what I've been trying to say the whole time… Where are all the indie-game loving girls? ;)

  • Edmund

    This guy is fucking rad, and i believe hes 100% correct in basically everything that he says.

  • http://nuclearheart.com/ !CE-9

    It's simple and brilliant and it arrived at just the right time.

    I guess I too fell into the trap of caring too much about what others say (and the fact that a lot of times they don't say anything at all) about my work, and I moved into my head, and I lost my joy.

    Inspiration can regenerate. Joy is there in every minute; it's us who isn't. That's what you get for going online — but teh interwebs isn't the only evil; we have the richest selection of distractions in the history of humankind. (Confusingly enough, most of them started off as others' joy; but I digress.)

    The problem, as I see it – and maybe you can relate to it -, is that I have given the control from my heart (joy & love) to my mind (fear & needing). (Quick note: by mind, I don't mean 'brain', or our living intelligence; I mean knowledge, 'cleverness', or as we more endearingly know, 'smart-assery'.)

    The mind is dead, it's our past. It's a tool, and a useful one, but it must not govern our life and our creativity. Because it sucks at it, and if we let it, we'll end up feeling that we suck too.

  • davidp

    this guy is so right about everything. interesting speech.

  • PseudoKnight

    All you need from this:
    “Get rid of distractions, stop thinking about bulls***, and find a big enough motivator to let you feel intense love and joy — and that will push you to do the impossible.”

    He wasn't right about everything. Particularly his statements in regard to Coca-cola. People's perception of a product is intensely wrapped up in image, such that changing the color of the container will impact people's taste and enjoyment of that product. But ultimately he's talking about your passion and drive to create something great. Leave the marketing to someone who knows better and focus on making something that makes YOU happy. At least, that's what I got from it.

  • Handsome Dead

    Man that guy has a brilliant haircut.

    Also, the speech was pretty good.

  • breathe

    what a sexy man

  • http://www.polytroncorporation.com FISH

    yeah, what a wide range of powerful emotions in that guy's games!

    shooting a guy is an emotion, right?

  • alastair_jack

    No, it's an action.

  • http://www.polytroncorporation.com FISH

    to be fair, i only watched the first part.
    but he was only talking about not getting laid.

  • Secret Admirer

    RECAP: “Get laid so you can motivate yourself to finish your projects [you nerds]”

  • gustav

    I think he was talking about the emotions that people get when they experience something someone has created but also, more importantly, the emotions you feel as a creator.

  • rinkuhero

    there were a few more points:

    – people aren't really motivated by the desire to do good or even to create great or interesting games, or artistic concerns, they are instead motivated by more basic selfish desires such as to be loved, fame, power, and sex, so to motivate yourself focus on those. admit you deserve those things and want them, and don't be apologetic about it, and go after them.

    – stop planning and preparing and just do stuff, don't do symbols of things, or things you hope may lead to things, or talking about things or joining groups or facebook groups to do things, just do the things themselves

    – even if everyone is against you, don't listen to anyone, just go ahead and do what you want, even if your friends and family all advise you against it; never listen to what anyone says or criticizes you about, just keep doing what you want to get what you want

    i don't necessarily agree with these, i'm just summarizing what he's saying

  • rinkuhero

    to be fair, he hasn't released a game since 2002 (soldat), so we shouldn't really judge what type of games he wants to make next based on a game he made eight years ago.

    his next game i can't seem to get much info on, except that it involves rope physics and is very early in production.

  • rinkuhero

    nevermind, apparently it's a sorta sequel to soldat


    Link-Dead is about…
    -And ultimately, war

  • http://www.zez.herobo.com zez

    oh! Cool, victors doing his art. He does great grunts that shoot stuff!
    … Im a little unsure on how many chicks you get for making games about sweaty guys with large phallic symbols that they use to kill other sweaty guys though, as ironic as this may seem, chicks dont seem to go for that sort of thing. Probably why Im better with a guitar then a for loop. (Chicks do seem to go for large phallic symbols that you use to make weird noises, provided you make the right weird noises at the right time. I dunno why man, I didnt do it.)

  • Edmund

    The guys obviously not talking about the content of his work, or the work of others. hes talking about life, motivation and the passion to do something.

    hes talking about living life as a proactive artist, not about how to make emotional art.

  • rinkuhero

    i agree, it's a completely separate issue; if he gets emotional about making games like that, there's nothing wrong with it at all (it's just not something i'd get emotional over making)

  • http://oneeyedmonsters.wordpress.org Peevish

    I wish this wasn't so obviously directed towards men. One of the reason women aren't drawn to the scene, I think, is because we act like the ones we have aren't there.

    He's a little naïve about branding, too. Coca-Cola certainly would not sell the same if it was called Shit. People won't even buy it if it's not caramel-colored.

    …is anyone else reminded of Tom Cruise in Magnolia?

  • rich

    “be loved preferably by women”

    Uhhh.. what about gay people? What, is the jury's out for them?

    I also like how he assumes that programmers are all male and can't get laid. Right.

    What about people who are asexual or don't want a relationship or people who don't want kids or a family?

    What does this have to do with games anyway? I haven't watched the second part yet, but still….

  • rich

    Okay, watching the second part now. He says groups or friends can't help you. I disagree. My friends have helped me get a lot of things done, which I'd never be able to finish myself. In fact, they've helped me take ideas and make them even bigger and better than I could have on my own.

    Secondly, motivation based on things like money or love (getting laid by “preferably women” in his case) is not a good way to motivate yourself. Because once you lose either of the two, what do you have left?

    I make games because I find it enjoyable to do. I don't do it for fame or for love. I do it because I enjoy doing it. I don't care if I get rich or change the world, I just make games because I find it fun to do.

    If you wanted to get rich or get loved by “a lot of women,” then there are much better professions to go into than being a game developer, especially if your only motivation are those things. Go be a porn star instead.

  • rich

    Okay maybe not that extreme. Why not sports? If you make it, you'll get big money and all the love you want (look at Tiger Woods).

    I mean, if that's your motivation, not because you actually enjoy doing it then by all means, knock yourself out.

  • Edmund

    i still think you might be missing the point, hes not getting emotional over that type of game, or any game for that matter. hes talking about the emotion that goes into making something you love that makes you feel good, hes talking about the passion to create not what comes out or how he feels about what hes making, its purely the love for being creative and proactive.

  • Edmund

    i thought we were at a point where when someone says we all want to be loved by women that hes saying that to fit his situation.. hes not saying that everyone in the world wants to be loved by women… thats quite nuts that anyone in this day and age would assume hes saying that.

    Everyone in the world wants to feel loved, thats what hes saying hes just speaking candidly so hes just applying it to himself.

  • rinkuhero

    possible — i myself didn't get that from the video (i don't remember him using the word creative or any synonyms for it even once for instance), but i'm not challenging that it can be interpreted that way

    i also in myself find it hard to separate a passion for creation and a passion for what i'm creating. i think i'm passionate about the particular games i'm creating, because i want to see those games made, not for the process of creation itself, or the rewards (in fame or whatever) that creation will bring me. so i tend to see game creation as more of an end in itself, as a way to make good games, rather than a way to get what i want or achieve my desires.

  • http://www.derekyu.com Derek Yu

    I was just going to say this. He also mentioned Beethoven and his 9th Symphony… I don't think his point was that Beethoven wanted pussy. Whatever motivates you to get the job done well.

    Communicating ideas is too hard if you try and lay out every conceivable possibility. “Whether your motivation is having sex with men, or women, or animals, or you're asexual, or… or…” I think it's up to the listener to include themselves if they haven't explicitly been excluded.

  • Marcus

    You're not really just summarizing what he's saying, you're spinning it quite heavily.

    He didn't say “people aren't motivated by X & Y”, he said “people are motivated by Z & B”.

    He didn't say you shouldn't do thing “you hope may lead to things”, that's your interpretation (not necessarily invalid but obviously not just a “summary”)

    He didn't say “never listen to what anyone says or criticizes you about”

  • Marcus

    He never even mentioned anything about emotions in the final product. He hardly mentioned the final product at all. He might as well have talkd about programming plug-ins for Excel, the point was obviously not that games should be emotional…

  • Ssss

    I don't think reception (of a critical or sexual nature) is what drives me to design games. It's just fun. I definitely understand the whole addiction to picking up a new project thing. A lot, unfortunately.

    On the subject of love, I don't think that love for someone stems out of his profession or hobby, but rather, what type of person they are. I know I would still be loved if I didn't make games, or if I made more. Programming is not really a deciding factor in my relationship.

  • chris

    I totally misread the post title thinking it said 'why we need emoteicons' – expecting a very different talk!
    Good speech though, can't wait till link dead

  • Steev

    your 'about' page is still placeholder, meaning you have no visible contact details on the site! please sort this out :) :)

  • http://oneeyedmonsters.wordpress.org Peevish

    Never was a baby born from an About page.

  • rinkuhero

    yeah i appreciate that he's speaking candidly and of his own motivations, that's great and it was a great video to watch. i just don't think it really applies to people who have different motivations than he does. everyone wants to be loved but not everyone wants to be loved to the same degree, or has as much of a need for it.

    and yeah, the 'if you just want fame and sex there are a lot better ways to do it than to be a game programmer' thing came to mind for me too when watching this. those don't seem to me like great motivations to make games. but whatever makes him work on his games every day is fine by me, i'll play his games regardless.

  • rinkuhero

    this is an excellent comment, yeah — at one point he said that the guy who organized the TED event probably gets a lot of girls because he's done something. but in my experience love doesn't really work that way: people don't love you just because you achieve stuff or accomplish things. that'd only get girls that are just after your money. what's usually loved are much more basic things about a person, humor intelligence personality etc., not achievements and fame and money. it's actually kind of demeaning to women to say that they go after people who are in power or people who have a lot of accomplishments.

  • rinkuhero

    ya, i mentioned that to derek before. in the mean time, you can PM us on the forums and such i guess.

  • anon

    LOL Is this guy obsessed with women or what? The problem is not you are a game programmer, the problem is you are so damn Fing needy, man. That's what's scaring the girls away….

    Anyway, I don't think this is too inspiring or good at all, especially after hearing how this guy has put women up on a pedestal, if you want to hear really inspiring speaches that will get your asses up your seat and right into action go watch some Tony Robbins videos and you will see the difference…

  • http://www.2bam.com nitram

    For me he's kinda joking to create a connection with the audience. Also it might be a cultural thing, not really an interest aspect of the speech if you ask me.

    He got me on the logo/webpage thing. I've been intermitently working on mine for 2 years! With no real reason to, I'm not near famous :)

  • Dodger

    Okay, I've read all of the comments up to this point. Now let's be real honest here. If Indie Developers got laid more often (or even on an average bi-monthly basis – yes from everything I've read that's A LOT for a game developer, Indie or otherwise) no games would be developed and creativity would be at an all time low. I might be wrong, but I'd reckon that at least 80% (to be fair) of developers are guys, and if those guys started getting pussy on a regular basis they would begin to think only of pussy on a regular basis.

    So not to be too crude or crass but to make a legitimate point, I've tried my hand at programming and frankly, pussy's better! :D

    Seriously though, I don't really think you need all of that to drive you to do what you actually want to do, I definitely think you need to find the motivation within yourself to accomplish the things you want to attempt though. How much of that actually involves or requires love I don't really know… it can't hurt being loved, but not being loved could also be used as an equally driving force as a means to an end (eg. thinking like Cliff Bleszinski used to and that becoming a rad game developer will get you lots of chicks kinda like a rockstar – thankfully he's grown up a little since his first GoW game).

    I guess the point is, love can be a helpful tool if you can utilize the feelings you gain from it in a way to push yourself to do what you want, that's all great if it applies to you and your character, but it's not really something that you could generalize in regards to most people.

    At the same time, there's nothing wrong with trying to spread positivity or trying to be inspiring in positive ways because just may be people who do gain something from it. I guess when you're at a point in your life that you do feel loved and have an extremely positive outlook it's best to spread it around as much as possible, because it might rub off a little and even make someone elses day.

    The gist of it to me – good karma creates more good karma.

  • jackal27

    Well… That was certainly… Self-centered, hahaha. I guess all of this is fine if you want to define your life by your personal desires, but that would certainly make for pretty pointless life.

  • namuol

    MM is a really passionate guy. I miss his old, multi-page philosophical blog posts, but this makes up for it. :)

  • jonschubbe

    it's not really about the end result itself, it's about the fact you get there and meet a goal. i think its perfectly okay to say that some women are attracted to men who have goals in mind, attempt to accomplish them, and succeed in doing so. and it's extra motivation for the man to succeed to make his woman happy as well i guess – gives some confidence boosting

  • moo

    Tony Robbins hasn't said a single thing worth repeating in his entire life.

  • djjz

    He's touching on a MASSIVE issue here: The need for feedback. Point one: How many awsome, amazing, life changing indie games have you not complimented the creator for? Point two: How many creative projects have you abandoned for lack of feedback? I love getting feedback on my work. Hell, I love getting replies on my forum posts! Appreciation/Love is a huge motivator in indie gaming.

  • Ssss

    I've found that feedback does nothing for me. It does not factor into whether or not I abandon a game. If it is such a big factor for you, i'm sorry! Because really, I want to work on what I like, not what other people like, or what other people have convinced me I _should_ like.

  • Austin

    This was a good motivator, and it really resonates with me. Just going and doing something feels good. You need to program because YOU like to program, and if you like to, then no-one else's opinion matters.

  • DGFAzazel

    I've been thinking a lot about things like motivation lately. In a bit of a different way though. I'm a musician, that's all I want to do with my life. And yet, to be perfectly honest, I spent the past seven years of my life NOT DOING the only thing I want to do with my life! My reasons didn't really have anything to do with other people's thoughts, or anything like that, I just wasn't in the right place in my own mind, I kind of hated myself, and I was smoking a TON of weed to help deal with how much I hated myself. I tried everything, I went on about five different psychiatric medications, which made things worse, and ended up in the mental hospital for a while. Even after leaving there, things just got worse, but I finally fixed my problems on MY OWN, without the help of the “popapill” psychiatric crap, and I'm now off the medications, and I'm sober as hell (I don't even drink coffee anymore). I'm also actively working on THREE self produced albums now, everyday, and loving it. I guess my point is that motivation and the reasons why people do or don't stay motivated to complete a creative project aren't as black and white as these videos seem to make them out to be… For me, the thing that motivates me the most is simply that I feel like I NEED to make music, in an almost biological way, to the degree that anything that seriously impedes that gets lopped out of my life.

    Don't really know why I felt the need to type all that, it's almost one in the morning and I'm a bit delirious I guess…