Some People Say That I’m a Dreamer. Well, I’m not the only one….

While the past few years have hardly been easy on anyone, and it’s easy to get bogged down by the negativity that encompasses that, we must also remember that only through great trials and strife can we truly and genuinely appreciate the opportunities we have each day to keep on living and sharing this beautiful world together.

Over the past week, I have been working with the team at Take Two Interactive and specifically with Hangar 13 to produce what we refer to as “Dream Week”, an opportunity for people to remember why we all love to do what we do, in particular video games, but the same logic is hopefully valid in any industry where the people who work in it are there by choice and not necessity.

(All names and logos ere the property of Hangar 13™/2K Games™. However, anything written here on my personal website represents my own, sole, sometimes poorly-formed opinions and is not to be re-distributed without explicit written permission).

For anyone not familiar with Hangar 13, their games are published by 2K Games/Take-Two Interactive and the studio is known for their work on the Mafia franchise and have over 400+ employees in over half-a-dozen different countries/regions around the world. That said, the studio has done an excellent job of maintaining a feeling of cohesion and consistently delivers great games with compelling narrative and gameplay that have won many awards for their willingness to make bold statements but also cater to their loyal fanbase.

Peoples’ passion can take many forms. For some it was using the time to catch up on all the games they had missed while fervently trying to keep their task-completion rates high on previous milestones, for others it was a quiet time of reflection to spend, as they do most days, with their loved ones and families but without having to sacrifice precious time spent with either.

For me personally, the week was spent empowering people and offering them the opportunities to learn and grow both along-side and together-with their piers; however, as is the nature with many gamers, several wanted to compete in a week-long game jam making more games; however, games that show their identity and that they can call entirely their own. A call for assistance was dispatched and as a person familiar with many areas of tools, gameplay, and engineering who has previously taught at universities, where we had done several jams in the past, I was more-than-obliged to help.

(I doubt anyone picked up on it but the banner I made for the event was intentionally inverted colors from our normal logo to hint that it would be a foil/contrast to the normal work people do during the year.)

During the event, ‘Dreamers’ were given the opportunity to briefly pause their daily duties and spend a week instead working on something that they are passionate about.

We were careful to point out while planning with our amazing team and our publishing partners at T2, that this time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is quite possibly the most opportune moment for people to take a step back…..breathe…..and be ready to come back refreshed after the holidays while celebrating the achievements unlocked by their peers and each-other.

I certainly can’t take the credit for the idea of Dream Week though. I just happened to be one of the many employees at Hangar 13 that recalled the last time we conducted the Lucas Arts Dream Week back in 2009. Back then, I had only been in the industry for a short time but had already gone through two studio closures but was none-the-leas still fresh out of college and woe-fully ignorant in the bliss I felt at achieving my life-long goal of being a professional game designer.

Lucas Arts was not only where I cut my metaphorical teeth but also where I found that my passion is and will forever be: to craft meaning experiences that not only give agency to the players; but, hopefully, move them in profound ways, make people see the world differently, and give kindred souls a opportunity to forget, if for even a moment, the storm brewing in every other aspect of their life and instead, find a world where they could live their Dreams and reach for the stars.

The intrinsic reward of bringing people together and making their lives more enjoyable is part of the reason why being a Game Designer doesn’t feel like work.

(For those curious, ‘True Achievement’s are actually thing. They are measured as TA Value = Base Value / Scarcity.)

I am humbled by being surrounded by phenomenally talented individuals that inspire me daily and motivate me to continue to follow my passion. LucasArts was in many was similar to the environment still alive and well at Hangar 13 (not surprising considering many of the same people worked at both), and while I had the feeling that while the company/employees would benefit from a chance to explore their dreams, I didn’t expect such an amazing response from the teams and individuals, who were thrilled at the opportunity to work with their Dream Team to make something special they could call their own.

I can’t wait to tell you all more about the journey but that’s all for now: just a little bit of background. But stay tuned because there’s plenty more to share coming soon™!

About Ben Retan

I'm a designer/developer/musician and my life revolves around music and technology. I spend most of my time playing guitar, working on games, or recording music. In what little free time I have outside of that, I like to act and sing whenever I get the chance.
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