February, 2004

NOTE: these lessons are primarily aimed at aspiring game designers, but many of the concepts described herein also apply to those who aspire to other types of jobs in the game industry. This lesson is subject to changes and improvements; reader comments are welcome.

You've probably heard the Chinese proverb, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime."

Well, research is just like fishing. If you know how to do research, you can find out anything, all by yourself. After you've done a large part of the research, sometimes you need help learning good ways to prepare the fish for eating - so what do you do then? You ask a chef. That's called "further research."

But if you go on a newsgroup, or a forum (such as my Game Design Bulletin Board), and ask folks "tell me everything" about a topic, that isn't fishing - that's asking a fishermen to give you a fish.

I imagine that some people can get so proficient at asking others for fish that they never even learn how to bait a hook.

Those guys aren't "fishermen" - they're "beggars."

Skillful and talented beggars, maybe - but beggars nevertheless.

So we get personal. Do you want to be a beggar? Or would you rather learn how to catch your own fish?

As for me - I don't like to give people fish. But I greatly enjoy teaching people how to catch their own fish. By all means, come to my bulletin board and ask me how to fish. But don't ask me to give you a fish. Deal?

OK, so I didn't know what to write this month. So shoot me.

Shoot me a topic, that is! (^_^) Use the Q&A bulletin board, like this fellow did:

About Article 36, "Fishing"

>From: "Ruoyao"
>Subject: Comment to LESSON #36: Fishing
>Date: Sat, 6 Nov 2010 16:01:22 -0400
>Hi Tom,
>I’m learning your lessons. I really enjoy them. Thank you for the wise advices.
>And after I finished the Fishing part, in which you site a old Chinese proverb, I have some points to share with you and other readers. I think there is something more than the “fishermen and beggars”, or say “honor”. The point is that by asking others, you could never get a fish larger than provider’s, or taste a kind of fish that the provider to not own.
>If a person just want to make out ONE game idea, I think to be a beggar is a fast and cheap solution. But for “aspiring game designers”, if some one want to be a beggar (who is already not “aspiring” in my opinion), maybe you should tell him to reconsidering their interesting...

Yao, 谢谢。 You make some worthy points.

Tom Sloper
トム·スローパー   /   탐 슬로퍼   /   湯姆 斯洛珀
Los Angeles, California, USA
November 6, 2010

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© 2004 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved. May not be re-published without written permission of the author.