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Article #47:

Originally written January, 2005. Latest update: May, 2019

NOTE: some of the sayings in this article are unattributed. If you know who first said one of the unattributed sayings, please let me know on the Game Design Q&A Bulletin Board.

If you don't feel like reading everything (not that it would take very long - and the whole thing is full of gems!) you can click to jump to the topic of your choice. Some sayings apply to multiple topics, though - and I had to pick just one topic to put a saying in (so as to avoid repetition and getting repetitious so you wouldn't have to read the same thing more than once).

On Dumb Questions
My Philosophy For This Website
On Character
On Fear
On Choices
On Education
On Life
On Work
On Planning


I suggest he gets all the education he can, and then when he starts to work, to apply himself assiduously.

Theodore Bikel, Columbo (#40, "The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Test")

Follow your bliss. ... If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.

Joseph Campbell

First, you gotta be talented. Then, you gotta work really hard. Then hope you catch a lucky star.

Katy Perry

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

William Shakespeare

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued is just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

Robert the Bruce

Hang in there, baby!

1970's poster depicting a kitten hanging by its paws from a wire

Ganbatte kudasai!

Japanese expression

Inveniemus viam aut faciemus. We will either find a way or make one.


Learn the rules... so you can break them properly.

The Dalai Lama

There's an exception to every rule... even this one.

Tom Sloper


I have been reading your Descartes.
Very interesting.
"I think, therefore I am."
He forgot to mention the other part.
I'm sure he knew, he just forgot.
"I don't think, therefore I'm not."

Dainin Katagiri, Roshi

Google is your friend.

Modern saying

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where-" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland

It depends.

ANYthing is possible.

There are no magic answers for anything on the face of this earth.

Dr. Laura, 1/12/05

If you can't read the signals along the street, you'll never get to your destination.

Dr. Laura, 4/30/09

I don't want to hear your feelings - I want to hear what you know.

Dr. Laura

You can only ask me about something you have power to control.

Dr. Laura

Don't ask me statistics.

Dr. Laura, Feb. 1, 2005

Yes, yes, it's all a rich tapestry.

Psychiatrist Dr. Zweig (aka Lowenstein), The Simpsons ("Fear of Flying")

I was watching "Walking With Cavemen" on the Discovery Channel and was taken by one line of narration in particular. The narrator was talking about Homo Heidelbergensis: "They see the world only as it is, and cannot imagine a better version of it." By contrast, many video game wannabes are so highly evolved from Homo Heidelbergensis that they can only see the world as it ideally should be... they cannot see the world as it is!

A man who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client.

An expression lawyers use a lot.

If you ever have to ask "will this get me in trouble," and you don't want to pay an attorney to find out, you shouldn't do it. Simple. Remember-- Just because you might have a DEFENSE doesn't mean you can't get SUED.

Video game attorney Mona Ibrahim

When we go into the land of what we don't want, we shut ourselves out of the land of what we want.

Dr. Laura, August 25, 2009

Learn to ask better questions.

Close mouth. Open ears. Turn on brain.


This should be very educational. I want you kids to pay attention.

Marge Simpson, The Simpsons

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.

Chinese proverb

You can see a lot just by observing.

Yogi Berra

When you're doing a bad job and nobody points it out to you, that's when they've given up on you. When somebody rides you, they're doing that because they care to make you better.

Randy Pausch

I get in the way of fantasies -- bad habit that I have.

Dr. Laura

When you have been here a while you will realise we don't simply hand out answers, we challenge people to think so that they work them out for themselves.

Dan Marchant, IGDA Breaking In forum, 1/5/05

When the pupil is ready, the teacher will come.

Chinese Proverb

To the people who complained about the lack of tutes on this site I say this, get off your fat arses and stop expecting everything to be handed to you on a silver platter. If there's something you don't know about and it's not in a tute then go and experiment and learn it and write your own damn tute. Or maybe you people just don't have the brain power and perseverance to do anything for yourselves.

Found at

To have an idea is easy - any idiot can have one. What's hard is to DO IT.

Conceptual artist Jeanne-Claude (2/13/05)

When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.

Shunryu Suzuki (Japanese Zen priest, ?-1971)

Pay it forward.

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Wisdom is not in knowing all the answers, but in knowing the right questions.

The great Chinese philosopher, Kong Few Shun (quoted in Shanghai: Dynasty, the great computer game)

Don't argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.

Modern email joke

When you fax me, I own it.

Dr. Laura

All your email are belong to me.

Tom Sloper

I don't validate.

Origin unknown

No good deed goes unpunished.

Origin unknown

Well, excuse me for having enormous flaws that I don't work on!

Homer Simpson


It's not about how you feel. It's about what you can do.

Katie Uhlaender (Radio interview, The Story)

Everyone should climb Mount Fuji; he who climbs Mount Fuji once is a wise man. He who climbs it twice is a fool.

Japanese saying

The worst wheel of the cart makes the most noise.

Benjamin Franklin

Persuade yourself that imperfection and inconvenience is the natural lot of mortals, and there will be no room for discontent or despair.

Tokugawa Ieyasu

"Sounds like somebody has a case of the shoulda's!"

Teacher of advanced class, The Simpsons ("Bart the Genius")

Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table;
But you only want the ones that you can't get.

Don Henley & Glenn Frey (The Eagles), Desperado

Don't complain; just work harder.
You can spend your life complaining, or you can spend it playing the game harder.

Randy Pausch

God grant me the strength to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept the things I can't, and the wisdom to know the difference.

"The Serenity Prayer," by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1930s or early 1940s); wording above varies from Niebuhr's original.

Know [that] your worst day is a blessin' 'cause ya might learn somethin' from it.

Singer/songwriter Dr. John (Malcolm John "Mac" Rebennack, Jr., heard on NPR, Valentine's Day / Chinese New Year, 2010)

We must be the change we wish to see in the world.


Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it true, does it improve on the silence?

Sai Baba

There are no small parts, only small actors.

Konstantin Sergeievich Stanislavsky, Russian actor, director, and teacher [1863-1938]

Nothing is so common as the wish to be remarkable.


I don't want "enough." I want it all.

The bad guy in the Hawaii Five-O episode, "Percentage."

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the other people.

Randy Pausch

The difficult is done at once; the impossible takes a little longer.

Motto of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during World War II

It takes time to get what you really want.

Character Dale Kingston (Ross Martin) in Columbo episode "Suitable For Framing."

Patience, Grasshopper.

Keye Luke as Master Po, Kung Fu

For everything there is a season.


If you want to learn about a man's character, play mah-jongg with him.

Chinese proverb

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.

Plato (427 BC - 347 BC)

No one will ever just remember your name. No one will instantly make you their hero. No one will automatically give you their respect just because you show up. You have to earn it.

Lance Armstrong

The time has come to choose between what is right and what is easy.

Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J. K. Rowling)

Wishing won't make it so.

Common expression

Hope springs eternal.

Common expression

Hope is disappointment postponed. The danger in putting too much effort into just wanting something to happen, is that you can ignore the reality of what is.

Dr. Laura

In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate.

Isaac Asimov

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Another one of those inspirational posters from the late sixties or early seventies.


The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Once fear is aroused in your brain, it tends to take over and dominate.

Joseph LeDoux

Never take counsel of your fears.

Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson

Stop horriblizing!

Dr. Laura

Get rid of the evil poison in your mind.

"Dwarf King" from Sweden, replying to yet another stupid "am I too old" question on the forums, December 2010

Success only comes with failures.

Rocket scientist Tom Ward, profiled in The Story: "Sputnik Kids," January 28, 2011.

People cannot discover new lands until they have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

André Gide

I can't tell you if your idea is good. If you feel passionate about it, do it and don't be afraid to fail. In fact, failure should motivate you - it does that for me.

Ben Kaufman

Donít worry about people stealing your ideas. †If your ideas are any good, youíll have to ram them down peopleís throats.

Howard Aiken, Computer Scientist

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Modern expression

People are suspicious of people wearing masks. So don't do it. Except on Halloween or Mardi Gras maybe.

Tom Sloper

We can't go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can't build our dreams
On suspicious minds

(Lyrics & music by Mark James)

No matter how dark the moment, love and hope are always possible.

George Chakiris


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Poet Robert Frost (1874-1963), "The Road Not Taken"

You are where you're supposed to be in life.

David Hasselhof on "America's Got Talent," August 2009

Your happiness grows in direct proportion to your acceptance, and in inverse proportion to your expectations. Acceptance doesn't really mean you're resigned to it. It just means acknowledging that that's what it is. There's always failure. And there's always disappointment. And there's always loss. But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums.

Michael J. Fox

It's really nice to want things. But when you want things that are out of your control to make happen, it's time to let go.

Dr. Laura, 4/26/2010

What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman

Worrying is instead of making plans.

Dr. Laura, 7/24/08

If you say, "it's hard," you just stymie yourself.

Dr. Laura, 1/21/05

War doesn't determine who is right; war determines who is left.

Punny email joke masquerading as Chinese proverb

There are some roads not to follow; some troops not to strike; some cities not to assault; and some ground which should not be contested. ...

Actual Chinese proverb (Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Is this the hill you want to die on?

Dr. Laura

These things are very simple if you have a hierarchy of what's important in your head.

Dr. Laura, 5/7/2003

You can have anything you want - if you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, have anything you desire, accomplish anything you set out to accomplish - if you will hold to that desire with singleness of purpose.

Robert E. Lee

Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.

Gail Sheehy

We don't have choice in what happens to us - we only have choice in how we deal with what happens to us.


What you cannot avoid, welcome.

Chinese Proverb

Some of us prefer illusion to despair.

Nelson Muntz, The Simpsons

Wake up and smell the bacon.

American expression


Virtually nothing that you can ever learn is useless crap.

boogyman19946, 24 September 2011 - 09:10 PM
( > The Technical Side > For Beginners)

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

William Butler Yeats

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.

John Dewey

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

Derek Bok (American educator, pres. of Harvard 1971-1990)

Luck is where opportunity meets preparation.


sure stay in school for your deplomas, in my apionon unless you wanting to work for others its a complete wast of valuable time.

"MadApples" (post on, Dec. 19, 2009)

If you want to play in the pool, be prepared to swim with the sharks.

Heard on NPR, 6/16/04

"In life things will happen to you and you must draw the lessons from them. You will not always have someone there to explain them to you, and you must learn to learn on your own. Do you understand that?"
"Yes, Sensei."

Dale Furutani, Death At The Crossroads


Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond to it.

Judge Faith Jenkins

I accept all the things that I cannot change.

Grace VanderWaal, "Clearly," 2018

As he made his way, his lantern illuminated the pathway before him just a few steps ahead. His life was like the glow from the lantern. He could see only one or two steps ahead of him, yet his faith in the future kept him moving forward...

Dale Furutani, Jade Palace Vendetta

If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere.

Frank A. Clark

Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity...

Gilda Radner

It's what I do that teaches me what I'm looking for.

Pierre Soulages, French artist, 1953

That there are imperfections in a properly made decision is just a fact of life.

Dr. Laura, August 28, 2009

Things are never as good as they seem, or as bad as they seem.

President Barack Hussein Obama (April 29, 2009)

It's not what you think you can do; it's what you do.


Life is a game.

Common expression

Game, my ass. Some game.

J. D. Salinger, "Catcher In the Rye"

Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

One of those emails that circulates around these days (2009)

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

Philip K. Dick

Ain't no man can avoid being born average, but there ain't no man got to be common.

Leroy "Satchel" Paige

Character is not determined by what happens to us, but rather how we deal with what happens to us.


You can only play with the cards you're dealt.

Origin unknown

Things seem to turn out the best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.

Art Linkletter

We all need a little bit of luck. It's just how you use that luck when you get it. It's how well you play your bad cards.

Professional poker player Roxanne "Roxci" Rhodes (NPR, June 4, 2005)

Waiting for luck is like waiting for death.

Japanese proverb

Luck is for wimps. Luck may or may not be on your side, but action is 100% in your control.

Sally Hogshead, "Radical Careering" - ISBN 1592401503; this is from Radical Truth #12.

Hope is not a strategy.

Business saying

It is a rare thing to be granted your heart's desire.

Salman Rushdie

Got to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues, and you know it don't come easy.

Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr), It Don't Come Easy, 1971

Some days you're the dog. Some days you're the hydrant.

Ancient internet proverb (?)

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. (The more things change, the more things stay the same.)

French proverb

Smart people learn how to use their skills. Happy people learn how to live with their shortcomings.


Every rule is meant to be broken... including this one.

Tom Sloper


A player who makes the team great is better than a great player.


When you take that attitude, you take your chances.

Edward Albee, playwright, NPR, Feb. 6, 2009

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.

Thomas Jefferson

Dreams are the touchstones of our character.

Henry David Thoreau

It does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live.

Albus Dumbledore, in the first Harry Potter movie.

Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Henry David Thoreau

Dreams that go without action are not very useful.

Patrick Awuah (NPR, Dec. 30, 2005)

If you want to find beasts you don't see every day,
You have to go places quite out-of-the-way.
You have to go places no others can get to.
You have to get cold, and you have to get wet too.

Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel), "If I Ran the Zoo"

All animals except man know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it.

Samuel Butler

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

The only time "Success" comes before "Work" is in the dictionary.

Mark Twain

You better handle yo bidnass, or yo bidnass gonna handle you. Please believe it.

Rapper Bull Hefner

If something's hard to do, it's not worth doing.

Homer Simpson (Spinal Tap episode)

The flogging will continue until morale improves.


If circumstances hold you back, always seek another way to achieve your goals.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Employees within a hierarchical organization advance to their highest level of competence, then get promoted to a level where they are incompetent, and remain in that position.

The Peter Principle (Laurence J. Peter, 1919-1990)

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Parkinson's Law (Prof. Cyril Northcote Parkinson)

When I hear somebody sigh, "Life is hard," I am always tempted to ask, "Compared to what?"

Sydney J. Harris

We always hear "Life is short, play hard." But what about "Life is short, work hard"?

Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway Personal Transporter), UpClose, ABC, 2002

Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.

Mark Twain

The Second Golden Rule:
He who has the gold makes the rules.


It's so easy to condemn, so hard to create.

Homer Simpson

At first, art imitates life. Then life will imitate art. Then life will find its very existence from the arts.

Fyodor Dostoevsky


Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

John Lennon

Man plans and God laughs.

Yiddish proverb

The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry.

Poet Robert Burns (Slightly reworded to suit modern ears.)

Sometimes the vagaries of life's twists and turns could be nudged in the right direction if you knew what your eventual goal was.

Dale Furutani, Kill the Shogun

You gotta have a plan, or you're just clowning around.

Dr. Phil McGraw

You can't predict. You can prepare.

MassMutual slogan

Endeavor for the best, plan for the worst.


The difference between a dream and a goal is a plan.

Dave Ramsey

The plan is nothing. Planning is everything.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Adapt, improvise, overcome.

Lee Marvin as Major Reisman, The Dirty Dozen

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

Mark Twain

Even generals plan huge conquests from little tents.


"Lo barato sale caro." The cheap comes out expensive.

Judge Marilyn Milian

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