GameDev Protips: How To Stay Productive In The Face of Mediocrity

Let’s face it, it’s a common problem for anyone who creates things to be disappointed with their own work. You see the competition and think “man I wish my stuff was as good as their’s” and start feeling inadequate. In reality, however, your audience most certainly appreciates your work regardless of its relative quality.

A good way to put this into perspective is to use the “two cakes” mentality. I found this in a Tumblr comic many years ago and it has stuck with me ever sense. Imagine there’s a small, simple cake and a large, elegant one. The artist of the small one will likely think that their cake is pathetic in comparison, but the audience will just see the fact that there’s two cakes and enjoy both regardless. You can apply this same mentality to pretty much any area of living.

Personally, I believe that a lot of our current, modern society is based upon this idea of linear progress; we have to keep working to get better, have better lives, and generally improve things, which of course naturally leads to comparisons being drawn to others. In reality, this just isn’t how life works! There have been plenty of successes that have had “better” competition but the population really just cares that there’s something for them regardless of the potential alternatives. It’s so liberating to realize that whatever you put forward, no matter how insignificant, is a valid contribution to the world that can make people happy regardless of your personal feelings of satisfaction or the lack thereof.

From that point on, as you continue to make things in whatever profession you pursue you’ll get closer to closing the perceived gap between your competition’s contributions and your own. This obviously feels really great as you can see the fruits of your labor! Just because other people around you are doing better doesn’t mean you should quit doing; you’ll only improve through practice and your specific audience doesn’t care about the competition that you’re so worried about. Just keep going so that you’re constantly improving yourself, and don’t forget that the world is a better place when your unique contributions are a part of it as long as there’s at least one person whose life is made better by them!

Important Takeaways: Creators are often disappointed with their own work even when it’s great in the eyes of their audience. They see that the competition has something supposedly far above their own work and become disheartened. Instead of thinking of it this way, just think that your contribution is making people happy; even if it’s less people than the “leading” creator the world is still a better place because of it! Just keep doing what your profession calls for and you’ll gradually close the perceived gap until it’s going in the other direction, and in the meantime don’t forget that your audience doesn’t care that there’s a big, elegant cake compared to your puny one — they’ll just see two cakes and become even happier!