01 March 2012

Game Theories: The Whiteboards

Over a year ago I left a nice job at Griptonite Games near Seattle, Washington with a mind to seek my fortunes in the east. My plan was to move to New York City after taking two months off to finish a few lingering personal projects and begin a few more. That almost happened, until life intervened. But that's another story.

The day before leaving, I brought my camera into the office to execute pet project that had been simmering in my head for a long time. I wanted to take pictures of my colleagues' whiteboards. Over the course of my many years in the game industry, I had grown fond of the messes that accumulated on the small doodle stations adorning every cubicle in the building. And I mean, every cubicle. Griptonite was as generous with whiteboards as they were with staples. And thank heavens, too, because they always came in handy....

The fact that nearly everyone had access to a whiteboard is precisely the cause of what I love most about these pictures: the juxtaposed variety of evidence of every discipline in the studio -- programmers and artists, designers and producers -- haphazardly scribbling to make their ideas known, to solidify concepts, or just let off a little steam. The whiteboard empowered everyone.

It's too obvious to admire the remnants left behind by the clearly talented artists in these pictures, through fun all the same. But what I like best are the wrinkled diagrams and the hastily scratched notes. They are visible evidence of a halfway point in an otherwise inscrutable creative process; these are middles of so many unknowable ideas. Ideas that started in someone's head, leaked out on to a whiteboard in any one of five or six colors, and then perhaps, if it was lucky, eventually made its way into a game that you yourself may have played only last year. Just maybe.

Click on through to see more. And click on the photos themselves to blow 'em up bigger.