How ‘Ice Boy’ Taught Me to Value Work-Ethic Over Skill

What in the world is a game jam?

I love making games. It’s very rewarding. A lot of other people love making games too. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, releasing a simple, casual mobile game usually involves months of tedious hard work.

Meet Ice Boy

This is the culprit.

I wanted to win

The story of Ice Boy begins with me wanting to make the best game in the jam. The reason for that is because I just so happened to have made a really bad game in the first Newgrounds Game Jam, 6 months earlier.

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Atonement, with a fiery passion

I wanted to make the best game. I needed to. It wasn’t just about the competition, it was about proving myself. My family saw my work as a waste of time and friends saw it as childish. And was I even good at it? All the games that I had made up to that point that hadn’t failed were not lead nor designed by me.

The Announcement

The team and theme announcement would go live at 7 am US time, which meant it was 2 pm for me. I was at school at the time, refreshing Newgrounds, excited as ever.

  • A 12 year old kid with no experience
  • A 14 year old who looked like he had some art experience, but never made a game before
  • A musician that didn’t even show up

Giving Up

I was upset. I wanted to spare myself the embarrassment, and planned on telling my team that I was out as soon as I came home. There was no way this was going to work out.

Getting to work

Since I knew none of us had a ton of experience, I decided we needed to go for something simple. We still wanted to do something exciting though, so we needed some sort of hook. Our skill wouldn’t carry us, so we had to get creative.

Release

We finally had it up, and I was actually proud of what we had accomplished. We took what little we had, finished a game, had fun doing it, and everyone pulled through in the end (the musician even showed up the next day!)

Wait, it gets better

When I finally calmed down, I realized that there was a secret guest judge who had made the decision. That turned out to be none other than Edmund McMillen, the creator of Meat Boy and many other works that are part of Newgrounds’ history.

What do we learn here?

It’s not about skill, because skill can only take you so far. In fact, your march to success can be severely crippled if you have a crappy work ethic.

Image from the Newgrounds store

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Graphics programmer working on maps. I love telling stories and it's why I do what I do, from making games, to teaching & writing. https://omarshehata.me/

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Omar Shehata

Omar Shehata

Graphics programmer working on maps. I love telling stories and it's why I do what I do, from making games, to teaching & writing. https://omarshehata.me/