Think Like A Game Designer
Think Like A Game Designer
Steven Pressfield — Conquering Creative Resistance, The Craft of Historical Fiction, and the Interplay of Games and the Muse (#57)

Steven Pressfield — Conquering Creative Resistance, The Craft of Historical Fiction, and the Interplay of Games and the Muse (#57)

Think Like A Game Designer Podcast

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10 Short Life Lessons From Steven Pressfield - The Blog of Author Tim  Ferriss
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About Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield stands as a titan in the literary world, a master of historical fiction with profound insights into the creative process. He's renowned for works like "The Gates of Fire," which earned him accolades, including Spartan citizenship. His book, "The War of Art," introduces the concept of resistance, offering strategies for artists to overcome this ruthless creative demon. We discuss his days grappling with self-doubt and his triumphs as a legendary author. His stories are not just tales of the past, but lessons in perseverance and the relentless pursuit of creativity. Hosting Steven on the Think Like A Game Designer Podcast holds special significance for me. His books and stories about confronting creative resistance mirror the difficulties I’ve faced in each of my creative endeavors. It's an honor to share this episode with our listeners.

Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.

–Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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Show Notes

Fighting Against Resistance (00:00:00 - 00:20:00)

“You think it’s your thoughts, but it’s not your thoughts. It’s like a devil has possessed you.”

Resistance is a force that challenges the creative mind, a central theme in Steven's book 'The War of Art.' In our podcast, we delve into this subject, exploring its parallels in Steven's experiences as a writer and my own as a game designer. Steven shares insights on confronting resistance daily, even with a successful portfolio of books to his name. This dialogue uncovers the persistent nature of creative obstacles.

Strategies for Fighting Resistance and Mentors (00:20:00 - 00:38:00)

“Do it on one page.”

In this segment, we discuss how we fight resistance and some of the processes we use to win the battle. He proposes a strategy, "do it on one page," which involves condensing your project into a single-page checklist or outline that encapsulates the entire endeavor. Our conversation further extends to the role of mentors, ranging from actual individuals to fictional characters and even insights gained from dreams.

Writing Historical Fiction (00:38:00 - 00:52:30)

“I see life as a battle. When I’m looking for a story to tell, it’s probably going to be a war story.”

Steven is renowned as one of the greatest historical fiction authors, who even received Spartan citizenship in recognition of his work, "The Gates of Fire." Here, we dig into why he writes within this specific genre and the journey that led him there. We also explore the role of the muse and how the metaphors we choose for our lives can significantly steer their course. The conversation then shifts to self-doubt and the creative process, revealing how Steven perseveres against the urge to surrender. He reflects on his struggles in "Government Cheese," sharing his experiences of working various jobs and evading his calling to write. It's an inspiring tale of overcoming resistance and ultimately forging a successful creative life.

The Muse, Games, and Stories (00:52:30 - 1:21:00)

“If we imagine a tree in the middle of a sunny meadow—as soon as that tree appears, a shadow appears. The shadow is resistance. But the shadow cannot be there without the tree. The tree comes first. The tree is that idea, and that idea comes from the goddess, the muse.”

Steven shares a metaphor describing creativity as a river teeming with ideas, delving into the nuances of capturing these ideas. He then shifts the conversation toward the significance of games in human life, leading to a discussion about the connection and impact of these art forms. We discover that stories and games are often interchangeable: when you play a game that resonates emotionally, it culminates in a narrative experience, essentially crafting a story by the end. Steven and I continue by discussing the principle, The only metric that matters is player experience, and its connection to games and writing.

Check out Steven’s new book, The Daily Pressfield, and other books From Steven here:

Steven Pressfield

The War of Art
The Daily Pressfield
The Gates of Fire
Foolscap Method

Think Like A Game Designer
Think Like A Game Designer
In Think Like a Game Designer, award-winning designer and Stone Blade Entertainment CEO Justin Gary speaks with world-class game designers and creative experts from various industries. Each episode deconstructs the creative process, offering insights into the art of game design and the broader cultural, technological, and business influences shaping a myriad of creative mediums. Join us for actionable advice and unique perspectives that will enrich your understanding of what it means to be creative in and out of the gaming world.