I mentioned in an earlier post how the developer of Draw Something was purchased by Zynga, but I wanted to talk a little about my experience with the game. I did order a stylus, by the way; it should arrive this week sometime.
In grade school I was pretty decent at drawing. I was lazy, I guess, and wanted/expected to be good at things without much effort, since that had worked for me so far, for the most part. Toward the end of elementary school there began to appear in my classes people who I felt were at least as good as or better than me at drawing. I enjoyed art, though I was rarely able to achieve quality that satisfied me. There were a few other things I was fairly good at: writing, though in school I hated it; singing, though I don’t think I’m naturally gifted in that area (I just learned what I needed to be passable); and working with computers (programming, once I finally tried it in high school classes).
In junior high art classes, I know I was given leeway other students weren’t allowed. Because I was so obsessive about details in my work, it took me longer to complete projects, but I was allowed as much time as I needed (even while the rest of the class was working on the next project) without my grade being affected. When it was time to figure out my schedule for high school, my art teacher wanted me to continue to take art, put together a portfolio which would get me into an art school, and make that my career. It was an option. But there was a hitch: I couldn’t do that and take choir. She was right that singing wouldn’t ever be a career option for me. But at the time I wasn’t thinking too much about jobs. I was thinking about girls.
It’s true, and to those of you who were in school with me it’s probably funny. I was depressed a lot then, and the thought of asking a girl out filled me with an almost completely debilitating degree of anxiety (honestly, it probably still would). The reason I chose choir over art was because I wanted a girlfriend; I wanted to get into the mixed choir and meet girls. The punchline is that I never had a single girlfriend in high school.
Anyway, even after squandering my high school years without developing my artistic skill at all, when I showed my work (mostly from junior high) to someone from the Kansas City Art Institute, I was told that I was definitely talented enough to get into an art school if I put together a portfolio. But at that point I had taken computer science classes, and I knew I had a similar talent in that field. The difference was that while in art classes I’d always taken longer than everyone else to finish projects, in computer science I was often finished with the next project before the rest of the class started it, and I was the one everyone else asked for help. That ended up deciding what I chose to go to college for (not to mention the potential for employment afterwards). And from college on, my artistic ability languished.
When I have occasionally attempted to draw something since then I have usually been disappointed. I know that I could improve with practice; I now realize that talent isn’t enough to make it in any field. So, to finally return to the topic, that’s what I like about Draw Something. Despite its often frustrating limitations, I like it because it gives me a reason to doodle, which means I get practice at drawing without even trying.
My drawings on Draw Something are often decent for Draw Something (drawing with my finger, limited color selection, limited brush types, etc.), but outside of the context of the game and its limitations they aren’t very good at all. I don’t always put much effort into my drawings for the game. Sometimes almost every picture is junk. But when the whim strikes me to try to actually put in some more effort, it’s there, and even the simple act of making a crappy doodle has a positive effect. I can tell that in the time I’ve been playing it I’ve improved, and I’m happy about that. I have a hunch that the next time I actually want to draw something outside of the game, I won’t be nearly as disappointed as I have been in the past.