Are you an imposter?
“I’m no good at this,” you say. “There are so many other designers who are better than me. What right do I have trying to compete with them?”
We’ve all been there before. Myself included.
We are constantly questioning our own ability, especially when it comes to a creative pursuit. There will always be people who are better than you (although “better” is very subjective), but we also have to keep in mind that some people have just put in a lot more time and are therefore more experienced. They may make it look easy, but they can still struggle, just like you and me.
You’re not alone
These more experienced creators went through all the same challenges and self-doubts that you are feeling, and many continue to struggle with them throughout their career. Over time though, the successful ones have put processes in place to make things a little bit easier on themselves.
They developed good habits. They continue to think up new ideas, work hard, and produce consistently. This consistency and hard work ethic are at the heart of the most successful people.
It could be the habit of starting work at the exact same time each day. They could be holding themselves accountable to work on their game designs each and every day.
It’s easy to get distracted by social media, constant notifications, and everything happening around you. It’s the people that can step away from these distractions, focus on the task at hand, and deliver consistently who will get ahead. This is especially true in a creative field like boardgame design, where you constantly have to be coming up with new ideas, identifying problems, testing solutions, and repeating this over and over.
It’s very common to feel like you’re not as good as others or to question your own abilities. It doesn’t just happen in game design, but in all sorts of creative endeavors, as well as in the business world. Maybe you advance to a position or get hired on to do something you’re not sure you’re fully capable of managing. This is perfectly normal.
This is what is commonly referred to as “imposter syndrome”. You feel like you just don’t measure up, and maybe even that you’re a fraud.
Always be learning
There’s always a learning curve. There are always things you can do better. But this is all the process of improving yourself and becoming more confident in what you do.
Don’t let this hold you back. There will always be times that you second-guess yourself. You will always question whether you can do something better.
Don’t aim for perfection. Aim for constant improvement. Know that the devil on your shoulder will always try to keep you down. Keep working away at it anyway. If you give up now, you never know what you might have accomplished.
Even so-called experts may sometimes think of themselves as a fraud or imposter. Just knowing this should help give you the extra encouragement to push through.
What have your experiences been with imposter syndrome? What do you do to overcome this?
Hey Joe. This is a good subject to address every so often. After being a designer for a couple years I seem to cycle into these feelings in between play tests. A good play test with new players seems to shake it when I see how much fun people are having with my latest game. Otherwise articles like these or support from my wife helps me to keep perspective. Thanks!
Hey, Ryan! Absolutely. These are feelings we often need to address and move past so that we can keep making great games.
Not knowing enough. Just when I think I have enough knowledge, I see an article from you or Gabe Barrett with his Monday the gathering post or the 2023 virtual summit you hosted…that was an eye opener for sure. I am confident in my design and theme, I can say it is niche and the mechanics I feel strongly about. So self publishing my first game it feels like such a mountain to climb. But I keep going, all I know to do and keep learning along the way. If you want it bad enough and sacrifice for your game…I’m still along way from launch but my game is more solid every week and I can look to that as progress.
Hey, Chris! Quite often it’s all about perseverance. Get knocked down 10 times, get up 11 times. Of course, you have to put in the work, listen to playtester feedback, and keep improving your game to make it the best it can be. But we also have to acknowledge and move past those imposter feelings.