Even though this is an article about writing fiction, making art and making comics, I’m going to have to start by talking about old computer games for a couple of paragraphs. As usual, there’s a good reason for this.
Although I’ll hopefully post a full review of this game on here at some point in the near future, I started playing an old game from 1992 called “Alone In The Dark” the day before writing this article (mainly since the first three games in the series were on special offer on GoG at the time). I’d heard of it before and, at one point, I think that I’d even tried to find a demo of it but I didn’t really know a huge amount about it.
As soon as I started playing this game, I just felt “at home”. There’s no other way to really describe it.
Somewhere between the cartoonish graphics, the Lovecraftian melodrama, the game’s dark sense of humour (eg: you block a window with a cabinet to prevent a monster jumping through it, only for a trapdoor to slowly creak open behind you…), the hilariously theatrical voice-acting, the vintage fashions, the adorable monsters, the peaceful sense of solitude, the indoor exploration etc… I instantly felt like this game had been made specifically for me.
I haven’t had experiences like this very often, but they’re always astonishing when they happen. Usually it takes time for something to acquire a “makes me feel at home when I watch/read/play it” feeling. It doesn’t usually happen instantly.
But, how can you create things that instantly evoke these experiences in others? Well, the first thing to remember is that everyone is different, so there’s no “one size fits all” rule for how to do this. Likewise, you’ll probably only be able to evoke this feeling in a small portion of your audience.
But how do you do that?
Simple, you make something that you love. You make something that is inspired by all of the things that fascinate you. You make the kind of project that makes you feel totally “at home” when you’re making it.
So, why will this make other people feel “at home” too? Simple, it’s because you’ll make something different and unique. Even if you make something that has been inspired by all of your favourite things, you’ll still end up with something new and unique. Why? Because not only will you have a unique mixture of influences but, without knowing it, you’ll probably put your own “spin” on whatever you create too.
In other words, you’ll create something that isn’t really mainstream. You’ll create something that is a bit different to everything popular.
Generally, when people experience the “instantly at home” feeling after watching, reading or playing something for the first time, it’s because they often don’t feel “at home” in mainstream culture. They don’t see their sense of humour reflected in popular things, they don’t see their aesthetic sensibilities reflected in popular culture etc…
If you create something that is uniquely yours, then it’ll be different. This will also increase the chances of people with similar tastes to you suddenly feeling “at home” when they see or read what you’ve made.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂