A guest article from Steven Savage of 7th Sanctum about an obsession with building generators.
Why Make Generators?
I've been building generators of one kind or another for decades, from simple code to elaborate dances of nested data. I've known other people with similar obsessions, creating tables and charts, websites and programs.
But one thing that rarely comes up is why people like to do this?
Only once you bring it up, you kind of wonder. Why do we do this, and why do some of us get, well, obsessed with it?
It's easy to see why people like generators. They inspire you. They're fun to get surprising results. It's also fun to see strange and odd things that appear that make you laugh - often before you go "hey, but what if . . ."
But why make them? In the interest of encouraging other people - and understanding those of us obsessed with these ideas - here's what I found at least for myself.
The Joy of Discovery
It's fun to make generators that give you and other people new ideas. There's some new combination you never thought of to discover, and your work will continuously surprise you.
Each generator you make, each table, each system will always create something you didn't expect.
It's fun to make generators to help people. To know people are using them is great, but to also hear stories of what they did with the random results is fantastic.
Sometimes it's humbling when a simple thing you made inspires someone to incredible heights.
The Insights of Analysis
Making a generator, from a table to a complex data structure, tells you a lot about how people's minds and language works. Understanding how we think, put data together, and more is fascinating. It's also more than a bit addictive.
The Technical Education
I won't lie, part of the fun of generators is using code, graphics, language, and more because you learn so much.
My work with generators helped me keep up technical skills that may have faded when I moved towards managing software projects.
When you build generators of some kind, you see patterns in language and imagination. These help you understand how language works, how people think, and how you think. It's enlightening - and at times humbling - as you realize how your own mind works by just playing with numbers and code.
More to Explore
So that’s how and why I create generators.
As you can tell, I personally recommend it if you’re like me and love random patterns and procedural creations. There’s so much more to explore in how we turn code and dice into reality via imagination . . .