Feeding Creativity

Hazel Reynolds, Gamely Games, Mojo Nation 100
Hazel Reynolds, founder of Gamely Games, explores ways to kick-start creativity, including the power of embracing your inner artist…

What does your creativity look like? When do you feel most creative? What helps you have your best ideas? The answers will be different for all of us, but one thing I’ve become convinced of is this… Our creativity is hungry!

I’ve sometimes thought that, as a game maker, the best way I could feed my creativity was to play lots of other games and immerse myself in the world of game shops, players and award-winning titles. And these are all great activities!

But by focusing too narrowly on these things, we risk missing out on creative nutrients that can be gathered elsewhere. It’s like eating only carbohydrates and forgetting the whole world of goodness beyond!

Since setting up Gamely seven years ago, I’ve become increasingly aware of the first two vital ingredients for my creativity:

VARIED INPUT: For me, this means getting lots of interesting things into my brain. From consuming new music, movies, games and books to visiting galleries and exploring the world around me.

SPACE AND TIME: Giving my brain some more restful periods in which to make connections between all the random things I put in. This might be sea swimming, walking or simply a long hot shower!

It’s only in the last two years that I’ve become aware of a powerful third ingredient…

DIVERSE CREATIVE ACTS: Experimenting with creative acts outside making games – drawing, painting or making anything at all – has recently become a shortcut to switching on my best game-making brain!

The idea that all creative acts feed other creative acts is hardly new. We can look back to stories of Albert Einstein feeling stuck with a particularly tricky mathematical or scientific conundrum and playing his violin to activate fresh perspectives and ideas. But discovering the extent of these crossover benefits still feels new to me.

Two years ago, I considered myself to be ‘terrible’ at drawing. In fact, I created Six Second Scribbles specifically because I wanted to play a drawing game that levelled the playing field. With just one minute to draw 10 different things, the challenge becomes less about artistic talent and more about communicating concepts in as few lines as possible. Finally, I’d made a drawing game I could win!

The game has been a hit and I’ve loved hearing how much other people have enjoyed playing it. But by far the best outcome from developing it was realising just how much I actually do love drawing – and how good it is at feeding my creativity!

I’ve started giving myself permission to make bad art, to accept that not everything is going to be perfect and to be playful in my making. And I’m exploring various new forms of creativity – such as life drawing, lino printing and papercutting.

Who knows where all this will lead me? But what I can say with certainty is that starting my game-making days with a quick sketch seems to be a brilliant way to kick-start my creative brain and get lots of ideas flowing. We’re currently on track to release our biggest batch of new games to date next year – including a brand-new drawing game – and our pipeline is brimming with potentials for the future.

However you feel about your creativity, why not spend some time this week feeding it with something new? If you’re stuck for where to start, try out one of the quick creative snacks below. And if there’s something new you’ve always wanted to try, I’d encourage you to dive straight in and feast! Who knows where it’ll take you?!


Try one of these to wake up your creative brain:

FIVE MINUTE BLIND CONTOUR DRAWING: Grab a pen and paper, then pick a random object and don’t take your eyes off it. Slowly follow its edges with your eyes and match the movement with your pen. You can’t look down until it’s finished!

10 MINUTE BLACKOUT POETRY: Find any old page of text and make poetry – simply by scribbling out most of the words, and leaving your chosen few. It doesn’t have to rhyme, or even make sense, it’s all about creating something new!

10 MINUTE RANDOM SCAVENGE: You have five minutes to gather five random objects, then five minutes to find as many connections as you can between them. An ideal primer for invention!

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