Discover more from Dancing Monkeys
What I Do
I’m Shahid Kamal Ahmad. I’ve been making video games, or helping other people make them, since 1982. I have been and still am a developer, and in my case, that means I write code. I started my career that way, and it’s what I’m doing today, amongst other things.
Along the way, I have been a publisher and a founder of three companies, two of which failed, which is supposedly a good thing. I spent a decade at PlayStation, where I started and led the Strategic Content department, which massively increased engagement and backing of independent video game developers. If this means nothing to you, don’t worry, I’ll go into this in future posts.
There are many other strings to my bow, like coaching, mentoring, podcasting and more, and if you stay, I’ll show you how the bow was built, and how the strings were tuned.
While I have a lot to thank Twitter for, it is not the place for longer, nuanced discussion. It certainly isn’t the place for context, which makes it increasingly volatile. So I decided to start a newsletter, because it would be a waste if I didn’t share what I’ve learned, so that you can avoid my most egregious mistakes.
How You Can Support My Writing
Eventually, there will be a paid subscription plan, where I will go behind the scenes on my projects and activities, but there will always be a free option. If you would like to support my writing activity, there will be a way for you to do that in the future, and I’ll keep you posted.
Why “Dancing Monkeys”?
In 1982, there wasn’t really a video games industry in the UK. There was an emerging “cottage industry”, but nobody back then was talking about a “career” in the “video games industry”. So when I discovered programming, and realised that programming was how you could create video games, I stopped studying at school and threw myself, perhaps heedlessly, certainly impulsively into learning everything I could about computing.
When my father (who passed on decades ago) learned of my zeal from my mother, he responded, in Punjabi, with “He’s just making monkeys dance on a screen”. I loved my father dearly, and he went on to be supportive, but I guess my whole working life has in some way, been about proving him wrong. At first, this was with the rebelliousness of a teenager. Later, it was to earn his admiration. Now? Well, I’ve decided to own the term.
"Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch, and a kick, just a kick.
After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick, no longer a kick.
Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick."
— Bruce Lee
Before I learned programming, I was just making monkeys dance on a screen. After I learned programming, I was no longer just making monkeys dance on a screen. Now that I understand programming, I am just making monkeys dance on a screen.