Carefully Consider Changing Hobby Into Job
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
Game Development is something very specific. It's not reserved for everyone. Loving games doesn't directly mean you'll be good at making them. With today's tools it's much easier to make games. More and more hobbyists are taking this opportunity for a spin. For those of you who feel destined to turn your hobby into a real job; I would like to point out some challenges you might come across on your journey.
Persistent Developers 'Glasses'
When you consider becoming a developer, you are going to develop a certain type of hypothetical 'developers glasses'. This means you'll be able to recognize the structure of games and how they are constructed. This sounds great at first, but it will soon transform you in an extremely critical judge, and these glasses will make it harder to swap back to your 'consumer glasses'. I won't say you will not enjoy games anymore, but pleasing yourself with what once was your hobby gets harder.
Maybe this is best compared to a 'magic trick'. When you see the magician perform the illusion on stage, you are astonished about the outcome and confused by how this magic is possible. If a magician would reveal his secrets to you and show you how it's done, the 'magic' will be gone.
The Dark Side Of Your Hobby
Not only will you ruin your enjoyment when you play games, you will also discover a whole other side of your hobby; the side I like to refer to as The Dark Side. When something becomes your job, it will consist of parts you don't like. Most likely you do not know these parts yet, the dark side is different for every developer. This is the part that will make you hate games at certain moments.
For me, the dark side means that I don't always enjoy certain parts of development, annoying bug parts or doing redesigns, because the level didn't work out for the 10th time. After the 10th time it will become annoying.
You Are A Cowboy Of The Game Industry Wasteland
When hunting for a job in the game developing field - it's still pretty much a guess if you will be able to get a job. At this moment I think a lot of developers are flooding the market and job offers are hard to find. Even if you would find a job opening, it will most likely not be what you are looking for. But; you can always create a job opportunity that suits your tastes by starting a company yourself.
It all comes down on the uncertainty that comes with making a living out of this hobby. Finding your way in game development doesn't pair directly with an established income. It's not yet stable, uncertain and you do not know exactly what the future holds in store for you.
Let's Go Indie!
Doing everything yourself isn't as great as it sounds. It feels great to have matters in your own hands, but it also brings a lot of stress. Besides game development you will need to transform yourself into a business minded guy! It doesn't automatically come with the 'job'; It comes with becoming independent.
When a bird leaves the nest, it has to take all responsibilities for himself. Food isn't brought to him by the mother any longer, he has to find food himself now.
Total Playtime Drastically Drops
It's very important to keep playing games. Especially the games you compete with. The problem is that game development will consume a lot of your precious time, and you will notice you won't play as much than before. Simply because development does not always allow you to do so. Because making games is your great passion, a lot of 'excitement' is harvested from development. Whereas playing games as a hobby was generating this excitement from engaging gameplay. I found this was one of the main reasons that my playtime dropped.
Not to forget that sometimes you do 'play' games, but in a sense of research rather than relaxation. You can clearly notice a difference. If you cannot distinguish these two ways of play anymore, you'll eventually end up confused when gaming, or everything will become part of job related research.
You will not lose playing video games as a hobby. The more you know about games, the more critical your opinion and experience with games will be. Doing something you 'like' for a living can make life so much more fun. No one wants to feel miserable working 5 days a week doing a shitty job. You have to think twice about creating a job from something you really love to do. The problem is that you 'know' what you love, you just don't know what you hate about it yet. Discovering this could feel very strange.
I don't have any regrets, however I only need to find a new hobby now ;)
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