A LITTLE ABOUT THE BUSINESS
A lot of folks seem to have the wrong image of game development. I can’t tell you how many times, after mentioning that I work in video games, someone has asked, “Oh, so you get to play games all day?”
I’ve given up trying to explain it. Mostly I just laugh uncomfortably and change the subject. But misconceptions like that are one of the reasons why I wrote this book. I want aspiring developers to have some sound, basic guidance at the start of their career journey.
Since we’re not chatting at a backyard barbecue, here’s what I used to say in response to that question:
“As you’re building a game, you repeatedly play it to test the changes that you’re making. But that’s nothing like sitting down with a few friends for a marathon session of your favorite game. If you approach game development thinking you’re going to end up with a job that’s basically the same as your favorite hobby, you’ll end up disappointed or fired. Or both.”
Then I’d usually drop my hot dog like it was a microphone and walk away like a boss.
Before moving on, let’s set the record straight on some of the fundamentals:
Game development is highly technical work: Your success depends on how comfortable you are learning and working with technology. This might seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve met plenty of people who feel like it’s enough to love games and have a “big idea.”
Game development is software development: Making games is similar to other kinds of software development. The process follows predictable patterns that are driven by the product’s engineering needs. You’ll need to learn those patterns and be comfortable working within them.
Game development is not just a job for “kids”: Professional game projects often cost tens, or even hundreds, of millions of dollars and can require years of effort. The most productive game developers are often established professionals who have been in the business for a long time. At the professional level, it’s a real job, with big responsibilities and pressures, but with big benefits and paychecks as well.
Game development is highly competitive: Millions of people around the world love games, and every day more and more make the choice to try their hand at creating their own. It’s a tough, competitive business, but it can also be a thrilling and satisfying career.
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