The Trouble With Doing What You Love As A Career
For as long as I can remember I wanted to learn how to build my own games. While I read a lot of books about the industry, I still couldn’t tell if it was suited to me. I use to think that if you chose your career based on what you enjoyed then working each day wouldn’t feel like a strain. I was wrong and found out the hard way that building games professionally isn’t as fun as doing it for yourself. Sometimes trying to do something professionally can actually ruin your enjoyment of an activity. After getting a game development job it didn’t take long for me to realize that I no longer wanted to go down this route. Now I’m happy to say that game development is something that I do as a hobby. I may try to release a few things along the way and if they do well then great, but most importantly I just want to build games that I care about. As far as I’m concerned I’m still a game developer, I’ve just chosen to go about it in my own way.
While I attended an excellent game development course, I think many courses can be misleading and don’t really reflect what it is like to work professionally. When I look at the brochures what I see looks more like what game development is as a hobby – people making what they like with big cheery grins on their faces. Upon getting a job afterwards many of those people will find themselves with very little control over the final game.
I think for a while I got caught up in the whole wild goose chase of trying to get the perfect career and skill set. As the people around you make leaps within their own careers you often feel like you have to compete. I tend to feel like a failure in the presence of career minded people. One friend told me that she just wanted to be able to see her name on the credits of a major game title, but that sort of thing holds no value to me. What matters to me is the creative pursuit that leads to the finished product. There are many Indie games out there that never become major titles, but can often be more enjoyable – to develop and play.
I realized that I wouldn’t be happy doing a job that’s stressful with long days. I’d like to have the energy and time left over to work on my own things – ideally I’ll one day find a way to make a living from my own creativity. Different people value different things. To some people getting to the top of a certain career is important and that’s great for them, but not everybody has to or should go down this route. Some people are also happy working in the games industry, but I suggest doing a lot of research before plunging into it. I don’t regret trying it though because otherwise I would always wonder what if.
I was talking to a guy a while back who was really talented with music. I asked him if he was aiming to get a career in this area to which he responded, ‘no, I think that would ruin it for me.’