Darkened Software

Kids, get into the game industry for the right reasons

by on Aug.18, 2009, under Industry, Lessons

After 10 years I can barely remember why I got into games in the first place, but recently I was reflecting and here is what I remember:

  • Make the coolest games ever
  • Make tons of money in royalties
  • Coding hard core real time algorithms
  • Small amount of fame and great release parties

After the first 2 years of being abused in this industry it is safe to say my original dreams were simple put to rest and new goals were born out of the pain:

  • Work on a game that I would not be embarrassed to send my family.
  • Get paid for the next milestone so we could issue pay checks to the rest of the company at the end of the month.
  • Some day stop cleaning up and optimizing someone else’s crappy code.
  • Not get crucified by meta critic; hope the company stays alive long enough after the game ships to have a release party in a run down bar in the scary part of San Fransisco and not get knifed on the way home.

Not that this industry has not been good to me over all, but for the first decade the dream and the reality are a very long ways apart for 99% of the people.  The reality is only about 10% of the games are making money and even a smaller % of the total publishers and developers are making enough money they can even give out royalties.

The stable companies can roughly be split into 2 types, factory and innovators.   It is not as hard to get into factory company and kick out another sequel that will most likely sell lots of units.  But it is not that rewarding either and people tend to burn out really quickly and want to go work for an innovator company.  It is really hard to get into the innovator companies that will give you some creative input and allow you to do some interesting and rewarding work.  They are taking a ton of risk on their games so they try to minimize risk everywhere else and only hire seasoned pro’s that they know can get the job done.

Luckily after ten years or so in this industry you start looking pretty good to these innovator companies and your original goals can become a reality.  The irony of it all is after 10 years most people have changed enough that those goals no longer apply.

Now if you asked me my goals:

  • Start a successful game company.
  • Be a tech director for a company with a real budget.
  • Lead a programming team on creating the most user friendly engine ever.
  • Create a game with characters so amazing that hot girls around the world are running around in skimpy clothing trying to look like them.


If your thinking about getting into this industry assume that you are majority case you never really reach your goals.  That will force you to get into the game industry for the right day to day reasons.

  • You like programming
  • You like playing and thinking about games
  • You like a constantly changing environment that forces you to learning new things all the time.
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