Why You Should Never Become A Game Developer
In the land of ones and zeros, many aspiring creatives set their eyes on the video game industry. It’s a realm where art meets technology, imagination fuels innovation, and yes, the potential to strike it rich is not too shabby either.
Making games seems like the ultimate dream job, especially when you think about working on the next “Fortnite” or “Minecraft.” You get to bring worlds to life, create memorable characters, and even get your name in those fancy end credits. Pretty spectacular, right?
Hmm… perhaps not.
You see, there’s a dark side to game development that isn’t often mentioned. And because I love ya, I’m going to give you the inside scoop.
11 reasons why you shouldn’t become a game developer
1. The nights are long and the days are longer
Imagine that your friends are out enjoying a beautiful Saturday, but you’re hunched over your desk with your face glowing in the artificial light of your monitor. That deadline won’t meet itself, you know!
The video game industry is notorious for its grueling hours, commonly referred to as “crunch time.” While you might’ve fantasized about level designs and boss fights, the reality often includes 80-hour work weeks (possibly more as you creep closer to launch date).
2. Goodbye, job security
Are you a fan of roller coasters? Because the video game industry’s employment scene is like a theme park of unpredictability. One moment, your game is the darling of E3; the next, your company is downsizing and you’re shown the exit.
Projects get canceled, studios shut down, and the phrase “stable job” becomes as elusive as an Easter egg in a vast open-world game.
3. No creative freedom
Think you’re going to be the next Hideo Kojima or Shigeru Miyamoto? Reality check! In many large studios, individual creativity takes a backseat to corporate goals. You’ll likely find yourself working on “Safe Bet 7: The Sequel” rather than your innovative game that melds philosophy with high-octane racing.
There’s a hierarchy, and as the newbie, you’re at the bottom. So your ideas might just end up in the virtual trash bin.
4. The money isn’t what you think it is
“Get rich making games!” It’s a phrase that would make a great tagline for a late-night infomercial. The truth is far less shiny.
Entry-level salaries can be disappointingly low, and even if you climb the ladder, you might find that the pot of gold at the end is more like a small treasure chest. Sure, the execs and top designers make bank, but the average developer? Not so much.
5. The gamer community can be… unpleasant
Ah, gamers—the folks you’re creating content for. While many are wonderful, passionate people, there’s also a subset that’s, shall we say, less than grateful.
Get ready for intense scrutiny, online trolls, and criticisms that range from constructive to downright cruel. The relationship between gamers and developers can sometimes resemble a love-hate soap opera, only with more pixelated violence.
6. Arrr, beware of the pirates!
No, I’m not talking about Captain Hook or Blackbeard. I’m talking about digital pirates who can make the treacherous seas of game development even stormier for independent developers.
You’ve poured your heart and soul into your game, spending long hours coding, designing, and bug-fixing. Just when you think it’s smooth sailing ahead, you find pirated copies of your game being distributed for free. Ouch!
For independent developers operating on tight budgets, piracy can deal a devastating blow to revenues and potentially sink future projects.
7. Keeping up with technology
Got the latest graphics engine? Cool! But remember, technology is advancing at the speed of light, and you might just find yourself constantly playing catch-up.
If you’re an indie developer, staying abreast of the latest tech can be a costly endeavor. Even in larger companies, the rush to implement the latest and greatest can lead to a mountain of bugs and technical issues.
If you’re not a fan of perpetual learning and troubleshooting, this industry might not be your cup of pixelated tea.
8. Personal life? What personal life?
Let’s talk about something you may have forgotten existed: your personal life. Between the insane work hours, professional instability, and the constant need to stay ahead of the technological curve, what’s left?
If you have a family, friends, or even a pet goldfish, they’re going to miss you. A lot. When work takes up such a colossal chunk of your time, maintaining a healthy work-life balance becomes a quest more challenging than defeating the final boss in a dungeon crawler.
9. Debugging: the never-ending quest for the perfect game
Imagine you’ve created a masterpiece—a virtual world so immersive that players will lose themselves in it. Except, wait! Your main character keeps falling through the floor, and the villain is stuck in a wall.
Enter the realm of debugging, a task as enjoyable as eating a bowl of nails. You’ll spend countless hours hunting down pesky bugs, from those that are laughably absurd to those that are game-breaking.
For every magical moment of game creation, there’s an equally draining time spent debugging, turning the thrill of development into a slog.
10. Lack of equity
You’re giving your all to a game that could become the next cultural phenomenon. It’s looking good, it plays well, and it could make millions. Awesome, right? But unless you’re one of the bigwigs at the company, you probably won’t see a share of those millions.
You’ve put in the sweat, the tears, and the overtime, but the financial gains largely go to those who hold equity in the company. In simpler terms, you’re helping build a mansion that you’ll never own. You’ll get your paycheck, but the chance of getting a slice of the big money pie is slimmer than a pixel.
11. The toll on your mental health
So you think you’re mentally invincible, huh? Even the mightiest warriors face burnout, stress, and anxiety—especially in the high-stakes world of game development.
The relentless deadlines, public scrutiny, and work-life imbalance don’t exactly make for a Zen garden of inner peace. Over time, these factors can accumulate like an invisible weight on your shoulders, affecting not just your job performance, but your overall well-being.
The industry has a growing reputation for causing mental health issues among its soldiers in the coding trenches. If self-care is high on your priority list, this line of work might have you pausing to think twice.
If you’re still standing, joystick in hand, ready to march into the realm of game development—then kudos to you! You’re clearly made of the kind of grit that might just see you through.
But for those teetering on the edge, unsure whether to make the plunge, perhaps these cautionary points have provided some food for thought.
Either way, it’s always better to know what you’re up against in this choose-your-own-adventure career. Choose wisely, player one.