The Best Job you will ever Hate.

“Don’t come here if you think making games might be fun or cool. Don’t waste your time and money. Only apply if you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else.”

I learned Level Design at the Guildhall at SMU, a Master’s level program that focused on training and practical experience. The same professor who said the above, at the risk of having admissions kill him, also said that working on games was the “best job you’ll ever hate.” It is such an odd thing to say, but it was true. It’s the best job, and sometimes I hate it.

Spending 80 hour work weeks for 2 months only to have it universally panned by critics in addition to getting laid off?

Having to work on games like Imagine <Insert Random Profession Here>?

Knowing something is a terrible idea and having to do it anyway because the Publisher said so?

There is a reason the average burn out for developers is around 8 years. Spending more than 2 years at a single studio is uncommon. The average lifespan of a video game studio is 11 years.

It is common for developers to work 60-80 hours a week near the end of the project, to get it wrapped up and shipped.  The sad thing is, for most independent game studios the sales of the previous game go directly to fund the next one. If the game bombs, the studio could, and likely will, have problems getting deals with publishers to make their next game. For an owned studio, if the game bombs, they will likely be working on a less important title next, which won’t do as well, which starts the vicious cycle towards closure.

The business is about making money, so when a game doesn’t make money, it doesn’t get sequels. Why do some games get endlessly remade with only the smallest of changes? They make money. And as a game developer, you rarely get to just work on games you would love, but rather, because you need a job, so you work on Barbie’s Dream House Interior Decorating to pay the bills.

This video is true. People watch it, laugh and say, it can’t be that hard. It can’t be that bad. Oh but it is.

Breaking into the industry is extremely difficult. Staying in the industry is a feat worthy of Sisyphus. Becoming one of the big names is virtually impossible. You don’t get paid as well as you would in another field. You work twice as hard for half the credit. And the greater internet dickwads blast your game and call it crap without ever having played it. So either everyone in the video game is insane or extremely passionate about what they do, despite the many hardships they have to deal with to make games.

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