Why Not to Be a Game Developer
On every game studio community forum, you see postings like “How to Break in to the Industry”, “How do I get your job?”, etc. It’s just assumed that every gamer’s ultimate lifelong fantasy is to have a full-time job making games.
Here I’m going to argue the opposite: You might want to avoid the game industry completely.
Advantages to working in game development over business software
- Cooler: You can say I’m working on game XYZ, and people instantly know what you are talking about and you get cool points right away. You are also far above business programmers on the dating food chain. Women won’t be throwing themselves at you, but at least you have a fighting chance.
Advantages to working in business software over game development
- More stability: Government and health care are probably the most rock stable fields above private industry. But within private industry, which does experience waves of layoffs, game development is still one of the riskier fields to work in. Some devs have had great fortune and a great experience, but most of the stories that I hear are far worse.
- More pay
- Happier Work Environment: The happy companies to work at are the successful shooting stars or at least the stable happy clams. The real nightmares are working at the companies with lots of unrealistic fantasies, failing projects, missed expectations, and shattered dreams. Every industry has a good mix of those, but the business industry has a better ratio.
- More Engaging Work: This is very counter-intuitive. When people think of games programming, they think of writing fancy graphics engines or AI algorithms or tuning game logic. When people think of business software, they think of some indescribably bland sleep-inducing data processing app. In reality, most of the day to day tasks in game development is the exact same kind of obscure crap work that you would get anywhere else. The big difference is that in the more lucrative industries, workers can get more leverage that allows them to work in the areas that interest them.
There are tons of layoffs in the software industry and the games industry in particular. Sympathies and best wishes to all involved.