GAME DEVELOPERS THAT DON'T... LIKE MAKING GAMES...?

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If you knew me in real life, I'm a blazingly passionate guy when it comes to game making. I would gush for hours on end about ideas that could be shoved into a game. The idea of creating games excites me to no end. Which is why some recent events really confused me.

School has a mandatory internship module, so I've been interning at an indie game studio for about 2 months now. I thought I would be having a ball of a time, I've been waiting for this moment my whole life. But I've never felt so out of place.

During lunch breaks trying to chat with people I came to realize nobody here really likes making games. So far what I've heard from them is 'It's just a job'. The games they're making doesn't seem to be built on ideas they think are fun, but ideas they think that work out so far and they're tacking it on. No one here really discusses the game or has remotely any hype about it.

I'm in a perpetual state of disbelief. Games are such a fun medium, I didn't think anyone who got into the industry and stayed there would continue thinking 'it's just a job'. But now I know people like this do exist.

I know it's probably unprofessional to gripe about a job I'm being paid for but it's... it's a big culture shock to me. From being around RMN and other sites, I expected the world out there to be 'This game is great!' and 'Let's work together to make this!' I know that probably I wouldn't always meet people who are as passionate, who wouldn't spazz over E3 uncontrollably like I would, but I didn't expect apathy towards it. Maybe my hopes were set wayyy too high.

What do you guys think about the thought of a portion of the game industry just in it for the lucrative market over the enjoyment of making something exciting?
My best friend once warned me 'If you make something you love your job, you will come to hate the thing you love' and I fear that. Do you think out there, it's true?

Man. Jobs are scary.
It's fun when the work represents what a person believes in; it's not fun when it doesn't. If they can't believe in the content of the work, they might be distancing themselves from it by outright stating that it's not what they want. In effect, they're not only telling you, but telling themselves, that this isn't something they can spiritually invest themselves in.

They might have student loans to pay off, families, eyes on a 401K retirement plan, no other trade skills. So they don't leave. But they're not dead inside. There's just no connection between making a video game and artistic expression for some people.
Well, the industry is big.
And as you might have noticed, the state of some parts is different from others. Thinking of AAA publishers, most developers are not allowed to make the games they really want, or want to be working on. To continue in such an environment, apathy towards it will be rather helpful, as opposed to wanting to do great stuff - and than having to work on standard trash that is supposed to sell better. (which .. I'll stop here, yeah)

Of course, there is also a reason many developers simply quit and then try to go the indie route (thinking of many kickstarters) - they love expressing themselves in games and want to see great games in the world. There will be just as passionate people as you in the industry. Depending on where you are and what you are trying to do.

Also, as passion and enjoyment goes .. it is much more about your attitude towards it than anything else! Many people who love their jobs did not start out liking them, but got to love them.
Your best friend is not wrong, certainly. There are some possible traps - but there is no reason to believe you cannot keep your passion and love.
It can end up being true, or it can end up being wrong.

Thing is, most people, when they think of making their love, passion, or hobby into a job, they think it will be just the same as what they are doing now, just that they get paid for it. Many do not do their research, simple as that.
Of course, there will be parts of the job you do not like. Any job will have parts you do not like - but because of their love, many expect to love "everything" and then end up disappointed discovering this rule applies to their love as well!

There are reviewers as well who hate playing through so many of the games, but still retain their love and passion for videogames in general.

What will be important for you is to realize where you will need to accept hard work and even annoying and frustrating experiences as part of your job. And still keep a healthy attitude towards the portions you do enjoy and you do love.
Keep that passion.
There is a different working attitude when you feel you "have" to do something, which makes it end up less fun.
However, when you realize you are feeling that way, you can take a step back, give yourself a breather, spend some of your free time just making and playing games in a fun environment, and you should be fine. This is something you can work with.

Zachary has a very good point there. People work for different reasons, and make games for different reasons. They all have their purpose.
unity
You're magical to me.
11142
author=Nivlacart
What do you guys think about the thought of a portion of the game industry just in it for the lucrative market over the enjoyment of making something exciting?
My best friend once warned me 'If you make something you love your job, you will come to hate the thing you love' and I fear that. Do you think out there, it's true?

Man. Jobs are scary.


Personally, I don't think having to do game work all day would kill my passion for it, as I already pour tons of hours into it. I think it's the corporate environment. From what I've heard, it's long hours for mediocre pay and not much recognition.

That, and I've found the source of my motivation is somewhat selfish. I want to have a say in the direction the final game goes. If I don't, I find that my motivation is greatly diminished. So I don't know how well I'd do in that position, but I like to hope that I wouldn't completely lose my excitement over it all ^^;;

I hope work doesn't make you lose your passion like your coworkers have. I like to think that, no matter the environment, passion can thrive if you keep it alive within you. I've been known to be overly optimistic and to have my head in the clouds, though, but I'd like to believe that at least ^^;;
I think a large part of it is that they have no control over what game they are making. If you were forced to make a game you didn't like over and over, you'd probably feel the same. That's apparently how a lot of companies operate, sadly. You'll just have to get lucky and find one that doesn't. Or start your own, if you're really brave.
I've always told people that if you want to enjoy making games, never work in the industry. Enter it yourself as an indie.
Sooz
why do they call it an oven when you of in the cold food of out hot eat the food?
4225
author=Nivlacart
What do you guys think about the thought of a portion of the game industry just in it for the lucrative market over the enjoyment of making something exciting?


With the explosion of marketing opportunities for indie games, it's no surprise there's people who are apparently just in it for the cash. In a lot of business, it's considered better to think of your product as a means to an end, rather than be into it for the love of it, since the latter can lead to getting emotionally overinvested in something that might need to be sacrificed.

My best friend once warned me 'If you make something you love your job, you will come to hate the thing you love' and I fear that. Do you think out there, it's true?

Man. Jobs are scary.


Not really; it depends what you love about the thing you love. For example, I am super happy working freelance art, because I really like being given a set of limitations and working within them to make something someone else likes. Other artists might not like that so much, because it limits their creative freedom.

The secret is more to love the job itself- if you enjoy working in the environment, it doesn't matter so much whether you're passionate about the product. (In fact, passion can lead to problems, if you allow it to mess up your ability to compromise or work with others!)
slash
I didn't want to wake up 40 years old and working a job that I hate.
3891
author=Nivlacart
I know it's probably unprofessional to gripe about a job I'm being paid for but it's... it's a big culture shock to me. From being around RMN and other sites, I expected the world out there to be 'This game is great!' and 'Let's work together to make this!' I know that probably I wouldn't always meet people who are as passionate, who wouldn't spazz over E3 uncontrollably like I would, but I didn't expect apathy towards it. Maybe my hopes were set wayyy too high.

It seems silly to me to work in games as a full-time job if you don't love it. The skills you need to make games are desired in a lot of other industries and nearly all of them pay better than game dev. But, I could see people making startups to try and get-rich-quick with Farmville or Minecraft clones.

There's always going to be work involved in gamedev. Maybe your co-workers are realizing that it's not what they thought it would be, or that having their dream job doesn't make up for the stress and low pay of the industry.

I definitely don't think I'd ever find a place in any sort of big team or mainstream game dev company. I've had a good time working on teams of 6 or so, but anything more and you have to take a more organized approached, and there's less humanity and fun and loose passion involved, which is part of what I love.

author=Nivlacart
My best friend once warned me 'If you make something you love your job, you will come to hate the thing you love' and I fear that. Do you think out there, it's true?

The thing is, gamedev, like a lot of hobbies, is already a ton of work. If you want to finish a game, you're almost definitely gonna have to slog through some miserable work sessions (for example, I dread UI coding). So you gotta approach it with discipline, and treat it like a second job in some aspects. But I would way rather spent 9-5 making games than working at McDonald's or doing my current job, if I thought it could still pay the bills.

Once in a while I get afraid I'll fall out of love with gamedev, too, but I can't see that far in the future, so I try not to worry about it too much. For now, just keep on makin' games :) Good luck!
author=Nivlacart
What do you guys think about the thought of a portion of the game industry just in it for the lucrative market over the enjoyment of making something exciting?

I'd be willing to say that a majority of the professional game design industry has that kind of attitude. Pretty much every major publisher except for Nintendo, Atlus, NIS, and a few others just pump out whatever they think will sell. Just look at EA, Activision, and Ubisoft. Although Ubisoft isn't actually making functional games anymore.

Smaller companies tend to be a little more creative, although they're all starting to fall into the "confuse-retro-with-a-pixellated-mess" or "make-it-look-like-Minecraft" rut. The gaming industry is as profitable as ever with micro-transactions, premium items, pre-order bonuses, having to pay to be a beta tester, etc. that people are getting into it as a paying job, as opposed to twenty years ago where people thought you were either insane or a huge nerd to take a job in the gaming industry.

I don't think the people you're working with ever "loved" the idea of game design. I think they saw computer programming as a profitable degree, and picked the least soul-crushing thing they could for a job related to it. It's like the joke about dentists: You walk into a dentist's convention, and everybody there just looks grumpy or pissed off. You find one smiling guy and ask him why everybody looks so upset. He replies with "These guys went to school and took the job just for the money. I actually like teeth". It's not super funny, but it really drives home the point of why you shouldn't do something just for the money.

I'm in a similar position as you but with Psychology. A lot of people around me just want the money that will come with our doctorates in a few years, but I'm in it because I enjoy observing the insanity going on around me.
Hahahaha I like how the general consensus is kinda like
'if they're here for the money they probably won't make anything that great' XD
JosephSeraph
奇跡なゲイパワー♡
7121
As an English Teacher, I've experienced the same sort of apathy coming from literally every. single. language teacher with over 2 years of experience I've come to work with. It's a curious fact indeed. My best friend, who's a webdesign and math teacher, is totally the opposite, with 15 years of experience on her shoulders and completely enthusiastic about every single new class and student. go figure.


I love teaching but dropped out of it in favour of pursing true creative expression / freedom and due to the terrible corporate environment which prevented me from truly providing knowledge and instead just forced me to provide cheap ass entertainment.
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
10378
author=JosephSeraph
My best friend, who's a webdesign and math teacher, is totally the opposite, with 15 years of experience on her shoulders and completely enthusiastic about every single new class and student. go figure.


This is what you gotta realize. Going along with what Kylaila said also, is that there are people who are simply passionate about their job, and those who aren't. This goes for any profession, although I'm not surprised that you're shocked that it happens in the game dev scene, because it's supposed to be something that you enter only if it's a "labour of love", as they say. I guess I was as shocked to hear it, too.
If your work is about making game then it's not unusual that you'll have something else as a hobby.
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
10378
author=Mysticphoenix
If your work is about making game then it's not unusual that you'll have something else as a hobby.

Well that's the thing we're discussing. The idea is that game development is one of those careers you usually get into because you're extremely interested in, not because you want to make money. Maybe people don't realize that the money isn't very big in game dev, generally, and that people who are actually good at programming would make a killing if they went into software. It's actually a lot easier, too. Even going indie with software requires much more skill, time and innovation to create, than joining an existing company and doing bugfixes.
Sated
puking up frothing vitriolic sarcastic spittle
4064
I think that a lot of people are naive and have a romanticised notion of game development being somehow different to any other industry where things are manufactured. Fact of the matter is that if you're working for even a moderately-sized company then you're not going to be the one making the decisions. You're going to be making use of your specific talents to create a small part of something that fits together with all the other parts produced by the team you're working with, all to bring about a game-vision that probably isn't going to be based on your own decision-making or personal tastes.

The trick is not to be focused on the big picture; if you're going to enjoy a job in game development then you damn well better enjoy doing whatever your "specific talent" is without worrying about the end product too much... or hope you luck out and work with cool people, because I think that who you work with ultimately has more of an influence on how good a job is than the in-depth specifics of what you do.
Look: I'm a salesman. It's my trade. A video game is a product, to be built and manufactured and then marketed and sold by somebody with a job similar to mine.

Imagine a car mirror factory; Everyone makes a part. One guy might make the plastic shell, another polish and cut the glass, another to wire in a power joint, and another to screw in some bolts. That's what a game developer is: Another part of the machine just building something to be used.

Only "Indie" games are the old hand made style of video games. You can play a indie game and truly say "This is a 'John Smith's game' or say "This is a Adam Plonski" game. But once you get to the triple AAA crowd? People are just parts of a machine, doing their part. Mind you, it is a lot better then working in a car factory, in many ways, but it's a factory of a different sense.

Go read up on why shovelware is made: It sheds some light on the issue very clearly.
Most people in the industry don't simply make games. They just make small parts, like you have people doing only concept art, only making graphics assets, only recording sound effects, only composing music, only testing gameplay etc. These people don't get to decide on what's in the game, they just do what they're told to.

If it's something you do 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, chances are you get bored of it at some point.
Sooz
why do they call it an oven when you of in the cold food of out hot eat the food?
4225
author=Nivlacart
Hahahaha I like how the general consensus is kinda like
'if they're here for the money they probably won't make anything that great' XD


I don't think it's that surprising; making an amazing game isn't their priority. Conversely, if you're here to make great games, you're probably not going to be getting a lot of money, simply because what's great and what's profitable/easily marketable are very often at odds.
To compare it to my area of work, there are a lot of ESL teachers here who come here purely for the money, and don't care. They don't make good teachers, obviously, they just worry about getting to the end of their contract and not getting screwed out of a paycheck. The same falls on some schools here, since they just want to cram as many students in class as possible, and make the parents happy so they keep paying. These would both be the equivalent of 'I'm in this industry for the money, not for the games'. I'm sure it happens in every industry, its just more apparent the quality difference in teaching/game design, since they do require a bit more care than just making cars, but I guarantee all jobs where they only approach it with 'more money, don't care otherwise' also suffer in customer satisfaction.

Of course, you also have the people who came in caring, and the industry just ground them to the point that they're numb. Teachers who came to Korea thinking they're going to teach and be amazing...and have the school owner tell them they couldn't care one bit if the students learn, just keep them in class for an hour and keep them happy. Don't you dare challenge them, because then mommy complains. Same would go for game designers, why did you make that piece of art game? It barely sold! Make shooter clone#417. Again, I'm sure similar industries (animation, movies, etc) have similar stories.

Having worked at a small studio for 3 years I could tell you that most people there were interested in games. If they weren't, they wouldn't be working at a game studio. Game developers are overworked and underpaid.

That said, you're not going to be passionate about every project you work on. Most of the games I worked on were games I would never play myself but were 3rd party contracts we had to fulfill to keep in business to make the games we WANTED to make. I worked on some really shitty mobile games for EA and Zynga that I wouldn't recommend anyone play.

Unfortunately, things went south at that studio once we tried to enter the freemium market. After people start getting laid off, a few of them stayed in the industry while others went to work in less insane ones. Since I got laid off, I've become an indie developer and freelancer and I'm much happier for it.
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