My Desire To Make Games Full-Time

Making video games is about pouring your soul into something that you can share with the world in an interactive and entertaining way. It’s about making people smile and have some fun, but really it’s more than that. Like a good book, film, painting, or song, it’s about expressing yourself in a way that lets people experience your perspective.  The goal might be to have them on the edge of their seat, to make them laugh, or cry, or to scare the crap out of them. It’s about sharing something about you without “you” being the object of focus. And, of course, it’s about giving people a means to unwind and have fun for a few moments, simply to fantasize and play a little. Game development, to me, is a beautiful endeavor.

 

Lately though, it has become more than just a hobby or even an obsession. It took a long time to finally admit to myself but I believe that I don’t just like making games, I need to make games. It’s woven into my innermost being. By refusing to embrace it fully I’ve only been denying myself and my potential, and I’ve been denying you the experiences that I could share with you. This is all I ever think about these days, literally. Everything I do, everyone I speak to, everything I see… it’s all through a lens of game development. During the day, when I’m at my graphic design job, I’m on auto pilot… eagerly awaiting breaks between customers so I can jot down a few game design notes or a chunk of code I’ve been constructing in my mind. It’s not that I don’t enjoy helping customers create business resources – I really do! It’s just that it’s clear that I’m meant for something else. I can’t sleep at night unless I keep a pen and note pad nearby for the same reason. I can hardly concentrate on anything else at all! I can’t turn my wandering imagination off and I don’t want to.

 

It seems like the only time I can really let it go is when I’m playing with my kids. Thank God for my kids! They are my primary source of encouragement and I love them dearly. They are the catalysts that force me to look within and do something about what I see. I want to give them the best “me” that I can create and to me that can only be the “me” that I dreamed of being when I was their age: the me that made games for a living. They have so much faith in me and look up to me with so much wonder that I can’t bear the thought of disappointing them or myself. I strongly desire to show them that I can realize my dreams so that they will know that they can realize their own dreams.  I don’t know if I want that more or to prove that I can do it to myself more. All I know for sure is that I owe it to all of us to actualize my potential.

 

Passion leads only to frustration when circumstances prevent you actualizing your dreams. I can’t be satisfied with only being able to dedicate a few hours a day to game development anymore. After work and errands have been attended to, my kids have been cared for and tucked in for the night, and dishes have been done, my body and mind are already mostly drained.

 

Yet, still, I suck it up, brew some coffee or tea and do what I can. Usually that’s writing some code or creating content. Some nights it’s leveling up with various books and videos on the subject. I keep trying to find those nights when I can write blog posts like this one, but they rarely come.

 

My resources never seem like enough but I keep at it anyway. I don’t have the proper time, equipment or money, and Fresno is horrible for this kind of work. I can’t find anyone around here who’s serious about making games – I feel like I have to do this all myself.  What I do have is inspiration, passion, talent, creativity and logic… and I’m gaining the skill through experience.

 

What really keeps me going is the thought that if I lay down one brick at a time I can eventually build a wall. But, while that may be true, I can’t help but wonder: how much greater a wall can I make if I could lay down more bricks at a time and how much faster could I build it? But is full-time development even a feasible possibility or is it just an impossible child’s dream? Sometimes it does seem impossible but I know deep down that there must be a way. I need there to be a way.

 

My kids’ needs come first, and always will. I don’t want to ever change that. But I can’t help but feel that my needs are being neglected. I know that it’d be too much of a risk to drop my day job and devote myself to making games all the time. And yet, more and more, that’s exactly what I’ve been feeling compelled to do. I feel like nothing else is going to make me as happy as pouring everything into making games. I desperately need to find a feasible way to turn my passion into a full-on career.

 

So what’s stopping me? I hate to say it, but the resource that’s holding me back the most is money. I hate money! I wish it didn’t exist. People spend their whole lives in pursuit of money and never follow their dreams. I think that’s very sad. Just as sad is the realization that the pursuit of one’s dream is often a literal impossibility without money. We must eat. We need shelter and clothes to wear. Bills must be paid. That’s why I work a day job.

 

*sigh* I don’t know. I guess I’m just feeling really frustrated with my life recently, knowing that I have so much unlocked potential and so much to give, yet being held back in so many ways. I’m thankful that I know what I’m supposed to do in life (so many have no direction at all) but it’s also aggravating to not have a practical way to get there.  It feels almost impossible to actually make the dream real…almost. I haven’t given up and I never will, but often it does feel like trying to type with clinched fists and then forcing myself to stay positive about it.

 

Well, that’s enough personal babble for now.  I guess I just needed to vent and get some of my thoughts sorted out.  You can only race uphill for so long before you need to stop and catch your breath!

 

You know what?  I bet I’m not the only one who feels something like this, so if anything I said here means anything to you…  If you sympathize in any way or just want to let me know that you’re out there and care, I’d really love to hear from you!  If you happen to be a game developer in the Fresno/Clovis area, I’d REALLY love to hear from you.  Looking for fellow game developers out here is like trying to catch Bigfoot.

 

John@LevelXGames.com  |  LinkedIn  |  Twitter  |  Facebook | Google+

 

13 thoughts on “My Desire To Make Games Full-Time
  1. “It may be practical someday… just not today. I think the best path for me right now is to get involved with making games as a day job and keep doing my own games at night. Then I’ll still get to work on games all day, which would satisfy a huge portion of what was on my mind when I wrote this.”

    • I’m doing this now, though my day job does take more time than I had original anticipated. It’s still a great plan, but being the sole game engineer on a large project does make scheduling time for my indie projects difficult.

      Work ethic is important to me, and to my colleagues, which means that I simply can’t justify scheduling time for own endeavors if it ever means neglecting my professional commitments. Striking a reasonable balance is therefore a cautious one.

      With that said, I will be giving this site and my indie projects more attention moving forward. As I gain experience in this line of work, shifting the balance in that direction is becoming more feasible.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Just keep networking, pursuing your passion and working hard every day. It’ll happen.

      Here’s a small update on my progress since when this post was written:

      It wasn’t easy but I managed to land a game development gig in San Francisco. I had many valid excuses not to go but I put those thoughts aside and made ways to make it happen.

      That was exactly what I needed to get my foot in the door.

      During my time in the bay area I found an attended many game development meet-ups and made a lot of valuable contacts. The humorous business cards I made for this purpose made quite an impression http://rubberduckygames.com/mtg-business-cards/

      At one such meet-up, I met the project lead for an amazing opportunity just getting off the ground. At the time I was still 3 months away from release of the game I was currently working on, and I wanted to see that through to completion, so we agreed to talk again at that time.

      I called him the day after release and he mentioned that he had a reminder on his own calendar to contact me the very next day. I landed a contract for this project and have been working from home, on a project I absolutely love, for the last several months.

      My resume is looking better and better all the time and I’m no longer anxious about finding future opportunities in game development.

      When I’m able to do so, I plan move to the Bay Area permanently so that I can be in closer proximity to my new and growing network.

      I’ve been pretty busy with work and have been spending my spare time designing board games and working as a technical reviewer on an up-coming book on game development in Unity.

      I haven’t had much time to dedicate to updating this site and working on my Indie projects lately, but I’m working on that and I’m a happy guy, all things considered. I do plan on giving both of these areas more attention when it makes since to do so.

      Anyway, if there’s one thing that I learned while in San Francisco, it’s that I most certainly was not alone (neither are you).

      It’s tough, but if you work hard, you’re diligent, and make contacts, and follow through with what you say you’re going to, it will happen. It’s a gradual process that you continually feed and stimulate to grow.

      Feel free to email me or leave additional comments on this site if you feel so inclined.

      Take care and best of luck to you,
      John Hutchinson

  2. Doing something you passionately love and live for, is a godsend and like you, I’m happy to have found this essential part of life. To me, it doesn’t even matter if the game sells (although I would love for it to); every single part of game development nourishes my soul, connects me to people with similar interests and helps me feel a part of life, which in other cases, can be so incredibly difficult to do. Without the ability to develop games, I think I’d be a social outcast and rejected by many adults (children always get me!). A world like that would be tragic and lonely.

    • Absolutely right! Everyone benefits when people work really hard and diligently to transform their passion into their career. It results in more imaginative solutions to practical problems, richer products and services, more effective and personal customer care, and a fuller sense of worth and satisfaction for the professional who provides it. It’s not easy but it certainly is worth doing.

  3. I know exactly what you mean, i have been programming for a year or two and lately started a bigger project. This takes ages to complete with the time on hands. I really feel i can get something on the market that many people love but for me it is impossible to go full time developing.

    I am also struggling to find a path to follow my dream but will continue to pursue it till i am there.

    • Thanks for this. It’s good to know there are others like me out there. The good news is that the path does become more clear as you work toward isolating exactly what you hope to achieve through your efforts. I think that’s part of why I wrote this: to figure some of that out.

  4. I have been thinking about this too. Your best bet is build a proto and get kickstarted. It really is possible, even for a single indie. Trick is to build for an unmet desire.

  5. True but I also have to be realistic. It may be practical someday… just not today. I think the best path for me right now is to get involved with making games as a day job and keep doing my own games at night. Then I’ll still get to work on games all day, which would satisfy a huge portion of what was on my mind when I wrote this. Plus, it wouldn’t be at the risk of being completely broke in the process. Ya, that actually sounds like a pretty cool trade-off to me!

    Thanks for your support and vote of confidence. 🙂 Who knows? Maybe I’ll even find a new “home” with like-minded developers at some point. All I know for sure is that I need to keep doing what I love as much as possible. If I keep doing that then the chances of success in the Indie scene will only get better and better.

  6. I feel you man. We all want to live off our passion, live off what we love. It’s only natural. I think the key is to be patient, and be persistent..and to most importantly NOT give up no matter what

    “I know that it’d be too much of a risk to drop my day job and devote myself to making games all the time. And yet, more and more, that’s exactly what I’ve been feeling compelled to do. I feel like nothing else is going to make me as happy as pouring everything into making games.”

    Then maybe this is what you should do. You should always follow what makes you happy. Life is all about sacrifices and risks.

    Try finding a publisher to invest in you, or maybe start a Kickstarter campaign. These are just some ideas, but keep at it, if it’s really what you love then you have to follow that.

    I did and it’s finally starting to pay off. You have to have and keep faith that somehow your dream will work out

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