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“When I grow up, I want to be a Videogames Creator”
That’s how Diego (11) presented his homework to his Fourth Grade classmates last year.
When he told me about his presentation, it wasn’t that much of a surprise for me. I felt a nice blend of pride and satisfaction and I got some flashbacks from my own childhood. I also thought a bit on Diego’s early years, and on how my older son has been a key witness of my career in this industry, that started even before he was born.
Long time ago, I already had the idea that Diego could potentially want to follow my steps. Is there any father that would not feel glad about his son willing to follow his career?
But the issue about the videogames industry is that it’s not as fun as it seems from the outside. I know that every job can be hard and I am totally aware that there are some occupations that are much tougher than working in videogames. But the tricky thing is that this industry looks super fun and cool from the outside. “You play all day long” is probably one of the things we’re told the most.
“You work in videogames! So cool to play all day long!”… Yeah, of course, you know…
Once upon a time…
Videogame industry started a long time ago, on the 60s (or the 50s or the 70s, it depends on how exactly you define that starting point). At that time, a group of brilliant people created the first electronic entertainment system that used a control and a screen. Using the control, the player would have an interactive experience that was represented on the screen, and the main goal of that experience would be to make the player have some fun. The very pure essence of a videogame.
Half a century later, the videogame industry has evolved more than anyone could foresee.
Today, there are millions of videogames on tens of platforms (the devices on which those videogames work), and there are hundreds of thousands of people creating videogames too.
It’s a super competitive industry and several markets are already saturated given the huge amount of companies and products on them. The smaller companies are literally run over by the biggest ones, with budgets that allow them to create super productions, big promotion campaigns and catch the attention of the vast majority of the consumers.
Many talented developers dream with finishing their first project or turning into a reality some super cool innovative idea, but they crash against the fact that the videogames industry is just a business. They get pushed to work on projects that are far from their dreamed ideas, just to survive. It’s also pretty common that those third party ideas are always similar and not so fun to develop, but from the business perspective they seem safer and more profitable than the innovative ideas, at least for the big stakeholders of the industry.
This bias on how the industry is perceived is so big that several articles, memes and even videos about that have appeared. My favorite is “So you want to work in the video game industry” (video in YouTube).
But then… why are you still in videogames?
But then, if it’s so terrible, why am I still working in videogames? Why is the industry still growing and why is more people getting on board? Do I really want my son to enter an industry that, even though it’s cool, it seems to be so nasty to be a part of it?
“The truth is that I work in videogames because it’s one of my biggest passions. Most of the people working on videogames actually love working on videogames.”
At the end, that’s the reason that makes most of the professionals stay in the industry, despite the hard times and huge challenges. They are pushed by a kind of motivation that goes beyond their technical discipline.
My son Diego loves videogames, a lot. From Minecraft to Clash of Clans, he plays a lot of casual games and he shares them with their school mates and with me.
Fortunately, we’ve managed to teach him that it’s important to also have other activities on his life, so he also practices sports (he plays roller hockey on a league), he reads (literally swallows books like Harry Potter), hangs out with friends, enjoys his family, etc.
But of course, nothing changes the fact that he loves videogames. That passion, combined with witnessing his dad work in videogames since he remembers, has pushed him to want to do the same when he grows up.
(continues on next page…)