A worrying trend that has been growing in the last few years in indie games is the assumption that any 'real' developer is both in it for a career, and willing to sacrifice a whole lot to get there.

I distinctly remember there came a point where I'd click on articles called 'Tips for Indies Starting Out' or something along those lines, and when I click on it it's all advice on how to make money out of your game, rather than design tips.

Now there's nothing wrong with wanting to make money from your game. There's nothing wrong with wanting to quit your day job. If it ever happened that I was suddenly in a position to support myself entirely based on the games and the music I make, of course I would seriously consider that route.

However, for the time being I content myself with doing it as a hobby. If something more comes of it, great. If not, also fine. With that perspective, if or how I'm going to monetise my project is very much a secondary concern to whether it's a fulfilling project. One great advantage of being a hobbyist, is that success is a bonus, rather than a requirement to continue. 

I also see a romanticisation of game developers who sacrifice vast swathes of their social life and other interests and personal time in the service of getting their games shipped - and guilt tripping of people who are willing to sacrifice less.

Again, there's nothing necessarily wrong with someone wanting to devote themselves heart and soul to their project in a way that very significantly impacts the rest of their daily life.

But there's equally nothing wrong with not wanting to do that. Game developing is a hobby for me. But I like doing other things, too. I make music which isn't always for my own projects, for a start. I like having time with my friends and loved ones, and I want time for other activities like exercise. I've started singing lessons, too, so that's a thing. I also want some free time when I'm just... y'know, relaxing. 

Some people are willing to give up some or all of those things and, well - I'm just not, and I'm fed up of being asked to feel like I should apologise for that.

Here's the thing, though, that I think is hard for many people to accept: because I have a desire to balance game development with all the other things I want in my life, that doesn't mean I am any less serious about making games.

The seriousness with which one treats their work is not proportional to the number of things one is willing to give up on the way to making it. Although I might only spend a small portion of my overall time making games, the time I do spend is just as real as the time spent by any other person with a game project. I, too, think about how one mechanic impacts all the other mechanics. I, too, am very concerned with making sure the overall aesthetic of the game is pleasingly consistent. That the ways a player can interact are conveyed as clearly as necessary. That that one enemy explodes in juuust the right way, or whatever detail it is I'm currently agonising over.

Hobbyists, let's start standing up for ourselves as developers and question this assumption that if you're not in the game dev game a hundred percent, you're not really in it at all.




AuthorPeter Silk