Rando Post No. 6: Seriously Though; Game Making Isn’t For Everybody

Last week, I wrote about how children shouldn’t be discouraged from getting involved in making games when the popular opinion is that they shouldn’t, and how people shouldn’t actively discourage them.  However, some people would find this a rather naive argument.  So, here I consider their side.

It’s alright for a kid to try it out, but not every kid who does is really cut out for making games.  In fact, most of the time, they aren’t.Different people like different things, and have different skill sets. People very rarely find out exactly what they like and are good at until well into adolescence, if not later.  So, if all of the kids who think that they want to make games, let’s say at that prime age of 8 to 10 years, actually try, most of them are going to fail.

This sounds really bad.  So, let’s clarify a few things.  Perhaps ‘fail’ isn’t quite the right word for this.  If the goal of this part of a child’s life is to find what they like and are good at; then trying to make games, but finding out that they don’t like it or aren’t good at it isn’t failing at all.  Instead, it’s rather a step toward success because they have eliminated something that they don’t like or aren’t good at.

Another phrase I’ve been throwing all over the place is ‘what they like and are good at.’  This comes from the idea that the ideal career for somebody is something that they enjoy, as well as something that they can do well. That is, they are better than most people in general at it, ideally from a natural inclination due to personality traits, physical characteristics, etc.  Any career that someone doesn’t enjoy doing or isn’t very good at isn’t the ideal career for them. But the worst case is when they don’t enjoy it and are bad at it.  If that sounds like you, then you should probably look for a better job.  Notably, I didn’t include high pay in my definition of an ideal career.  That’s because the jobs that people enjoy and are good at are frequently not the highest paying jobs.  Requiring high pay in the definition for an ideal career would rule out most careers, including game making; especially independent game making, where budgets for games are usually rock bottom, and you don’t get paid unless your game sells.  It’s a labor of love (and aptitude, of course).

Lastly, in not only this article but previous ones as well, I refer to ‘game making,’ or ‘making games.’  This is admittedly an unusual term; more common terms are ‘game developing’ or ‘game designing’ or ‘game producing,’ among others.  The reason I use the term ‘making,’ primarily in the context (if not explicitly, then implicitly) of ‘being involved in game making’ is that I am using it to refer to any part of the process of creating a game.  For example, a programmer, a graphic artist, a writer, and a level designer who are working on a game could all be said to be involved in game making.

So, if a kid wants to be involved in making games, but it turns out that they don’t enjoy it as much as they hoped, or that after a lot of time – as in, a couple years – and practice, they just never seem to get any better, then game making is probably not the ideal career for them.  But it’s more important that people find what’s actually right for them than it is to pursue whatever they first decide to (although it’s nice when they happen to be the same).

Tune in next week for this subject’s exciting conclusion, and the new name of this series.

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