Is being a game programmer worth it?
Posted 25 August 2010 - 11:03 PM
Now it's 4 years later and I'm wondering if I should begin again. One of the reasons I quit 4 years ago was because I didn't want to be 80 years old, looking back on life, and wondering if making video games was really what I should have done with my life.
You know, one of those "do you regret NOT doing anything" thoughts.
Now, upon realizing that technology is the future, I'm starting to question my original thoughts. I began wondering if I should come back to game programming when I asked myself "what else would I be programming?".
Well, I'm going to school for engineering. Do I really want to work on the next word? Do I want to work on some sensor for some Iphone or other unimportant device? Do I want to be working on processors? (I'm a computer engineer by the way, hardware and software).
When I realized that I'm going to be: A) Programming - more than likely, B) working long hours in the technology field, C) Never get to see the big picture anyway (so working on a space probe would be retarded because it's not like you assemble the entire thing yourself... I'd work on the damn wheel motors or something - just my luck).
So in reality, if I'm going to be engineering something it might as well be fun. I guess I'm just trying to figure out if it's worth it to spend my entire life on video games. But like I said, it's either that or something else, since I'll be programming something anyway. I'd rather work on the next Halo than a new Microsoft Word.
But this brings with it a huge new question. Should I even do engineering? I look outside and love the outdoors, love exercising, love interacting with people. But what the hell would do I do with it? I go to work for a business and get into the same dilemma as game programming vs. word programming: I'm office bitch for which boss? I'll look back when I'm 80 and said I worked on business proposals. Is THAT what I want to do?
Long-winded post. I apologize. I'm going through a mid-life crisis at 22 years old. At least the majority of you know what you want. Any advice/criticism/whatever responses welcome.
Posted 25 August 2010 - 11:20 PM
Regarding working on some sensor for a phone or wheel motors or whatever...I can understand the ambition to work on something "big", but the reality is that very few people end up being able to say something like "I led the team that built the Mars rovers". Working on a sensor or a motor, or some equivalently small piece of a game engine (say), doesn't mean you can't have pride in your work or that the work has to be uninteresting. Moreover, most people who end up leading a team or otherwise in a position of authority in a field get there by working their way up from small things, and gradually taking on greater responsibilities over a period of many years. It takes time and patience to get there.
Posted 26 August 2010 - 02:44 AM
I realize that I have a serious case of "ya, but I could be doing this" syndrome, meaning I'm young enough to do anything I want, yet whenever I do something I feel like I should be doing something more important. It seems it's much more than just picking a field. It's picking a field and forgetting about everything else. Kind of like another "the grass is always greener on the other side" type of situation.
For example, I woke up this morning and wanted to get into neuroscience. Seeing how they are working with robotic arms being moved by thought is fascinating. I'm sure tomorrow my mind will flip to something else.
There's got to be a job out there for someone with a short attention span.
Thanks as always,
Posted 26 August 2010 - 09:16 AM
Posted 26 August 2010 - 09:30 AM
Posted 26 August 2010 - 10:20 AM
That kind of life definitely has a meaning.
I'd never have the balls to do something like that though, and try to make the world a slightly better place in other ways.
Posted 26 August 2010 - 01:03 PM
Posted 26 August 2010 - 02:34 PM
You know, I always find myself asking these enrichment questions when at home with the family. When I'm out on my own, fighting to survive and pay the bills this is never an issue. Pay for game programmers doesn't seem that great, but I would try and do side projects on my own as an indie.
The only other option is web programming. It's programming and services rendered can add up if you know what you're doing. The problem with the technology field is that it is growing fast, so pretty soon everything will be competitive. I have to find a niche and stick with it.
Computer engineers are always in demand because more businesses = more products = more computer chips in the products. I can see why game programmers might level off. It seems nowadays there are 1001 games coming out every month. Where are all of these companies coming from?
I think I like the creative aspect more than games anyway. To be honest I don't enjoy playing for long hours. I just like creating the code/some art that goes along with it, because it's the only creative outlet I have.
Perhaps this will pass and I can find something else to satisfy my creative intentions. I just wish I had stuck with it. 8 years is a long enough time (in my opinion) to get good enough to land a job. Self-taught or not.
Posted 26 August 2010 - 07:14 PM
Posted 26 August 2010 - 07:34 PM
- How do you know, a priori, that that sensor you would be working on would be "unimportant'?
- What makes you think that being a junior engineer on a hardware project is any more or less "fun" than being a junior coder on a big studio game? You think just one guy puts out MW2 versus the team that put out the Mars Rover?
- Why are you comparing a job in a corporate environment to indie game coding? Apples and oranges. Compare indie coding to any other IT startup and you'll that there are thrills there too.
"There's got to be a job out there for someone with a short attention span."
Yeah, work in any small, IT-based, young company or, even more intense, a startup. Then, you'll probably be singing the opposite tune.
Here's the thing, no matter what you pick, it's got to be something you will wake up bright and bushy-tailed for, every day, for the next few decades of your life, so go with your passion.
The bottom line is with great things come great risk, but it looks like you want great things without the risk. Ain't gonna happen.
Posted 26 August 2010 - 10:09 PM
Posted 27 August 2010 - 02:38 PM
Generalize a bit, there are very few professions out there that you will work in for the rest of your life and even less companies that you will make your entire career with. Engineers are needed in just about every sector now due to the increase in tech. In the aviation world you have structural, stress, design, communications, mechanical, and the list goes on and gets more complex when you start dealing with military aircraft and the special requirements and components there.
Take classes in multiple aspects of computer engineering and see if one of them spark your interest that you had not thought of before. The possibilities are only limited by your ability to open your eyes and see them.
Posted 27 August 2010 - 05:06 PM
The only other option I have fiddled around with is web programming. Low cost, potentially high-reward.
Bottom line is that I want to start my own company someday, and web-programming seems to be the key to starting that. Or I may be way off in left-field :)
Posted 27 August 2010 - 06:37 PM
That's a bad over-generalization. Depends on the "technology". The Slap Chop is making millions! Seriously, the novel idea is not the tricky part of success. It's important, but it's nothing without the sustained execution... and a little bit of stochastic luck.
First, the age of the "Internet Tycoon" popped with the tech bubble of the late 90s. Second, if you think running a successful, reliable web app is "low cost", I have news for you. Your op expenses go up quick when your client base goes beyond being your friends as beta testers.
One point of advice: you would benefit immensely from getting exposure in a start-up (or two) as staff before starting one yourself. The knowledge gained would be invaluable, and I speak from experience both as staff and as a founder.
Startups will drain a founder's life (emotionally and financially) for 3-5 years min before you get any noticeable returns... if you ever do. Live in a startup for a while, test your mettle peripherally, and see if you like the aspects your ambition is actually making you overlook, like higher divorce rates, higher suicide rates, etc...
Honestly, your problem is that you are analyzing "bass ackwards" from "most likely successful endeavor IMO = what I will do", instead of the better method of "what I love to do = success". The former never works, whereas even a passionate hairdresser can have tons of success going from just styling hair to opening a chain of successful stores and a full product line.
Posted 27 August 2010 - 08:38 PM
Yes, when you are talking about your own business, it should be something you like and have experience in. When you are talking about working for someone, then the opposite is normally taken into consideration a lot more. It should be something you like and are good at, but also something where there is a large expanding market and you have a good chance of getting a job after the education part. I worked in a hospital for a while and I was listening to a group of doctors and every one of them said they went into it for the money. Nothing wrong with that. They were good doctors. A lot of these people who are looking for the perfect job they are passionate about end up being the most unhappy people I've ever met because they never find it and they are always complaining, looking for something better, and mostly end up without anything except a lot of bills. I doubt that plumbers go into the business out of passion. I know a guy that pumps out septic tanks for a living and he's happy and likes his work and his life, but I doubt he was passionate about the business. He saw a demand and a way to make a profit and it was something he was capable of doing. He's got a nice house and wife and kids. I know someone else that was always complaining about where he worked and constantly quitting. He's living in a little shack and getting by more on generosity than anything. The perfect job never came along.
Posted 27 August 2010 - 09:27 PM
I find it's that these people are often the ones giving me advice. On the other hand the successful people I have come in contact with also give advice, but what you don't hear about is the failures who followed the same advice as the successful people, but just didn't have the appropriate luck.
It could go either way. Sometimes I just want to give up all my worldly possessions and move to the rainforest (or the beach :))
Posted 29 August 2010 - 03:41 AM
Posted 30 August 2010 - 12:46 AM
Posted 30 August 2010 - 01:56 AM
I used to watch Ronny Deutsch's 'The Big Idea' for invention ideas of people who made simple ideas into millions. They make it seem so simple. What you don't hear about is the people who had an idea, just like those on the show, who did everything in their power to make it into millions but just didn't have the luck. You don't hear about the countless people who failed before one emerged successfully to tell his/her story. Does the one successful person's advice on how to make it trump the others who failed? Not necessarily, because there will always be someone who followed that advice and failed nonetheless. This means that there has to be another factor in success: luck.
The point I was trying to make was that I have to find out for myself, and stop taking the advice of other people, namely because many of the people willing to give advice are the ones who weren't able to achieve it themselves. While they may do well in life they will never achieve the greatness of those who took the risks of finding out what their true purpose is, because the risk was too great to even try.
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