Rando Post No. 5: … Except for a Game Designer.

Last week, I ended by asking you to remember a certain statistic – that the future career of “game designer” is among the top three choices among children aged 8 to 10, as reported by this article.  This week, I plan to talk a little bit more about that specifically, and how it drops off the chart afterwards.

Many children play video games [citation needed].  At some point, a fairly large number of them want to make some of their own, primarily when they are between ages 8 and 10, as stated before.  However, most of the time, they find other things that they find that they would rather do.  However, I suspect that a few don’t really find things that they would rather do, but still are convinced that they shouldn’t make games.

This is partly to blame on the fact that so many kids want to make games when they are young, but very few actually go on to make games.  So, when a child says to their parents, “when I grow up, I want to make video games,” the parents figure it’s just a phase.  Needless to say, they are right most of the time, and their thoughts are statistically validated.  However, it’s not always true.  Occasionally, one actually would be happy making games as a career.  But, because of the lack of support, they find something else.

Listed are some of the reasons that are given for why children should not enter the field:

  • It’s a tough job market – game companies hire infrequently
  • It’s not a “real” job – it produces no immediate utility
  • Many kids think that they want to, but they don’t

Thanks to the indie movement, the first one is obviated – nobody’s hiring?  Start your own studio.  Great games can be made with tiny teams; Roller Coaster Tycoon was developed by a team of two.  In response to the second point, neither does writing books, movies, producing any television program, sports, painting, or any company that produces materials specifically for creating any of the above. Yet, those are all considered “real” jobs.  However, the arts in general get a lot of flak for this, but game making gets it the worst.  The third point is factual, but fallacious. The fact that only a few kids are cut-out for game making does not mean that no kids are cut-out for creating games.

If a kid thinks they want to make games, and that idea sticks for a while, why don’t they give it a shot?  You could start easy, with drag-and-drop sort of game making tools.  Or, if you’re into the logic and math, you could learn Python, which is both easy to learn, and immensely useful (or even if you aren’t, it might be worth it).  If those turn out not to be so fun, there are other aspects of games than coding the mechanics – graphic design, sound effects, story boarding, etc.  If any of those sound interesting, give them a try.  Maybe you have a friend that could do the mechanics for you.  If none of that works out either, then maybe game making isn’t for you after all.

Most importantly, if you turn out to be pretty good at it, and you have something to show for it (it doesn’t have to be much – really, anything with any entertainment value at all), then friends and family will start to support you; so don’t worry if at first you don’t succeed if you think you have what it takes.

Tune in next week for a counterpoint: There are good reasons that most kids don’t go into game making, after all.