Despite creating the biggest single-day entertainment release of all time, game developers continue to get a bad rap.
I've noticed that many people characterize game developers as lazy, socially incompetent basement-dwelling underachievers. Sure, there's a segment of our community that certainly might qualify for this great description. But to routinely build entertainment experiences that last ten to sixty hours or more, it takes constant perspiration. It takes determination and skill like that which is found only in the trenches of a battlefield. Any game "playing" we do is measured and desperate, as the industry and market can run over us like a freight train if we miss out on what happens to be going on around us.
Developing games is an incredibly difficult undertaking. There is no cookie cutter to this process. It requires a highly orchestrated mixture of digital asset development, user interface design, software engineering, game engineering, marketing, and more to get something ready for release. A huge team of talented people who are trained in these areas come together and work for twelve hours a day for the final six months in a push to the final deadline to reach market where the competition is so brisk that even a good game is likely to fail to profit. And to make matters even more difficult, the platforms evolve so quickly that the tools and techniques are outdated as soon as they are perfected.
Of course, on some level, game developers must be gamers. Being a game developer requires a passion for games that will get you through the thousands of hours of work you will endure in your efforts on game projects you will build upon in your career. And it is so hard because there is no single button to press or knob to turn to make a game magically appear out of the air. It is a highly engaging software engineering effort. Every single game is a new invention. Every game is a new technology in and of itself.
Part of the difficulty with how game developers are not typically well received is that most people look at a game like Halo 3 and they rightly have no clue what it took to create it. For them it might as well have been made with magic. But as we well know from within the industry, games can truly be the ultimate creative effort in today's world. It requires great skill and intelligence to generate these products. It takes the collaboration and convergence of every type of artist, writer, technology developer, and more, plus the ability to manage these huge efforts in an environment where publishers, distribution channels, marketing plans, and more move at pace unmatched in other fields.
Games are not made with magic. They are made with absolute perspiration and passion by the most intense people you will ever encounter. Games are their art.
Everyone can be a gamer. And these days, most people are. Or they will be.
But very few people are game developers. There is a big difference between the two; they should not be confused. At Flashpoint Academy in Chicago, we prefer that you call us game developers. It is our profession. Those wanting to go to school to be a gamer can go elsewhere.