I’m done with game development

*Considering that this is a post that could potentially generate inflammatory comments, I remind you that any such comments will be removed on sight. Civilized discussion, however, is ALWAYS welcome.

First off, regular site update stuff. I updated the OSU Dining Map on the website to Fall 2014’s posted hours. I also removed the references to the Windows 8 app because that fell by the wayside a while ago for a number of reasons. But the web app is alive and well.

Unfortunately, the rest of my post isn’t that happy… I’ve decided to quit making games as a hobby. To make a long story short, I’m ashamed of the overwhelming hatred, entitlement, and so on and so forth in the industry. If you’ve been following the industry closely, you know a lot of things that happened this week were not exactly the industry’s greatest moments. But, of course, it’s not just this week that’s led to my decision, it’s just more like the straw that broke the camel’s back. This has been a process that’s been going on for a couple years now, with many different things contributing to it.

Now to make a short story long.

Games have always been a huge part of my life, ever since my dad dug out his NES when I was quite young, and I tried Super Mario Bros. (and Tetris, and Duck Hunt) for the first time. I do remember that I was captivated by it. Then I received Sonic 3D Blast some time later, which I believe was my first computer game. And since then, I got into gaming quite intensively. I was a part of the Sonic fandom during the Adventure days (albeit one who lurked far more often than not). I would play all the fan games I could find. And somewhere in all that, I decided that maybe I wanted to do that for a living, make games. It played a huge part in my career path, setting me up to graduate in computer science. It also pointed me towards OSU’s Game Creation Club, the only club I knew I wanted to join from the beginning, and eventually helped me stay in the club and become President. When I joined, I started taking those steps that I wanted to take long ago. And it was fun (although definitely long and tough at times) seeing a game come together. I got my start with First Fantasy, which of course you can play on this site. And for a first game, I think it turned out well enough.

But I also started learning about the drawbacks of the industry. How if you wanted to work in it, you had to love what you do, because you would be saying hello to long hours and crunch time. How competitive the field was because everyone and their best friend wanted to do it. Suddenly, the thought of this as a full time job gave me second thoughts, and I relented to them. After all… would I really want to base a career on working on something that doesn’t come out for 1-3 years, hoping that it succeeds when it finally comes out, or else? I’ve heard about a steady stream of layoffs from different companies. Some that failed because their games weren’t good, some because their games WERE good but they didn’t get noticed enough (not in time, anyway), some even just because the company finished their game and decided they didn’t need the manpower anymore. I’d rather be a bit more stable than that. So I went into general programming and web programming, an occupation which, I must say, with the right projects, I can enjoy just as well, if not MORE.

So then I decided, hey, this might not work as a full-time gig, but maybe when I’m not working I can do a bit here, do a bit there. And that’s what I started to do, and was doing up until a few days ago. I started work on an unannounced project earlier this year with the intention of eventually making money off of it if it ever got that far (and I wasn’t sure if it would BECAUSE this was only in my spare time). But I started to become more aware of the hatred in the industry. You do hear of gamers being rude on Xbox Live and stuff, but that’s not what I’m talking about (mostly). I’m talking about the big stuff, the stuff that’s been prominent in the last week especially. The ‘stuff’ I’m talking about is hacking of major (and minor) game companies. I’m also talking about death threats of ANY kind between gamer and gamer, or gamer and developer. And to a lesser extent, I’m talking about gamers acting like game companies owe them, big time. It’s Penny Arcade’s famous Internet Anonymity Theory (caution: foul language). This reached a peak a few days ago, and I decided ‘this is enough’.

Death threats over games. Is there anything more ridiculous than that? If there is, please tell me in the comments. I can use a laugh. I scratch my head to figure that one out. How can any reasonable human being issue such a thing, regardless of their views on, say, feminism? How can someone in some dark basement somewhere think that taking down Sony’s servers is a good thing to do, and definitely won’t hurt consumers along with the company equally? It’s kind of like the premise of Yu-Gi-Oh!: children’s card games being a life-or-death matter to people. It’s not too far-fetched from video games.

I don’t care what your views about a┬áparticular game are. I don’t care if you think games that convey a message are poisoning the industry (pretty sure they’re not, by the way). I don’t care if you think game journalism is rotten to the core. One of the easiest, best, and simplest rules has always been: if you don’t like it, you don’t have to play it. If people don’t play it, then by the laws of supply and demand, you’ll start seeing less of it. Simply don’t draw attention to it in any way (and yes, I realize the irony of that in this post). If it’s not for you, it’s not for you. I don’t know how else to say it. If you don’t want women in your videogames, good for you. Play as a man (I heard they’re quite common nowadays). Or just realize that maybe a fictional character doesn’t quite matter as much as you thought it did.

Anyway, I do think I’m getting away from the main point. I don’t want to be in this war-torn industry. You can make the argument that this is not the only industry where that happens, and maybe I’ll accept that with proof, but it certainly doesn’t make game programming any sweeter for me in a world where someone sends a death threat to you if you make a tiny adjustment to balance in a Call of Duty game.

So, I’m still trying to figure out what to do. I’m still a gamer, definitely, and still follow the industry, but decisively as a gamer now (how about that New 3DS? Nintendo continues their trend of confusing names, amirite?). I do not intend to make any more games, although I might make exceptions for unusual circumstances (for example, I think making a game with Fitbit’s API, possibly an RPG where you use real-world steps to travel between towns would be kind of cool. Exercise would take equal priority to the game itself in that case, so it’s not JUST a game). Web development is possibly an option for a replacement hobby, I think making an javascript library would also be cool. But whatever it is, it’ll take time. This site could also see a change to de-emphasize games a bit on the home page. But, well, seeing how often I’ve updated this site in the past…

Anyway, it’s been a bit of a hard week this week. Having to turn your back on something you once considered pretty much sacred is never easy. I just hope that the video game industry reaches some semblance of stability before something REALLY bad happens.