When you have experience playing games, there comes a point where you wonder: “Maybe this is something I could do for myself”. It tends to come when you’ve experienced a problem with a game, or something doesn’t quite work the way it could. You wonder if you could do better, if perhaps your years of experience with the medium could translate into becoming a developer.
When you begin to push this thought further, you can find yourself playing with free 3D tools and scribbling down storylines that you’re interested in pursuing. For many wannabe developers, they toy with their ideas but ultimately return to their console as a consumer, not a creator.
What if you want to push the idea further though? Do you really have what it takes? While game developers can be anyone, for the most part, the successful ones tend to have four crucial characteristics in common:
The gaming industry can be incredibly cutthroat. If you’re going to make it with your work, then you’re going to need to be willing to keep going — even when others might be trying to tear you down. That resilience is most commonly fed by ambition; successful developers know that they’re going to make it and it’s just a matter of time. That ambition allows them to keep going, even when others might walk away.
Being a games developer requires a frankly overwhelming amount of patience. As you may have experienced through your own dabbling in making games and creating characters — it all takes time. A lot of time. If you’re hoping to have an idea and turn it into a game in a couple of months, then you’re going to be in for a huge shock. Putting all the pieces in place to allow a game to function exactly how you want is time-consuming and exhausting work. Existing developers are able to work on the same thing for months on end, perfecting and fine-tuning it. If you’re not patient enough for that, then it might be worth sticking to amateur development instead.
As the above would suggest, details matter in games. They matter almost as much as the whole overarching theme, gameplay, and story. A good game developer must be willing to spot details that others can’t, to notice even the most minor of mistakes — and then be willing to put the time and effort into rectifying them. This might be a characteristic you already possess. Have you played games and spotted small issues with them? Are you always the one who notices plot holes when you’re watching TV or movies? If so, then you might be capable of the precise attention to detail that’s required for a successful career in game development.
Ultimately, turning your hobby into a profession is always going to be an uphill struggle. There are a lot more wannabe developers than there are professional ones. However, if this is a real passion for you, then don’t let anything hold you back. There will always be room in the market for another great game, so why shouldn’t it be you who creates it?