I have asked a large number of game developers that I know the same question. It just became a habit for me. I would ask them “What made you choose game development”?
Many of the answers were that they just enjoyed playing video games and they thought that game development would be a fun career path.
After all, what makes life better than transforming your hobby into your lifetime career?
The question is, where are they right about this? Most of them assumed that game development would be fun and all. Is it though?
“Is game development fun” is a subjective question. Though as a game developer, I think I can give my personal opinion on it: Yes, game development is fun, and I wouldn’t trade it for any other programming related career.
Is game development fun?
Game development is extremely fun and challenging. Game developers usually need to keep dealing with new and unique challenges, come up with creative solutions, and share the results of their hard work with the rest of the world. That is what makes the game development journey fun and exciting.
I included “Challenging” as being part of the fun that you experience as a game developer. To me (and to many game developers that I know), it’s the happiness and the excitement that you feel after finding a clever solution to a unique challenge that makes game development enjoyable.
However, that doesn’t mean that game development is “always fun”. It might be a nightmare for some people, and it certainly is a nightmare during some periods of time for most game developers no matter how much they love their work.
Do not mix “Fun” with “Easy”. Game development is very hard. Even the simplest tasks require a lot of work.
For example, something as simple as adding a window to a room can require a lot of work. A lot of questions and uncertainty arise whenever a new addition to the game happens.
If you decide to add a new window to a room, you’ll have to ask yourself a lot of questions including:
Should I keep the objects outside the window active when the player is looking through the window? Or do I use some static display to fake the looks to the outside of the room? How will that affect performance? How will the enemies outside react when the player can see them? If they don’t react at all, won’t that make them look dumb? And so on !!
But to me, that is what makes game development fun, it is the constant search for optimal solutions to new and unique problems.
If you think that isn’t something that you would enjoy, then game development might not be fun and all for you. But maybe game design can? That’s what we’re gonna discuss next.
Is game design fun?
Before I give my subjective opinion on this question. I would like to make a quick distinction between being a game developer and being a game designer.
While many people mix the terms “game developer” and “game designer”, these terms usually refer to different jobs when it comes to game development.
The term “Game developer” usually refers to the programmers/engineers that build the systems and the logic of the game. While “Game designers” are the people who use these systems to create the flow of the story, decide the progression of the overall game, and basically “design” the game experience as a whole.
It’s true that a game designer is technically a “developer” since they take a major part in the development of the whole game, however this is how the terms are usually used inside the game development industry.
With that out of the way, is game design fun?
Game design can be one of the most fun aspects of the game development journey. The game designer gets to decide what the player experiences. From how the stories flow, to how the player interacts with the world and discovers its features.
That sounds like a lot of fun, but the job also comes with a lot of responsibility. As a game designer, many decisions that you make will have a major impact on the success or failure of the game.
No matter how good the engineering of the game is, and no matter how good the story and the concept is, if the game designers fail to turn the features planned into an enjoyable experience, the game will fail.
So in other words, being a game designer is a huge burden. So the question of whether you will enjoy game design or not comes down to you being able to handle the burden and use the tools that you have (or request new tools from the engineers) to make the best possible experiences for the players.
Other than that, game design is very fun, and to me, it is one of the most enjoyable parts of my game development journey.
Even though I am a game developer who mostly writes code, I also work as a game designer too since indie game developers don’t always have the luxury of being able to work with dedicated game designers, so you’ll have to do most of the work yourself, but that’s a topic for another time.
Before I conclude this article, I would like to just give you some quick tips that I think will help you enjoy your game development journey in case you are already working in the industry, or in case you are looking to become a game developer / designer anytime soon.
How to enjoy your game development journey.
1- Stay engaged with the game development community.
While this can apply to many careers and is not exclusive to game development, the community behind the gaming industry is a special one in my opinion.
You’ll always find people who like the work you do and support you, people who criticize your work (so that you can improve it), and people who just want to support game developers and indie game developers specifically.
The excitement that you see on people’s faces when they play your games or listen to your ideas can help you enjoy your game development journey. The critics can also help you improve your games and remind you that you need to tackle new challenges.
So in simple words, heading to forums related to game development, or attending game development events from time to time can remind you of how much fun game development can be.
When you find people who are interested and fascinated by the games that you are building (either alone or with a team), you will get reminded of why you chose game development in the first place.
So always keep yourself engaged with the game development community. See what others are doing, and show what you’re doing, and that should keep the fun going.
2- Approach the game dev tasks with the right attitude
I understand that this statement is easier said than done, and that it is a very generic piece of advice that you might have heard of more than a million times.
However, hear me out… It just works.
The first thing that you need to always keep in mind when working on anything game dev/design related is that “it is not easy at all, and that difficult problems are going to keep popping up from time to time”.
The moment you understand this, you’ll be able to accept the fact that it’s okay if a problem takes you a lot of time to be solved, and the frustration that comes with it will be reduced.
Whenever a difficult problem arises, give yourself time to think about the problem and take your time solving it. You don’t have to finish all your tasks in like 6 minutes because that’s not how game development works.
Some problems might take you days or weeks to figure out, and that’s fine. One thing you could do when you are struggling to get a feature right is to switch to other features and then come back to the unfinished features later with a fresh mind.
Another thing that you can do is ask other fellow game developers for help.
But try not to reduce the fun when a difficult problem that you don’t know how to solve immediately comes your way.
Instead, view the problem as a “Boss level” of your game development journey, and understand that it will take some time to beat the level, or else the boss level will be boring and unchallenging.
3- Work on games that you want to play yourself.
This is a luxury that might not be possible for all game developers out there. If you work for a studio, you’ll have to stick to the work that the studio assigns to you.
However, if you are an indie game developer who wants to build their next game, then maybe aim for a game that you would love to play, not just an idea that you think will bring the most amount of money.
If you are a game developer who is looking to work for a studio, one thing you can do is to look up the type of games the different studios make and then apply to the ones that are making the games that you enjoy playing.
This will end up being helpful to you and the studio you apply to. You get to work on games that you like playing by yourself, and they get to have a game developer that is interested in the work that they do instead of being there just for the money.
It’s obvious why you would want to make games that you yourself would want to play. It’ll probably increase your motivation and you’re more likely to have fun and enjoy the process overall.
4- Avoid crunch time at all costs
I doubt having to work continuously for extremely long hours is fun, so you should be trying to avoid that as much as possible.
No matter how much you love game development, I suggest that you set some limits to how many hours you put in daily, and then have some time with your family, your friends, and maybe with your guitar.
It can be tempting to “Just finish this one last feature” before you sign off, but that can develop into a habit, and these “small and quick features” usually take more time than you would expect.
The game development industry is known for its long hours of work. If you can avoid that dark aspect of game development, you’ll have a much better chance at enjoying making video games for a living.
With that said, I’ll conclude this whole article by reminding you that game development can be extremely fun if you are in it for the right reasons.
If you enjoy working on new and unique challenges or if you enjoy writing stories and experiences for the world to see (or both maybe), then game development is probably going to be a fun career for you.
Here are some other articles that you can check if you still have some time to read more: