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15 May 2015

Things Indie Developers Need To Know: This Is A Lifestyle Business

I want to end this week’s series back where we started. One of our readers left a comment on the first post in this series, Avoiding Burnout, stating the following:

“Truly, this is a lifestyle business. The more I am involved with it the more I can see that.”

I’ve never really thought of developing indie games in that manner, but he’s absolutely right: this isn’t just another job; it’s a lifestyle business. Thus, we’re going to focus on this mantra to end our ‘Things Indie Developers Need To Know’ series. If you want to chime in with your thoughts, do so in the comments below.

Not just a way to make ‘easy money’

I’ve spoken to many people about indie development over the years, and there’s two types of people that get into indie development: those that think they can make easy money, and those that truly want to spill their blood, sweat, and tears to build something great.

Take a guess which types fail and which ones succeed?

It’s insane how many people think that just because they have a great idea, they can build an indie game and automatically earn a living. It doesn’t happen that way. Because this is a lifestyle business, you have to work according to a certain set of rules that is different than anyone else that has a 9-5 job.

You earn a living based on your creativity – and as you guys know, that’s incredibly taxing. Living and dying by your great ideas, you have to know the best way to approach your great idea (i.e. knowing what your audience wants while simultaneously turning your idea in a good game), what tasks you need to tackle in the moment, meet deadlines, and somewhere in between all of that, you have to worry about paying the bills, food, a mortgage/rent, a social life, and generally not becoming a stressed, mess of a human being.

Those that have a 9-5 job sometimes have no idea how good they have it.

Not in it for a ‘normal career’

Want a typical career where you go to work, come home, do it all over again for decades, and eventually retire with a pension? I didn’t think so. Indie developers that are in this for the long haul hate the thought of that typical 9-5 grind where at the end of each day, they don’t feel good about what they are doing. We all know someone that has been at the same job for years, and while they may not hate it, they really don’t feel satisfied. They are counting down the days until they can retire, and when retirement comes, they’re not going to know what to do with themselves.

As an indie developer, you’re going to be able to look back years from now and say to yourself, “wow, that was a really awesome ride despite the stress and headache that came along with it.” Those that are playing it safe? I doubt they’ll be able to honestly say that later in life.

Not willing to settle

Everyone wants to be able to work on their own time, on their own projects, and have something to show for it. Combined with your love of gaming, it’s no wonder you’ve chosen this career path. You don’t want to settle in your career of choice, and you want to make your own success instead of relying on an employer to give it to you.

This may be a lifestyle business that can be taxing on every dimension of your life, but to you guys, the struggle is worth it. You’re a special kind of people, and you’re proving to the world that you truly can make a career out of what you love. Keep your chin up guys and keep fighting the good fight, and remember: you’re inspiring someone!

1 Response

  1. Philip

    Freelance, any of the following: Artists, Musicians, Authors, Photographers, Choreographers, Web Developers, etc… even Buskers are in the same “game”. We can learn from their journey too.

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