It’s a blessing and a curse, but ultimately a blessing . . .
The game dev journey, a good ride.
Many years ago, my husband told me that he wanted to start a game company. Like most people at the beginning of a life changing moment, I had no idea how this choice would impact our lives. I just wanted to support him. The following years have been full of twists and turns, surprises, hardships, successes, exhilarations, etc. But if we measure success by the journey, then I can say, yeah, it’s been (and continues to be) a good ride.
So, let’s discuss the hardships for a moment. As sole investors in this business, we never have enough money. We spend an unreasonable amount on the nearly latest and greatest technology, which all too quickly falls into the way-too-old-to-be-useful category. Meanwhile, our vital support software drops their support to focus on their next money maker, forcing us to spend time and money on new software. And then there’s the conventions: booth fees, travel fees, promotional material fees, and the list goes on. Indy game publishing is like a virtual vacuum cleaner constantly sucking money out of your bank account.
There’s also that other scarce resource, time. When I’m not working to support a voracious growing business, I split my time between maintaining our place of work, which incidentally happens to be our home, and trying to contribute to the development process in whatever ways I can. In the meantime, my husband spends his time on the ever-changing science of game development, fending of an epic army of tasks that reproduce more tasks. The end result is two tired, overwhelmed people.
And yet, there have been more blessings than curses. One of the most surprising is the discovery of friends along the way that share the same passion for this whacky plan that we do, people who are willing to invest their time, unpaid, for the hope of creating games on our own terms. We have had volunteers who travel with us, stay up way too late on crunch nights with us, cry, curse and pray with us, and some who have stuck with us for years, despite the frustrating, time consuming, never ending boss fight that game design can be.
Furthermore, despite the intense time investment, we sometimes find ourselves deeply blessed by the flexibility of owning one's own business. This flexibility allows us to redirect our priorities when life truly goes pear-shaped because of illnesses, catastrophic accidents, and profound family needs - no FMLA needed.
Another blessing is the travel. In an effort to show off our work, we have found ourselves in small towns, like Las Cruces, New Mexico, and somewhat larger towns, like Austin or Los Angeles. We even visited GDC in Paris. We’ve learned that it’s illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon, and that horses pulling buggies in Indianapolis, if given the chance, will lick the insect guts of your car’s back window (but that’s a whole other blog).
Now, I have a confession to make; I am not a gamer, but I guess it’s no surprise that I fell in love with a gamer, because whether you are in Las Cruces or Paris, gamers are intelligent, imaginative, kind, fun people to be around. And I take joy in the fact that my husband and I have taken the road "less traveled by.” There have been days when I look at the Joneses and struggle because we have not yet found that multi-million-dollar money maker. But it’s been a good journey, and if I could reset the game and start over again, I wouldn’t choose any other path.