The Life of an Ex-Game Developer

Danc from Lost Garden writes about why he’s never going back to working in the games industry:

It began with a common enough tale in the game industry. The project I had worked on for the previous two years was canceled. After all those 80 hour weeks, fueled by a feverish passion to build something marvelous, I was cut loose. I never went back.

There are lots of people like me. In fact there are more lapsed game developers in the world than there are current game developers. Let’s look at some back of the napkin numbers. The average career in the game industry is 5 years. With 800 mainstream games a year and an average team size of 40 developers, we have a rough population of 32,000. If 20% leave a year, that’s roughly 6,000 new lapsed game developers every year. Over the past decade, that rapidly adds up to 50,000 or more lapsed game developers

…Those talented folks have gone out into the bigger world and seen amazing new wonders beyond even the wildest imaginings of their kept game developer brothers. They stay away, not because they are weak or ignorant. Lapsed game developers stay away because they’ve seen the light of quality pay, reasonable work hour, jobs with meaning, and competent management.


  1 comment for “The Life of an Ex-Game Developer

  1. 14 April 2006 at 13:37

    You can certainly count me as among the “lapsed game developers”, but I go back even more than 10 years. The last game I worked on was Ultima Underworld and, after 2 years of 80+ hour work weeks, I left with about a month left due to, shall we say, “creative differences”. I’ll never go back to the game programming world, at least not on someone else’s schedule.

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