Sisyphus – The Modern Computer Game Developer

There is no question that the computer gaming industry has become an amazing one, producing products that literally allow people and players to immerse themselves for hours and hours in imagination. Unfortunately, the industry is also very fickle, demanding new products almost immediately after a current one is released. Ergo the life of the game developer is a bitter one, never producing enough of a product to gain a proper amount of rest or relief.

Constant Upgrading

Just release a video game is not enough. Particularly with online games, regular updates and changes are needed. Fixes need to be implemented to deal with new bugs and fixes, closing down loopholes that some players are taking advantage of, hacks that compromise customers’ accounts, and general improvement of the game with periodic changes. Boredom is the biggest enemy of any company that relies on video gamers to keep coming back, so change is the best way to keep things interesting.

Replacing Products

Games generally fall into two categories: online gaming clients and platforms, and standalone products for home or PC use. The second category is a huge market that requires amazing products to be released and then be followed up by complete replacements soon after. Each version has to be a stand alone package with amazing development far exceeding the earlier version or similar competitors. That means producing a new level of graphics, an entire story line, a system that may be compatible with existing platforms or usher in a new one, and cost-effective versus pricing. For the developer the whole process is a challenging task that often produces burnout after just producing the first game, much less a second or third one soon after.

The Resume Chase

To make matters more frustrating, job-hopping is common and expectations are high. Employers only consider recent work the most, so a developer is only as good as his last game produced. If the product was a market flop, then it doesn’t bode well for a developer who may be wanting to jump to a new prospect. In fact, it could lock him down until the next project becomes a success that can be quoted and claimed.

So?

The game developer’s job is a brutal one, driven by stress and frustration as well as high expectations. The best stars last only so long before burnout catches up with them physically, so there is always room for replacement. It’s a thankless job.

Facebook – Epic FAIL

When it happened, I didn’t know I was part of a movement or that I was protesting anything. I just quit Facebook because it was an epic fail for me.

Reactions varied. When I told people that I had gotten rid of my social media account, the responses ranged from incredulous (“But everyone has Facebook!”) to simply curious (“How do you stay in touch with people?”). One of my co-workers, though, told me that he was thinking of quitting, too, and he pointed me to some website where tons of people were pledging to quit Facebook with the same zeal and determination that drivers pledge to quit texting and driving. Huh.

Without knowing it, I had done something that’s a bit of a trend.

As a computer game developer and someone who cares about the environment, I don’t care much about trends. I leave that to the teenagers and hipsters who seem to inhabit every café in Oakland. I’m not even sure how I feel about being trendy. If that’s the price I need to pay, though, I’m still going through with it. Since getting away from Facebook, I’ve discovered too many benefits:

  1. Time is no longer a black hole. If anyone had asked me a year ago how much time I spent on Facebook, I would honestly have said “not much.” Well, call me Pinocchio because it must have been a lot more than I had thought. Without Facebook, I suddenly have more time to hit the gym, get a little creative on date night, or even catch a few extra hours of sleep.
  2. I’m suddenly doing real stuff. And it turns out that checking my iPhone for updates is not as much fun as hiking along the ocean, picking up a guitar, or going for a jog. Who would have guessed it?
  3. My friends are suddenly real. There’s a reason they call it FAKEBOOK. Once I quit, I never heard from some of my online friends again. Last week, though, some of my real friends showed up with wine and food for a cookout.  Sharing stories over food and guitar? Yes, please.
  4. I don’t feel like crap. Ok, my life is pretty good, but Facebook sure is not designed to make you feel better. Looking at all those photos of everybody having an amazing, perfect life online makes me compare my life to theirs, and that’s not something I need.  Facebook is about as realistic as glossy tabloids. And I don’t read them, either.
  5. I worry less about social media fallout. Whenever I hear about someone who accidentally posted pants-less pictures of themselves online or lost a job because their Facebook was filled with pictures of them smoking up and giving the one-finger salute, I roll my eyes. It’s 2014, how do we not know how to use social media without posting way too much information about ourselves? Still, with Facebook posts ending marriages, wrecking lawsuits, and losing people jobs, I don’t want to take the risk. Now, I don’t have to.

I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon and quit all social media – or live in a cabin in the woods to get away from technology. I’m not penning a Luddite manifesto with a pen crafted from twigs. I’m just bringing a breath of fresh air into my life by getting rid of something that was a fail for me anyway. No more annoying updates, inane comments, or trying to get a picture just to post it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a life to go lead.