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.