How To Launch Your Game Development Career In 2013

How To Launch Your Game Development Career In 2013

OK. You need one original idea that no one has ever had before. Try this: Everything we do is a game. Games are systems, and since everything is, like, totally a system, you can almost say life is a game. Find yourself at the kind of party where everyone is “seeking capital”. Raise your glass enigmatically to your lips as you tell an attractive member of the opposite sex: “I think life is a game.” Oh man. You’re on your way.

You have a goal that no one else has: Make a social game that is really social, instead of FarmVille. You need to start with a baseline-level hatred for Zynga. Charge up your hatred for Zynga. Allocate all your hatred points to the current state of Facebook. See? You’re already starring in your own personal RPG! You’re on the right track. When the evening news shows Grand Theft Auto V or something, tsk softly and shake your head. These dinosaurs. The game has changed. Say “the game has changed” out loud in front of the TV. Doesn’t that feel cool?

The game has changed. Say “the game has changed” out loud in front of the TV. Doesn’t that feel cool?

Write all this down feverishly in your Moleskine notebooks in the Starbucks. Look around the coffee shop at all the people and murmur, stupid hipsters to yourself. These people have no idea that you’re about to change the gaming universe. You are a silent disruption. Murmur, “I am a silent disruption” to yourself. Oh man. This is turning out great.

Like, you don’t even have to design anything, because people are already playing the game of life. Look around you and suddenly have a revelation: Everyone is digitally connected! Look at all the, like, Apple devices and tablets or whatever everyone is using.

Wait until you tell a bunch of boring old investment bankers about this. You’re gonna get soooooo much money. Think about what your business card is going to say. Decide it will say “New Media Evangelist.”

What’s your game about? “You’ll see,” you tell everyone coyly “It’s, like, crazy.” Oh man. They have no idea what’s coming, do they? When people ask you what you do, say you are an entrepreneur. Dude!

You need a web destination. Not a website, but, like, a living, breathing place. Get someone to design an adorable art mascot for you. You need something that feels consistent with your personal brand. Like, what about a cartoon monkey? Gamemonkey dot com. Funkydingo dot com? Try ‘orangutan astronaut’. Move your lips quietly and see how that rolls off the tongue. People will stare, but that’s okay: You’re a new media rebel. People stared at Steve Jobs, and the joke is on them now. Decide you will stop taking showers so that everyone can smell your revolution.

Find someone to “build out your infrastructure.” This will not be difficult — post an ad offering an exciting internship opportunity. A grad student who is smarter than you will quickly leap at the chance to take this exciting internship opportunity, because it’s a terrible economy. No, wait, it’s a great economy, if you trade in ideas. Go to the Starbucks bathroom, look at yourself in the mirror, and practice saying, “I trade in the economy of ideas.” Great. Rad.

Practice saying, “I trade in social currency.” Oh my god. Work on saying “social currency” with a totally straight face. You’ll need to do it a lot.

You need a web destination. Not a website, but, like, a living, breathing place. Get someone to design an adorable art mascot for you.

Anything people are doing on the computer is a social game. Except social games all suck, because no one but you understands meaningful social interaction the likes of what takes place on Twitter and Facebook. Or OKCupid! Oh my god, like, here’s something: Internet dating is a game. They even call it “the dating game.” Think about how to make the process of finding a partner an exciting and engaging experience you can share with your friends. Like what if everyone could “check in” to your app when they’re about to go on an OKCupid date and then if you and the date “check in” to the same restaurants they get, like, rewards or something.

You’ll sort the rewards out later. It’s an economy of good endorphins and like, ideas.

Once you and your intern get the web presence live start putting out feelers to the media. They will love to quote you when you say things like “our game is based in the economy of the currency we’re already using — social currency.” Are you excited now? You should be! Everyone else is! You have Twitter followers. They have invested in your economy of ideas. So many interns are going to want to work with you for free.

Send a lot of follow-ups, or have your intern do it. Right now your goal is to make even the games press interested in your game. This is a social game for gamers. Promise AAA production values for the thing you’re currently calling “Twitter RPG.” Your friends are your mana points. Your social currency is your gold. Your Tweets are your ammo. Or like, your spells. Maybe Instagram can become something something or whatever. You get it. You have so many friends, you say the word ‘friends’ so many times in your business presentations friends friends friends.

What’s your game about? “You’ll see,” you tell everyone coyly “It’s, like, crazy.” Oh man.

You’re winning this game — game! Even your new career in games is a game. Think about making a game about being a game entrepreneur, but realise your scope is getting a little broad. Write it down in your Moleskine and “table” it for future discussion. Say “I’m tabling this one” out loud to the mirror.

You’re basically done, now. All you need to do is like, steal some assets or some code for someone. It is “open source”, which means you can have it, right? Start a blog to update people on your “development”. Start pitching talks to conferences. Print out a lot of business cards. Buy a tight T-shirt, baby, you’re going on the evening news and you need to look young.

Most of all, this isn’t really about you. Tell everyone about that. It’s about games. You have been a gamer your whole life and you really want everyone to know how great games are and how social they can be. This is totally, like, your business. This is the kind of experience that can totally get you a job in San Francisco someday.

Sweet. Sweet, dude. Dude.

Leigh Alexander is editor-at-large at Gamasutra, columnist at Edge and Vice Creator’s Project, and contributes gaming and culture writing to Thought Catalog and Boing Boing, among others. Her work has appeared in Slate, NYLON, Wired and the AV Club, and she blogs intermittently at Sexy Videogameland.


  • I understand that this article is meant to be humorous but i fail to see any real humor in it(i chuckled once or twice), the title misleads to reader i’m sure i’m not the only one who thought that this may actually hold real advice from someone i enjoy the writing of.
    Yes there are a large number of people with little or no talent in writing, art design, or programming trying to get a start in the industry, who will use anyone stupid enough to work with them to do all the grunt work but still take main credit because they are the ideas man (for some reason i couldn’t help but think of the creator of fez and how he came across in early articles).

  • I feel like there is laughter to be had here. I mean, not by me and certainly not because of this piece. But maybe by Leigh, because she knows that aspiring game devs will likely click on this piece and then wade through a tirade on how unimaginative and formulaic “hipster” game developers are and how no one is special or talented.

    At least thats what I assume the point of this was, I only made it about three paragraphs through before I gave up on it as a thinly veiled, hateful diatribe against the aspiring developer.

    I mean, I hope Leigh is laughing at us as a result. Otherwise both her and everyone who read this just wasted valuable minutes of their lives.

    Seems ironic that it comes a few hours after an article on when trolling is appropriate.

    Well played Kotaku, well played.

  • What the fuck?

    This has to be the most condescending thing I’ve ever read. It’s basically just saying “don’t bother, you’re an idiot.”

  • I was going to reply with a typical of me tirade but seeing as the author probably wont read it ill just give it this

    *slow clap*

  • My advice for other developers.

    don’t, get a job where you don’t need to keep your resume in order every 12 months for when the next shutdown occurs… although go indi and live with ya mum! 😀

  • This is exactly how it seems to be these days. Wonderfully written satirical piece. Now, I think there might be a game in there about turning things into social commentaries… How will it play? You’ll see. ^_-

  • Relevance of the article aside, game development is a waste of time. Shit pay, shit hours, shit job security. And every teenager on welfare and his dog are making indie games…

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