For several years now I’ve been pretty scared of the thought of a “real” job or career. The entire thing, from the initial process to the day-to-day work, did and still does seem very alien to me.
Even still, I lament our society for creating “man-babies,” those who are likewise. And I hate being apart of that group that is scared of growing up; the thought disgusts me.
So I am trying my best to see how the world of real jobs works. I have had a job before remember, but nothing that was really large-scale.
For about the past year I’ve realized something that both terrified and excited me: that maybe I am not meant to make games. Now, this is something I’ve been looking forward to my whole life. But I have taken an inventory, and more than half of my free time is either spent making websites, designing websites, or reading about either. The field of web development is something that is constantly on my mind, every day.
Attempting to make my own game has likewise been an eye-opening experience. As high as I held my coding skills, I am completely unable to make something like gravity work in a platformer. And that’s not the worst part — I don’t even know where to start. Not being able to do it is fine, but knowing where to look or being able to spitball ideas is absolutely crucial in anything you do. Knowing how to learn is just as important as knowing, and I find many things about game programming almost impenetrable. It dawned on me that despite all my coding background, I would make a terrible coder.
So that leaves game design, and truly, a senior game design or game director position was my absolute dream job. And I will make some more games on my own to determine if I can hack it at that.
But as of right now, today, I am completely undecided at what to do. An even 50/50 split between both. It may depend on feedback on my game when it’s done, or it may just be “right place right time” that lands me a more website-focused role; game jobs in general are almost impossible to find in the Northeast, whereas web jobs are somewhat plentiful, even entry ones.
And actually, I spend some free time every week looking at tech job boards, and picking out ones I think I can do — even though I can’t really apply to them yet, being in school and without a driver’s licence (that last one will be cleared up finally very shortly.)
Now, I say Northeast because while I plan to move to California next summer, if a great job passes in front of me I’m not going to let it go, and staying with my family is a huge plus. (Of course, moving to Cali has its own set of pro’s as well.)
So I have all that on my mind. I would like to elaborate on which kind of web discipline I want to pursue: user experience (UX) design. In all four years of high school, designs for hypothetical programs and websites dominated my notebook, perhaps even more prolifically than actual notes. Just this year alone, I have almost filled a sketchpad with ideas and designs for just my own small set of websites, which currently number less than 10 (accounting for the new websites I planned on launching.)
And I loved drawing them. I would love to get a job that would allow me to do what I do right now; draw up designs, mock them up in HTML, and test them out.
So for the first half of next year, after I finish my game, I’m going to take a break from (attempting) making games and instead focus on the one redesign for my website that really needs it, and launching a new website or two with the designs I’ve made.
I actually do think I’ve calmed down a little, and am no longer scurrying between several different projects. For the last half of 2010 it was almost all about just my game, with some breaks thrown in. I think I’m getting better at focusing on one project at a time. Hopefully, that focus will let me pad my portfolio next year, so that if I do decide to apply for a UX position, I might just get it.