On the Person

I see a lot of posts on #iDevBlogADay about the technical side of app development: Here’s how I solved such and such problem. Here’s some code. Here’s what you need to do to market your game. This is what this button in Interface Builder does and this is why you’ll never need to use it. 5 reasons why you should have a Lite version.

There is no shortage of technical posts in this community of developers, and I have little interest in writing them anyway. There is more to game development than code, assets, and marketing. Therefore, you will see no technical posts on the Hindrances to Progress blog.

We seem too often to forget that there is a person behind the 99-cent morsels of gaming we download onto our phones. There is a human element, and important lessons to be learned in exploring it. Let me give an example.

The biggest hurdle in starting my game dev career was overcome when I met other devs in person for the first time at PAX East 2010. One developer, in particular, I came to look up to, as he had similar aspirations to my own, and was only about half a decade ahead of me into achieving them. He had a vision for what kinds of games he would make. He was starting from ground level. He wanted to build his own company, and he was doing so.

I approached him on the expo floor, and we got to be friends. He shared his wisdom with me. He told me what he’d been through over the last few years, what he’d done, what had worked, what hadn’t. I listened. At the time, I wanted to know how he was doing everything he was doing, all of the nitty gritty little details of running a business. In hindsight, though, I benefited the most from seeing that he was just like me, starting from scratch, and was making it all look doable.


I didn’t need technical knowledge. I just needed to see that the people who move and shake this world are regular men and women, that everything I aspired to was, at the very least, doable. I would never have seen that if I had not been exposed to the human element.

And that’s all I hope to communicate for this post today: That there is a person back here. I went to college and got a bachelor’s. I’m in love with someone who is in love with me. I have anxiety and depression issues that I fight with daily and marginally defeat about 55% of the time. I work on games two days a week and at a day job for the other three. I prefer to work by myself but procrastinate in the absence of human contact. I’m 5 feet 10 inches. 1:1:1:1 mix of Swedish, Norwegian, Spanish, and Filipino, with a sprinkling of German and Polish in there for spice. 180 pounds, size 12 feet. I’m pretty smart, but I hate to admit it.

I’m just zis guy, you know?

The game dev lessons that are valuable to me are the more humanistic, qualitative concerns. How do you keep your sanity? How do you stay productive? How do you stay healthy? How do you keep contractors on task? What are the best ways to process stress? How little is too little sleep? How should I present myself as a one-man company? These are the sorts of issues that interest me the most, and I hope that by dissecting them, I can help other people in the community (and myself) get their careers started with their nerves intact.

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7 Responses to On the Person

  1. Toni Sala says:

    Interesting point of view. I also think that persons are the key. When designing my games and apps I always try to have players in mind. At the end of the day, we create experiences for them, so they must be important :D

  2. Thank you for your post! I think the lessons you speak of can be applied to a much broader domain than game development, too.

  3. Tom Ortega says:

    I’m with ya. Most of my posts for #iDevBlogADay our first time around were not very technical in nature. We are two guys and our blog was a way for people to get to know us. The one thing that’s kinda diff’t is that we now realize the type of games we want to build require more than just the 3 of us, so by default, we have to grow.

    Plus, I want to eventually build the holodeck when I grow up and that won’t be cheap or a 3 man job. LOL

  4. Chris Redman says:

    Hi, I’m Chris. Reading your post was comforting in that I thought I was reading a post I had written. In my mind. Yep, I think a lot of us are the same. If I ramble a bit, it due to the same sleep issue. Currently three hours is too little. Five I can function alarmingly well on. I’m physically working five days a week on apps. Mentally I’m working seven days. It’s going to work godamnit!
    Best regards,
    (6 foot, 215 pounds, size 12 feet, 99% English).

  5. Great post! Thank you for this.

    I can completely relate to it…today especially since I’ve pretty much gathered the courage to introduce myself (the person behind my anonymous developer profile I’ve been toting around for awhile).

  6. Sourabh P. Shroff says:

    I’m regular reader of iDevblogADay. I totally relate to your thoughts. since every time i read about the success stories like trainyard ,landFormer , SantaInHurry and list goes on… I wonder about only one thing how they keep-up with their tasks, how they are so motivated n all.. looking forward to see some guides and tips to achieve the same.