MysticWren

Reflections on leaving game development

When I decided to leave the game industry I was scared and nervous. This was something I had dreamed and attempted since before I was a teenager some 25 years ago. This was something that I came to view as part of my identity. This was something that I thought mattered.

Over the years this goal seemed to keep slipping away. I was always battling the reality of game development versus the reality of what I wanted to accomplish and my abilities to accomplish it.

I was always thinking of new paths to take, innovative concepts that challenged current game play, and how to meld storytelling with games.

Time passed and I learned that I didn’t have the resources to do my grand ideas. So I tried toning them down, focusing on smaller more manageable aspects.

This lead to an increasing amount of frustration after every failed attempt, change of plans, or discarded idea.

Then, a few years back, I watched in horror at the growing gamergate movement and the barrage of vile harassment that women received. This became an increasing concern for me as I was going to be wading into the fry with the work that I wanted to do. I worried about my family, and for my own safety, especially since I decided to transition.

I was willing to face the hate mob for my art, but I was not sure how it would affect my family. Not sure if it was right to potentially put them into a terrible situation.

Only after all these years, and everything that I had seen, did I realize that I was simply not happy doing this. It was hard for me to focus and get anything done, wasting time fretting over stupid or unimportant details, and growing concerns over both mine and my family’s personal safety.

What I wanted to do was something that gaming simply could not do at this time, or do well. I was going against the grain, and with little resources, little prospect of success, and years of failure behind me.

It was time to stop.

Now I’m mystified how I could have thought otherwise.

I finally get a chance to look at games and the game industry from a different perspective. Being just a “gamer” has returned a joy to me that I have not had in 25 years. No longer do I have to analyze every game I play to death. No longer do I need to study games that I just don’t want to play. No longer do I need to be in the social chorus of games. No longer do I need to concern myself with game programming, or game engines, or anything like it.

I get to ignore most of the industry, pleasantly find games instead of knowing everything about them already, and just experience the things I enjoy most while discarding others. When I talk to some family members now, they get to inform me of what’s going on or fill in the gaps.

With the industry’s continuing harassment of women, most recently with the Alison Rapp and Baldur’s Gate expansion brouhaha, I’m glad that is no longer a primary concern in my life.

The more I get away from the game industry, the more I think about my decision, the more I’m convinced I made the right choice. Just stepping away from the game industry has taken a whole load of stress, anger, and frustration right off my shoulders. I actually get to spend time doing things I want instead of always feeling behind or trying to figure out the issues with this game concept, or the goals of building or using this engine, or where I’m going, tearing my hair out, etc.

It really is quite nice.