What To Consider Before Switching To Games From Another Industry

Fobula Games founder Berke Erem shares his take on switching to games from another (tech) industry. The article is meant for professionals of another industry, researching venture into games. It is designed to be read in less than 5 minutes.

If you are reading this you are probably considering a career in the games industry. Perhaps this will be your first job or you are a professional with the relevant skills, working in another industry. In this article I would like to ask a few key questions on this regard. How you answer these should shape your momentum you’re building up towards the game industry.

I worked in the industrial energy automation industry for many years where I was in charge of a 350+ people tech company for several years. My experience ranges from complete strategic management of software development to hardware manufacturing along with other operations. I switched to a full-time career in video games 6 months ago.

The topic might seem scary. It shouldn’t. I would offer this insight; switching between any two industries shares same concerns.

Consider these questions:

  • Do you have any business experience? Have you been in a company, a team or in a project?
  • Have you practiced the skills required for running a company, earning and managing money and running the operations?
  • Do you have enough financial power to sustain yourself prior to a steady cash flow?
  • Have you ever invested your money?

As you can see, these questions don’t depend on the industry.

Now consider this question: Have you practiced the skills required for developing a game before?

If your answer is no to any of these questions, don’t worry. Pretty much everyone starts their career the same way. Let’s explore these questions further.


Business Experience


If you ever sold anything for any amount of money, you’ve come a long way on the business experience front. If not, better start practicing this.

Building something has little contribution to your business acumen. Companies are full of people that can do one thing very well but have little skill on how to conduct business. I started painting large stones when I was 7. Sure, I kind of had a job and a skill but until I tried selling them I still had zero business experience.

You can simply offer your home-made products or services to any interested party and earn money. Trading on an e-commerce platform will teach you a lot. I would focus more on the learning rather than the cash at this point.

Fundamentally being successful in business comes down to convincing people to buy something from you and make this relationship sustainable.


Business Management


Apart from the people management, business management is more a science than an art these days.

Prior to my MBA, I wasn’t aware how systematic management can be. Today I would argue that even people management is becoming a science too.

I think The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufmann will become a timeless classic. I recommended it to old guard (in charge of hundreds of people) and even they learned a lot because the content is so practical.


Financial Management


Financial part is all about how long can you sustain yourself without earning a dime.

Saving some money is great for the journey. Even if you plan everything perfectly and created enough time to work on your indie title, it’s unrealistic to expect a proper cash flow before 12 months.

A budget spreadsheet and some commitments work wonders, especially if you have family obligations as well.


Attracting Investors


Any investor would like to beat the market with a good investment.

Suppose you have 10k$ of cash. What would you do with this money if you don’t want to spend it. If you put it in savings, you will get a tiny amount by the end of the year.

If you consider more risky investments like buying stocks or precious metals, you can earn a lot more than that but only if you know your way around this market.

Finally, you can invest your money in a company. There is a lot of investment funds in the world and investors are looking to choose the right companies.

In order to understand a fraction of this mindset, try investing in stocks. You will sample all the associated emotions. You don’t have to invest big but get ready to lose some money to learn.

I recommend Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki. This book made me better appreciate the value of my money.


Industry Specific Skills


Game industry skills and practice is a special topic and deserves a separate article. Click here to find out more about my take on the topic.


Final Thoughts


Switching to another industry is a challenge but the fundamental questions will be the same regardless of which industry you aim for. You should try building up these fundamentals first and after that it’s good old competition. I hope these insights gave you some ideas on what to research next.

What do you think some of the other challenges are? Which topics would you like to shine more light on? How would you describe your experience of switching to games?

I believe there is a lot more people that can benefit from community articles and guidance. Let’s help each other. If you like this article please share.


Attribution: The beautiful cover artwork is "Portal" by Aeonrin, available on Deviantart

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