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The Success Game

I talk briefly about what keeps me going in the game industry and why success in the game industry does not equate to happiness.

 

I felt inspired to write this article having read about Markus Perssons (a.k.a Notch) admission on Twitter about his personal unhappiness level recently. Despite his well documented rise to fame, success and riches I genuinely feel for him. I feel this way, because I know that success, fame and fortune DO NOT bring lasting happiness.

 

It’s easy to point the finger at Markus and say “You have everything a game developer could possibly want. You should be happy!”. But if you think like that, then you mis-understand human beings. Most importantly that being successful will make you happy.

 

As game developers, many of us have the inbuilt desire to succeed as much as Markus has. We whittle away the hours in hope that our next game is going to be the “big one”. Then we can relax for the rest of our days and not worry about money. But the truth is, it’s actually the desire and challenge of being successful that makes happy. Not the success itself. Sure, while making games, there are many moments of frustration, anger, hopelessness and ambivalence, but that is part of the journey and it is accompanied by achievement, insight, learning, camaraderie, and a chance to create great memories.

 

What makes it more enjoyable is when we stop pinning all our happiness on the outcome of the game and just enjoy the process of making it. This way, you are pouring your heart and soul into the experience, not into the chance that it will be the big hit you dream of.

 

The truth is, success is not up to you, me or anyone else. The universe is far too complex and chaotic to ever guarantee success. You spend 3 years working on the most polished game you’ve ever made, only to see it make no traction and fail to break even. Then the following week you see a game made in a week become a global phenomenon. So pinning all your happiness on the success of your game is very much a game of russian roulette.

 

This does not mean you shouldn’t do things that will help your game succeed. The idea here is not to deter you from trying to make a successful game, only that your focus of enjoyment and happiness in game development comes from the journey, not the destination.

 

Your fun and happiness will only ever come from deepening your love of making games. When you get to that point, you will be driven by a different desire. A desire to make a brilliant game, which in turn may bring you success or it may not. But either outcome, you still had a great time doing it and it’ll be that much easier to move on to the next game when you have failure.


Sure, you will still have times of disappointment and setback.. But it will quickly be replaced with your desire to make more games and hopefully bring you more fun and enjoyment in a difficult and chaotic industry.

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