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Games have been around since the 1970s (roughly), which means that if those early developers had made a lifelong career out of it, then they would be in their 50s today.
Yet, most shops are full of people in their 20s and 30s. It seems that very few developers have chosen to make a lifelong career in this industry. I wonder why this is?
There's a few possibilities.
- They became bored with creating games and left the industry.
- They got promoted to producer or other business related positions, and therefore they don't actively get involved in the nuts and bolts of the development anymore.
- They left the industry due to the working conditions (long hours, benefits, etc).
- They left the industry because of the pay (notoriously lower than software development in other sectors, from what I hear).
I'm looking at this as an oustider as I'm an aspiring developer who's never worked in a professional game development shop before. Considering all of the startling news that's been made public in recent years (EA Spouse, etc), I'm betting that #3 is the reason many people leave the industry.
As an aspiring game developer who is planning on dropping $45k in tuition to go to the Guildhall at SMU, the idea of going into an industry that most people seem to leave after 5-10 years is a bit scary.
It seems that many of the early legendary game shops were started by a group of college kids who enjoyed staying up all hours of the day and night working on their games, which was fun to them, as you'd expect.
It seems that even though games have become big business and are primarily created by working professionals (with families, lives, etc) instead of college kids, this frathouse mentality has never quite been extinguished.
As a result, many talented developers seem to leave when they get into their 30s (because they start having families, priorities shift, etc). At that point, your whole life doesn't revolve around work anymore (atleast it shouldn't).
Like I said, I'm looking at this from an outsider, and if this is all way offbase, I apologize. Please set the record straight. However, if there is any truth to what I'm saying, then I'd love to hear your comments about the future of this business.
Do you believe that in the coming years things will begin to change to make the working conditions in this industry more standardized and willing to let employees have lives and families? Do you think the nature of this industry is such that it SHOULD be primarily young people doing the development, and people SHOULD get out after 5-10 years?