We’re a little more positive this week. It’s not all doom & gloom. People can and do get jobs in this industry, and some of them even make a living at it.
And now for the stuff that wouldn’t fit into the column:
When I was younger I thought I was good at codingFor the purposes of this discussion, let’s just assume this is true. because I had a special knack for it. But after trying to teach some other people to code, I’ve come to suspect that the secret to success isn’t some special form of intelligence, but an oddball affinity for the process of coding. I’ve seen smart people – people smarter than me – crunch up their faces at simple coding problems and refuse to think about it. “I’m not good at this,” they say.
It’s not that they tried to figure it out and failed, it’s that they find the problem completely uninteresting and have no desire to spend time thinking about it. It’s true that they aren’t good at it. But nobody is “good” at coding at first. The problem isn’t that they don’t know how to code, it’s that they have no interest in learning.
When I was young I had an Atari 2600. It came with a brochure for all the games you could buy, and one of them was Atari BasicI never got Atari Basic, which is good. It was apparently awful.. I was maybe 10 or 11 when I saw the advertisement depicting a few lines of BASICIt wasn’t proper basic, but I didn’t even know there WAS such a thing as “proper Basic” yet. code. I felt this overwhelming need to understand those mysterious lines of text. I had this strange feeling of anxiousness. This was happening. Somewhere out there were people who understood this stuff, and I didn’t know how to become one of them. It’s not that I wanted a job, or wanted to make games, or was interested in self-education. I was interested in coding for its own sake. (Although I did like games and I understood that having a job was a good thing.)
Once I learned to code, I thought about it all the time. I thought about it in school, on the bus, in the car, at dinner, or anywhere else where there was Real Life stuff between me and the hours I would get to spend coding.
I’m not suggesting that you need to have this weird obsession with code in order to program. But I am saying that it’s not all about smarts. Imagine how much easier it would be to do your daily workout if you loved the experience of exercise. Imagine how easy it would be to keep a tidy house if you loved to clean. How much easier is it to learn an instrument when you’re practicing because you love doing it, and not because mom says you have to practice for at least 20 minutes every day when you get home from school?
So my real career advice is this: See if you can figure out what that thing is that you have passion for. Do that for a living.
I realize this boils down to the old advice of “Find a job you enjoy doing.” And I guess it is. But it’s important to note that the benefit isn’t just in having a job you like to do, but also in the fact that if you like it, you’re likely to get really good at it.
Don’t sweat it if you can’t find that thing. If I’d been born 50 years sooner, I wouldn’t have been able to discover my own love for coding. You don’t always discover your thing in a moment of revelation like I did. And even if you do find it, it’s not a guarantee of success. If your passion is for acting, or playing sports, or painting, then the odds of you making money at that are pretty lowOn the upside, if you DO make money at these, you’ll probably make a LOT..
But as you grope around, looking for a career (or how to improve the career you already have) look for passion. Sometimes passion looks like creepy obsession to others. If you’re trying to figure out what kind of game developer you want to be, try a little of everything and look for the activity that tickles your brain. And don’t beat yourself up and or assume you’re dumb if you can’t code. We are all good at one thing, and bad at many things. There’s no shame in not being able to code, unless you decide to become a coder for a living. And yes that is apparently an ongoing problem.
To complete the lesson, later this week we’re going to return to Good Robot and I’ll talk about a bone-headed mistake I made.
 For the purposes of this discussion, let’s just assume this is true.
 I never got Atari Basic, which is good. It was apparently awful.
 It wasn’t proper basic, but I didn’t even know there WAS such a thing as “proper Basic” yet.
 On the upside, if you DO make money at these, you’ll probably make a LOT.
How to Forum
Dear people of the internet: Please stop doing these horrible idiotic things when you talk to each other.
Best. Plot Twist. Ever.
Few people remember BioWare's Jade Empire, but it had a unique setting and a really well-executed plot twist.
Skyrim Thieves Guild
The Thieves Guild quest in Skyrim is a vortex of disjointed plot-holes, contrivances, and nonsense.
Why I Hated Resident Evil 4
Ever wonder how seemingly sane people can hate popular games? It can happen!
The Witch Watch
My first REAL published book, about a guy who comes back from the dead due to a misunderstanding.