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Developing in a Vacuum

Originally appeared in "The Games Game" column on The IGDA website was massively redesigned in 2013, making old columns unavailable, so select columns are now being reposted here on an as-needed basis. This article originally appeared in February, 2013.

Dear Tom,
I have to say I just found you column and is really good. I am from Perú and here the industry of videogames is really just starting. It's not so easy to get money and we are always working 8 hours in another "day work" so we can afford to live while we make games. In this scenario, Do you recommend us to work in casual games maybe? ¿Flash or apps? ¿indie or existing genre-like games?

We are a group of Philosophers, artists and programmers, but it's easier to work wen you have time.
¿What do you recommend?

I would love to know what you think.

Best Regards from Perú.
Esen (and this is my real name)


Hola, Esen.

Many in your situation would choose to emigrate to a country with an already thriving game industry. But I empathize completely with your not wanting to leave your home country.

Living in a non-game country (or one with only two game companies listed in gamedevmap, and none in gameindustrymap), my recommendation is: start small.

Build small games and apps, at little to no cost beyond your time. Try selling and marketing your games or apps, to learn what works and what doesn't. Whether or not you make money, try different and bigger projects in incrementally larger steps.

There is a danger of being pigeonholed, but you can overcome that the same way. Having built yourself a reputation as a maker of small games and apps, you can make incremental steps in the direction of the type of games you are more interested in making. Pigeonholing is only a problem if and when you look for a job in a game company. Starting out small and building bigger is likely to lead to founding your own company. Then the pigeonhole problem won't even matter. At least, it won't matter for you and your personal résumé, since as an owner or cofounder of your company, there's no pigeonhole barrier to have to break through. But a company can be pigeonholed the same as a person can. The solution is the same: just change. Everybody saying your company just does mobile apps? Work on bigger games.

You also asked what genre you and your mates should work in. And I say, work in whatever genre or platform interests you the most. You'll enjoy your work more, and you'll make better products. Best of luck to you.

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