Gamasutra Editorial: Follow Your Dreams!...Or Maybe Don't.

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Old 08 August 2014   #1
Gamasutra Editorial: Follow Your Dreams!...Or Maybe Don't.

Quote:


" am filled with absolute terror whenever I get a message like this in my inbox:
"You inspired me to quit my job to make indie games!"



(emphasis mine)


For those of you new to this blog, my name is Lars Doucet, I'm an independent game developer, and my company Level Up Labs has been pretty successful. We started with a simple but compelling little game, Defender's Quest: Valley of the Forgotten, which we sold direct over the web for almost a year before clawing our way onto Steam, and wound up doing better in the second year of release than the first.

At last count, we've sold about 195,000 copies.

I'm elated at this success, but it also fills me with some discomfort. For one, I know that I'm one of the lucky few indies who ever succeed at making a living doing what they love. And for some further perspective, even with our much-hyped success, our company can still only afford one full-time employee -- me. Everyone else moonlights part-time or is an external contractor. To put it in baseball terms, if Braid was a home run and MineCraft a grand-slam, Defender's Quest would be a solid base hit. So in a field like games with such an astronomical strike-out rate, it terrifies me whenever I find out I've inspired another rookie to go all-in.

But at the same time, who am I to tell people they shouldn't follow their dreams? Which brings me to the title of this article:

Follow Your Dreams!... or Maybe Don't.

Following your dreams is crazy, scary, fraught with risk, and the kicker is ... you might not even want it as much as you think you do.

"http://gamasutra.com/blogs/LarsDouc..._Maybe_Dont.php
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Old 08 August 2014   #2
Nice article. This one he linked to at the end is really good too:
https://medium.com/@rachelnabors/do...ove-41312c943e2

As someone who's gone through multiple careers in various industries and creative disciplines (art, music, writing, photography, directing, video games, comic books, animation, teaching, and a bunch of non-creative jobs), I think a good dose of pragmatism should be required. Also, in most cases, until you've actually dedicated a lot of time and energy to a specific endeavor or career path, you will not know if it will "love you back," or that your personality/aptitude is really suited for it.

In my own life, there were things that were outside of my control that made me alter my path several times (such as our society's devaluing of music since the Internet became popular, or the crash of the comic book industry in the late 90's), or things I couldn't have known until I've experience it (such as how devastating it is to have funding pulled away by investors, or losing valuable talents on the team, or being told by someone who knows absolutely nothing about music how you should create music for his project, even when his ideas are absolutely terrible both musically and narratively), or learning about myself and what really suits me (dislike of physical aspects of certain creative endeavors, such as how exhausting certain types of photography can be--getting up before the sun is even out, climbing onto dangerous spots, hauling heavy equipment, dealing with the weather, etc). It took me many years of working hard at excelling in specific creative endeavors and working in different industries to finally figure out what really suits me and makes me happy.

I think the best advice I can give someone who is passionate about any creative endeavor and aspires to do it professionally, is this:

Only go down that path if it is something you will continue to do passionately even if you won the lottery and become filthy rich, or if you never become good enough to break into the industry, or you do break in but could never make a decent living at it. If any of those factors would result in you stop doing the thing you're supposed to be very passionate about, then you might want to take a long hard look at what your real motivations are, and ask yourself if you really truly love what you do.

The fact is, there are plenty of people in this world who are willing to spend a lot of time and money on their hobbies (surfing, playing video games, photography, making dolls, box-cart racing, cooking), and they don't ever expect to become a pro and make a living at it. For them, they do it for the love, and even if they never make a dime at it or become good enough to reach professional levels, they continue to do it because it brings them joy. If that is how you feel about your creative passion, then I think that is the ideal, because to you, making a living at it is just the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. And when you love what you do at that level, nothing can stop you, because rich or poor, busy or idle, you will continue to want to do the thing you love.

One more thing to mention, is that sometimes, turning what you love into a career can end in tragedy, because the business end of things can often end up destroying the purity of the love you once felt. There are people who stopped doing what they love as a job because they experienced that pain and realized they'd be much happier keeping their love as a hobby, instead of letting the business demands ruin everything. Most people when dreaming about doing what they love for a living, they aren't thinking about the infuriating aspects that come with the job such as chasing down payments, dealing with unreasonable clients, being told what to do by people who don't have a clue and won't listen to you, dealing with inner-group politics, cutthroat competition in the industry, bad press, worrying about funding and manpower, having to compromise your creative vision and dumb down something to better sell to the lowest common denominator, and so on.

If you have a dream and are working towards making that dream come true, don't just have your head in the clouds--you need to take some time and really think about what you want and what is in store for you in a pragmatic manner. Life very rarely turns out as we imagine it would.
 
Old 08 August 2014   #3
In a lot of the linked sources (eg: Mike Rowe) there's a lot of generalization regarding Happiness and Contentment with Financial Security, Fear of Failure, Fear of Loss, the U.S. Infrastructure problem, obsession with Model/Celebrity careers, and the psychological balance of Blue Collar Workers.

It's not that I don't agree with aspects of it. It's that I think the advice is all over the place and wouldn't work anyway for people thinking structurally and methodically about what they're doing.

There was an executive at a major Japanese firm who once taught that they had this unwritten rule against disturbing "any employee staring out the window" because "they might be thinking of something important".

How about we don't try to tell dreamers they shouldn't be dreamers or tell people happy to castrate lambs to join American Idol? How about we just "let them think as they gaze out the window"?

Whether they're thinking about the next new phone interface or lamb testes...If it's worthwhile in an objective way, it'll work for them.
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Old 08 August 2014   #4
Originally Posted by Lunatique: Only go down that path if it is something you will continue to do passionately even if you won the lottery and become filthy rich.


This is pretty much it. Nothing will ever give you a better picture of your true passion than answering this question to yourself, truthfully.

I think article is spot on about the expectation and reality thing. A lot of friends and relatives where absolutely obsessed with seeing how I was creating artwork, only to be extremely turned off and dissapointed when they saw a 3d soft viewport. They expected it to be a walk in the park of joy, but they realized it took a lot of work and sweat.

There's one quote I fully disagree with, and it's the article as well:
"Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life"

I call bs on that. There's no job on earth which doesn't have a boring side. Even if you break it in with selling copies of your games/movie/shorts/whatever, there's always things that you will not enjoy doing. But you're gonna do anyway cause that's what it takes to reach your goals. There's aspects of my job I would gladly skip. It's not a daily thing though, but still.

I know this quote might proove it self true in terms that it won't feel like work to practice and put in all the hours needed to master something. But that's as far as it goes. Even if you're on the top of your game you might not be able to save yourself from endless, useless and boring to death meetings, talking to clients incredible hard to work with and list goes on and on.

Giancarlo, I think you're missunderstanding the advice. It's not about telling someone not to be a dreamer or give up. It's about not idealizing the dream, and put the pressure on yourself because you "HAVE to follow (and fulfill) your dream". It really does not compare enjoying the game/movie/painting to actually making a game/movie/painting. So that's the point. Find out what your dream really take and then decide if that's what you enjoy doing.
My 2 cents though.
 
Old 08 August 2014   #5
I recently had the pleasure of listening to Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs") on his opinions about work.
and his advice blew me away.

He has a point.

Here are some cool videos from him:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSFnETYcOcw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cC0JPs-rcF0

Originally Posted by Lunatique: Nice article. This one he linked to at the end is really good too:
https://medium.com/@rachelnabors/do...ove-41312c943e2

As someone who's gone through multiple careers in various industries and creative disciplines (art, music, writing, photography, directing, video games, comic books, animation, teaching, and a bunch of non-creative jobs), I think a good dose of pragmatism should be required.

Amen.I also belive strongly in nurturing multiple skillets.
People have no idea how HARD you have to work in order to KEEP that designer Job, How you have to constantly have to update your bag of tricks in order to stay relevant.

Also another piece of advice I give the junior designers, at my office is to treat every job like a Portfolio piece that they would show at an JOB interview.
Don't half ass anything, because you never know how long this job will last.
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Last edited by RobertoOrtiz : 08 August 2014 at 11:43 AM.
 
Old 08 August 2014   #6
Originally Posted by JWRodegher: Giancarlo, I think you're missunderstanding the advice. It's not about telling someone not to be a dreamer or give up. It's about not idealizing the dream, and put the pressure on yourself because you "HAVE to follow (and fulfill) your dream". It really does not compare enjoying the game/movie/painting to actually making a game/movie/painting. So that's the point. Find out what your dream really take and then decide if that's what you enjoy doing.
My 2 cents though.


I see. Well what I meant was that if someone thinks structurally about what to do. If they do the research. If they try to build the complete day-to-day operating picture of their dream, then they would already be in a position where no warnings are needed.

I guess the best dovetail I can manage to Rowe's viewpoint is: "If you've gathered enough data to make your dream look more and more like an episode of 'Dirty Jobs', then you can make your decision about whether it's worth it or not."
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Old 08 August 2014   #7
Originally Posted by CGIPadawan: I see. Well what I meant was that if someone thinks structurally about what to do. If they do the research. If they try to build the complete day-to-day operating picture of their dream, then they would already be in a position where no warnings are needed.

I guess the best dovetail I can manage to Rowe's viewpoint is: "If you've gathered enough data to make your dream look more and more like an episode of 'Dirty Jobs', then you can make your decision about whether it's worth it or not."

Which is precisely why the advice is about "do that research and figure it out to that extent so you CAN make that decision". It's not "don't follow your dreams", nor it's targeted to people who already developed that understanding of the scenario.

It's telling people to become that guy who understands the scenario before they decide to follow their dreams, and then either do or don't, but not to be that guy that follows his or her dreams blinded by dreams of videogame stardom (applies to vfx just as well) only to find out our careers aren't exactly the glittery, glamorous dream he envisioned.
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Old 10 October 2014   #8
Mike has a habit of saying things that go viral...
"
On Tuesday it was Stephen Adams of Auburn, Alabama who wrote in questioning a now famous speech in which Rowe said “follow your passion” was the worst advice he’d ever received.

“Hi, Mike. Let me begin by saying that I love what you and your foundation are attempting to do,” Adams wrote. “However, I’m confused by your directive to NOT “follow your passion.” I think it can be safely argued that if no one followed their passion, companies like Apple, Microsoft, Dow, and many more wouldn’t exist. If no one follows their passion, who innovates? Who founds companies that provide jobs for the outstanding workers that your foundation aims to help?”

Rowe’s complete response can be found below:
Hi Stephen

A few years ago, I did a special called “The Dirty Truth.” In it, I challenged the conventional wisdom of popular platitudes by offering “dirtier,” more individualistic alternatives. For my inspiration, I looked to those hackneyed bromides that hang on the walls of corporate America. The ones that extoll passersby to live up to their potential by “dreaming bigger,” “working smarter,” and being a better “team player.” In that context, I first saw “Follow Your Passion” displayed in the conference room of a telemarketing firm that employed me thirty years ago. The words appeared next to an image of a rainbow, arcing gently over a waterfall and disappearing into a field of butterflies. Thinking of it now still makes me throw up in my mouth.

Like all bad advice, “Follow Your Passion” is routinely dispensed as though it’s wisdom were both incontrovertible and equally applicable to all. It’s not. Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it. And just because you’re determined to improve doesn’t mean that you will. Does that mean you shouldn’t pursue a thing you’re passionate about?” Of course not. The question is, for how long, and to what end?

When it comes to earning a living and being a productive member of society – I don’t think people should limit their options to those vocations they feel passionate towards. I met a lot of people on Dirty Jobs who really loved their work. But very few of them dreamed of having the career they ultimately chose. I remember a very successful septic tank cleaner who told me his secret of success. “I looked around to see where everyone else was headed, and then I went the opposite way,” he said. “Then I got good at my work. Then I found a way to love it. Then I got rich.”

Every time I watch The Oscars, I cringe when some famous movie star – trophy in hand – starts to deconstruct the secret to happiness. It’s always the same thing, and I can never hit “mute” fast enough to escape the inevitable cliches. “Don’t give up on your dreams kids, no matter what.” “Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have what it takes.” And of course, “Always follow your passion!”

Today, we have millions looking for work, and millions of good jobs unfilled because people are simply not passionate about pursuing those particular opportunities. Do we really need Lady GaGa telling our kids that happiness and success can be theirs if only they follow their passion?"

for more go here:
http://yellowhammernews.com/faithan...owe-dirty-jobs/
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Old 10 October 2014   #9
"That’s why I would never advise anyone to “follow their passion” until I understand who they are, what they want, and why they want it. Even then, I’d be cautious. Passion is too important to be without, but too fickle to be guided by. Which is why I’m more inclined to say, “Don’t Follow Your Passion, But Always Bring it With You.” (sic) Mike Rowe

Yes I'll have to admit I'm in partial agreement with, but after reading the accompaning linked articles I've evaluated somewhat of an cursory response in the negative of a sort, due to a commentary that speaks to an embeded "first world" oriented audience as subscribed I think in the following quote:

"...Capitalism has provided more opportunity for more people to improve their lives than any other system ever invented. Obviously, it’s far from perfect. Like any other “ism,” some people will fare better than others. But the thing that I saw on Dirty Jobs, with breath-taking regularity, were men and women who found the economic stability you describe by doing things that most people would simply not do, and working harder than most people are willing to work. I did the show for eight years because it was the most empowering thing I’ve ever seen. Hundreds of men and women enjoying a balanced life as a direct result of their uncommon willingness to master a useful skill, do an unpleasant thing, and work really, really hard. The people I met on the show were often covered in dirt - or something much worse. But they were happy and economically stable, and in many cases - positively thriving."
(sic) Mike Rowe

...the available opportunities a person instilled with the personal acumen in focused direction living under an "developed market" paradigm has at their disposal the wherewithal in order to achieve the above. In fact I've very much "been there done that", from fresh out of high school first "real" job as an hospital orderly, to sheep shearing roustabout, construction labourer, landfill water truck operator, manufacturing process worker, professional soldier, civil aviation ground handler, then on to automotive assembly line technician to name but a few... in my opinion an archetypal "Jack of all trades - Master of None" work history acquired after three & a half decades.

I must confess at times unpleasant & mundane ranging through to fascinating & evocative experiences to where I currently find myself feverishly, whilst reskilling towards a dissimilar industry sector [day job] after sustaining a workplace life changing injury, working although haphazard progress at best thus far to implement my first mobile "passion" project [demo] likewise my proposed near future all going well that is, "profession" as an aspiring indie dev.

So all well and good some might say, just dovetail that initial quote...and "Bob's your Uncle" everything great! yes to reiterate one would indeed hope so. But the passage I find most jarring authored in that second quote:

"Capitalism has provided more opportunity for more people to improve their lives than any other system ever invented".


...not always the case, but to give credit where due, he does acknowledge the intrinsic faults that lie therein. In particular for the most part, those individual's living day to day of a certain socio-economic circumstance are at the end of any given day not afforded the "luxury" to derive an optimal route contextually, all things being equal "work place happiness". Anyway in passing one continues to live in hope when next a "celebrity" penned essay gains viral traction a dollop of objective insightful inclusion may transpire.
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Last edited by sacboi : 10 October 2014 at 06:09 AM.
 
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