Hi, I’m Barry Grubb, and my plan is to become a full-time independent game developer. In this first post I’ll share a bit of my back story, and explain how I got to where I am right now. While it’s certainly no superhero origin story, I’ll try and keep it as interesting as I can!
I’m 29 years old and pretty soon my wife Nikki and I are going to be parents for the first time. Our baby is due in October, and nothing can express how excited we are about that.
The realisation that I’m going to be somebody’s dad soon is so life-changing that it’s caused me to take a hard look at my life. Right now I’m employed at a 9-5 job, and like millions of others I rely solely on my wages from that job to make ends meet. That’s not a situation I want to be in any more; I’ve always had the desire to work for myself and be in control of what I earn, I just never did anything about it yet.
I’ve drifted between different industries since finishing college ten years ago; I’ve tried my hand at retail management, exhibition setup, TV editing, movie visual effects and now technical illustration, documentation writing and interface design. I’m trapped in that modern day curse of not knowing what I want to do with my life, whilst watching it pass me by. When I was at school I figured I’d work it out one day, but now at the age of 29 none of the industries I’ve tried so far have ticked the right boxes for me.
Recently however I’ve come to realise that the answer I’m looking for has, as is often the case in these situations, been right there in front of me all along. I had two particular interests competing for my attention when I left school: TV and movie post production, and video games. Video games have always been my biggest interest, a passion would describe it better, but through circumstance I landed an interview for a job at a TV company soon after college, and I got that job. That started me down the TV and movie path early in my career, effectively taking the decision of which industry to work in out of my hands.
About five years later at the height of the global recession I was made redundant, and by that time I was already starting to feel a bit dejected with the TV and movie industry. I wanted to be more creative, and not feel like a tiny cog in a huge machine any more. However I also felt like it was too late for me to retrain and get in to the industry that I knew I should have been in all along, which was the games industry. I now know that was a ridiculous way to look at things in my mid-twenties, but back then things seemed bleak, and financially I had to get another paying job as quickly as possible, rather than take the time to get good enough at any game-related skill to land a job in it. I drifted, and ended up where I am now, doing a decent enough job but not one that I really enjoy.
All of this recent introspection has flagged some personal goals for me, which culminate in the fact that I now need to start building a real life for my family. That means not just existing anymore but living; I need more money, more time to spend with my loved ones, and my own personal contentment. That last point might sound selfish, but I believe that I can’t be the best husband and dad I can be if I’m miserable all of the time from working in a job I don’t love. It’s time to follow my dream and become a full-time independent game developer.
I’ve experimented with making games plenty of times before as a hobby, but so far it hasn’t gone any further than that. I really do have a lot to learn, but that all feels like part of the adventure. Of course I’m not going all-in any time soon, that would be crazy with a family to look after. I plan to start by building games in my free time, until it can hopefully become sustainable in the future.
Starting this blog feels like an important first step for a few reasons: as a way of recording and sharing my progress, as a way of hopefully meeting some like-minded people, and also as a way to add accountability to my plan. To expand on that accountability idea further, the intention is that the more I blog about what I’m up to, the less likely I’ll be to get lazy or give up on a good idea, because I’ll have an expectant audience watching me. Or something like that, I thrive under pressure so expectation is a good thing for me.
I realise that what I’m striving for, making a full-time living as an indie game developer is not an easy goal, I’m under no illusion, but many people are doing it right this very moment and I’m going to try my hardest to join them. Right now it feels like a great time to be indie, it seems like there’s never been more opportunity available to those who’ll just step up and take it.
So thanks for reading this first blog post, I guess you’ve just become one more reason why I can’t let myself fail.