Hey there, people of internet, I’m Barry Grubb. My plan/ambition/plan is to become a full-time independent game developer and leave my 9-5 job behind me forever. In this first blog post I guess it makes sense for me to share a bit of my back story, otherwise I’m just another faceless internet voice talking at y’all.
So I’m 29 years old right now, and every year that number goes up. Pretty soon (scarily soon) my wife Nikki and I are going to be parents for the first time. Our baby is due in October, and we’re really excited about that.
Up until now I’ve been able to spend my free time pretty much however I want, as you might imagine. If I want to get home from work and spend the next 8 hours kicking around Skyrim in my boxer shorts then I can do that (yeah my wife’s a lucky lady).
Now though I need to change things up a bit and use every bit of my time wisely. The realisation that I’m actually going to be another person’s dad soon is just so life-changing that it’s caused me to take a proper look at my life. The takeaway for me is that the main thing keeping me from being truly satisfied is my employment situation.
I work a 9-5 job, and like so many other people I rely completely on my wages from that job to pay for things, you know, so that I can eat food and not live in a dumpster. That’s not a situation I’ve ever been happy with though, relying on other people, and I don’t want to be in it any longer. There’s just no security for my family there. I’ve always had the desire to work for myself, I guess what you would call an entrepreneurial spirit (although I genuinely hate the pretentiousness of people referring to themselves as an entrepreneur). I’ve always wanted to be in control of my income, I just never did anything about it yet.
I’ve tried working jobs in retail management, exhibition equipment setup, TV show editing, movie visual effects and now technical illustration, technical authoring and interface design. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, and I’m kind of watching it pass me by while I work that out.
Then the answer hit me right in the face, like a ball when you’re looking the other way and not expecting it. (But you’re at a ball game so at the same time you kind of were expecting it, compared to something completely left field, say, like being hit by an elephant. My analogies always rock this hard). The answer has been in front of me all along – video games. To back-track a bit, I had two similar but conflicting interests competing for my attention when I finished college: TV/movie post production, and video games. Video games have always been my biggest passion, and something I’ve sunk so many hours of my life in to. Through circumstance though I landed an interview for a job at a TV company, and I must have done or said something right because I got that job. That event started me down the TV/movie path early in my career, effectively taking the decision of which industry to shoot for out of my hands.
Then about five years later at the height of the global recession I was made redundant, along with a group of my colleagues. By that time I was already starting to feel a bit dejected with the TV and movie industry; I really wanted to be more creative, and not feel like such a tiny cog in a such a huge machine.
Video games didn’t seem like a viable alternative at that point though - I’ve heard from many in the industry how working there can feel just the same as how I was feeling, like a small part of a bigger machine. I didn’t want to have to spend ages retraining just to sit in an office for months on end working on a tiny part of a large game, with all of the crunching and job insecurity that famously go hand-in-hand with game development.
So I arrived at where I am now, doing a decent enough job but not one that I really enjoy, or ever really wanted to do, and again it’s in a very insecure industry that’s just waiting for the rug to be pulled from underneath it.
This is where video games come back in to play. While AAA game dev is clearly not going to be the career for me, indie game dev sure can be. Working from home, making my own games on my own terms, that is something I can get behind all day long.
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 can do a bit of coding, a bit of art, but I have a lot to learn. Of course I won’t be going all-in any time soon, I have a family to look after, so I plan to start building games in my free time. Hopefully (and I’ll try my hardest here) it will become a sustainable business in the future.
Starting this blog feels like an important step as it gives me somewhere to record and share my progress, but it’s also a great way to add accountability to my plan. The more I blog about what I’m doing, the less likely I’ll be to get lazy or demotivated, because I’ll have an expectant audience watching me. Or something like that, I thrive under pressure so expectation is generally a good thing.
Of course I realise that what I’m striving for here, making a full-time living as an indie game developer is not easy, I’m under no illusion, but people are doing it right this very moment and I’m going to try my hardest to join them.
So thanks for reading this first blog post, I guess you’ve just become one more reason why I can’t let myself fail.