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Ask HN: I don't like playing games, can I be a game developer?
12 points by ertucetin 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 10 comments
I'm a full stack programmer(Clojure/Java) and I wrote lots of backend and frontend code, mostly web apps.

I want to try something new but I'm confused. I thought building games might be interesting but I'm not that sure because I really don't play/like games.

The thing is I want to improve my programming skills in a different way and it should be fun so what is your suggestion?




I'm a sample of one, but I was kind of in your shoes. I'm a huge baseball fan and spent lots of time programming tools to help me perform better in my fantasy leagues. From there, I thought, "why not program my own baseball simulator?"

So, I started but I kept running into "I wonder how they do....?" interface questions because I didn't like gaming, so I started playing a baseball simulator.

To say I was fucking amazed would be an incredible understatement. The complexity and depth they achieved was so far out of my league that I wanted to keep playing, partly as a tribute and partly in hopes of figuring out their secrets. But, if you'd asked me then, I still would have said, "Yeah, i don't like games."

And, then for Christmas a few years ago, we got our kids a PS4. At first, I was a fuddy duddy who didn't like games, but then my stepdaughter taught me how to play Minecraft...

Today, roughly four years have gone by since I decided to build my own baseball simulation. As it stands, the simulation might be one of the worst pieces of software ever built, though I cant recall another project where I've flat out learned so much.


Games development is a lower paying and more competitive space than others, so why do it if you dont like games?


This. Also, even after all the press about crunch time (https://kotaku.com/crunch-time-why-game-developers-work-such...), the hours are still bad.

A lot of the skills are so specialized that they don’t transfer directly to more common types of software. Most backend developers don’t need to know about graphics pipelines, physics, or any knowledge of game engines or animation engines.

Finally, other than distribution and marketing, the thing that makes or breaks a game is design - whether it’s fun (https://www.quora.com/Is-it-easy-for-a-software-engineer-to-...). It’s hard to design a fun game if you haven’t played many. You don’t need this skill to work on other parts of a game, but if you’re not there for the money, work environment, or personal passion/impact, not much is left.

If you want to tinker and learn something new, spend a few weeks writing a basic platformer with a HTML5 library like Phaser or melon (many tutorials online). You’ll have to consider some of the same problems as more complicated games, but it’s much less work.


i guess it heavily depends on the position you're interested in. A gameplay programmer might be expected to like games, on the other hand, if you're writing an asset handling system, network stuff, rendering, ..... It really doesn't matter. I may be in a similar situation, loving the challenges one encounters while writing games, yet not really into games themselves.


I was the same, I used to hobby game dev for many years. I was never a gamer, what intrigued me was creating worlds, and the technical challenge. I learned tons writing things like 3d software renderer, scripting language, path finding, physics. Nothing I wrote ever progressed past a 'tech demo' though.

Nowadays, using thing like unity or whatever, games are essentially an excercise in content creation IMO. Well, this has been true for a long time.


I've been making 2D games off and on for years. J2ME, Java w/OpenGL bindings, and now in Clojure. Was a great way to start learning a new language and since I love programming this is a nice way to a) do more, and b) practice, and c) is a completely different domain than the Clojure I do in my day job.


Most developers are working on systems that they have no interest in using in their spare time.


The difference is that people use most software for a combination of reasons that don't usually impact the game industry.

The first reason is that the programs often help them complete important tasks. Some of them couldn't be accomplished otherwise. The second is that there are lots of industry standard apps that aren't even that good, but its the standard that everyone uses so everyone keeps using it. There are lots of other reasons but these are the ones that immediately come to mind.

If people don't enjoy playing a game, they aren't going to play it.


I'm a sample of one, but I was kind of in your shoes. I'm a huge baseball fan and spent lots of time programming tools to help me perform better in my fantasy leagues. From there, I thought, "why not program my own baseball simulator?"

I started but kept running into "I wonder how they do....?" interface questions because I didn't like gaming, so I started playing a baseball simulator.

To say I was fucking amazed would be an incredible understatement. The complexity and depth they achieved was so far out of my league that I wanted to keep playing, partly as a tribute and partly in hopes of figuring out their secrets. But, if you'd asked me then, I still would have said, "Yeah, I don't like games."

And, then for Christmas a few years ago, we got our kids a PS4. At first, I was a fuddy duddy who didn't like games, but then my stepdaughter taught me how to play Minecraft...

Today, roughly four years have gone by since I decided to build my own baseball simulation. As it stands, the simulation might be one of the worst pieces of software ever built, though I learned so much when I was working on it.

But, the biggest difference is that now, I play games. I actually bought GTA5 a few months ago and can't believe how much fun I have playing it.

TL;DR - Go right ahead, even for a side project. However, if you don't play games, you'll likely end up playing a few, just to figure out how others present information and request input. Then, be very careful because once you get over the amazement at what people can accomplish, you might start having fun. :)


You should make some games on your own first. Use your Java skills to make an Android game.




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