I’m changing careers. I’m 43.
This is definitely not something I ever imagined I’d be doing. I’ve had a steady job since I was 16. I have advanced degrees in my field, a six-figure salary, and over 2 decades of experioence. Yet here I am, making a BIG career change at 40.
I want to be an Indie Game Developer.
I got bitten by the GameDev bug back in 2016. I’ve always had a knack for programming and design, but my first VR headset (an HTC Vive) got me thinking: the games I wish I could play don’t exist…maybe I can make them?
I downloaded Unity, spent a few bucks on 3d models, and made a VR demo called Sellsword VR. We took it to PAX West in 2017, and became a surprise hit with fans in the VR Village. We were the only indie title with a dedicated queue line – people were willing to wait over 2 hours just to play our demo!
Work got in the way.
I loved my job – I was a high school band director; I had great students, a thriving program…but I found myself thinking less about music and more about building games. I looked forward to getting home to build a better AI solution, add a level, or tweak an animation. My “day job” kept me busy and left little time for work on my game.
When interest in VR waned, I didn’t have enough time (or money) to continue development. So my dream died for a while. I started designing a game for my Mom, a farm RPG (she loves games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing). The more I worked on a minigame feature, the more I realized I had TWO games in development: my Farm RPG and a competitive action party game.
Two summers later:
Work on Barn Brawl continued – I had a viable game, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. An opportunity for my wife’s career presented itself – leaving me with a choice: decline the offer and stay in Seattle as a band director; accept the offer, quit my job, and follow my wife – but I’d be unemployed and working full time from home on my game.
Obviously, I chose to make a career change at 40 – otherwise, we wouldn’t be here. Technically my change happened at 43, but I’m excited (and scared) to be on this journey. I’ve decided that others considering drastic changes might benefit from reading my story. So – if you’re like me, and torn between two worlds – one that pays the bills; another that excites, motivates, and breathes new life into your day – come along for the ride.
If you’re at ANY AGE and contemplating a career as an indie game developer, I invite you to see my mistakes, failures, and triumphs. Maybe I can help you along your journey. Either way, here we go!