Why I’m Quitting my Day Job and Becoming an Independent Game Developer

When I tell people that I am quitting my job to make a video game I am most often met with questioning looks.  If they are comfortable enough they might ask a cautionary question or two, their doubts apparent in tone of voice.  I would like to answer all their questions.  After all, it is a major life decision for my family and something important to me. The purpose of the conversation usually ends up being to make the other person comfortable with decisions that are already made.  I would rather have the far more interesting conversation about what motivated me to make those decisions.  So lets do both, I’ll write down the questions that are likely going through peoples heads.  Then I will answer them directly, followed by my motivations that have placed me where I am.

The questions are usually financial or about the well being of my family.
Isn’t that risky? How will you pay for things? What are you going to do for insurance? Have you considered just going part time?
Rachel and I have good parents that taught us about money.  We worked our butts off before, during, and after college so that we would have no debt.  No mortgage, no car payment, no student loans.  Rachel is working full time and will have health insurance for us through her work.  We will be able to live off less than what she makes.  Over the last two years we have also saved up over 2 years of living expenses to make her feel comfortable with the transition.  We have also saved an equal amount for my business. It is amazing how much you can save when you eliminate all but the necessary expenses.  If we wanted to, we could both stop working for over two years. Nobody would come after us, the sky would not be falling, we would not be evicted or foreclosed on.

The American Dream that everyone seems so focused on achieving is not your dream.  Well, it might be. But have you ever stopped to think about what your dream life would be?  I can tell you that living in the shackles of debt is not my dream. That all sounds more like a nightmare than a dream. Family members often tell me that i’m “throwing money away on rent.”  In my mind I am gaining interest on my money instead of spending it on mortgage interest, house repairs, and property taxes. I am spending my time on things I care about instead of maintaining a house and yard.  When I do buy a house it will be in cash and I will not need to remove $150k+ of the chains of debt.  What about working for a big company(s) at an 8-5 job for 45 years?  Nope, not in my dream either.  I want independence in my work and I don’t want to wait until I’m retired to start working on something i’m passionate about.  If you don’t have a dream, start dreaming. If you have a dream, I humbly suggest you make a plan to achieve it.

A plan is a real thing, and things projected are experienced.  A plan once made and visualized becomes a reality along with other realities-never to be destroyed but easily to be attacked.  -John Steinbeck, The Pearl

If asked, most people would say you should face your fears and live your dreams, but how many of them do it? Start taking steps towards living your dreams.  It won’t be easy, people will think you are crazy like they do me.  But it sure feels great!  On a related note, I identified with this movie, you might too. Here is the trailer.

You might be thinking…
He is going to waste a lot of money trying to get rich and there is a good chance it won’t work.
There is some truth to this, I want to be rich…
…in happiness.
…in creativity.
…in choice.
…in independence.

Money is not my primary motivator.  If it was, I would continue working for a large corporation. I know that statistically, on average people who do so net a greater return than those who work independently.  If I continued saving and investing as I am doing, and the market continues it’s historical growth, I could retire with 4-6 million.  I am not bragging, if you are my age you can do it too! If you get your finances in order.

But I won’t be saving as much as I am now.  And that is OK. I judge success by comparing myself to my goals, not comparing myself to others.  I will be much happier this way. I want more from life.

I bargain with life for a penny.
And life would pay no more
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store.

 For life is a just employer
He gives you what you ask.
But once you have set the wages,
Why you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire.
Only to learn dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of life
Life would have willingly paid.

I do not want this to be a short term thing.  I have my plan.  That is becoming financially independent by creating something meaningful.  In this case a video game (we can talk about how a video game can be meaningful another time.)  There is no reason in having a plan B because it distracts from plan A.  If everything falls flat and I need to find a job working for someone else I will, but that will be the temporary fix to get plan A back on track, not a fallback plan.  I have been studying game design for the past year and a half.  I do not mean I have been thinking about game design.  I am talking about text books, magazine subscriptions, and hundreds of online articles. All of these with the purpose of improving the skills involved in designing and creating games.  I have a lot to learn, but I am focused on achieving my goals.

Subconsciously you might be asking yourself
What does it say about me if he is right?
I hope you avoid thinking this can’t be right because it is different.  Instead ask yourself these questions. What if I would be happier? what if my family would be happier if I pursued my dreams?  Have I been lying to myself about what the right thing to do is? I always think it is ridiculous when I hear people say to high-schoolers “These are the best days of your life.”  What a load of crap!  If this year isn’t the best year of your life then change something!  Life should always be getting better.  If not, maybe you are investing in the wrong things.

There is so much to get out of life.  I intend to squeeze the most out of it that I can.

You can follow me on twitter https://twitter.com/LyleCox I will post updates on the game there.

You can also subscribe to the newsletter. I will only send out major announcements here if I do anything like launch a kickstarter or release a beta of the game.


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