A concerned parent approached me recently. Their child has pursued a path in game development. The bit of research the parent did (not sure how much) indicated to him that there were some big downsides to this. Long hours, low pay, demanding schedules and the like. How should he direct his son?
Well, I am no parent. But I was a beginner once. And I have seen plenty of beginning programmers fail.
Of the programmers that fail, I would say the greatest majority of them failed because they did not dedicate themselves to programming. Many found they didn’t even like programming. Like many other careers, people see the high demand and high pay of some developers, and jump in expecting to make big bucks after a few years of education. Not in this industry, nor any other that I can think of.
In my opinion, if you are going to fail, fail early. Consider it a learning experience, and move on.
So what advice would I give to a concerned parent? Coach and support.
What if your child wanted to pursue a career in game development? Perhaps show them the good and bad points. Show them the outlook for such a choice, and remind them that their decision now can affect their future.
Once the decision is made, encourage them as much as possible.
Are they keeping their eyes opened to different opportunities? Encourage them to explore, as well as be focused on a goal.
Are they narrowly focused on their goal? Encourage them to continue to learn all facets of their chosen path, as well as explore other opportunities.
If failure comes, show them that it is not the end of the world. It is part of the life process.
Does that not sound like positive reinforcement? It certainly sounds better to me than waiting for failure and saying “I told you so.”
As in all types of advice, YMMV.