Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Where did the extrovert game devs come from?

To cut a long story short, personal interaction with me can be pretty random. Some days, if you meet me I will be confident, outgoing, friendly. I will smile and shake your hand. I will probably be very sarcastic (tis my way…) and make jokes. I will try to be helpful. Other times, depending on the circumstances, I may be VERY shy. Its very unlikely I’ll start a conversation, or have much enthusiasm for keeping things going. At a lot of social events, if I haven’t seen someone I know within 10 minutes (max) I’ll leave, even if it took me an hour to get there.

Generally, when it comes to business, I far prefer email to all other forms of communication. I don’t need to meet you to sign a contract. I don’t even need to speak to you. Email is perfect for me, its excellent in all ways. Ironically, in groups of people that I already know, I can often be gregarious, maybe even loud. It is sooo random.

I do muse if people who are like me are naturally biased towards becoming programmers, especially in games. Games programming is about creation, and creation is about control. I wouldn’t choose to create a situation I didn’t want, or people I didn’t like, or locations that freak me out. As a coder, I have total control over the entire world, the entire ecosystem, I can see what everyone is thinking, because I coded their AI.

For a long time, I got the impression that almost all indie developers, and maybe most game developers in general were people like me. Quiet people. people who didn’t draw attention to themselves. hard workers, but the quiet studious types who beaver away in some dark corner of a room somewhere learning C++ or developing a game engine. In short…people like this:

Then after Indie Game:The movie came out, indie became cool, and it seemed the total opposite happened. The last game conference I went to, I recall seeing some distressingly stylish and attractive and confident young game developer strutting the stage with a headset mic on, behaving like he was a veteran of TED talks. What the hell happened? Where did all these extroverts come from? Maybe I am wrong, and being superficial about it. A friend told me that a famous game dev (who I’ve met a few times) is NOT AT ALL as outgoing and confident as he appears at shows, its all an act. if so, its a good one. Is that the case for everyone? Is there some genetic link between being an extravert and making a retro puzzle platformer game in the same way there seems to be between introverts and simulation game coders? (molyneux excepted). Modern game devs seem to be more like this:

FWIW, if you ever saw me give a talk, it was likely this one at the GDC rant (its the biggest audience I spoke to I think, maybe tied with steam devs days #1 marketing talk). Here is the talk:

I was so nervous beforehand you have no idea. I actually thought I might vomit. No, you can’t tell (hopefully), but there you go. Maybe we ARE all faking it?


4 thoughts on Where did the extrovert game devs come from?

  1. I don’t think you’re imagining things. It’s a pretty common life-cycle:

    Step 1: $niche is filled with the true believers, the people who are absolutely devoted to some specialized topic. They tend to be introverts because hey, that’s what introverts do.
    Step 2: $niche becomes successful, because the devoted people figure out how to do great things.
    Step 3: Because of the success, $niche becomes cool
    Step 4: Lots of wannabes flock to $niche, hoping to cash in on the success.

    The question is what happens next, since there are roughly two possibilities:

    Step 5a: The raw skill of the introverts who have always been there combines with the political games (not in the Democracy 3 sense) of the extroverts in a way that something truly society-changing comes out of it.


    Step 5b: The extroverts push out the introverts, which allows them to reap short-term cash but leads to a long-term decline of the quality of $niche.
    Step 6b: Where there was previously a blooming $niche, only a wasteland remains once the extroverts leave as well.

    I’d say the latter path happens more frequently. How’s that for some gloom before the holidays? :)

    I wouldn’t be surprised if indie gaming were following the same cycle. The good news is that there’s probably enough intrinsic and lasting appeal to that particular niche that it’s likely to restart after some time even if it goes down the path of 5b+6b.

    By the way, that talk is absolutely hilarious, and no, I don’t know all the references.

  2. The way you describe yourself socially sounds very familiar, it’s good to know someone else feels that way. I’ll be happy to see and talk to people, then the next day not want anything to do with people. But, I’m also pretty good at public speaking, and probably appear to be gregarious to people who see me on stage.

    It’s not exactly an act, the thing about giving a speech is that I have total control over the situation. I can prepare and rehearse ahead of time, and when I’m up on a stage nobody is asking questions or interjecting. I’ve been a member of Toastmasters, and have been practicing public speaking for close to nine years now so I’m pretty comfortable, but when I first started I felt like I was going to throw up every time I gave a speech. It’s pretty much just another learned skill.

  3. I feel very much the same way as you describe, although probably worse. I have to interact with numerous people on a daily basis working in a hospital and I never get better at it. Also, have a massive phone phobia which poses major problems.

    Always wanted to be a coder from the days when I used to play with Spectrum basic, but I never quite got the aptitude required as you know. Maybe one day.

  4. Sounds like a lot of us are in the same boat! I hate public speaking, and was dreading my wedding speech. I spent 2 weeks writing and refining and practising the speech and on the day I absolutely nailed it, despite being scared out of my wits the whole time. I had people congratulating me on how it was one of the best they’d ever heard.

    What I took away from this is that you can fake being confident by really knowing your subject matter.

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