I’ve been watching the occasional episode of Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America. This is Gordon Ramsey’s show where he goes to failing restaurants and tries to save them in his own dickish style. Watching him go into place after place and find passionate yet clueless people sinking their life savings into restaurants they don’t know how to run, I find that it really reminds me of the game industry. The guy who works in a kitchen and thinks that means he can run a restaurant is not that different from the freelancer writer who thinks that means he can run a company. And trust me I know because I was that guy. When I started the original Ronin Publishing 12 years ago, I had a couple of years of freelance writing under my belt and bunch of after hours conversations with small company owners. It is no great surprise that Ronin failed, as none of us really knew what we were doing on the business end. That failure was important though, because the experience set me up to do it much better the second time around. It did cost me some money and a lifelong friendship though, so those lessons were not free. It is unfortunate that most people have to learn about the game business the hard way. I guess if I was better at being a dick, I’d start a consulting business.
Not once, ever, have I thought, “I can run a game company.”
I think things more along the lines of, “Mmm, let that guy have the stress and I’ll get paid. (Hopefully.)”
See, I’m the exact opposite. I don’t want to run a game company, I just want to write games. Sadly, it’s extremely difficult to get noticed, and generally you’re contending with geeks geekier than thine own self with far less to do. My own scenario is less Gordon Ramsey, and more “American Idol” for nerds.