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So You Want To Start A Game Company?

Ahh… the age-old question. You have played the games, you idolize one or two gaming illuminaries, and now you decide that you can be one of the illustrious few in the gaming pantheon. Besides the fact that you’ll hit the harsh realization that those “illuminaries” are completely human, subject to luck more than strategy half the time, and have many of the same challenges you will soon face, you’ll also be gratified to discover that game designers and the owners of the gaming companies are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. These guys are not incumbent CEO’s of Fortune 500 institutions. They started just like you, they learned the hard way just like you, and they are always interested in helping out the “new guy,” whether out of a sense of morbid (or comedic) fascination or outright kindness. Do NOT be afraid to just walk up to them at a convention, let them know what you’re planning on doing, and ask them for their best advice. Offer them a drink if they have the time, and you’ll be further rewarded with not only good advice, but a good friend… and that can certainly help you as you get farther into the process, or farther into the mess! Running a game business is, unfortunately, a lot like learning how to turn a crank in an assembly line. Make no mistake about it. The hardest thing to learn is not how to turn the crank, but learning the discipline to turn that crank each and every day, whether you feel like it or not. Some of these “cranks” will be sales calls or order shipments or personnel issues or banking deposits (or more likely payments). These things are not the reasons why you started your company, but now somebody has to do them. The most important thing to note is that this is DEFINITELY not the reason your gaming buddies agreed to volunteer to help you out either… and they will be the first ones to stop turning the cranks when asked to do so… especially if you don’t pay them. Before you decide to make the leap, you need to ask yourself how committed you are, and then turn to your spouse (if you have one) and find out how committed she or he is as well. Once your spouse is committed, ask them how they feel about mortgaging your house to gamble on a publishing venture and then re-analyze the response. If you are still conscious and they have put the gun away, then it’s time to proceed with the rest of this book. If they are still pointing the gun at you, then gently place this book into your fireplace, hit the gas burners, pour some drinks, and enjoy the remainder of your evening (and your life) content in the knowledge that your spouse loves you, you will have a steady paycheck each month, and you will actually enjoy PLAYING the games instead of making them. If that doesn’t dissuade you then read on and become part of the most idiosyncratic, emotionally-charged, ego-driven industry that you could imagine… but it’ll be a wild ride! -Jared Nielsen This article is part of an on-going compilation for the Publisher's Codex™ due for release in January 2002. If you have suggestions, comments, or critique, I'd love to hear from you via email at [email protected] © 2001 InterStrike, Inc., All Rights Reserved Publisher's Codex™ is a trademark of InterStrike, Inc.

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