So you want to be a game developer?

So you want to be a game developer? | Pro Club Bd

For CBC Ottawa’s Creator Network project, 27-year-old game developer and 2D artist Max Wayne created an animated video to address some of his concerns about entering a video game industry fraught with online toxicity. He interviews longtime game developer Jonah Davidson as an animated avatar.

Check out other Creator Network Ottawa stories here.


Video game artist Max Wayne shakes his head in disbelief as he scrolls through the sea of ​​negative comments aimed at game developers on social media following the recent release of an update.

When the 27-year-old first booted up his Nintendo GameCube, he knew he wanted to be a video game developer or game developer and create games from the ground up.

Ottawa-based video game artist Max Wayne tells his story about his avatar. (Max Wayne)

But reactions like this from the so-called player base have him wondering if he’ll have the tough skin to weather the industry’s toxic storm.

“That hate could be directed at me one day,” said Wayne, who develops primarily for independent games.

“You are the reason this game exists, but you are not in control of every update. And it feels like players are shooting at messenger while you just do your job.”

A parallel universe

Wayne said he first fell in love with video games at a difficult time in his life.

In the winter of 2002, Wayne’s mother, Wendy Macleod, was in a car accident that seriously injured her. She lost mobility in her legs and slowly recovered over the course of Wayne’s childhood.

In a car accident, Max Wayne’s mother was injured and unable to walk. (Max Wayne)

“During this time I felt lonely and found solace in games,” said Wayne, who took refuge in Nintendo gaming at the age of seven animal crossing. In the colorful and happy game, money falls from trees, animals talk and players receive encouraging letters from their parents.

“When my mother couldn’t be there for me, my animal crossing Mama sent me love,” he mused. “I wanted to make my own games to help others like they helped me.”

Wayne was comforted by letters from his dummy mother in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing. (Max Wayne)

Wayne, who is partially deaf, said choosing a career in the gaming world was also a practical desire.

“I can sit in front of a computer with headphones on and turn up the volume as loud as I want and not disturb anyone,” he laughed.

Wayne found solace in the Nintendo video game Animal Crossing. (Max Wayne)

Dream job or nightmare

He enrolled in Algonquin College’s illustration and conceptual art program and graduated in 2020. He has since found work as a 2D developer, painting landscapes, characters and video game assets on the computer.

But since graduating, Wayne has heard from friends in the field who are addressing their mental health issues after experiencing online abuse ranging from harsh verbal abuse to threats of physical violence and even death threats.

“Dead Game” is a general term assigned to games that lose players or lack innovative gameplay. (Max Wayne)

“We’ve seen a lot of game developers quit because of all this toxicity and negative interactions from players or others,” said American programmer Andrew Harland.

It’s an experience echoed by Jonah Davidson, who runs a group called The Dirty Rectangles Collective to help gamer developers survive the abuse.

“My friends and my colleagues have addressed everything from harassment to serious harassment,” Davidson said.

“Many players lash out with negative feedback because they are invested in the game and may not fully understand what the developers are trying to achieve with new updates.”

Davidson, who works as a quality assurance technician at Finji Game Studios, said game developers from Algonquin’s animation program formed the group because they saw the need to support each other.

Wayne at his desk. (Max Wayne)

“The best thing we can do to combat toxicity is provide opportunities for people to come together and find some stability in an unstable industry,” Davidson said.

Davidson points out how important it is for game developers to hear player feedback on their games.

“I’ve always tried to encourage my friends in game development to provide both positive and negative feedback and to be as constructive as possible. You can’t learn anything from silence, and you can’t learn anything from hatred and harassment,” he said.

His advice to Wayne and Harland: keep showing up.

“Find community. And the best way to build community is to do a good job and stick with it,” Davidson said.

Wayne and Andrew Harland spoke to Finji QA Engineer and Game Developer Jonah Davidson about how to manage online hate in the video game industry. (Max Wayne)

Imagine a different world

Wayne says Davidson’s advice helps him reflect on a collective approach to dealing with toxicity in the industry and among players and is hopeful for his future.

“I don’t want to stop being a game developer. I have these dreams of people playing my game,” Wayne says.

Wayne fell in love with the wholesome and non-competitive nature of the Animal Crossing game. (Max Wayne)

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