Starting Your Own Studio / by Xiaosong Shang

Hello everyone! Sam Martino here again. So you could have done everything I listed out in my previous blogs, but at the end of the day, success still isn’t guaranteed. The best bet you can have, despite how difficult it is, is to make your own game from start to finish.

Companies want to see that you are able to apply the skills they need, and you creating a game, and going the distance to launch it on a platform such as Steam, will put you ahead of 90% of applicants. Studios receive hundreds if not thousands of applications for positions, a lot of which are from people who have never had the experience of actually working on a project. All the schooling in the world cannot make up for the real world experience of seeing how game development works from start to finish.

Of course, making your own game isn’t easy, otherwise everyone would be doing it. But it gets your name out there as well as giving you monetary advantage. But most importantly, it gives you something powerful to put on your resume. Your game doesn’t have to be the next Elder Scrolls either, showing your ambition and drive to see something like this to completion will speak volumes. Wanting your game to be as perfect as possible is a good thing, but one of the hardest things for me to learn was that you need to set expectations for your game and stick with them. Too often do indie games have lofty goals that grow and grow to a point where it is simply unachievable. 

You could go ahead and do this as a hobby, but starting an actual studio has so many benefits, it is worth the cost of registering with the state. Having a studio gives you the ability to attend many conventions either for free, or with a huge discount (this includes E3). I also highly recommend joining the IGDA (International Game Developers Association), they provide so many benefits to aspiring studios and provide their own discounts as well. You also apply for many tax breaks (depending on the country you live in) It helps so much when you can write off your computer, software, anything you need. Even if you aren’t make money off your games yet, you can use those write offs for your personal taxes as well!

Granted, now you must file business taxes and handle the other administrative duties that comes with running a business, but that is also fantastic experience to have. If you want to really stand out, you’ll be able to not only say you made a video game, but also ran your own studio as well. That is really the only negative aspect of having a studio, especially if it is small enough if you don’t have to worry about employee relations or management. Being in a very small group of people that can say they have done this is 100% worth the hassle.

If this is something you believe you can do (and I know you can), I will discuss what types of games to attempt and which types to avoid for your first projects in the next blog.

As always please feel free to contact me at smartino@dogwoodgaming.com if you have any comments or questions!