How would you like to play games for a living? Creating games is a cherished fantasy for many people. The game industry is huge, with a great deal of competition. It's not easy to get into in the mainstream areas. But there are some very profitable opportunities for small businesses and solo entrepreneurs who know where the specialized niches are. Those who aren't stuck with the idea that everything worthwhile is in digital gaming. Those who know how to combine work with real fun.
There's so much more to games than entertainment with first-person shooters and playing guitars plugged into video gaming consoles. (Yeah. They're fun. And if you develop a major hit game, you can make lots of $$$. But it's highly unlikely you're going to do so.)
Nevertheless, people from a wide variety of callings -- artists, designers, programmers, therapists, business coaches, trainers and more -- are making steady incomes from games that have a practical purpose.
The games that are worthwhile pursuing are games that teach or train. Motivate or inspire. Engage attention or provide focus. Shape behavior or are downright therapeutic.
For some development, you may need some specialized knowledge and training. For some you may need only some experience in the field and a good idea. The games may be called games, simulations, demonstrations, role-playing, virtual reality or something else. But basically, they are games and are designed to be enjoyable no matter what their intended practical results.
They are games for customers such as:
• Managers/Team Leaders
• Physicians (especially Pediatricians)
• Physical Therapists
• Speech Therapists
• Occupational Therapists
• The patients/clients/students of the above, for home use.
They are games that cover topics such as:
• Social Skills
• Management Skills
• Health Practices
• Practical Skills -- From Tying One's Shoes To Playing The Piano to Leading and Managing
• Self Skills -- Anger Management, Patience, Phobia
• Work Performance Improvement
They are games in every format:
• Live Role-Playing
• Books Of Instructions For Game Play
If you have the skills necessary for the entire idea-to-finished-publication process, you can do it all without help as a solo entrepreneur. For example, I know a therapist who is also a trained graphic artist. She made a card-deck-based mariage therapy game and was able to the whole job herself. She then turned the production of the deck over to a company that printed and packaged the game, hosted the product on its site, published the item on demand, collected the money and sent the profit.
However, most people who make games will probably do best by having partners or outsourcing some of the components of the design.
If you are, say, a management trainer with an idea for a role-playing game for team-building, you might want a partner who knows how to create clear instructions for both the players' and the game master's manuals. Then you might want to outsource the cover art and package design to an expert in that area.
Or maybe you're a math teacher who knows how to make algebra a simple, exciting and engaging learning experience. Maybe you have an idea that involves a board, cards and dice. Will you need to partner up or to outsource the artistic aspects of the design? Do you think you'd like to try the road to self-publishing? Will you need help to get it self-published?
Remember that once you've created your game in one format, you can adapt it for other appropriate formats. Anything you can create as a physical game can be converted to a digital form if it looks like it would be popular in that structure. With all the new opportunities in game-play available on smart phones and tablets, there is a greater possibility for the little guy to get a digital game out there.
Also remember, if you like being part of the game creation process, you can specialize even further. You could have a separate business creating the game boards. Or make exquisite game pieces and tokens. Think of the beautiful creations you could make, like a hand-carved dragon for a fantasy game.
Here are a few resources to get you started if you want to try out game creation for fun and profit:
Here are three books that give a good idea of what's involved in creating game products. None of the three is very comprehensive. Each gives you a glimpse of what that particular expert thinks is relevant to getting your game completed and to market. In fact, you'll probably need to read all three and more to do better research. Also, read the reviews at Amazon.com to get an idea of which will serve your needs.
Indie Game publishers:
Chicago Game and Card http://www.chicagogameandcard.com/
OnPrintShop.com http://superiorpod.onprintshop.com/index.html (cards, tiles, counter sheets)
GameParts.net http://www.gameparts.net/ (cards, tiles, dice, chips, game pieces, more)
BoardGameDesign.com http://www.boardgamedesign.com/ (blank boards, game pieces, spinner boards, blank boxes, dice)
BoardGameGeek.com http://boardgamegeek.com/ -- this site has lots of info and ideas and is meant to serve people who develop board games, card games, dice games, etc.
BoardGameGeek.com Forum http://boardgamegeek.com/forum/26/boardgamegeek/board-game-design -- this is a forum on BoardGameGeek.com that appears very supportive.
DiscoveGames.com http://www.discovergames.com/home.htm -- this site appears not to have been updated since 2009, but has a whole raft of links to helpful information and other groups.
International Game Developers Association http://www.igda.org/ -- of course, if you are going to develop digital games, you have to be part of the International Game Developers Association