The summer after my junior year in high school my parents wanted me to get a job, but I convinced them I should write an iPhone game instead. I did it because writing games was a whole lot of fun, and I wanted to learn more computer science. I launched Helicopter to the app store, hoping to make back the $99 I paid to join the developer program. Instead, the game exploded at my high school, a few girls became Helicopter groupies (cute ones ;) and I made $35k. What more could a 16 year old want? When I read the first review of my game calling it “my favorite game ever” a fire was lit inside me. I had made something people wanted and put a smile on a stranger’s face. And so began the slippery slope that led me to drop out of college, found MakeGamesWithUs and go through Y Combinator at 19.
But this is not about me, this is about you. And about our company’s dreams of lighting that fire in whoever will bring us the kindling. We believe making an iPhone game is a fun and easy way to build a product, make money and make people all around the world just a little bit happier. And now that everyone has seen The Social Network, all your friends will think you are really really cool!!
This summer we hosted an internship for 40 high school and college kids (more on this in a later post). Every day these kids would arrive at our Palo Alto hacker house (Social Network style) at 10am, sit on a couch or at a desk, and hack away at their own iPhone games.
When we told people we were doing this, the typical response involved 3 questions:
“Do you mean 4 interns?”
“Are you crazy?”
“Well sure, but not because of this”
“How do you keep them all on task?”
While running an internship for 40 people had it’s fair share of challenges, motivating the kids and keeping them focused was not one of them. Overloaded WiFi routers, neighbors complaining about blocked driveways and ever growing piles of trashbags, but no issues keeping our fledgling game developers focused. It became more and more obvious with every 11pm help email (“what’s a SIGABRT??” or “how do I add in app purchases”) I received that these kids were thrilled that they had an opportunity to build a game. Just as I felt when I was 16, there was nothing more fun in the world.
To most people, the idea of making a game seems pretty neat. At the end you’ll have a cool game to show off to your friends, and you can make money. But as our interns found out this summer, the process itself is even more remarkable than the end product. Everyone has different highlights of the experience, here are my top 3: 1. The self-driven learning of both programming and game design. 2. The consistent frustration and subsequent endorphin release during the building/creation phase. 3. The satisfaction and confidence instilled by completing the game.
If you ask any entreprenuer, or maker, or artist, the journey of taking an idea and pouring your heart out to complete it and then sharing it with the world provides you with a unique sense of fullfilment. Yet we are not exposed to it through traditional education, and only the fortunate are exposed to it through our work.
You owe it to yourself - there has never before been an easier way to take an idea, turn it into a product, and have it reach people all around the world. Come MakeGamesWithUs and discover (or rediscover) that satisfaction!
A job applicant to our company eloquently said: “12 year old me is threatening a time-travel-ass-kicking if I don’t push to join your team”. Ladies and Gents, 12 year old you is going to open a can of time travel whoop ass if you don’t get started on your iPhone game stat. (I’m looking at you Paul Buchheit)