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Do game developers play games?

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Picture this: It’s been a grueling day of coding, debugging, and brainstorming. Your mind is filled with character models, story arcs, and that one stubborn bug you just can’t squash. Now, imagine coming home and… diving straight into another game? That’s the daily life for many game developers. Do game developers play games once it’s their job? Does immersion in the world of game creation affect their love for playing them?

The Work-Life-Play Balance

First things first: do game developers play games at all? A recent survey conducted by 8Bit within our LinkedIn gamedev community revealed fascinating insights. Game developers are, at their core, passionate gamers.


A notable 68% of industry professionals confessed they stepped into the realm of game development driven by their passion for gaming, and this passion hasn’t dwindled; they continue to relish their gameplay.


However, 28% admitted that their active involvement in game development has somewhat curtailed their playing time. A chef might love cooking, but that doesn’t mean they whip up five-course meals after a long shift at the restaurant.

Remaining 4%

Interestingly, 2% embarked on this career without being gamers, viewing it purely as a profession, while an identical 2% transitioned from non-gamers to active players after joining the industry.

How Game Designers and Developers Benefit From Playing Games?

Playing games isn’t just a recreational activity for developers; it’s a form of continuous learning. Here’s how they benefit:

Inspiration Galore

Playing different games helps developers get new ideas. It’s a fun way to think outside the box and keep creativity alive.

Keeping Up with Trends

The gaming world changes fast. By playing the latest games, developers can see what’s new and popular, helping them keep their games fresh and exciting.

Critique and Analysis

When developers play other games, they can see what works and what doesn’t. It’s a hands-on way to improve their skills and make better games.

It’s like reading for a writer. The more they consume, the broader their understanding and the richer their creations.

Is Playing Games Necessary for Game Developers?

While it’s beneficial, is it mandatory? Not necessarily. A game developer can still be efficient without playing every new title. However, some immersion in the gaming world is beneficial. It helps developers empathize with players, understanding their needs, frustrations, and joys. It’s similar to a car designer occasionally driving different cars to understand user experiences.

Changing Paths, Changing Perspectives

As developers grow in their careers, their relationship with gaming also evolves. Entry-level developers, fresh and eager, might still be in the phase where they play every new title. Meanwhile, senior developers, having seen the ‘sausage being made’ for years, might become more selective, leaning into nostalgia or exploring indie titles that offer something different from their day-to-day.

Rekindling the Flame: What Can Be Done?

For game studios:

Promote Balance:

Encourage a healthy work-life balance. Overworking not only affects developers’ health but also their love for the medium.

Game Time:

Some studios have integrated ‘game time’ into their schedules, allowing developers to play games during work hours to reignite passion and inspire creativity.

Diverse Projects:

Rotate projects, so developers aren’t always working on the same genre they love to play. Variety can prevent professional burnout and keep personal gaming fresh and exciting.

For developers:

Separate Worlds:

Have a separate gaming setup from your work setup. It might sound small, but mentally, it can make a world of difference.

Dive into Different Genres:

If you’re developing an RPG, maybe play a racing game in your downtime.

Reconnect with the Community:

Engage with gamer communities. Their excitement can be contagious and remind you why you loved games in the first place.

Do game developers play games once it’s their job to create them?

Yes, (most) game developers still love to play games. But like any passion turned profession, the relationship becomes more nuanced. As the industry continues to evolve, finding that sweet spot between work, life, and play becomes all the more crucial. After all, at the end of the day, games are all about fun, whether you’re making them or playing them.