Many developers have to move from city to city to get new jobs, which leads to mental health problems and burnout. Game designer Laralyn McWilliams, known for MMO Free Realms, has shared her thoughts on this problem.

McWilliams said in her thread that she changed 10 cities in 27 years. Due to her work in the games industry, she has lived in Raleigh, Seattle, Chicago, LA, Austin, and San Francisco.

According to McWilliams, having to move frequently can destroy your spouse/partner’s career, as they would have no consistency and less opportunity for promotions. On top of that, it becomes harder to make friends in new cities as you age.

“I burned my entire life and my husband’s on the altar of game development,” McWilliams once told one of her colleagues. Despite this problem, she doesn’t regret working in the games industry because game design is at her core.

According to McWilliams, for many years, there could have only been 5-6 game creative or design director jobs open in the whole world. That’s why people who worked in the games industry had no choice but to move from city to city.

McWilliams’ thread was spotted by journalist Jason Schreier, who said that dozens of game developers shared their stories about having to move frequently. “It’s one of the biggest reasons people burn out of the video game industry,” he wrote.

Shifting towards remote work could solve this problem, but many game companies still refuse to allow their employees to work from home full-time. The paradigm started changing after the pandemic, as studios are now adopting the hybrid model, so maybe game developers won’t have to move so often in the future.

Laralyn McWilliams also thinks that you can’t achieve a lot in the industry without passion, although sometimes companies might use it to underpay and control employees. However, she doesn’t understand it when creative directors or other leads don’t play games they’re developing and don’t participate in different jams.

“How can you lead a team effectively and with empathy if you don’t walk in their shoes, at least periodically?” she asks. It means that you can simply lose touch and burn out without passion for your work.

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