Indie programmer or call-center drone? A false dilemma disguised as hope?
March 28, 2012 8:21 PM Subscribe
Does it make sense to block off a few months to develop the skills needed to pursue a modest career/business developing indie games and mobile apps for Android, or am I better off just getting an entry-level job at a call center and make a decent
amount of money doing sales or tech support?
posted by porcupine to Work & Money (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Trying to teach myself enough Java to be able to make my own Android games and apps. It's something I've always wanted to do and now that I'm out of work and back home, I actually have the time to do it.
But is this the right decision for me?
I don't have anything saved up and I'm just able to pay my phone bill through some freelance IT work. Beyond that I am completely dependent on my mom for meals and shelter.
There's no real pressure for me to leave home. In fact, my mother has encouraged me to stay and try to do any kind of work that I can do online so that I won't have to work at an office. (Previous history with years of drug use that I think she associates with me being on my own during my 20s.) However the atmosphere here at home isn't always pleasant--whenever she get frustrated with me she uses the "When are you going to go out and get a job?" line to get me to concede.
For me, I'd rather be self-employed and the thought of creating something that others can enjoy or find useful truly motivates me. Realistically, I am not independently wealthy so I know I can't afford to go the pseudo-starving artist route and keep taking risks. (I'm also already 35.)
I should be responsible for my expenses and my lifestyle and being back at home is just a pit-stop. And it hasn't been a great experience: Aside from the fights and arguments with my mom, I hardly ever leave the house now for lack of money and I've been having serious bouts of depression on and off. I exercise and try to eat right but the feeling of isolation and *shame* for being a 35-year-old man living at home with his mother makes me feel like a Grade-A Loser. For context, I live in a country where it's commonplace for kids to stay home until (or even after) they get married. But I have predominantly Western values (I blame the books and movies I grew up with) and my current situation really feels like Failure. I even avoid my friends or turn down their invites to hang out because I don't want to talk about my shit. (Plus the fact that my mother is very controlling regarding this. While I'm seeing her side of it when it comes to being against binge drinking on weekends, I'm pushed to the other extreme where the only creatures I interact with are strangers on the internet, my clients, her and my cat. (Sad to say, this is literally true.)
My only other option aside from taking a few months to learn Java and app development is to take a job at a call center and just start earning a salary again, and hopefully save enough for a deposit on my own apartment.
Either way, I see it as reaching the same financial goal, only at different timeframes. With the indie programmer route, I would expect to be out on my own in 6 to 9 months. (I have a few web dev projects in development that I'm getting paid for. Plus I intend to sell some of my things to raise money.) But the chances of success are not guaranteed. However I'd probably have the skills to qualify for a job as a programmer if I take this path.
With the call center route, it would take about 5 months to save up enough for the apartment deposit (while starting to pay for my own expenses while still living at home). And I don't know if I'd have the time or energy in between shifts to study programming. This path scares me because I don't know if there's a career beyond "call-center employee". I know there's management positions that I could qualify for if I want to advance but I don't know if managing people or teams is really what I want to do. I really want to create something. That's the reason why I want to learn programming. Besides, I've worked a year at a call center before (long story) and while I excelled as an agent, I was never able to get promoted (although I didn't have a college degree back then).
Hopefully relevant details: I have a degree in IT/network administration so I had some classes in programing and software engineering. I "know" just enough Java, Ruby and C++ to do the basic console input/output stuff but I don't know enough yet to put together a game or an app. But I consider myself competent and able to learn (I've grown up with computers as my hobby since the 80s.)