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The Path to Success in Games is Rarely a Straight Line

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"I can't tell you how many times I get told no, it just makes me try harder every time someone says I can't do something. Find a way."

“It just makes me try harder every time someone says I can’t do something. Find a way.”


The following blog post was written by Kristofor Durrschmidt, co-founder, CEO and creative director of Crazy Viking Studios, an indie game development shop in the Seattle area.

Kris Durrschmidt: As a kid whose imagination exploded playing Atari 2600 and reading Conan the Barbarian comics, I never thought in a million years that I would be exactly where I am today, living this crazy dream where I get to make fun things that millions upon millions of people have played (and hopefully enjoyed).

It was not a direct path. These are jobs I have held, in chronological order, with life-long aspirations of working in Comic Books and/or Video Games. There is a reason I am sharing all this information, I will explain at the bottom.

Start: 1991

McDonalds, Breakfast Cook, Cape St Clair HWY 50
Pizza Hut, Dough maker for the day (4am – 11am), Cape St Clair
Comic Book Store, Retail Manager, Cape St Clair

At this point I was accepted to the prestigious Joe Kubert School of Art and Design, but could not go due to financial hardship.

1994

US Army, Many places

1998

Northrop Grumman, Cape St Clair area
Buddy’s Late Night, first Bar Back, then Bartender, Annapolis
Best Buy, first Sales, then Computer Department Manager, Annapolis
Electrolux, Door-to-door vacuum cleaner sales
Cisco, 2D Animator for instructional videos, Annapolis
Papa John’s Pizza, Delivery Driver, Annapolis

2001

Used Car Sales, Milwaukie Oregon
Bartender, Some hole in the wall in Portland Oregon

2002

Dark Horse Comics, Contract work for advertisements
Internet, Pornography illustrations for German website

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2002

Griptonite Games, Background Artist, FX Artist, 2D Animator, 3D Character Artist, Art Lead, Kirkland Washington
Griptonite Games, Level Designer, Systems Design, Design Lead, Proposals writer, Kirkland Washington

2012

Crazy Viking Studios, LLC, Co-Founder, Kirkland Washington

2016

SoulStone Technologies Inc., Founder, Bothell Washington

Why am I telling you this?

I wanted to share this to show that if you never give up, even in the face of incredible hardship, and keep working towards your dreams, YOU CAN absolutely accomplish them.

I held some incredibly terrible jobs in my lifetime, and every day I went to work at those places and I thought about how each day it brought me one step closer to doing something amazing.

“It just makes me try harder every time someone says I can’t do something. Find a way.”

I am here to tell you as a man now about to hit 42 this year, I have learned a couple cool things along the way:

  • Success is 1% Luck and 49% Relationships and 50% Hard Work. Be good to people, good relationships are key to success. Don’t burn bridges. You can be the hardest worker in the world, but if you are an asshole you are very likely to fail (with a few rare exceptions).
  • If you can HELP someone else achieve THEIR goals, do so every chance you get. Not only does it feel amazing when you help someone else succeed, you never know when things like that can pay off later. Yet, at the same time…
  • Don’t let people use you, or belittle your worth.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want (raises, boundaries, etc.), make it clear what you want from a working relationship.
  • Don’t work too much. Play often.
  • Don’t ignore your family/wife/kids. Time will fly by that you will never get back.
  • It is okay to be told “No” in business. It just frees you up to make or take other opportunities. I can’t tell you how many times I got told no. It just makes me try harder every time someone says I can’t do something. Find a way.
  • The difference between people who are successful and the people who will never be, can be observed in any store parking lot. The people likely to be successful will walk large distances to return a shopping cart to where it belongs – even if t’s back inside the store. Unsuccessful types will leave it on the curb by their car. It is very rare that lazy ever attains success unless you are on vacation or retired.
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Kris Durrschmidt is a game artist, designer, and indie game studio founder. He can be reached via LinkedIn or at Crazy Viking Studios.

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Making games for a living is an incredibly rewarding career, but it’s hard to break in unless you have insider knowledge. This book levels the playing field.

READ: Start Your Video Game Career

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