Mental Health

Why Burnout Is So Common in Game Development

Read on more to learn about how to recognize burnout and how you can deal with it.

As a game developer, you probably know how common burnout is in game development. Many game developers feel anxious, tired, and unmotivated even if they’re living out their dreams of being game developers.

You may wonder why. After all, they are living the dream! But there are several solid reasons why this happens.

Even if you are very passionate about game design and development, you can develop burnout if the hours are long and there are too many near-impossible deadlines.

Read on more to learn about how to recognize burnout and how you can deal with it.

What Is Burnout?

Burnout happens when you are overly stressed at work. It can happen to anyone, but it is particularly common amongst those who work in game development, particularly those who are developing their own games. Since you’re your own boss and want to get your game out there, you often end up setting overwhelming goals.

Game developers who work at big companies like Ubisoft can feel burnout too. This is due to the atmosphere of the company, approaching deadlines, and the pressure imposed on them from the higher-ups.

Burnout usually happens within the first five years of your career as a game developer. The effects may take more than a few weeks or even months to appear, so if you are new to experiencing burnout, it can be hard to spot.

You may experience the following if you have burnout:

  • Insomnia, or difficulty sleeping. If you have burnout, you may have difficulty sleeping even after a long, tiring day of work. Insomnia is often due to another symptom of burnout, anxiety.
  • Anxiety. You are anxious about the upcoming deadlines, and you find yourself constantly worrying about if you’ve done enough on your project. If you have a lot of anxiety, it can get in the way of your schedule since it will cause you to overthink and doubt yourself.
  • Fatigue. If you have burnout, you may have chronic fatigue, which lowers your energy levels and makes it harder for you to be motivated to meet your goals. At the same time, you can’t fall asleep properly, so that contributes to even more fatigue.
  • Indifference. One of the most frightening aspects of burnout involves feeling indifferent about what you previously enjoyed doing, that is, game development. Game development has been your passion and motivated you to do so much with your career, but once indifference settles in, you find yourself not caring anymore.

How Can I Deal with Burnout?

Once you figure out you have burnout, here’s how you can deal with it. 

Rethink Your Focus

Although you may feel too tired to deal with your project anymore and are just going through the motions, think about what you want to achieve with your project. Is there another way to think about your game development project?

You should also think about why you love this career track. Even if you feel tired, there has to be something you still enjoy about game development, right? Try also asking yourself if there is another type of game you would prefer to develop. Are you only tired because of this particular project, or is there something about game development in general that burns you out?

In general, try questioning and understanding your own feelings.

Take a Break

If you’re your own boss, consider taking a break from game dev. Go on a vacation, try something new, and then come back to your project.

If you’re working for a company, try to see if you can take a leave. If not, try to get more sleep and avoid thinking or working on the game project after work.

Get Therapy

You may be developing burnout because of an underlying mental health issue. In this case, it’s best to see a healthcare professional such as a therapist or counselor. You should also reach out to your friends and family for support.


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