I’m not an app developer. I’m a game developer.

I just returned home from the 360 iDev Min conference in Greenville, SC.  I had a great time and met some amazing people, but I couldn’t help feeling like  I was the odd man out.  The conference centered around creating iOS apps, which is technically what I do, however it’s become clear that creating iOS “apps” is a completely different endeavor than making iOS games.

Maybe app developers are from Mars and game developers are from Venus?  (It’s a good thing I’m confident in my masculinity.)  Of course, we both share similar experiences such as having to understand Apple’s submission guidelines, creating screen shots, composing our app descriptions and keywords, and promoting our apps.  However, when it comes to the actual “craft” of creating apps vs. games, our worlds are very different.  The best analogy I could think of is that game developers draw pictures on paper and an app developers write math equations.  We might both be using the same pencil and paper, but the creation process and end result are two different things.

Since I’ve switched to Unity for my game development, the disconnect has become even greater.  I no longer use Xcode on a daily basis and, after years of coding in Objective-C, I now spend my days immersed in C#.  Also focusing on multiple platforms, like android, has further pulled me away from my earlier Apple-centric days.  I no longer have as direct a connection with Apple’s technologies and new features as I used to.  It’s safe to assume that I won’t be learning Swift anytime soon.

Just to be clear, I’m certainly not trying to say that one pursuit is better than the other. Creating an outstanding iOS app is a noble craft in its own right.  Developing an app, like Clear or Hours for example, that solves a problem and does so with an elegant design and UI is no easy task and is a beautiful thing to behold.

Of course, I still plan to stay connected with my “bothers and sisters in arms” in the app developer community.  Going forward though, I plan to focus a little more of my limited time and energy on my game developer groups and conferences.

Happy coding!

2 responses to “I’m not an app developer. I’m a game developer.

  1. The advantage of unity is that you can develop apps cross platform. These days you’ve got to create apps for android and ios. You can’t hope to natively create them in each platform.
    Unless you decide to create apps purely for apple ios. But android is now too big to ignore. It’s a tricky one, you just have to decide if you want to produce apps for ios and work natively or just use a game engine that’s cross platform. I’ve gone for unity – you just don’t have time to learn each platform natively anymore.

  2. Exactly, I totally agree it. Apps and Game development cycle is totally different.I also switching from apps development to game development last year, the process is not easy and everything is new for me. Unity also the first game tool to start and then I tried Construct 2, that is also very good too. The coding style is different with Unity but very easy to start. The only dis-advantage is only for 2D game but I can finish a flappy-bird like game within 2 hours. That is very amazing!

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