why i'm not an app developer

Now I love development in general. I genuinely get excited by the intelligence and creativity behind certain new apps. Every week without fail I listen to the fantastic podcasts of John Siracusa, Marco Arment, and John Gruber, all developers of apps. I seriously suggest you check out 5by5.tv and listen to a few of these podcasts. Whilst Marco focuses the most on app development, as the creator of Instapaper, they all have serious experience as programmers. I truly respect these people, but do not see myself joining the world that they exist in. Apps development is awesome at it's core, but the surrounding elements of it just completely put me off.

Starting with patents, the biggest downside of them all; it just revolts me how companies are using them at the moment. It is incredibly similar to that of a nuclear weapon stand-off, with each company keeping their patent at the ready just in case the other company tries suing them for one of the millions of patent infringements they are currently guilty of. Or, keeping to the metaphor, fires their atomic bomb at them, same difference. How did it get in such an awful state? The transition to the dark side was so incredibly self-evident for so long, yet everybody seemed powerless to prevent it turning into the monster it is today. 

I needn't dwell on the issue for very long, as in this episode of Hypercritical it is talked about in enough depth to satiate any patent intrigue you will ever have. However, I do feel the need to mention, this is not so much an issue in games development. In fact, never in games journalism have I heard "Treyarch sue Dice for violation of Call Of Duty multiplayer patent". No... it doesn't happen. Games software patents can, in theory, be created. Regardless, they are so few and far between it's a problem that never needs considering. Not even when you're making a tower defence game for the iOS, and obviously used that one thing from Plants vs. Zombies. But I digress.

In fact, the issue brings me quite nicely to my second point, true innovation. There is inarguably a fine line between being inspired by something, and ripping it off. However, in the games industry, rarely is a game comprised of completely new ideas. Instead, games progress forward together, as an entity. Video games as a whole are only ever bettered by an innovation, and never have I heard of a situation where a games studio has set out with the intention to prevent a competitor from using their new game mechanic. In fact, the thought of it sounds silly, but we so freely accept the constant struggles faced by app developers to use any existing ideas without having to either pay, or be sued.

Quite simply, it is a world I do not want to face at this point in my life. I cannot speak for the future, as I have no idea where I could be in the next 6 months, let alone my entire life. Nonetheless, right now, I'm going to go and make a game that's a hybrid of Pokémon, Trials HD, with a bit of Gears of War, some Scribblenauts, and a tiny splash Super Meat Boy; and nobody's going to take me to court over it.