Growing up?

I met a an old friend the other day. We never been close friends or so, but we’re of the same age and we shared the same friends, so we hanged around in the same gang when we were younger. Anyway, I haven’t met him for a couple of years so we started talking a little, updating each other on our lives today. After a while he asks:

– Do you still work with that football game Hattrick?
– Yep, you bet.
– So, when will you grow up?

Grow up? I’m married since some years, I’m a father of two, have a dog and I drive a station wagon (the ultimate evidence!). He just got his first child and as far as I know he doesn’t drive a station wagon. Just so you have the facts straight. But as I work with games, I’m the one who hasn’t grown up.

It was of course supposed to be a joke. It’s just that I’ve heard that joke a couple of times too many at this point, it’s like an old scratched record. And even though it’s always said in a witty tone, you know it’s not just a joke. Some people really thinks working with Hattrick, or rather with games or communities in general, isn’t really a “real job”. As these people can’t relate at all to this business, they just go for “it’s not a real job”. And games are mostly done for children or at least young people, so those who create games haven’t grown up either. In short, if you work with games you’re mentally a child, or a teenager at the very best. Ever heard the same thing being said about a children book writer?

It’s not that I don’t understand where these reactions comes from (envy, not enough knowledg/interest about Hattrick or the gaming industry in general, relatively young form of culture, yadayada), it’s just that I find the “joke” so utterly boring. And old. But wait, perhaps that’s why I don’t get it, because I’m too young to understand the brilliance of this joke?

What these people never will understand is that this is more than just  job. It’s been a dream for me since I started playing football manager games on my C-64 back in the days. It’s engaging, but also demanding at the same time. Something you can’t really turn off, it’s always on (for good and for bad). You know the whole game community of 800k users is counting and depending on you and your actions, and that it is very encouraging.

I think you Hattrick players reading this understand what I mean, but these people will just never ever be able to relate how much this game and community means to you – our customers. They will never understand that our users get really disappointed (and frustrated and angry) if Hattrick happens to be down, when something is delayed or when someone lose a match or whatever. These people will just claim that it’s just a game, it’s not for real. Pfft.

Sure, some reactions are over the top – I think so as well. But it also shows how much people care for the game – that it’s actually more than just a game. The same thing goes for me working with Hattrick, it’s more than just  my job. It’s my hobby, my favorite game, a place where I have many friends – a place I love. And also my job. That’s how grown-up this job is.

So, what did I reply to him then?
Short and to the point. Because even though to joke is a bore and this is a real job and everything, I hope I will always keep a bit of youth in me.