Posted by: seanmalstrom | November 4, 2013

Email: Should I reconsider a different profession?

I’m a fourteen year old and I read many of your articles lately and 
your points were really strong enough to make me lose a lot of faith in 
my own future; I wanted to start my own game company. A game company 
that creates games and consoles.

Should I reconsider a different job since the industry is declining 

You’re 14 years old and worried about your pick of profession? Excuse me…



Most people worry about their choice of profession after several years of college or even decades of being in their job. Economics change. What once was a career can suddenly no longer exist.

You’re 14. Go ahead and do what you want while you still can. Go make a game company if you want. It will be good technical experience. You might even make money off of it.

But, unless you are rich, you don’t get to do what you want in life. You have to do what other people want. What is meant by this is supply and demand. If someone loves French poetry, that is fine. Unfortunately, there is no demand for French poets out there.

Wages are determined largely by supply and demand. The more supply, the flatter and lower the wage will be. The reason why many people in the game industry don’t make that much money (talking about most of them) is because of the massive supply of young people who ‘want to make video games’ and are ‘willing to work for very low pay’.

One great piece of investing advice also holds true for professions: if everyone is doing it, don’t do it. As soon as the newspaper says an investment is hot is right when all the real investors sell. This marks the time when the masses start pouring in. The bubble might rise some more, but it eventually pops. Years ago, when everyone was rushing into real estate was the time I was getting out.

There is something I call ‘shiny jobs’ or ‘shiny professions’. People want these jobs because they are ‘shiny’, because they have some sort of ‘status’, and because it will impress Mom and Dad. Lawyer is a very ‘shiny job’. The problem today is that there is a HUGE supply of lawyers with very low demand. The computer revolution has cheapened intellectual labor, so lawyers’ services have been diminished by the computer revolution.

Another shiny job is the video game developer. You need to understand that MILLIONS of other kids want to become video game developers too. Is there that much demand to absorb all these new video game developers? No. I see the video game industry being stagnant and/or declining with the wages being stagnant and/or declining. It’s just supply and demand.

I see that the most popular major at the moment is Computer Science. (I suspect many people are taking that because they ‘want to make video games’.)  It is a very shiny major. However, anyone in the world can learn about computers. I see the wages remain flat, and employment is not a certainty since companies would prefer to hire cheap labor via the H1B Visa (the American companies I mean).

The purpose of the job is to make money. What is the point of a job where you don’t make any money? Yes, you must ‘enjoy’ your work. However, it is much easier ‘enjoying’ a high paying job than ‘enjoying’ a low paying job. All jobs suck because you have to do what someone else says. You never get to do what you want to with ANY job. You might as well go where the money is.

You’re on the right track with your technical background. Technical skills are always in demand. The question is where do you want to specialize them?

Electricians and electrical engineers always seem to be in demand. Everyone uses electricity (except the Amish).

You want to choose a profession that avoids the three things that wreck demand:

Automation- You are either on the side where technology growth makes more demand for your job or you are on the side that makes technology growth less demand for your job. For example, being a driver for an oil company is a lucrative job. However, the oil companies are testing trucks that drive themselves in Australia. Eventually, that job will become automated. However, if you became a technician, the demand for your services will grow because there are more things for the technician to fix. Make sure you are on the right side of technology. Lawyer is another example of a profession that is on the wrong side of technology.

Overseas Labor- You want a profession that cannot be outsourced or be done by immigrants. This will plummet wages and make demand low. IT people are routinely outsourced to India or H1B Visas have Indians come in to do those jobs at a low wage. I hear that in some areas of game development, they have begun outsourcing some work. You don’t want a profession where you compete with billions of other people.

Women- One of the largest contributing factors to declining wages in the last half century have been increased supply of workers due to women. Don’t do a job that women want to do. Many computer geeks tell me that no women want to do what they do. Engineers tell me women don’t want to do what they do. Why? “Math, dear Malstrom. Women don’t like math.” While I think that might have been true in the past, today I see a very different story. I see many women throwing themselves into computers and engineering. I’ve found it is not math that discourages women. The key to getting a profession where you won’t compete against women (which is +51% supply) is to take a non-office job. Many women want to become petroleum engineers. They are mostly office minions and, on location, they are in a workshop. But when it comes to being on location outdoors, women get the hell out of there. They don’t want to be in the elements or have a hazardous job. The invention of the ‘office’ is why most women are in the workforce today. You won’t see women in the mines or anywhere where it is uncomfortable or dangerous. Not only do you get extra hazard pay, you get more pay due to lack of competition from women for that job. The other reason why you don’t want a job where tons of women are at is because of politics. You will go insane.

As for me, I’ve switched to a technical specialization for the oil industry. I don’t have to compete with women for the job. Overseas labor can’t compete because training is only done in three states (unlike, say, computers which are available everywhere). And the job cannot be automation. In fact, automation increases demand for the job’s skills.

Add in the oil company letting me live in hotels, feeding me, and driving their vehicles around, I pay $0 and get to keep ALL my paycheck (aside from taxes). Most people will have to use their paycheck for food, rent, and gas. I won’t.

The hazard pay means you get paid even more. Sure, you might die, but the typical highway is more dangerous. Besides, life is sweeter when there is some risk. (There is a reason why sailors were so superstitious.) And if you go to some of the international combat areas, you get paid even more. There are many quiet millionaires who were employees of the oil industry.

However, it is not just the oil industry but other areas like mining. There is the reputation of very steep walls preventing people from easily getting in. However, those walls work to your benefit once you are inside. The jobs that are easiest to get are the worst ones. If a job is very easy to get (say a sales job), there is a reason why it was so easy.


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