Most people that want jobs in the computer game industry have some interesting and completely wrong opinions about what it's like working on games. When I started at Origin Systems in 1990 I really had no idea what to expect. What I got was a strange concentrated form of a regular life. In seven years I had as much fun, learning, and suffering as normal people get in twenty years. I'm glad I was young; the hours would have killed me if I had to sign up for a starting career as a game programmer now.
Programming games isn't like other kinds of programming. It's not better or worse, just different. Most of the good aspects of game programming have to do with the Hollywood side of things. Games are cool and everybody loves them. The bad side of professional game programming has to deal with the complexities of the task—game development is far from easy. The sweaty underbelly of this industry can be blamed mostly on insane deadlines and work hours, ever-changing SDKs and operating systems, and intense competition. In this chapter I'm going to walk you through the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of game development. Being the best developer you can be requires that you have intimate knowledge about the real demands of the industry.
In case you were wondering, it's all worth it. Either that or I'm just the type to enjoy repeated blows to the head.