Ask the Experts

Q: My Teen Wants to Be a Video Game Designer. Is This Realistic?

So, your teen wants to be a video game designer when he grows up. Should you encourage him? Yes, in fact, it’s a great job for an ADHD brain. But more important than his coding skills will be his abilities to listen to others’ ideas, to communicate positively, and to improve based on others’ feedback. This is where the real ADHD challenges lay.

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Q: “My son’s only career aspiration is to be a video game or app designer one day. He has combined-type ADHD and really struggles with receiving constructive feedback, doing group work in school, and listening to others’ ideas. I’ve explained to him that, when you work in the tech field, you have to work collaboratively with other people and in any job people might not be receptive to your ideas. He has this fantasy that he’s going to be creating video games and everyone will follow his lead. He needs to understand that no one wants to deal with an inflexible person, particularly a co-worker. I’m not sure at 14 he can understand this. What would be your advice to help him learn how to be more receptive to others’ ideas and be more flexible overall?”

A: “The Number One thing you’re going to have to do is make your brain be flexible. That means using your brain coach — that voice in your head that helps you get through things that are difficult or boring — to listen to other people’s ideas and not always assume that your ideas are the best. You have to make your brain flexible enough to work in teams of people, to listen to lots of ideas, to be OK when other people don’t want to use your ideas, and to keep in mind your co-workers thoughts and feelings…”

WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW FOR THE FULL ANSWER

Video Game Designer Aspirations? Next Steps

1. Read This: 16 Great Jobs for People with ADHD
2. Read This: ADHD Teens and Work: How to Succeed on the Job
3. Download This: How to Transform Your Teen’s Apathy Into Engagement


Ryan Wexelblatt, LCSW is the facilitator of the ADHD Dude Facebook Group and YouTube channel. Ryan specializes in working with males (ages 5-22) who present with ADHD, anxiety with ADHD, and learning differences; he is the one professional in the United States who specializes in teaching social cognitive skills to boys from a male perspective.

Submit your questions about ADHD in boys here!

Updated on March 4, 2020

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  1. I went to school for game development (back before i was diagnosed with ADHD) because I thought, sweet i love videogames, i want to make them.
    I’d say if you are truly dedicated then go for it but i learned right away after college that it is a lot more work than just liking videogames. It is long hours and hard work. That and you have to make sure you choose your path you want. Are you a level designer, programmer, concept artist, QA tester (not as easy as you think). There are so many parts to it and i think a lot of people who had the mindset i did, don’t realize just how much work goes into creating games. A lot of places also want people who have studio experience and that can be hard to get in to.
    So my advice would be for your son to truly think about it and look into jobs and see if they are really something he wants to get in to.

  2. As mom of an ADHD teen boy I well know the facination of computers and gaming. My son has, for several years, dreamed and talked about working in the field of computer hardware development. While I don’t necessarily love his career choice I have always encouraged him to work toward it, supported his dreams and helped him plan towards university and his career choice. He still thinks that’s where he is headed.
    But here’s the thing. Supporting his dreams means that I’ve been able to encourage him to get the most out of high school, do the best work he’s capable of, study the courses that will get him into university, and aim for Honor roll. He has goals. He doesn’t always get there, but sometimes he does. Motivation and interest is the key factor for staying focused on any task or course of study.
    My child is maturing and learning about himself and developing other areas of strength and interests he didn’t know he had. Occasionally I hear him talk about other possible career choices that could be options for him. I’m glad I encouraged and even pushed when necessary for him to work toward his dreams.
    I have family members with ADHD, all of them smart, but they didn’t get beyond ninth grade. I believe it was because they didn’t have a dream or if they did they weren’t encouraged or pushed to achieve it. They don’t have the education or the skills now to change and grow.
    I’m determined my child will have the education and the life skills to change, grow and adapt.
    I don’t care if he ends up following today’s dream or moves on to something else. I care that he keeps moving, that he has a goal and a plan to work toward and that he knows I support him, believe in him and will always have his back.
    So that’s my advice. Support his dream. Have his back. Believe with him that he can learn the skills he needs to succeed in what he wants to do. Figure out what he needs to get there. Make sure he knows that you will support whatever he decides and do everything in your power to help him get there. It’s hard work, and sometimes requires a long push from behind, believe me! But once he begins to enjoy a little success and gets some forward momentum he will start to become self motivated and push himself. It was exhausting for me, but after four years of encouraging him to believe in himself and work toward his dreams the results are worth it.
    He is only in tenth grade but he is motivated and focused, fast tracking his core classes so he’s ready for early application to his universities of choice. It doesn’t matter to me if he achieves all of our goals for the next two years. Even if he doesn’t, he’ll achieve enough of them to have options…good options.

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