I am a Japanese dude having been a shut-in(aka Hikikomori) for 10 years, currently developing a Hikikomori-themed video game alone for 2.5 years. I think keeping hope has helped me stay on track during a difficult time. AMA! (´▽｀)
I was born and raised in Japan. After graduating from uni in Tokyo, I couldn't land a good job. I was passionate about creative writing since I was a teenager, had believed I would become a novelist. So I was writing novels while hopping several jobs. I finished a new novel which I poured my best effort into, sent it to my friends, my brain and body were tired but filled with a sense of accomplishment. Several months had passed. I had gradually realized and accepted that my novels were lacking commercial prospects.
I came back to my home town, losing hope to become a novelist but having another plan: To practice manga/anime art and become a "doujin" creator.
Doujin means indie/independent. There are lots of indie creators in Japan, mainly manga artists and a relatively small amount of game creators, they live off their creation via digital stores or physical distribution. I simply wanted to give a shape to my imagination and the doujin industry seemed a great place for that. I started learning how to draw in my old room. I had no friends in my home town and felt rushed to become financially independent as soon as possible, feeling ashamed to go outside. So I became a hikikomori. That was 10 years ago.
I wasn't good at drawing at all, rather having a complex about drawing. So I often faced a hard time practicing my art.
Eventually I made a couple of doujin works, sold them on digital stores and earn a little amount of money. But my complex had become bigger and started crippling my mind. I realized I need to seek another field to make a living. That was 5 years ago.
At that moment, I had noticed that Steam and indie games had become a big thing in the West. Video game is a great medium for telling a story, which is very appealing to me. The problem was, however, my English was not great and I couldn't write my game scenario in English. But I was desperate enough to start learning about the game development anyway. I thought this challenge would be the last chance for me.
Now already 5 years have passed. After failing several projects, I have finally stuck to the current project Pull Stay, which is a literal translation of hikikomori.
Looking back on the last 10 years, I made a lot of mistakes and bad choices. Probably I shouldn't start to practice drawing in the first place. But this skill now helps me make 2D and 3D assets for games. I don't know... Honestly, I'm sometimes feeling so sad about wasting such a long time and still not being able to stand on my own feet.
But I do know I just need to hang in there. I'm planning to complete my game in a year, hoping it will pull me out from this hikikomori mud. Also my English has improved a little bit thanks to the game development because learning materials are basically written/spoken in English. That is an unexpected bonus.
And I'm telling you. I haven't entirely ditched yet my hope of writing novels one day. I'm not 100% sure whether what I'm seeing is a hope or just a delusion, but I can say this is what has kept me sane for the last 10 years.
So yeah, please ask me anything. Maybe I will need a bit long time to write the reply, but I will try my best (´▽｀)
Game Trailer: https://youtu.be/nkRx-PTderE
Playable Demo: https://nitoso.itch.io/pull-stay
Edit: Thank you so much for such incredible responses and all the kind words, you guys!
I will take a break and resume replying after I wake up. Thanks! ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ
Edit2: Again, thank you so much for all your wonderful replies, guys!
Your question is projected toward me, so it has a shape of me. But at the same time, it also has your shape deeply reflected from your life! I'm surrounded by crystals of your life histories. It feels like you walked into the room-sized kaleidoscope. It's so beautiful..
I will look through the rest of the questions from tomorrow.
Also I will check DMs and chats tomorrow. Sorry for being late!
This thread gave me an incredible amount of encouragement. I will definitely complete my game. Thanks a lot, everyone! ヽ( ´ ∇ ｀ )ノ