I also get another kind of reaction when I tell someone that I’m studying Game Design.
“Nice. There’s a lot of money in that! I have a [friend, nephew] who works for some company doing some sort of…thing. He does stuff on computers.” (Slight hyperbole, but I really have had people respond this way.)
I’m not in it for the money. If I were, it probably would have been much more economically sound to get a Computer Science degree and bust my butt as a codemonkey or develop some killer app that landed me a cozy job somewhere. (Or, perhaps, to be a businessman and make sound investments as a producer, rather than developer.)
Indie developers like Jonathan Blow get a lot of press for becoming instant millionaires (I’m thinking about that article in The Atlantic a handful of months back). Big brand names like [name your modern military shooter] get even more press.
You never really hear any of these people saying that they wanted to make games because they wanted to become millionaires. I’m starting at the bottom. Right now, simply figuring out how to squeeze the right part-time jobs between classes in order to pay for food and rent is my primary concern. Even with all the help I’m receiving, the scale is tipped way too far on the wrong side.