Today is the one year anniversary of my flight from the game industry.
It seems like a good time to reflect and maybe come to some conclusions.
My life has sure changed this past year. I have moved far away from the familiar both in the career arena and in geography. The workday is now sane, in fact a bit boring at times. I have learned what I was giving up all those years; best of all I have learned this in time to really enjoy my daughter. I can see that I would have been quite unhappy looking back 20 years from now (if I were lucky enough to live that long) and realizing that my little girl is all grown up and I never really spent time with her. In this regard, I am lucky and very happy about it. As for the geography, it’s still a bit surreal. In some ways it feels like home, but there are times when the differences smack me in the face and I pine for my real homeland. We are most likely moving again this summer as the lease on our place is up and I can no longer live with the threat of new Drug Lords moving in upstairs. My wife has found a single family house for rent and we have put in our application. It will not be ready until later this summer and there are others in the mix, we shall see what happens.
As for games, I am still partly involved. I stayed away for quite some time but the thrill of the hunt still calls (haunts?) me. We shipped a simple game earlier this year and we are pursuing another contract. The difference is that it is no longer my primary means of support, so I can be more relaxed about it, choose the projects, not feel the weight of the entire team on my shoulders and schedule myself for part-time work. The last bit about part-time work is total bullcookies, the schedule is part-time but my obsessive personality ensures that I spent more time than scheduled.
My current job is by no means secure. It could end this late this year (unlikely), late next year or could last until I retire. Of course, to a game developer that looks like a “gold watch" like commitment by my employer (Wow! You mean I am employed and will get a paycheck for the next 6 months... FOR SURE?!?!). If (heaven forbid) I end up back on the job market, I can say that I will not be looking for a full-time return to games. Now that I have seen the other side I can never go back. I knew that a game job was a hard life, much harder than a “straight job”, but I was not prepared for just how different (and better) life is in the “real world”. I feel sort of like Robin Williams in Moscow on the Hudson where he is sent out to buy coffee and is overwhelmed that not only that there is no line to stand in, but there is a full aisle of coffee choices. He only knew about Soviet Russia and was content until seeing first hand the joys of America. I’m not kidding; the difference really is that stark, at least for me.
I remain interested in the industry, as a quick look though the archives will confirm. While I really don’t have a “dog in the fight” against game censorship anymore, it is still a hot button for me. Mainly because it is wrong, but I will admit that part of it is that I have friends in the industry that I would not like to see hurt for the political gain of some darn fool Democrats (I’m looking at YOU Sen. Clinton). I also will continue my attempts to make young people think twice before enrolling in “game programs” as a college major. The industry is not what they make it out to be, they are better served getting a CompSci degree (or MFA for artists) and deciding when they graduate if games are still a choice.
Leaving the game industry has been an unqualified success, at least for me. Looking back I hardly can understand why it took me so long to pull the trigger. I feel blessed that I have this opportunity and plan on making the most of it. If it turns out to be long term, well that would be super, if not I hope that employers will see enough distance from games to render the issue moot.
Yes, I am aware that today is another anniversary , but you can read about that one elsewhere in the blogsphere.