Catching Up On My Work Life

Posted: March 24th, 2013 under Opinion.

It can be tough to talk about your job in the games industry. Sometimes even after the game you worked on is done, idling in the queue to ship, and you have moved onto the next project you still can’t talk about it. The non-disclosure agreements ubiquitous to the industry can be far reaching. I “may or may not have” even had to sign legal documents barring talking about companies after we went our separate ways. You can feel a little left out being silenced on something millions of people are ranting or raving about. I can’t share everything, but here are some major bullet points.

The main job that I highlighted on this blog was working on Lego Universe with NetDevil, I had an article about the game launch, the studio collapse and my layoff, and ultimately the game shutting down. I loved that game, I think everyone has some ideas how something with so much potential wasn’t more successful, I just had a ton of passion for what I was working on and the people I worked with on the project. All in all it was a great experience, and there was a lot of information released to the public so it was easy to talk about.

After that I was picked up by Game Show Network (GSN) pretty quickly. I only ever mentioned it briefly in this post. That job search was an interesting one. I had a couple options, one of which was 38 studios which I was glad I avoided (was bankrupt the following year). I was actually surprised how many negative responses there were, I had thought 2 years of solid industry experience would make things easier. There was a lot of response in Facebook games, I had a number of interviews for those, unlike others areas in game development the distrust was rampant. There are a lot of copycat games in that sector, outright theft is rare. None of them shared what they were working on; at best I might get vague descriptions like fantasy RPG. Game Show Network got me an offer first and they were the most open about what kinds of things I might be doing.

I am probably least proud of what I worked on at GSN. It was well built, but I didn’t go through loads of schooling and embark into the games industry to make slot machines – or really any gambling game for that matter. This was not the same thing I was told I be working on. I was unhappy with some other things too and bounced from this job after five months when I received another job offer. I don’t feel great about how it went down, but I tried hard to not leave anyone in a lurch, last I checked they were doing well, I am sure they are excited about the recent legislation in Nevada and New Jersey.

When I took a job with Zynga I had a couple positive thoughts. If I was going to be in Facebook games at least I would be at the industry leading company. I knew several other classmates that ended up at various Zynga studios. I was going to live in San Diego which I personally find superior in just about every way to San Francisco. It made financial sense. The studio I was heading towards was slated to work on a new title, and as they had recently released Empires and Allies I was optimistic that Zynga might be building better games.

It didn’t take too many studio meetings talking of ‘increasing the head count so more developers could move off of supporting the old Zynga title to the new game’ to realize I was never going to get the chance to work on it. However; it was still an interesting experience, I learned a considerable amount. Zynga, if anything, is good about collecting and dispersing data. I don’t plan on working for another company that considers itself to be a meritocracy, I feel like it creates some destructive and harmful practices internally. I was terminated after finishing aiding the transition of the old Zynga title to India, which I was honestly fine with as I was burned out from the endless crisis cycle and had just stopped caring.

I took some personal time, enjoyed the gorgeous San Diego summer, I looked half heartily. After two uninspiring jobs I wanted to reflect and make a better decision on the next one, allow myself to be picky. I no longer use Facebook personally or professionally.

I tried to stay in San Diego, but ultimately left for Houston, Texas (I have family there) and worked for TimeGate. They had an exciting project to work on, really favorable working conditions, I felt valued, and I was really enjoying it. After two months I got laid off. Unlike my previous experience getting laid off, it was very unexpected and I don’t think anyone wanted it to happen. If by some twist of fate they end up hiring again and I am still in the area I would seriously consider it, but it is tough to picture that happening in the short term.

After the layoff, an immediate opportunity became available at a startup Virdyne Technologies. I can’t talk about anything in regards to this company to date. I am very thankful; despite my track record I actually do not enjoy job hunting or moving.

I would like to think that the volatility I experienced is uncommon, but I think if you talk to anyone in the industry they have a similar story. It keeps things interesting in terms of your environment, coworkers, and project; but repetitive in the sense that you keep writing the same tools, optimizations, and systems over and over again. I doubt that it is anyone’s favorite part of the games industry.

Thanks for reading, and remember, we are all in this together.

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