Dear Large Game Company Engineering Job. It all seemed so great at the beginning (don’t they all?). Our courtship was a whirlwind romance of travel, interviews with interesting people, deep thoughtful discussions on game design, and veiled promises of the riches that might befall us if the fruits of our potential partnership could be realized. Certainly there were questions to be answered. Would we be a good fit? Was it destiny, or would I be a Mac and you a PC?
Of course I “Googled”, and checked out your Facebook and even MySpace pages (I think there is a copyright violation on this page as Miley Cyrus songs, along with most published musical material are not free to stream on your pages). I did find some dirt that might have clouded my decision. But like most potential courtships, I found good things and bad things. The good seemingly outweighed the bad and who am I but a person who accepts a challenge that might result in changing the other party for the better.
I was excited to to take the entire breadth of skills and knowledge I had gained from 17 years of indie game-related experience and apply it to a large game company for the first time. I thought that you had the same ideas, but that was not the case. Oh, the first few weeks you were a perfect mate. We taught each other about ourselves, had long lunches and dinners in-between what seemed to be the preliminary ground work for something bigger down the road. I think I was under the impression that our relationship would blossom into one of mutual understanding and trust. One where we would both be free to expand our horizons by learning from on another.
Given our diverse back-grounds the ideal situation would have been for us to have taught each other from our strengths to create two well-rounded individuals. It all seemed to be heading in that direction until you changed. Or did I change? Or was I simply delusional because I was so taken in by your whirlwind courtship that I missed the subtle signs along the way.
In those long late night talks we had early on, I am sure I told you about how while I love to engineer games, I also love to research, design, and write about them too? Do you remember the diverse discussions we had that covered topics from game theory, anthropological game-related research, and classic games? How about my theories on optimization and platform independence? Were you just listening to those with one ear while the other ear was looking (listening) at the metrics for the current games?
Some interesting peripheral things began to happen though. As soon I posted my new position on Linked In, I received almost 100 new requests, many were from people I had barely talked to and some were from outright enemies. You seemed to be a very popular individual to be associated with. That was a plus!
Even when this “twisted-honeymoon” period was over, my hope (mostly fueled by our early on discussions) was to expand passed this Spacely Sprocket Cog creation and into new untapped areas that would use all of my slills.
The next few weeks were odd to say the least. It was as if all of the sweet nothings you had whispered into my ear had never occurred. I was thrown into the “code factory” along with 100 others doing mind-numbingly boring cog creation for your widget factory. I am certain that you and I never spoke one word for those next 4 weeks. It was as if you had simply found someone (or many someones) just as or more appealing to occupy your time.
Instead, I found that I was being forced to use the same 1% of my skills over and over while also trying to learn new skills that had never been part of the job description. Still I held the hope that I could get rid of this “boot camp” related code factory and move on to expand into the areas we had discussed early on. That fell on deaf ears as in those short weeks hundreds of other hungry developers, perfectly willing to be a cog in the code factory widget creation machine were brought in and everything we had discussed during our courtship was soon forgotten (by you at least).
To top it off, you became possessive and needed to me to available 20-24 hours a day to cater to whatever whims you came up with. Needless to say, the relationship became toxic and unhealthy and even though I know deep down that if we had both put all of our effort into it and had kept all of our promises, it could have been a beautiful, lasting relationship, I feel that I just don’t have the energy to go on pretending that it is working. I know you seem content with the situation, but after asking around, it seems that “engineer” in the game industry is no longer a position that is given time and space to apply a breadth of skills and knowledge to creating something great. It seems that metrics and copycatting, along with a lack of innovation (both technical and creative) rule the day. So, for those reasons, it’s me, not you. You are who you are. It’s just not for me. No hard feelings.
We can still be friends, and I am sending back the smart phone you used to keep track of me, and in return I would ask that my copy of Who’s Next (the extended CD edition) that you borrowed please be returned. You never seemed to get that the cover was them peeing on an ancient artifact anyway. I should have known there would be problems when you told me that “Teenage Wasteland” was your favorite track (that’s not the title of the song). I assume that your assistant will be handling this as we have not had any personal discussion since that first week. Please tell her to send it in a padded envelope.
One more note, yes, to answer your question, feel free to send me a Linked In invitation, but refrain from asking me for a recommendation.
Disillusioned Game Development Engineer 2011