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New beginnings

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I don't write too often in this journal so I doubt there are too many of you out there who have followed it. But for the couple of you who do (hi, mom and dad) I thought I'd bring you up to speed on what has been going on in my life since my last entry.

Two major events have defined the last couple of months. The first was the birth of my son, Alexander. He was born on December, 20th, at a healthy 9lbs 11oz (3.49 kg). You don't get much more major than that. The second event is a consequence of the first, but I resigned from Irrational Games so that I could stay at home to raise Alexander. I'm not a fan of paying someone else to raise my child -- it's expensive and I have a moral problem with it. I understand that some people do not have the luxury of staying home to raise their children, but I do have that luxury and I believe that I have an obligation to be there for Alexander.

For a long time now, I have wanted to go into business for myself. Firstly, I don't like working for other people. I have a problem with authority. I really have difficulty reigning in my thoughts when I have a boss who I do not fully respect. That wasn't a problem at Irrational because the people there are simply awesome. Secondly, I want to be financially independent, and I can't achieve that by working for someone else.

For the longest time I despised money and those who sought to acquire it, seeing them as soul-less parasites. Yeah, I admit it was an extreme viewpoint, and probably a naive/immature one. It is only recently that I have begun to see financial independence as something other than accumulating lots of money. Financial independence does not necessarily mean being wealthy, but having enough money to live your life as you want without strong dependence on an employer, government, or some other entity. It is about freedom and independence. In a simplistic way, it sounds like living a cushy life, being able to do what you like and not having to answer to anyone. But it was only recently that I began to understand the power of having freedom and independence.

My wife has a terrible boss. He's an incompetent asshole who blames everyone else for his failings. My wife is really good at what she does. But she's terrified of getting off-side with this guy because she fears for her job. She's the major bread-winner in our household and it would be a big problem for us if she lost her job. It's no surprise that this causes her stress. But if we were financially independent it's a different situation; The job is no longer essential but something she would do for the pleasure she gets from it. Stress would be reduced and the fear of a job transition would be less. She wouldn't have to endure working for this asshole if it detracted too much from the experience. Now that's freedom.

Ok, I've probably ranted enough about that.

The point is that now I want to go into business for myself. For a long time, I've thought that it would be great to become an independent developer. But becoming an independent developer is not a good way of becoming financially independent [smile]. So I'm not set on that plan but I also haven't entirely discarded it because there are areas of game development that are untapped and appealing to me. Maybe they are even profitable. In particular, I am interested in games for children and educational games (Ok, I'm also interested in 'art-house' games but that is definitely unprofitable). And I am so bored of most of the currently available games. It's really sad, there are talented developers out there working on some shitty games. I find it depressing to go into GameStop. There is seldom anything new or interesting. There is no innovation. It is the same tired genres over and over again. But I can't blame the publishers -- if the consumer wants to keep buying Madden each year, why would you not make it?

Ok, started ranting again, didn't I? I think I'll kill this long-winded post here.

In Short:
Had a baby called Alexander. That was cool. Quit my job. Starting pursuit of financial independence. Might take a crack at making games for kiddies!


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I read your entire post and I agree with everything you said. I've also thought the kiddy software market is somewhat lacking. As pre-teens there isn't much out there that a parent can play with their kids. Good luck and congratulations on the new addition to the family.

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Congratulations on the baby and further congratulations on the job quit. I am currently going through the same decision process. It led to me changing the games company I worked for in order to gain much more freedom as sort of a bridging gap before trying to become fully independent.

Even with the extra freedom and position higher up the chain I am still experiencing the same issues of having people around you that are either incompetent, you don't like or make your job more difficult than it has to be, so I am now considering the fully independent route.

You are right in thinking you don't need a lot of money to quit, the bit that worries me is the "what if something costly happens?" scenarios. These are the unexpected events such as costly repairs to your car, house or illness that stops you working. I suppose those are risks you just have to deal with as they arise, but definately need enough financial security to deal with them in the first place.

There is always the option of going back to work if full independence does not work, but that would surely be a crushing experience and may lead to a lesser job role than you previously had. I also know from experience that some companies look upon people who have taken a few years out to do their own thing poorly as they expect they may decide to do it again so why hire them.

Sorry, that was a bit of a rant too :-) Good luck to you jjd and hopefully I am not that far behind you in this process.

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Reading that, I feel what you're saying.

I'm in a slightly but not quite similar situation; my partner is the real money-maker. Her current job is actually a lot better than her last, where her immediate boss basically took the credit for work well done and passed the buck down for any failures. ... Meanwhile I work on building income from freelance work and independent game-making (if I ever finish a damn project!). And rather than raising a kid it's more like I'm waiting for the immigration bureaucracy to work to get me my permanent residency. But when we end up having a kid, I'm sure I'll be the one at home raising 'em.

Hate money and business and the nonsense of the business world myself, so I hear you, but heh, I recognize that it makes life easier to have money and it doesn't make you evil to try to get what it takes to get by. Wouldn't it be nice just to be able to do the things you love and not worry about all the crap? Ah, anyway.

Congrats on the kid and best of luck with your independent pursuits.

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Hey guys, thanks for the encouragement.

@ukdm: I absolutely agree with you about the fear of catastrophic events. I grew up in New Zealand where medical care was free, and I often forget that that is not how things are done in the US. Having a job that provides medical care and other types of insurance is definitely an important benefit of employment.

I don't so mind going back to work if necessary. I'd view it as a necessary stepping stone to getting financial independence right the next time. See, the way I figure it, at some point in your life, you are likely to be out of work with your prospects looking grim. What to do if you're 50 or 60 and out of work? Even if you've had a good career, it can be hard to break into a new organization at that age. So I believe that trying to establish yourself as financially independent is important and something I want to start sooner rather than later.

@dbaumgart: I feel your immigration pain. My wife and I didn't have green cards until the beginning of last year. So if we lost our jobs we also lost our visas. It was such a relief when we finally had them.

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