I wish I had a great story about volunteering at a children's hospital in a third world country, or maybe becoming a professional high stakes craps player in Vegas but the reality is I've been in the same physical place for the last two years. Tech wise I was definitely in another world.
After working in the games biz for 8+ years I thought that I needed a break so I did some job switching and finally ended up landing @ the Seattle offices for MySpace. Yeah, that MySpace. Instead of helping small children in the third world I was helping people put up half naked drunk photos of themselves on the internet. :) The job seemed pretty sweet, more responsibility, manager stuff and all that jazz. For a while it was pretty fun because I worked with a fun group of people but soon I realized a couple of things:
1. I had no passion for the product at all. In fact I had never had a MySpace account until I interviewed there.
2. I don't like being a people manager. It sounds great in theory but in practice I was just in meetings all day long dealing with crap and not actually producing anything.
Now while this may sound like a formula for a horrible work experience it actually was a good thing for me as it taught me to separate work from the rest of my life for the first time. Since I wasn't all fired up about my job I learned to work 9-5. After 10 years at Microsoft where 9-5 is just unheard of and the quick way to get managed out the door I just didn't know how to work a 40 hour week. I also learned to look at my career through my eyes instead of what is the "normal" path. That means that for me management isn't what I like, meetings aren't what I like. I like technology and I like dealing with people. It took me almost 2 years of working at MySpace and "practicing" the 9-5 work week to figure out what I really wanted to do next with my career.
This spring I finally figure it all out and started looking for new jobs back in the games industry. Unfortunately my timing was horrible as I walked into one of the worst job markets in a long time, especially in the games biz. Lucky for me I have a lot of great friends who work all over the industry (hint, hint, anyone looking for a job. make sure you network, far more important than having a sweet demo or resume.) About 2 months ago I landed a dream job at Valve. I'm working on the steam team in a gig that gives me a chance to do both coding and partner relationship stuff. I can't tell you how much I enjoy going to work. Best of all I still am doing the 9-5 thing as Valve is very much about the 40 hour work week. Before anyone asks, no I can't get your game on Steam but if you've got a cool finished game I can give it to the right people to at least give you a shot :)
Now that the back story is out of the way with the next entry I promise to give a little info on the side project I'm starting up.