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The only constant in life is change.

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slayemin

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Games are art.
Art is created by artists.
Artists are people.
People have lives outside of their work.
Our personal lives can be messy.
Parts of our lives are reflected in our art.

I've been thinking a lot about life lately. My personal life has been going through some pretty radical changes in the last few months. When it comes to tech, I often say, "The only constant is change" followed by "if you aren't changing, you're not growing, and if you're not growing, you're dying. Complacency kills!". I think this also applies to life in general. When life changes, it has second order impacts on other things.

1) I started a contract position doing research and development in VR for a very large and well known social media company. It is now my 'day job' and my indie game projects are a side job I do when I have time. I am realizing that the day job takes up a LOT of my time when I factor in any overtime work and the time to commute between my work and home. The steady paycheck is nice though and it helps me worry less about money in the short term.
2) I ended my long term relationship with my girlfriend recently. It's sad and it sort of turns my world upside down, but it was time: We're quite different people and our lives were moving in very different directions. I won't get into it out of respect for her privacy.
3) I moved closer to work in order to reduce my commute to 15 minutes. It took me 3 hours to pack everything I owned and 30 minutes to unpack it all. It's a bit disappointing that my net worth doesn't amount to much, but the materialism of possessions has never held a lot of importance to me.
4) I found out last week that my mom has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and doesn't have much time left to live, so I took emergency leave from work and flew out to Europe to say goodbye. I'll never see her again. How do you carry on when the person who has looked over you, cared about you, worried about you, protected you, given you life, dies and is gone forever? It's heart breaking, but death in the family is inevitable and unavoidable. I suppose its better for children to bury their parents than for parents to bury their children, and I can be thankful to have had the opportunity to say goodbye.
5) I've started writing a fiction book about a princess and a dragon.

With many of these life changes, distractions and tragedies, I am wondering if I still work in game development? It's certainly not a daily activity as it has been for the last few years. Do I care? The scary answer is that I'm not sure. I can totally understand why other game developers would say that they're "taking a break for personal reasons". My day job is tangentially related to the game industry and I'm pretty happy with it. I've also been hearing a lot about how abusive and exploitative game studios are to their employees and I'm not really sure I'd want to work directly for most studios. My sister and 14 other people were recently laid off from a mid sized game company in the VR industry -- a company I also interviewed at in September. I dodged a bullet there. The game industry as a whole makes me a bit wary. The hours are long, projects frequently are mismanaged and go into crunch time, the pay is low, some players are toxic, send death threats and abuse to devs, released game success seems to be based on luck which creates a lot of uncertainty... why would you want to be on the receiving end for any of this? Is the 'entertainment' element really so compelling that it would override all the other industry problems?

Anyways, I'm going to be writing a novel and working on my games on the side. They're my creative outlet. I don't know what that makes me but the definition probably doesn't really matter.

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kseh

Posted (edited)

I would argue that programming is a branch of writing where the deliverable is just more interactive than traditional books. And just as books, the deliverable can entertain, instruct, or otherwise facilitate the transfer of idea from one mind to another. Choose your medium, create worlds, and breath life into new characters. Share your ideas, your world, your life. Be a writer of whatever suits you.

And thanks for sharing thus far.

Edited by kseh

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1 hour ago, kseh said:

I would argue that programming is a branch of writing where the deliverable is just more interactive than traditional books. And just as books, the deliverable can entertain, instruct, or otherwise facilitate the transfer of idea from one mind to another. Choose your medium, create worlds, and breath life into new characters. Share your ideas, your world, your life. Be a writer of whatever suits you.

And thanks for sharing thus far.

That's an interesting argument, and it would make sense if you only programmed games -- but if you program other types of applications far outside of entertainment, I think it would be harder to make the same argument. For example, someone had to write the thread scheduler for modern operating systems and its purpose is purely to context switch between threads and be invisible to the end user.

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I've also been hearing a lot about how abusive and exploitative game studios are to their employees ...

While not entirely untrue, it would be unfair to paint with such a wide brush. On the one hand I do see disproportionate amounts of news related to game industry work conditions, but those also tend to be industry related news sources that wouldn't report on similar problems in other industries (or report on the on-time no crunch because it's not news). In other news sources I definitely see reports of abusive practices towards Amazon warehouse workers and various gig economy workers so I don't think there's anything particularly unique about the game studios. I suspect that any workplace with salaried employees and harsh deadlines has potential for abuse. Software of any kind can exacerbate the issue by often being a process of invention which doesn't always schedule well.

There are definitely good places out there if you're willing to give them a chance.

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On 7/9/2019 at 5:31 PM, MagForceSeven said:

While not entirely untrue, it would be unfair to paint with such a wide brush. On the one hand I do see disproportionate amounts of news related to game industry work conditions, but those also tend to be industry related news sources that wouldn't report on similar problems in other industries (or report on the on-time no crunch because it's not news). In other news sources I definitely see reports of abusive practices towards Amazon warehouse workers and various gig economy workers so I don't think there's anything particularly unique about the game studios. I suspect that any workplace with salaried employees and harsh deadlines has potential for abuse. Software of any kind can exacerbate the issue by often being a process of invention which doesn't always schedule well.

There are definitely good places out there if you're willing to give them a chance.

Oh, there's certainly good game studios to work at as well. I wish they'd make the news a bit more frequently to counter-balance the bad news about studios with awful working conditions. Sure, there's lots of industries and companies with bad working conditions, but I don't think that means anyone should have to tolerate sweat shops either. Most of the harsh deadlines in the game industry are driven by bad project management decisions and if we consider game development to be software development, this trend seems to be concentrated to the game industry while other software companies seem to find ways to pay well, ship on time and have sane work/life balances. The long term trend I'm seeing is a brain drain out of game development and moving more towards professional software development, where most game devs don't stay in the industry longer than 10 years -- if this is the general trend, it's bad news for the game dev industry because the senior devs leave, take their experience with them, don't mentor juniors, don't offer teams sage advice and help avoid the crunch which burns out team members.

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