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May 15, 2006



I really agree with the last paragraph of your post. I was at a point where I didn't like my position and I was interviewing at other places - what I found was things that sounded good at other places were things I could easily change at my current position and things that didn't sound so great at the other places were already better where I was. If nothing else, interviewing allowed me to view things in a different light and affect change at my current posisition to make it want I wanted it to be. Since then things have been getting better and better.
I definitely need to employ better project management practices (just at the employee level) and really focus on working more effectively rather than falling into the OT + meal-at-work trend that so many fall into. But when I'm at a party and I talk with somebody about what I do, my girlfriend says my excitement and pride are contagious. :)

Liam Hislop

I totally agree with your last paragraph. I went from Vice President of a small corporation, hating my job, to walking out and feeling the exhilaration of being a free man. Then two weeks later, found the joy of starting my own company, followed by less than a year later feeling the same joy as I signed over my shares of the comapny for a small sum. It was always a grass being greener situation. I realised I wouldn't be happy with where I worked, until I took charge and talked with my bosses and managers, and worked something out. The problem of all of this doesn't fall on the project manager, it also falls onto the employee to speak up and talk about things. Everyone is 100% responsible for the projects good health and success.

Jay Barnson

I am a "re-lapsed" game developer. After over five years working on enterprise-level apps, I've come back to the fold as a full-time game programmer.

The rest of the software development industry - at least what I experienced of it - actually doesn't have that much on game development other than salary. They seem to be a LITTLE more up on modern product development trends, but there's still a seemingly infinite supply of bad managers, or good managers struggling under upper-management "vision" that seems to have a permanent case of blinding cataracts. You've got bad scheduling, bad requirements, and bad business practices.

In the end - it can be crap anywhere. It can also be great anywhere.

The biggest difference for me? For the first time in YEARS, I'm finding myself looking forward to going to work in the morning on a regular basis. Yeah, there's still pressure and stress, but the problem set is different. It's not just the difference in working on customer web-tools and working on dragon AI. It's more of the openness for creativity as opposed to conforming to industry requirements. At a particular level, the abstractions of the problems remains the same between games and business apps --- and the programming required for both --- are the same. The difference is being allowed outside the box to think --- or at least being given a larger box --- in games.

I'm happy to be back.


Good article. There's certainly a wide range of personal experiences out there when it comes to working in the game industry. Some of the comments at the end of the original article sum up the wide spectrum ranging from passionate current developers to indies to lapsed developers.

You've certainly been lucky and you've also had some good habits that should be adopted more widely. I suspect that you'll see a growing awareness of good development practices as this topic becomes more popularized.

One nice thing about the industry is that it is small and people really do care. Those companies work long hours don't do it because they dislike their workers. They do it because they think it is effective. Give a businessman a better way to make money and they'll drop their old habits rather quickly. It is a matter of education on both a small scale (as you propose) and a large scale (the class action lawsuit against EA).

take care


"To all those who are lapsed: This essay is a joyful call to all those wonderful people who are leaving the game industry. Welcome to the bright side of life. You are blessed."

Huh...methinks the lady doth protest too much.


As far as the joy of great co-workers with a lot of talent, energy and motivation, the games industry is second to none among software industries. The demanding and quickly changing environment also lets us find and test our own limits. There are good times and bad times for everyone, but regardless how long you stay or how quickly you get out, if you have the drive to create things, it's one hell of a ride.

I also agree with the idea that games in general are not a useless endeavour. When you see a 12-year old kid thrilled with your game and struggling to master it as he twists his face in concentration and joy, you know you have touched his life in a meaningful manner.

On the point of employees actively improving management, that's a tougher one... you have to accept and remember that not everyone is as good as YOU. :) It takes a rare combination of insight, experience, patience and strength of will to work those changes from the inside, and it's too easy to cause a lot of collateral damage in the process.

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Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game