What if I’d gone to Poland?

I’ve been going through a bit of a quiet spell lately, in terms of updating this here blog. A lot has been going on in my life lately, but it’s been difficult to put it all into words in such a public space. I hope you’ll all understand.

Last month, I lost my job. It was something I knew would happen to me one day, eventually — nobody ever said a career in the video game industry would be stable and secure. Still, given that this was the first time anything of this sort had ever happened to me, I was unprepared for the stress and anxiety that resulted from such a significant life change. I’ve since recovered somewhat, and am doing the best I can to keep my chin up and look forward to what the future will bring. Of course, it’s also been an opportune time to reflect on how I got to this point in the first place…

Four years ago, around this time of year, I had my first big break as a game industry professional. I was in my third year of university, seeking work for my computer science department’s co-op programme, and I’d been offered the job of my dreams: an internship at Telltale Games. Those of you who’ve been following this blog for a long time will remember how elated I felt when I accepted this offer, moved to San Francisco for eight months, and was shown the many ropes of professional game development for the first time. The period of time I spent at TTG is one I still look fondly upon, to this day.

What many people don’t know, however, is that when I’d received my job offer from Telltale, I had another one in my hands that I was very nearly about to accept instead: a two-month summer position on a computer science research project in Krakow, Poland. Though it wasn’t related to games, the prospect of getting to live on the other side of the world and tour all around Europe in the interim was one that excited me. In the end, I chose the path that would benefit my career goals over that which would benefit my world travel goals, and I don’t regret that decision. Still, I’ve never been given a similar opportunity since, which gets me wondering at times how things might have been different in an alternate reality.

If I’d taken the time to see the world instead of jumping right into a game industry career, there’s a chance that not much would have changed; maybe I could have simply picked up where I left off and things would have proceeded similarly to how they did in the current timeline. But it’s even more likely that I’d have become more worldly, adventurous, and well-rounded, and that this one opportunity for extended travel would have led to many more. Instead, I’ve spent the majority of my time in the intervening years keeping to the west coast of North America, and given that I’ve put down roots in Vancouver since graduating from university, it’s far more difficult for me to up and leave than it was when I was a student and the possibilities felt so open.

Of course, there are many blessings I would have missed out on. I’ve met so many creative, fascinating people in my field, many of whom have positively influenced the direction and quality of my artistic work. Industry figures I saw as heroes in my teenage years became colleagues and mentors in my twenties. Plus, I wound up joining a brass band, something I likely never would have done had I been living a more transient lifestyle, and through that have met and befriended a number of artists of even more varying sorts. Hence, I’d like to think I did become a more well-rounded person after all. And who knows, maybe I’ll have the opportunity for more world travel in the not-too-distant future.

As for now, I’m still not sure where I’m going next. I have a vague idea, but not a concrete one as of yet, and I fear jinxing it if I speak of it prematurely. Life Flashes By is proceeding as usual, and coming along quite nicely, for that matter — having more free time during the work day has given me a good opportunity to better hash out the game’s flow and interface. I’m hoping I can do another Exclusive Video Updateâ„¢ in the near future, since it’s been far too long since the last one. And in the meantime, I’ve had the support of many dear friends and family members, far wiser and more experienced than I, who have been an invaluable help in getting me back on my feet in this difficult time. Whatever happens, I figure it can’t be all that bad.

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