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My Industry Drive or Why I Love You, Tim Schafer

Some thoughts on money and the desire for a game job.

The other day I popped in Brutal Legend after finishing another game.  I bought Brutal Legend awhile ago for a discount price but, as I do with most open-world games, I got caught up in the side missions and ended up never finishing it.

I picked up the HD versions of Monkey Island 1 & 2 and more recently picked up Costume Quest and remembered everything I love about Tim Schafer and his brilliant crew at Double Fine.  Psychonauts was awesome, Costume Quest is awesome, and Brutal Legend was good (a bit less awesome in my opinion). 

It got to the point where one night I even dreamt that I dreamed of having a job at Double Fine (which, in my first dream, I was stammering out to a less-than-impressed Tim Schafer during a job interview).

So last weekend, I'm playing Brutal Legend at my parents house like a true nerd, and mention to my dad: "I want to work for this company." (referring to Double Fine)

I might as well have said I just murdered someone, he probably would have been less shocked.

He retorted with something about some money amount before both parents went out to dinner while I sat at home, slicing foes with my axe, melting faces with my guitar o' metal, and fuming about what he said.

At this point I should mention a little back story, recently I was promoted at my job (non-game industry related) and was granted both a wage increase as well as 2, 1-year retention bonus's (retention bonus is an amount that is a lump sum that, if I voluntarily leave in the next year, I need to pay back).  Each part of the bonus was a sizable amount so all together was a great thing (obviously).

My dad has a valid point, I got a promotion in a floundering job market.  But it made me realize something I've always tried to explain to my parents.  Money won't buy me happiness, especially when it comes to my profession.

Do I dream of dreaming of working in the industry I currently work in?  No, and that's completely my 'hard-wiring', nothing to do with my current job.  I'm a creative person that is driven by video games and their development.

When I was around 16-18 I attended a larger rock festival in Milwaukee, WI and, for some reason, they had a game tent filled with different game demos for games that hadn't been released and a large area for the brand new game: Call of Duty.  The games were awesome, the small stage that held the Tony Hawk competition was awesome, and the very cheap swag (free Blockbuster rentals and a copy of America's Army) was AWESOME!

About 3-4 years ago I did an informal tour with the folks at Raven Software; walked around their studios and spoke with some employees about finding a game job.  I felt like a complete goofball because the entire time we went through the building I had this nerd smile from ear to ear for literally no reason other than I was in the mecca of games, the development studio. 

The massive posters and promotional material hyping all their games of the time were instantly on my 'Want' list.  As we left, we were given Raven t-shirts (YAY!) and a business card for one of their HR guys.  I literally kept that card in my wallet I was so proud to have it.

So, in light of recent reactions to my promotion and such, I wonder what is the cost of my love and dreams?  At what point should I say, 'No my current industry pays me too much to go to what you're offering.'?  What is the price tag for all those great memories and a possible future in that environment.

Right now, I don't know when that's going to be and I hope it never comes.

P.S.  Tim Schafer, call me.

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