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that weight has fallen

The darkness of Hollywood, the struggle of the game industry, and optimism for the future. Also, Happy Birthday, Samus!

Ron Alpert, Blogger

February 13, 2009

4 Min Read

  It was leaning against the side of my computer and keeping it from making the damn whirry "I am gonna explode someday, soon" noise.

   Tonight I drove out to the valley, it was my friend's kid's birthday. it made me melancholy - I really dislike the valley (as many do) for several reasons, but I do miss working there. In my decade-plus career in the industry, I have to say that my time at Neversoft was definitely the happiest, in many ways. Yeah, there were umpteen million tony hawk games put out by the time I joined up, but it was still a labor of love for many of the folks cranking them out even after that many iterations - and there was still a long way for things to go. But, that's beside the point - that was one of those studios which had attracted and maintained such a potent staff of wonderful, talented people, not only in their own right but collectively. I always used to refer to it as "imagine if you worked at a company with all of your best friends," even some of the shadier guys who kind of were more standoffish at first ended up being really genuinely cool guys who were a blast to hang out with. Man, I knew people at that studio for ages, and for my reasons I avoided trying to get in the door, I suppose - when I finally came around, well - it was kind of late, but I was still there long enough to learn and appreciate what I have just relayed. And of course, time passed and things change, as they always do. Projects changed, people left, priorities changed. Obviously, since that relative lull NS has gone on to be an even bigger and dramatically more successful company (lightning struck twice, who would have thought) - but the point I am settling on now is irrelevant in that regard.

   Hollywood, I love it here, I really do - but it's a damned dark place. Not dark like the Combat Zone, per se, but still dark and shitty enough that you see a lot of messed up things when you venture out for a good time with your buddies, you see a lot of stupid people doing asinine things. You see your buddies getting a little sucked up into it; you see yourself getting sucked up too. So, yeah, after nearly a decade of this, one tends to get kinda down and depressed I guess (plus, hey, I am getting old). But hell, tonight hanging out with my buddies, those of the gang I used to see every day, work alongside, man - they have things that stress them, but they just seemed HAPPY, you know? One of the guys from Neversoft, he and his wife just had a kid and we watched them unwrap her 1st Birthday presents with her. And it was really a good time - just happy people, happy being together. It makes me a little sad, thinking back to those days, when things just were a little less complex, when we were all wrapped up in this stuff together, that excitement and enthusiasm.

   The future is still bright, and it still makes me excited. I have a mixed feeling about my experiences over the past couple of years, it's not my interest to get into it now very much - for my own personal reasons as much as others - but I will say that I am very proud of the strides I have made, the tools I have learned, the work I have done, the perseverance and fortitude I have displayed, if only for self-gratification. And also, very importantly, I have made other friends since moving on from "that dream job," every time that's honestly one of the brightest points of this whole deal, working in this industry. It's not a shitty competitive rat-race. It's a brotherhood, it's fraternity, it's respect and appreciation and admiration. Yeah, sometimes I have been betrayed to some degree, I have had stupid crap happen, that happens to everyone. You never get less bitter for it, but you learn from it, and you move on, and you must appreciate all the positives that come out of it.

   It's a sad time for a lot of folks in the world right now, even in this blog I have been writing much of the layoffs at many game companies - yeah, well there's plenty of poor SOBs out there in the world who have nothing to do with the games industry who are getting the pink slips handed to them en masse as well, let's not forget about them either all right! Good luck to us all, steel up for some more shitty darkness, and hopefully something good will come out of all of this, soon enough.

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