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 Update™ 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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12 Responses to What if I’d gone to Poland?

  1. Mory Buckman says:

    So this is what you meant when you said “Ever get the feeling that you’ve picked too many of the wrong answers in the multiple choice test of life?”. This is awful news. How’d you lose the job?

  2. Max Battcher says:

    You already know that I completely empathize with where you are right now. At some point we’ll all figure out some plan of action.

  3. Lee says:

    So glad you’re still hanging in there, hon. And I think you’re turning into the best version of yourself, regardless of where you’ve been. You’re amazing. *hugs*

  4. kateri says:

    Arrgh! x 1000. So sorry to hear this! I’m sure any sensible company will jump at the chance to snap you up, so try to enjoy your free time while you can.

    Of course, the trouble with unemployment is that it’s not so much “free time” as 50% jobhunting, 50% stressing.

    *passes Armor of Resistence to Soul-Crushing*

    Oh, and *HUG*. Take care of yourself!

  5. Edmundito says:

    Oh no, that sucks! Well, my advice would be to take some time to really work on your own things (LFB), but make sure you figure out what you want to do in life, like continue to pursue a career in games or something else. I’m just saying that because I’ve realized (perhaps you have too) that a career in making games for others is not the same as making your own games at all… sometimes it can feel like doing any other job (but worse) than pursuing your dreams. :P

    Keep us posted with what happens next. Best of luck! :)

  6. Thanks for the support, everyone. Hugs all around.

    @Mory It’s a bit too soon to share the particulars in public, but if you catch me over IM sometime, I can tell you what I know.

    @Edmundo Yes, I’ve thought about that too. Developing games for (and with) others is a completely different beast from solo game development. I’ve realised that I’m happy to work at another game studio if it’s the right game studio for me, but I’ll be the first to admit that my criteria for such has gotten stricter and stricter over the years.

  7. Sorry to hear about you losing your job. On the brightside, you’ve got an impressive resume so this should only be a temporary setback, not a life altering one.

    All the best, Jeffrey

  8. Rikard says:


    Don’t know how to respond to that in a blog comment, but I do wish you the best and hope things will work out fine, and soon.

  9. Pah, rotten that is, losing one’s job. Well, the company in question seems to slowly be turning into a console/corporate sellout company anyway, and any hopes of them being an “indie = true art” type company is fading. Your own aspirations always seemed more like that of an artist.

    Although, I guess true art usually means being destitute. :) Might as well take the logical next step – cut off your ear and make a video game about it. :D

  10. John says:

    Aah! I’m sorry to hear about the job loss! You’ve no doubt heard this already, but something bigger and better will come along.

  11. Igor Hardy says:

    I only just read this post. I’m sorry to hear you lost your job. I think you should be proud of the amount of experience you already gathered working in the industry, as well as from your indie projects. New opportunities will definitely arise.

    Funnily enough,I’m living not too far away from Krakow and, given that I have been here for quite a while, I often wonder how it would be if I moved West for some time – to polish my language skills etc. I can’t right now though.

  12. MusEditions says:

    I know I’m late, but I just read this again and it’s beautifully written. Choice points. Divergent paths. Perhaps an alternate you did go there?