While I type this, I'm currently an unemployed game designer. There was a point in my life a long time ago where I didn't really identify myself by the job that I do. That was back in the day when I was a janitor, a dishwasher, a caddy, a paperboy, or a fast food employee. Later down the line when I got a job testing games, I called myself a game tester, because that's what they called us in the early 90s. Now they are called Quality Assurance Analysts. Sounds Fancy doesn't it?
Well, back when I was a tester, I started what now has become my career of being in video games. I've been a Tester, a QA Supervisor, a Level Designer, and worked by way up to being a Senior Game Designer. Somewhere along that timeline I went from being some guy who did his work somewhere to identifying himself as a game designer.
I'm proud of the fact that I'm a game designer! I love the fact that I have had a hand in creating games that I love. You see, before I ever became a designer, or a janitor for that matter, I was a gamer. I've been a gamer since the early 80s! Games have always been and probably always will be a major part of my life. It's in my blood. You could say I'm a gamer first and a designer second. They are so intertwined with each other though, its hard to tell which is which.
It's one thing to love games, but its an entire different matter when you eat sleep and breathe them both at home and work. I feel so fortunate to have a wife who understands my passion for gaming and is so supportive of my efforts. She's even so cool shes made characters in EQ2 just to play with me from time to time. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I've really loved it the past 17 years and hope to have at least that many more years ahead of me in the industry that I love so much.
One of the funny things about being a game designer, especially one coming from a QA background is, you never can really turn off the QA switch. Its one of those buttons that just get stuck, its like seeing the Matrix, they can't just shove you back in the tube to where you can't see the lady in the red dress. I see the lady all the time, and I'm well aware that there is no spoon. This is what happens to you when you get this intimate with games. You not only see problems when you are playing them, you can't help but pick at them and see if it breaks some more. On top of that old "wanting to break the game" thing I do, I can't help but wonder how I would do this or that differently with each game I play. You just can't turn off the designer part of your brain once you get the ball rolling.
So, I'm in the process of looking for work, and while I look at jobs out there, both near and far, I wonder if I'm at another turning point in my long career where I might want to try something different? Can I? I don't know if I could leave the game industry altogether, I think I just like making games too much. I sometimes wonder if I would do well in a production role where I work with a wider lens than say a specific part of the game. I'm 100% positive I'm capable of doing that kind of job, hell, I know probably a dozen people at least that came up through QA under my supervision who are now producers at various companies. Most of the people I worked with in QA that have moved on and upward in the industry have invariably gone on into production roles. I think that's really cool. Anyways, now I'm in a position to try and reach out and see what I might do next, and to be honest I don't know yet! Then there is that whole wide world out there. I've worked on some really cool projects in the past, and now I wonder what else could be in store for me? So many people with so many different jobs. I'll always be a gamer, but will I always be a designer? It makes me wonder sometimes, though I guess I have plenty of time to think about it.
Anyways, I think I'll write a small series of posts talking about games I've had a hand in designing going into the deep past. Why not eh?