Water, water everywhere…

… and SO much to drink!

I just got back from JoCo Cruise Crazy. After 6 days on a boat with a bunch of my favorite musicians, a concert a day, and my very first ever trip out of the country, I feel GREAT.

I’ve been off work since December 21st or so and I go back tomorrow. I guess I really needed the time off, but I didn’t realize how much.

The last time I took more than a week off (not counting unemployment) was in 2007, a few months before I left Insomniac. Since then, my life has been a constant stream of frantic dashes. It’s only now, after things have finally calmed down (4 years later… wow) that I’ve had time to reflect on where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.

In April of 2002, I left my position as a phone tech support agent for Earthlink (which would have been outsourced to india 6 months later, btw) and took a gamble on this video game creation thing for a company I had never heard of called Insomniac Games.

I remember at the time feeling elated and terrified all at the same time. The job at Earthlink was a horrible grind (graveyard shift + gestapo upper management) so I was glad to be rid of it, but I was also haunted by the knowledge that I’d be making significantly less as a tester than I was as a phone support agent, and at that time my paychech and Mary’s student loans were supporting us both, so any kind of a pay cut was risky. We had to move from Fullerton (which was relatively cheap) to Burbank (which is not). Mary was in a Masters program at Cal State Fullerton which she up and left so that I could take this job.

So all in all, you can see why it was terrifying.

Five years later, I left Insomniac on fairly good terms to see how the rest of the industry worked. I wanted to “see how other people made games” — since I had only seen how it was done at Insomniac.

The next four years saw me go to Obsidian (though I likely would have been laid off 8 months later when Aliens was cancelled), then leave for Bionic, which ended up being perhaps one of the most difficult experiences of my whole life.

Finally, I’ve settled down at Activision, and I’m happy here. My hours are reasonable, I love my work, and people seem to value my contributions. My boss and co-workers are really cool. I’ve had a chance to do research, read a ton of books, write some articles, and generally further my education as well. So all in all 2010 has been a pretty good year.

Even so, I never realized in all that time how much I needed a break. After the hell at Bionic plus the three months of unemployment and anxiety, perhaps I even forgot how to do that — I dunno. But now that I’ve had a break, I just feel so much better. I’m more optimistic, I feel like I have the energy to do things I’ve been putting off for a long time, like posting here again.

It’s a good 2011, so far. I’m back to work tomorrow, and then off to Vancouver on Wednesday (for work) so we’ll see how my second-ever trip out of the country treats me.

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  1. I’m feeling very similar regarding taking a break (a for realz break, taking a for realz vacation). We should start doing that regularly, even if it ends up being every other year or something. 🙂

  2. That’s awesome Mike. Glad to hear it. 🙂

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