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January 18, 2019
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The Homeless Game Developer Last of 2017

by Jonathan Neves on 01/02/18 10:20:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


These past weeks and months have been strangely unique and awkwardly positive. About as positive as I can hope things can get. I've always felt that the universe hates me and would never give me a break, it still does that, I still can't catch a break, but life can show me signs that hope isn't entirely fleeting.


 The Sunday of my interview for a position that I had gotten a schedule for featured an encounter I wasn't expecting or prepared for. I had gotten tickets to watch the Los Angeles Rams football team alongside other MVP veterans on the field. I went with another friend and enjoyed myself throughout the experience. I'm not much of a sports fan, I watch sports socially with other people, either on the TV or live. The enjoyment I get is completely socially and would normally cheer for the home team or the underdog if no home team is present. As the Rams continued to trounce the opposing team I glanced behind me to notice another friend had arrived with a very beautiful woman accompanying him. I thought to myself how lucky he must be as she introduced herself as "Alex" for this writing. She was bubbly, energetic, kind and not "with" my friend, she was, in fact, his sister, though I couldn't see the resemblance. We chatted with each other at length and I soon forgot that there was a game going on in front of us as she had my entire attention. When the game was over, my friend had already left early and I agreed to stick around till the end and go back to HVC with Alex and her brother. On further conversation, I learned that they are not, in fact, familial siblings but good friends, both veterans, that chose to make their friendship a more familial connection. I respect that kind of friendship and have it with one or two others in the world. She went on to tell me that she was currently involved with someone, (blast you universe, not again!) which I couldn't do much about, but there's just something...indescribable about meeting someone like that, for me at least. We could stare at each other and smile without saying a thing, time would creep on by without either of us noticing and then we'd talk about something else. Anyways, we got back to HVC and kept talking all the time, laughing, joking, flirting. It was nice, more on her later as she said her goodbyes as it eventually got time for me to do my interview, I wasn't the least bit nervous going into it either.


The interview was with an outsourcing developer called Gear Inc. Most outsourcers get a project from another company and then create the project to the specifications they're hired to do. Basically, they're contractors for video games and normally don't make anything original using their own teams. The interview was at midnight, I thought that it was strange to have a meeting that late, but I wanted to make a great first impression so I agreed to it. It was with a team leader and he asked questions pertinent to game design in general, my experience with my game developer, my thoughts on monetization games vs. indie games. I spoke truthfully and confidently on my answers and he was very pleased with my responses, so much so that he wanted to schedule me for a follow-up interview. He also told me that the listing for the position was reported as false. I applied thinking the position was located in San Francisco, the position is actually located in Vietnam. Finding out that bit of information gave me some pause. I mean this isn't some trip up North from my current stay, this is a major change in my life if I continued this interview process and end up getting the job. I told him that I would get back to him soon after I think about the opportunity further and we ended the call. I was stoked that I did so well in the interview, but bummed about the location. Of course, some in the house shared their opinions that I was being scammed, that soon I would be asked to send some money, I ignored the comments and assured them that I wouldn't be sending money anywhere. I wondered, what's Vietnam like? Most of us here in the U.S. or even Canada are primarily exposed to Vietnam through the movies depicting the Vietnam war and it's not a good exposure, but things sure have changed in the past 40+ years. From what I've read up on it, Vietnam is beautiful, economically booming, a great life for those that might feel increased economic pressure here in the U.S. It's still a communist nation, but I don't feel here or there over those issues, especially since in the U.S. we have almost a complete oligarchy. I'd just be working there, not applying for citizenship. So I emailed the team leader to schedule another interview and started to wait.


Some people live to aggravate others, get a rise out of someone, maybe out of boredom or a lack of something in their own life. It's usually what drives bullies. Here in this house, where I've butted heads with one or two other people over the past few months, I've noticed that I've only given those people exactly what they were looking for, a response, one of anger or frustration, a visible queue that they can jump on and enjoy, take a bit of satisfaction that they attributed to. One weekend, I saw a reaction from one of these individuals that I didn't expect. Apparently, I had done something that got him upset but he was unable to control his reaction to it. It was that of a child, a temper tantrum that was completely amusing to me, and the more I laughed and smiled in his direction, the more he got angry. I realized right there, that's all it takes. Someone is pissing you off, just smile right at them, give them a big old shit head grin and they don't know what to do about it, they have no idea how to react to you. Since then, I haven't had an issue with anyone, there's no point in spending copious amounts of energy on these things, it's absolutely pointless. Those that once sought a reaction from me have actually allied themselves with me against others in the house that have been perceived as threats to the norm of things. There is an established norm here, one that is shaky but important so as not to cause further distress to the varying personalities that dwell within. Those that aren't just having a hard time economically like myself, but those that have mental and personality disorders, those that have drug and alcohol problems, those that have social anxieties, all veterans, all feeling like they've been forgotten. All trying to find their place in this world.


A few weeks later, while still remaining up to date with applications, I got the 2nd interview for the job in Vietnam. This time I was more nervous than before but it was scheduled to be earlier so I didn't think I would be too exhausted. The interview finally happened after a few delays on the project directors part. He was super busy at the time, but I understood and waited patiently. Once again I was asked pertinent questions regarding my experience with my own game developer and my perspective when it comes to games in general. He seemed very pleased with my answers and went on to inform me that there was, in fact, an indie game development staff that operates within the company that creates games from scratch. With that in mind, I told him that I was comfortable in either that department or in the outsourcing department, it would completely be up to him what he would want me to work under. He gave me the rundown as to how I would start to get over to Vietnam, compensation, stipends for moving, and temporary residency once I move out there. It all just seems so exciting at this point, I figure he was telling me this because I'd be getting the position. But he didn't make it official and that's where I'm stuck currently. I'm sitting here typing this at the end of December and I still don't know if I got the job or not. I followed up with HR about it and he told me twice that he would get back to me ASAP but the last word was that the end of the year was too hectic to give a definitive answer and the two leads that I interviewed with were weighing options as to who would be hired for the position amongst a couple of candidates. I want the job, but most of all, I just want the anxiety to be over and to know whether or not I got the job.


So around the beginning of every month, Veterans of America host a horse riding event for veterans and their families to be a part of. I had no intention of going but for some reason, Alex was very adamant for me to go. She had gone before, was very comfortable with horses and wouldn't go into further detail as to why she was so insistent on me going, so after thinking about it for a bit and waking up in time to go, I acquiesced. It was an alright time, I enjoyed myself. I love all types of animals and found it refreshing to both ride and be around horses even the ones that were more skittish with humans before. Riding is okay, but I think the horse I was on was tired and kept trying to leave the pen with me on it so it could go back to the stable. Getting off the horse was painful as my legs are just not meant for that type of strain anymore. She didn't need any instruction, she got on the horse and rode it well, even attempting to go faster than the pen would allow but I could see she just loved it. She loves it with the same passion that I love when I explore a new interactive interface. After the horses we got to talking again and flirting, apparently, she had enough with the guy in her life and ended things, but I knew that only meant she wasn't ready for anything with anyone else. I've always had the worst timing when it comes to my social life. Either I'm not available, or she isn't, or we both are and one of us just got out of something. There's nothing that can be done about it, but we're both intelligent and mature enough to not let it get too weird or involving before someone is led on to something they shouldn't be thinking. We chat on the phone from time to time but the simple problem is and this is something that I've come across more and more in my life and I hate it quite frankly, is that I can't seem to get both my professional life and my social life on equal terms. In fact, I've focused so much on my professional life that my social life has suffered for it. She won't be living here in Southern California for long and is meant for Texas by the Summer and me, if given this opportunity, am headed to Viet-fucking-nam. Even if I don't get the position, I not going South, I'm going North to be around family in Canada. Our paths do not intertwine, regardless of how we feel about each other or our desires for something with each other given enough time, nothing in this universe is fucking fair. It just isn't.


That is my state of affairs for the last month of this year leading into 2018. I can't say with absolute certainty what next year will hold for me. But I wasn't able to completely accomplish my New Year's resolution for 2017, not without the confirmation for the job in Vietnam. I can say that for next year's resolution, it will involve me getting a position in this career field that I enjoy so much, or giving it up completely. For I see where this industry is headed and I'm not happy about it. More and more developers are trying with all efforts to squeeze as much money out of their players instead of making great games that can stand on their own. Very few developers stand for what I feel is important in games today and since we're an industry that should be self-regulating ourselves and choosing not to, we're going to ere on the side of federal regulation if we're not careful enough. It's already started and will get worse. When was it a bad idea to make a game that for better or worse was either engaging, innovative, immersive or entertaining? Do that and it will sell, you shouldn't have to include anything else. But just like everything else in this world, people are getting more greedy than ever and it makes me sick.

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