I’m sitting down on a bed with July friends in our hotel room in San Francisco as I type this and feeling quite reminiscent. You see the last time I did this was four years ago, having been awarded a gdc scholarship I had flown by myself across the world and has in a small hotel room on the edge of the mission district wondering what would be going on. I was alone and had not met anyone else yet (the scholars program soon fixed that). Now four years later I am back at GDC and feeling that I should talk about what’s happened in the past four years.
There is a reason for this. A quick scan of the previous scholars shows that they are a collection of the best and brightest. Usually these people go onto work for amazing companies, Microsoft, bungie, insomniac and cap on to just name a few. Or are fairly successful in a academia. Now not all scholars do that, success is contextual after all, but I feel I should be explaining what I have been up to in the intervening years.
The big thing you need to realise is that Australia’s game industry has traditionally taken care of shovel-ware, third party contract work (which has now changed) and there was especially next to no ‘industry’ in Perth. Now for me to get more ‘traditional’ employment I would have to be working elsewhere, in another state, but I’ll go into that later.
In 2008 I was employed by ECU in the school of computer and security science as a IT guy. If you have ever worked IT you will know that many of the jobs are boring and stressful. My duration with the team there was working in IT heaven. Almost any resources and time we needed to stay on the cutting edge where possible. Everyone worked together. There was no shirking of work, no bullshit politics, just a bunch of talented peoPle working together. This was put to an end by operational excellence (when you hear the words “operational excellence” and “Deloitte” well, run) and my contract was let go as it was too difficult to place me.
This led to me starting my own business, developers at large, and working on it full time. The business plan is simple, gain contracts for common work in Perth and try to earn and find jobs in game development on a contract basis and use profit money towards developing our own projects. Not a bad idea, but in the intervening time the industry has changed (lot less people want websites) and people in Perth are just starting to think about game development and how it can assist their business, but more on that later.
I got married in July 2010 at a small ceremony at the church Leah’s parents had helped build and develop over the years. There was a whack of organising that I do not remember much about, but apparently Between both families and me we sorted it. Leah keeps saying she didn’t help as she was on site but I’m not ago sure about that. But the wedding was a success, cheap and memorable. Special shoutout goes to the photographers here, between Dick and Eugene we were covered 🙂 Plus of course Leah! (Technically I’m now Hayward-Crichton, but can get away with calling myself Jon Crichton ^_^). This is the reason why I stayed in Perth, you see, Leah is a geologist who works for a very respected multinational and Western Australia is where all the work is. I could not in good faith go ahead and move her elsewhere just for my own career, she has a awesome one and earns far, far, far more in a year than I ever would ;>.> And not to mention that I’m versatile, I can swing with a lot of things.
During this time I employed an couple of contractors to do web work. One day after taking one of the guys (Matt) out to see a client in rural WA we ended up in an accident. Bye was in a rough state, I broke an arm rather impressively (radial fracture above the elbow) and did several ribs. As a result I missed out on my honeymoon and do not remember November of 2010 at all (drugs were good drugs). It took several more months before I could get back to work, but the web industry in Perth has started to change, and the year was slow.
Midyear a job landed near my lap, one that I am rather happy with. The local science museum were developing an exhibition based around firefighters, helicopters, search and rescue etc. They wanted many interactive digital exhibitions. A good friend has worked as their games programmer for many years and he had larger more interesting project to fry, so we were asked to come on board and build the games. Four games (and one kiosk) in a three month period, collaborating closely with the museum on many levels. We got the job done just in time in the end, there was some time blowout and I could write a very large paper on problems with the project (or just look in a mirror for the biggest time cause) but the experience with Scitech, Wez, John and Myself was invaluable and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
So for the TL:DR;
- Went to GDC2008 as a IGDA Scholar.
- Worked IT for a couple of years.
- Got Married, stayed in Perth for love, Got into an accident.
- Working as a manager on small web projects.
- Did awesome project for local science museum.
- At GDC again on my own dollar (and important business dinosaur’s!).
So that’s the story, 2010 was a learning experience, 2011 I decided to make sure I would do whatever possible to do other work and learn a whole bunch more. This year I’m focusing more on polishing what I do know and trying to bring various projects to the fore. So i’m busy (when aint i?)
But the biggest point of this is success. There are many endpoints for success like, career milestones, employment, financial, personal etc. But the main point to take home is that success is contextual to a individual’s standpoint. I decided that instead of finding employment and learning the ins and outs of the games industry from the inside, I would take the school of hard knocks method and find my own way, making mistakes hard and fast and continuing to develop wherever possible. It’s worked fairly well so far with Game Pride continuing to develop and evolve as a team, DATL going well and always open for opportunities.
But with that being said, I’m going to try and put myself out there and see if anyone’s interested, who knows what opportunities might fall my way, and I plan to make a couple myself 🙂