When I went to GDC in March I gave myself an ultimatum: I needed to find a job while I was there, or I would surely die.
Hyperbole aside, I really did need a new job. I’d been a moderator at a kids’ game for over three years, and although I’d been promoted twice, the time commitment versus the pay was terrible, and every shift left me feeling emotionally wrecked. The kids were terrible. Though my immediate superior and the coworkers I interacted with most were great, everyone else was a nightmare. And did I mention the pay?
It’s funny. I don’t consider myself particularly money-obsessed. I laugh at people who are. Look how frivolous you’re acting. But as a professor of mine might say, money is a game that’s very hard to quit playing. I had gone to GDC on others’ dime and unless I wanted to be faced with the same situation year after year, I had to improve my own take. Just a bit of breathing room would be fine. Nothing special. Just enough to live without constant anxiety attacks would be nice.
I didn’t, incidentally, come away from GDC with a job. I stopped by the career pavilion once, saw the lines of desperate fresh-faced college grads queuing at every booth, and turned around. I’m still using all the wasted resumes I printed as scratch paper.
The first few days back at home were demoralizing. I had had a great time, and met plenty of wonderful people, and Terry Cavanagh even borrowed my eyepatch. But I’d surely squandered all the hard-earned money everyone had given me through the GoFundMe campaign. I was a failure. I’d be working at this kid’s game until the studio went belly-up, which was probably soon, because for as much as I liked my manager I can’t at all sugarcoat how terribly the thing was run from the top down. I was preparing to ask my surrogate family if I could move back in with them.
Then about a week later, this happened.
I’m happy to report that I’ve been able to leave my moderation job and work solely for Gamasutra. It took a few weeks to get everything ironed out — at one point I was working 13 hour days working both jobs at once — but now things are laid back and happy and for the first time in my life, I don’t feel like a hostage to my employer. I don’t have to worry about not making rent in a given month because I’m too sick to work one day out of seven. I don’t have to drive myself ragged for a few extra cents worth of overtime.
There are other perks too. Psychological benefits mostly — and I don’t mean in the cheap corporate sense, but the actual good the Gamasutra job seems to be doing for my emotional health. I’m not used to a work environment I look forward to coming into each day, as I do with Gama. I’m not used to all these foreign concepts like supportive coworkers and weekends off.
I know, this is the sort of stuff a lot of white collar folks take for granted. It’s no doubt becoming increasingly uncommon, though, and I will never let go of how freaking privileged I am to have a job right now, to say nothing of one I actually enjoy. I’m not here to brag. Just express my thanks.
Thanks, everyone, who sent me to GDC. I accomplished what I set out to do and more, not in the way I expected to, but totally sideways and weird and much more gratifying, in the end.
Also, I highly recommend having an editor with the same first name as you, as it allows one to say things like “Yeah, Kris is a great editor.” No, that will never stop entertaining me. If I wasn’t easily amused I wouldn’t be such a Twitter addict.
(Finally: yes, I know I still owe plenty of people donor rewards, and yes, they’re coming! Now that I’m finally adjusting to the rhythm of the Gama job, I expect I can follow up on these things soon. In the meantime, there are always photos of my cat.)