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The slow burn

Friends. This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I’ve decided to put my video game ambitions on hold for now and focus on finding a full-time position as a developer here in the Bay Area. For those of you who know my work and my values: if you know of an opportunity where you think that I might make a good fit, I would love to hear from you.

For those of you who are curious as to why…

When I left my job about a month ago, I decided to pursue creating historical video games. I wanted to travel the world doing my own original research and making games featuring voices that don’t make it into mainstream history. I talked with a lot of you and received so many offers of help and support, especially from my StartingBloc DC ’16 community, who helped me prototype a crowdfunding campaign.

That beautiful vision still lives on in my heart, but the truth has become a little more complicated.

Quitting my hectic startup job was more than just about chasing my dreams, it was about building a life with my wife Erin in which we could take care of each other and ourselves. While I pushed ahead toward my goal, Erin and I have both wondered, what did she want? If pursuing video games was my way of taking care of myself, what did taking care of herself look like? To be honest, pressing ahead with my dreams while we weren’t able to answer these questions for Erin has caused many tensions and difficulties in our relationship over the past month.

Ironically, it wasn’t until we scrimmaged (a tool that I learned at StartingBloc) potential futures for Erin that she was able to find a goal that really spoke to her. We came up with a plan: we’re going to buy a house on a few acres of land and start a retreat. We envision a place where people can recharge, practice yoga, meditate, hear lectures on art and science, read good books, put on plays, work in a greenhouse, practice emotional authenticity and in general become whole. We want the retreat to serve as the focal point of a community of people who can find a safe and supportive space to pursue all their dreams, whether that’s making video games, planting seeds in the earth or something else.

To accomplish this vision, we’re going to need to save up lots of money, fast! Indie game development unfortunately is neither lucrative nor financially stable enough, especially for a first timer like myself, to effect that vision. We did our research and looked into all the possible avenues for crowdfunding, but ultimately even a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign would come up short. The only logical way forward is for me to set full-time game development aside and find a company whose values, mission and project align with the kinds of questions that I like to ask (e.g., how do we make diverse and inclusive workspaces in tech?) and the types of things that I like to build.

I guess partly I’m writing all this because I feel guilty about having to delay The Vote, my game about women’s suffrage. I’ve received so much love and so many kind words from people about my project, and although I originally wanted to complete the game before the 2016 election, if anything it’s become more prescient in the election’s aftermath. Yet when it comes to working to support women’s rights, the reality is that I can think of no better way than to start with the woman who’s closest to me.

I will continue to work on The Vote and other historical games, just at a slower pace than before. Perhaps it’s all for the best. It felt like I was having to rush some of the hardest and most important work for this project–finding the right communities, playtesting and cultivating a dedicated following. I’m hoping that by spreading all of that over a slow burn, I’ll be able to do it justice and gather the mental, financial and community resources that I need to do this project over the long haul.

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