I’m Getting Too Old For This

I’m Getting Too Old For This

I’ve been making games my entire career, but it’s been a constant struggle.  I’ve been constantly having to justify myself to the next employer.  Because 1 game is popular and another is not, it doesn’t mean the engineering was bad, it means the design was bad or the publisher was cheap and corners were cut.  A game could be a marvel of engineering and still be a bad game, but somehow the Engineer has to take that hit to his resume.  Somehow, if you are making a kids’ game it has less intrinsic value than a game where you explode aliens into pools of blood.  Even if both games used the same underlying concepts of motion, physics, rendering, inventory management, etc; one of them clearly has better written code because, “look at those xxx-treme graphics!” as they point to the models and textures fabricated by very talented artists…

I gave up making AAA games to make other types of games, indie and educational, and now that I’m looking back at AAA I don’t know if I want that anymore.  I breaks my heart in two…  …but I know they definitely don’t want me.  If I wanted to be a part of a AAA team it would mean starting over at the bottom because, “what have you done for me lately…” and that just doesn’t make sense.  I understand that each console generation has it’s share of quirks and differences, each generation has new libraries and hardware features to exploit.  But to be frank everyone is starting at ground zero each console generation, but a for-loop still looks the same to me and multi-core design hasn’t changed much since parallel computing was happening on mainframes.  Game developers act like they invented the zipper or something.   I don’t understand how game companies can look at a resume and blindly open with an offer that is half the industry standard pay because it doesn’t have Horizon Zero Dawn or DOOM on it.

Maybe I’m tired of showing 18+ years of directly applicable experience and getting the subtle digs as they read my application…

  • “…hmm, you haven’t done AAA in a while”
  • “..I see you don’t have PS4 experience”
  • “…have you considered applying for the Jr. position?”
  • “..huh..  Unity3D? Interesting…”

I recently have been laid-off and was briefly considering AAA games, but that dream died real quick.  I have been stonewalled by one prominent game company, and low-balled by another.  I was told by an industry local at a third company that I didn’t have the experience to be a Senior engineer; I guess 18 years wasn’t enough…  What’s sad is that 2 years of experience on any AAA title is apparently worth more than 20 years of raw game development experience.  The Kool-Aid is strong with this industry.  It’s just not worth putting my family through that circus anymore…

I do have to think of my family now, not just me.  I can make double of any commercial game salary, writing enterprise software.  This is especially true when every next game job wants to start you at the bottom.  I don’t know if I’ll be happy with my next non-game job but I wouldn’t have to deal with this issue.  I don’t want to call it ageism, but I’m not sure what to call it when experience is a tool used against you.

I just want to work somewhere fun, solve cool impossible problems, express myself creatively, and enjoy the people around me.  I’m 100% positive all of those exist at a game company, but I’m not sure there is a game company that pays well and doesn’t come with that baggage; not in this town…

I apologize if it seems like I’m venting..  Maybe I am.  I think I’ve been out of that particular scene so long that I forgot what those jobs were like; people clawing at each other and taking whatever low-ball offer they can get.  And for what?  All of that just to have their name in the credits of some game that nobody will remember in 5 years.

“I’m getting too old for this shit…” – Roger Murtaugh


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