Living the Dream

Philip HarrisChatterLeave a Comment

I’ve just wrapped up my second week in a new role at my day job. I haven’t changed company but I’ve moved to a different part of the business and my day to day work is very different. The reason for the switch is very simple – it was time for a change.

For the last six years, I’ve been a senior technical manager in a business unit building multiple videogame titles – some of them established franchises, some of them ‘New IP’ (basically games that we haven’t made before). My time was generally split between making sure the games shipped, working on the technical strategy for the group and mentoring[1. Interesting aside, the WordPress spell checker suggests tormenting instead of mentoring.] the various technical leaders in the group.

It was a cool role and I enjoyed it but after six years I was looking for a different challenge. I didn’t want to leave the company, it’s a good place to work and I like the people, but I also didn’t want to just keep doing the same thing over and over. So, what to do?

In the end, I sat down with my manager and laid out my ‘ideal’ role – what I’d do if the company just left me to my own devices. That turned out to be a very smart move.

My ideal role was quite different to what I was doing at the time and had I not spoken up, no one would have known what I was looking for. A few weeks later, a new team were looking for someone to fill a role similar to the one I’d described and if my manager hadn’t known I might be interested, they’d never have considered me.

But they did. They were looking for someone with my skillset and knew me and equally important, the new position was something I’d be passionate about and I’ve enjoyed working with the leadership team in the past. A couple of weeks later, I was slated to move into a cool new role and as of Monday I’ve been doing what is basically my dream job, doing the sort of work that got me into the games industry in the first place.

At the moment, it’s a lot like starting a new story. The possibilities for the game stretch out in front of us like an endless sea of jewel encrusted treasure chests filled with magical wonders. There’s an infinite number of directions we can go and an infinite number of ways things might play out. In my head the game is a masterpiece – a perfect blend of the familiar and the new with a splash of the secret sauce that turns a game from ho-hum to oh-wow.

That will change soon enough, of course. We’re already picking which treasure chests to open and which to ignore – cutting out options, focusing and paring down the endless stream of ideas into what we hope will be a coherent, enjoyable experience. Soon, the honeymoon will end and we’ll move into the ditch digging and brick laying that make up 99% of the work of building a videogame and, eventually, I’ll be desperate to get the damn thing finished so that I can do something less painful – like rip my own eyes out. But in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the freedom and excitement while it lasts.

If that wasn’t enough, I’m writing more and better than I ever have before and having a whale of a time doing it. I have a bunch of projects I can’t wait to talk about and so many ideas for new stories they keep me awake at night. Oh, and yesterday I set a new personal best for a 10km race (47:41, thank you for asking).

There’s a saying in the group of people I work with – “Living the dream.” It’s invariably used by someone when they are not “living the dream” but are instead caught in the sort of soul crushing Dilbertian hell trap that anyone who works for a living faces at some point or other. But the next time someone asks me how it’s going, I will actually be able to answer “Living the dream” without a trace of irony.

Maybe it’s time you had a chat with your manager too?


[Living the Dream by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 20th July 2014]

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