Reviews are coming up this week. Amidst all these crucial conversations, I’ve been thinking about what a review would look like with myself three years ago. Three years ago, I was working at Microsoft in the Games Test Org, which wikipedia tells me is an organization of Microsoft Studios that is “responsible for games and entertainment testing; from crash processing, telemetry and data visualization, to automating Xboxes”. Right now, I’d be just coming down from the high that was RTXing my first game and waiting anxiously for the release of Alan Wake, a game I was previously hyped about before I even came to work in the Xbox division. (As a side, man, Alan Wake is such a great, underrated game. Still proud to call it my first game.)
I had no idea what the next few months were going to hold. A series of ups and downs that made me question my abilities as a programmer and my worth as working person in the world. And yet, I wouldn’t be the person or in the position I am today without them. Although, I could have made my life a little easier if I had realized sooner the following things…
Don’t take emails home with you. Well in the bigger sense, don’t take work home with you. Try to practice “vacation mind” while at work. See issues as one piece in a system. Take a step back and focus on the bigger systems and processes at play.
Read Tribal Leadership right now. Seriously. Go do it. See the chart above? Microsoft sits squarely between 2 and 3. It will explain every interaction you have with your coworkers going forward. Eventually, it’ll help you understand why you have to leave.
More of the negative interactions than you care to admit are due to gender and benevolent sexism. I know why you don’t believe it now – it’s what you have to do to survive. Remember when mom said, “I can’t allow myself to think that way. It would drag me down.” I completely understand, but you will learn this eventually and once you get in a position of leadership you’re going to want to change it.
Take things slow. It doesn’t matter if you’re late or if things are on fire. Oh and nothing is more important than family. So make sure you spend time with them.
Always lean your body forward and rest your elbows on the conference table. I know it sounds silly but just the act of having a power position in a meeting will cause people to look to you for leadership, listen to you when you talk, and respect you more in general.
I know you won’t settle but trust that there’s a job and company out there for you. Job jumping will be crucial in your quest to find a career and company that you truly love. You’ll get to a point where you start thinking you’ll never truly be happy, but you have to trust in the process. I hate to quote Steve Jobs here but seriously: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”
There are heaps more learnings I’ve had but if I know anything about my “3 years ago” self, she’s going to want to follow her own path and learn her own lessons without having someone telling her how to do it. I hope the next three years I learn half as much as the last three.
This post was loosely inspired by “Letters to a Future Women in Tech” by Stacey Mulcahy.
It would seem that my post entitled LFG was aptly named as I accepted (and already started) a position with ArenaNet, the devs of the immensely popular MMO Guild Wars. So why Arenanet? I had other offers. Even a ridiculously inflated Senior Producer position with Zynga that would’ve paid me boatloads of money. Long story short: I could go into the amazing frosting that this company has on it, but the core of what I was looking for was: 1) A healthy work environment and 2) A place where I could have a ton of responsibility and grow as a producer. ArenaNet has offered me all that and more. I certainly never expected to work on an MMO. It probably comes as no surprise to those who know me that the idea of grinding on the same game, waterfall style, doesn’t really appeal to me. Surprisingly enough, ArenaNet is nothing like that at all. And damn, words can not express how good it feels to be doing “real” game development again (sorry web devs!).
As far as Rocket Ninja is concerned, my friends assure me that we all have to have our crazy startup stories and this was mine. Thankfully I got more than a story – I found some great friends and really tested the bounds of my production experience. I certainly don’t regret my time down in SF and looking back, it feels like one long vacation (well, when you ignore the really late hours and stressful work environment). And it goes without saying that I’ll be returning to San Francisco again soon.
(Apologies to my coworkers for not posting this sooner!) :)
tl;dr – Seattle. AAA. MMO. Happiness.
I had a great first day at GDC and am definitely looking forward to day 2. So many great companies and people to meet and chat up with.
If I handed you a resume, feel free to contact me here!
I am officially LFG or in other words, for you non-MMO players, I am looking for a new job. “But Kristen, didn’t you just start a new job?” Why yes! I did!
Long story short? Startups.
Long story long? When I joined this company, I came to work on the social game that was in the works. After two weeks of doing an awesome job, I was also put in charge of the “CEO-pet-project” and “investors-are-going-to-love-this” Facebook chat app, Be3D. I got Be3D shipped, but when I turned to get the social game out the door it was cut. Well, not cut yet, but everyone is trying to get it cut and I have been moved onto the chat app indefinitely by the CEO. In startup terms, they call this a pivot.
Now, even if you are new to this blog it’s not hard to figure out that I love games. Specifically, I love producing and making games. In fact, I love it so much that I have made a decision to dedicate my career to making and producing games. No joke. For reals. Therefore, I need to leave. I still have a job here and am really being successful (and honestly being paid ridiculously sums of cash) but it’s not about that. It’s about doing what you love and what I love is games!
So there you have it. Feel free to message me if you have an interesting opportunity. Best case scenario: I stay in SF and I work on mobile games. However, I’m open to chat with anyone! You never know what special opportunity may come around.
I’ll keep this blog updated on where I land and in the meantime I’m going to throw myself into my personal projects. Oh! And GDC is next week – perfect timing. Hope to see you all there!
Yes the rumors are true: I’ve gone to San Francisco. I’ve started up a new job as a Producer at Rocket Ninja, a company interested in bringing 3d games to Facebook. I honestly never thought I’d be building Facebook social games at a typical SF startup. I had four offers on the table ranging from more AAA to even smaller mobile game startups but this company was just the right fit. The reason? My coworkers, especially my EP, are just out of this world. It’s amazing the talent that they’ve managed to bring into this place. Second reason? I could flex my producer muscles and get some real experience. As it turns out in the short 3 weeks that I’ve been here, I’m now the producer in charge of both products. The executives are busy doing executive’y type things and they’ve seen my talent and feel comfortable deferring to me in most things. So that means I have a team of around 7 and another team around 35 and I’m essentially free to run it as I see fit in order to get these products out the door. It’s a daunting task but I’m glad to have more responsibility instead of less and, so far, I’m happy with the work.
In addition, I’ll be within stumbling distance of GDC which is just a short 3 weeks away! I’m excited to see some former coworkers and attend a few parties. If you’re coming into town and want to get together be sure to let me know! In the meantime, it’s all about the networking. I’m hoping to meet as many fellow game devs in the area as possible and insert myself into the gaming community. There’s so much opportunity here in SF and I look forward to making SF home!