Hey everybody! Welcome back to the Greenspeak blog! It's been a long break since the heart-pounding season finale back in September, and you may recall we left on quite the cliffhanger! I was heading off to the PAX convention in Seattle to attend a bunch of panels, and secretly to interview for a new job, though you couldn't have known it at the time. Well, I mean, I did. But you didn't.
So many questions were left unanswered in that finale! Did I even make it to PAX? How did my panels go? Did I get reamed by EA's lawyers and cadre of PR thought police for saying things I shouldn't? Did any PAX attendees accuse me of being their father?
Well, now. Here we are with a brand new season, and like any truly annoying television show, I'm not even going to begin to answer any of those questions, other than to say that, yes, I made it to PAX, and yes, I *did* get that new job, which, ya know, is the real reason there's been a season break anyway! Funny how that happens! (And I was just kidding about EA. They were just peachy. Ya know. Relatively.)
So I work at PopCap now. My official title is Director of Editorial and Social Media. Though honestly we kind of made that up. I mean, I didn't replace anybody. We created the position 1) so that I could work there and 2) to hopefully add value in areas that PopCap is keen to explore. My love affair with PopCap is a long and very public one. I'd written about them numerous times at Computer Gaming World, and blabbed enthusiastically on various podcasts and video shows about my love of all things Bejeweled, Bookworm, Peggle, and, most recently, Plants Vs Zombies.
So it should come really as no surprise to anyone who's followed my career in either a stalker-like way or even in a casual, disinterested way that I should end up here. Humor-wise, I've always felt a deep affinity for PopCap. There's always been a subversive, wiseass quality about all their games, even if it isn't always readily apparent to some of their core demographic. Clearly those dayglo, Teletubby-like cute animals in Peggle aren't meant to be taken at face value---or are they? And the quality of their games has always spoken for itself. Back when I was still a civilian and had nothing invested in PopCap, career-wise, I argued on the Area 5 show, upon the release of PvZ, that it was time for the gaming industry to start thinking of PopCap like the best of the AAA developers---the Blizzards, Biowares, and Bungies---who consistently deliver quality product each and every time out of the gate. And that it was only PopCap's position as a "casual" game developer that prevented it. But the truth is, at this point, when a new PopCap game comes out, everybody that *I* know who is a gamer gets just as excited--and addicted--as with games that cost 3 times as much to buy and 100 times as much to make.
Anyway, yeah. I'm here now. And if I sound happy about it, well, yeah--you betcha. I am. And really, it's kind of like this: Fucking finally. Finally I'm at a place where I have nothing but respect for the people in charge, and finally I'm at a place where I feel like they "get" me and what I have to offer. Because I'll admit I was gun shy. At the end of the interview/hiring process, they were doing a hard sell on me. Because I was a bit loathe to take another game company job. I had a pretty sweet press job kinda/sorta/almost mine (though we hadn't gotten to a formal offer yet), and for awhile there I definitely thought that's the way I was going to go. "Back where I belong" as lots of folks were telling me. I'll tell you, at the end of my time at EA, I was practically dreaming about being back in the press, I wanted it so bad.
But, as much as I think that press job could have been great (and I guess we'll never know), I think my desire to get back was less about that than about my utter unhappiness amd wretched emotional condition to my then-current status. And I'm not going to start belatedly ragging on EA now, because, well, who cares? It's over. The thing is, it's not necessarily that anyone there did anything "wrong", it's just that, in retrospect, and from the position now of being at a place I actually fit in and like, it's clear how utterly mismatched and out of place I was there. It was just such the wrong environment for me, both on The Sims group and later in the online group, that the real lingering feeling that I have is one of anger at myself for stubbornly trying to make it work for so long. I was there for 2 years but should have bailed, seriously, after 2 months. Because I already knew. I just kept trying to convince myself that if I hung in there long enough, somehow things would turn around for me there. Kids, it really can't be said often and emphatically enough: Your gut is almost always right.
So now I'm at PopCap and I am fucking loving life. As I've said to friends and family, for awhile I kept waiting for a "shoe to drop" after I signed on. Like, okay, they SEEM cool, but, really, there's gotta be a bad side, right? But we're up to 2.5 months and I haven't had one single bad day--or hour, or meeting, or conversation--yet. Everyone is as cool on the inside as their games appear from the outside. This is why their games are cool.
The stress I feel now--and the reason this blog has been on hiatus---is the stress of wanting to give it my all and show them I am worthy of belonging. I've got my hands (and brains) in a dozen different projects, and they're all ones I *want* to be working on, and they're all with people I *want* to work with. Not many people ever get to say that, and lord knows, it's been a long time since I have. Some of these are just now starting to see the light of day, like the live videostreams I started doing, but mostly they're all works in progress still that I can't wait to reveal. But it's been draining--even physically, as I'm commuting weekly from Berkeley to Seattle and back---and it hasn't left me time for much else. I've wanted to give my all to a job that I'm truly thrilled to have.
I still am going to do that. But now that the dust has settled *a little* and I feel a bit more sure of myself (I had been telling my boss and others that I was like a battered dog for awhile, flinching and twitching until I was sure they weren't going to bite my head off every time I, say, posted a tweet), I am ready to cue up the theme music to this here blog o' mine (What is the theme song anyway? The Hustle? Mr Roboto? I'm open to suggestions.) I have a lot on my mind these days and more shit to get off my chest. So I hope you all have had as good a three months as I have since I last said hi here. Welcome to the new season!