Archive for February, 2009

The Game Industry in Vancouver

I went to an industry mixer, last night. Met some good people, ate some food and drank a little wine. This was the general take-away message from all the people I talked to: Vancouver’s game industry is currently in a shit storm.. That is pretty much verbatim. A shit storm. If you’ve been following along with the news recently, you’ll know that many companies have been laying off employees and even closing entire studios.

Major job cuts

Business is business

You see, there is this little thing wrapping up called the Fiscal Year. (Canada’s fiscal year starts on April 1st, where as the United States’ fiscal year starts on October 1st – I love you, Wikipedia). When a business sees their expenses were higher and their profits were lower than expectations, they get nervous and pull out the axe. This softens the blow to shareholders, but doesn’t really seem fair to the people whose jobs were cut, does it? But hey, that’s business, I guess. And due to the economic situation, most companies will be picking up the axe. Some companies (I won’t mention any names) are known for doing this and then hiring the people they need back again in the next fiscal year, with new budgets. So once April rolls around, there will be some hiring again and the industry will recover a little. But since we’re in a “financial crisis,” (despite some in the games industry doing quite well: Nintendo, Valve, Blizzard) I don’t think budgets will be as big nor as many people hired back. This means the job market will be flooded with experienced people looking for jobs. Which is pretty much the current situation.

Get in the game?

So how can some fresh blood such as myself get my foot in the door of a full house that’s shrinking? It’s still certainly possible, it’s just not going to be easy. One person I spoke to today said she had to start as a tester and make her way up to Software Engineer (SE) – “which was pretty ridiculous” (her words). Did I mention that EA cut testers EA cut testers? Another person I spoke to suggested giving away services… or an internship to gain some experience. Another suggestion was working with a small outfit (or a couple friends) on an iPhone app. Most of the people I talked to were experienced (10-15yrs), had recently been laid off, and were also looking for jobs. Personally, I’d love to make a WiiWare game. That’s something that would be really cool, but then you have to do the entrepreneurial thing and raise money (I’ve heard investors are less willing to take risks, these days..) – plus there’s that whole experience thing…. I’m not ruling anything out. I’ll keep looking, but now does not seem to be the time to get involved. And I’m not going to limit myself to the games industry, that’s for sure. Or even the IT sector. I decided a while ago that I need a change in my life, so I might do something completely different for a little while. Collect some pennies, meet some people, and gain some (life) experiences, hopefully.

Positive Outlook

Whatever comes, I’m looking forward to it. I have a good feeling. And I’m also looking forward to the industry picking up steam again soon! =) Hey, Ubisoft just acquired Action Pants, and should be expanding – that’s some positive news! 🙂

(Read a related post, from someone in the industry here. Update: Then read the author’s own accounts of her employer, Nexon, shutting down. Fantastic blog with a beautiful range of topics, all of which I enjoy. Subscribed.)

Flat Tire


I biked to the pool today. Swung by the barber, but he was just closing so I carried on my merry way. I remember hearing a popping sound at some point, but disregarded it. Spent a nice, long time at the pool relaxing. I didn’t really want to bike home because I was tired, but I eventually left.

I unlock my bike, get my bag on, and routinely check my tires. Front? Good. Back? ….what’s this? Uh oh. I didn’t expect a completely flat tire. It was dark out, but I rotated the tire and found a thin metal rod lodged into it. Aah… At least they weren’t slashed.

I set off on foot… walking it would take me over an hour to get back home. After 30 minutes or so, as I was walking my bike on the sidewalk, a bus pulled up and dropped off a passenger right in front of me. This surprised me because I had looked a schedule on one of the bus stops earlier, and I wasn’t expecting any buses (plus, I had my headphones on and didn’t hear it). And… there was a bike rack on it! I skipped over to the bus driver, explained my situation (I had no bus fare), and he told me to get in. Sweet!! The bus driver was super nice, which really helped my night from being bad. Hey Mr Bus driver, you stopped to pick me up.

Thank you, kind Bus man. 🙂

My Life in Japan

I know, it’s ironic that my first post for 2009 is about 2003-2004, but….

I was looking at some old website designs and was reminded that I had created a static HTML website for blogging while I was in Japan. This was called Steve’s Japan Journal and it is not available anywhere online, right now. I have now manually copied these 32 entries into this blog and tagged them with JapanJournal. I stopped using this method of blogging because it took too long to update and it was actually served by my family’s computer in North Vancouver – which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence while I was in Japan.

So what did I use next? Well, everyone else in the Gifu flock were using LiveJournal, so I joined them (reluctantly). I’ve imported the 37 LiveJournal blog entries, as well, and tagged them with LJImport. Most of these entries were also made in Japan. All entries made in Japan, from both sets, are tagged with Japan. After LJ, I moved to a self-hosted WordPress, which is what I’m currently using. I’ve left the Hello World! post in there so it’s obvious when this happened. 🙂

It took much longer than I thought to import all the entries, especially the Japan Journal ones, as I had to edit the timestamp for each and add a bit of formatting. And I found myself reading them again. Interesting how I’ve both changed and stayed the same. =) I found it great listening to music that I listened to at the time, while reading them.

I want to read!

Many of the links and images are broken, because they don’t exist any more, and the formatting may seem a little strange (especially from LJ). I’m not too keen on reformatting everything. That being said, if you’re feeling like a walk down memory lane, you can start (re)-reading about my 11 month Japan experience, from June 2003 to May 2004, right here:

On a Boeing 747 somewhere over the Pacific Ocean

A word of caution, however, it’s quite a bit of reading!! ^_^