(This blogpost is mostly me thinking out loud about my experience working in the video game industry and searching for work after my four year contract Degica ended)
After a four year stint as a publishing producer at Degica, I find myself without work. Working for Degica was a sweet gig at first. I got to work with a very talented group of people scattered all over the world. At the time, most of the work was focused around RPG Maker, which all my co-workers had some tie to. We collaborated on Slack and used project management software like Trello and Asana.
Overtime, the focus shifted from promoting RPG Maker to our indie publishing brand, Degica Games, which I helped establish. I published some very successful games, like OneShot, and also worked on some smaller successful titles. There were some that underperformed but many made a modest profit. We also began publishing titles from Japan on PC, introducing them to a new Western market. This included shooters, beat em-ups, platforms visual novels, and more. I even got to work on an extremely popular anime Visual Novel that I can’t name here.
Overtime, the international team was let go as more focus was put on the Japan side of things. I continued to work on the publishing side of things, but had less communication with the team. Eventually, my projects dried out and my contract was ended.
Now I’m in a tough spot. The Degica job was remote so I could work from anywhere, which was great considering my health situation. Finding a remote job like that is near impossible. On the bright side of things, I now have four years experience as a publishing producer.
If I break down my career in the Game Industry it looks like this:
That gives me 10 years experience in the game industry and that’s not including my own personal projects like Master of the Wind, X-Noir, and World Remade, which would go back to 2005.
Even with all the experience I have, it’s difficult finding a job that fits my criteria. I worked in an office for four years, experiencing extreme crunch periods of 60+ hours for more than 3 months. I can’t imagine going back to those kind of work conditions.
Remote work mostly exists for programmers and artists. I can program, but I don’t have the skillset to program a video game outside an engine like RPG Maker or Game Maker. I find programming to be very tedious, and it’s not something I see myself doing professionally outside work for my own titles. I’m proficient in photoshop and can do some graphic design work but I don’t have a strong art background either.
My ideal situation would be working on my own games again with a small team while independently producing and publishing indie titles. This is something I’m working towards but I need paying work. My credit card debt is continuing to rise, and my only income is mowing lawns right now. I’m trying to pick up some client work doing web site design, but most of my past clients have moved on.
Most likely I’ll have to pick-up a part-time job outside my field. As long as I can spend time in my off hours working towards self publishing and game development, this should be tolerable. I do feel very “entitled” at times but I’ve been through so much the last several years I can’t go back to working on shitty games again in an office. Part of me rather be unemployed and bumming around then going back to doing that. I look back at my time working at those office jobs as very unhappy times.
Another idea I’m entertaining is traveling to another country and working there temporarily. This was always the end goal of my remote work at Degica, but due to my health and medical debt, I wasn’t able to follow through. There are countries, like Thailand, where the cost of living was so low I could make it by even on a modest income. There definitely is appeal to getting far away from here. When my anxiety gets too much, I fantasize about escaping to somewhere where no one knows me.
We’ll see how things turn out. I take things day by day now, planning no more than 6 months in advance. In my situation, a 3-5 year plan just isn’t possible. This is anxiety inducing but also exciting. Not knowing what the next day will bring keeps things from getting too tedious. But it’s not a great long term strategy if I want to live a meaningful life. For now, I still have some time to figure out the next leg of this journey.