There was recently an article published on Kotaku.com, a video game website, written by Nathan Peters. It was a description of his experience as a contract employee in the video game industry; specifically in the QA department of Certain Affinity, a studio that worked on multiplayer aspects of Halo 4. The summary of the article is that if you’re looking to be involved in the video game industry you should never be a contract employee. In fact, it goes so far as state that “It’s time for gaming’s contractors to strike.” Never mind that this statement is immediately preceded by a sentence that starts with “I freelanced…” Yeah. In any case, you can read the entire article here.
So here’s another viewpoint.
I’ve been a freelancer in the video game industry for over ten years, primarily in special events and experience marketing. In that time, I have worked alongside some of the most talented and influential people in the industry, helped produce some of the most amazing shows the industry has ever seen, and launched some of the products and brands that have reshaped the modern video game experience. I don’t think I need to go into crazy detail here. (You can jump over to the Work section of this site and take a look if you’re interested.) In nearly all of these instances I was the same kind of contract worker described by Nathan. I have experienced a lot of the same frustrations that he describes, a lot of the same situations, the difficulties, the contributions, the promises, and so on. I believe there are a few fundamental differences in our attitudes towards those experiences, but these are attitudes that only develop over time.
What It Feels Like To Be A Freelancer
Pretty spot on.
I’m sitting in a Starbucks. It’s a cold, rainy, night in Las Vegas, NV. I flew here this morning, by way of Los Angeles, CA, from Boston, MA at 5:00 AM this morning. I’m here to build a huge Rock Band stage for The Las Vegas Nightclub & Bar Convention and Tradeshow.
Without knowing any better, you might think that I’m living the same life i was a few months ago. Well, that’s true, but only partially. I don’t live here anymore. Instead of being here for a client, I am the client. It’s surreal, and kind of exhilarating. It’s something I’ve worked towards for a long time. Something I’ve always wanted. Something I plan on preserving for as long as I possibly can.
Well, that’s all wonderfully vague. It’s been a while since I wrote here and it will definitely be a while after this. Blogger is discontinuing it’s FTP publishing, which means I have to radically rebuild this site in the near future. I’ve already started working on it via WordPress, but I’m having a hard time giving up the control I’m used to having by hand coding everything. A lot of the WP options and features are really cool, things that would take me forever to hand code, but the trade off is that i don’t get to control every line of code. It’s like giving up my baby and I’m really struggling with it.
Anyway, back to what I was saying earlier.
Since I wrote here last I’ve gone from a fulltime professional freelancer to the fulltime Event Specialist for Harmonix Music Systems. Yes, you read that correctly. For 10 years I’ve worked incredibly hard as a freelancer, always just outside a legitimate, actual, job in the video game industry. Now I work for, easily, one of the coolest video game studios in existence. I’m busting my ass to keep it that way.
I’m still adjusting to being back in MA, but it’s my home state so it’s not difficult. Next month I’ll move into Cambridge proper and ditch the ridiculous commute I have at the moment. I say next month because I’ll be on the road for nearly all of March. If you’re out and about, swing past and say “hi”.
Dates: March 7th – March 10th
Event: The Las Vegas Bar & Nightclub Convention
Location: The Las Vegas Convention Center – Las Vegas NV
Dates: March 10th – March 22nd
Event: South By Southwest Music/Film/Interactive Conference and Festival
Location: The Austin Convention Center – Austin, TX
Dates: March 24th – March 28th
Event: PAX East (Penny Arcade eXposition)
Location: The Hynes Convention Center – Boston, MA
I’ll actually be involved in a lot of other events, but those are the major ones this month.
I’d like to think I’m transitioning well into my new position, but this month will put that to the test. Trial by fire, but all fire I’ve walked through in the past.
In other news:
- The epic saga of my battle with Helio/Virgin Mobile/Sprint has come to an end. As expected, the doors will be shut on Helio forever in May. I’m glad I got out when I did. I carry an Eris now, chock full of Android, on Verizon. It’s really just a hold-over until Windows Phone 7 Series makes it’s debut. I will be all over that when it hits shelves. My experience with Helio has left me as kind of a buff on mobile technology. It’s been quite the fascination for me recently. I plan on writing up a recap of the saga and the absurdity of what I had to go through just to get off the sinking ship before I was pulled down with it
- I need to buy a bike again. I haven’t ridden seriously since I was run down years ago (mangled me and my bike up pretty badly). With my relocation to Boston, it’s time to start cranking again.
- I have a new love affair with Timbuk2. I carry a small, custom, TB2 laptop messenger everywhere now. It’s almost knocked my Ogio Hip Hop off it’s golden pedestal. I still consider the Hip Hop the greatest messenger bag ever created. My TB2 hasn’t been through everything my HH has though, so it remains to be seen if it can take top honors. I also have a large TB2 custom that I use for travel now. It is amazingly comfortable and the True Fit cam buckle is possibly the greatest invention in bag history. I can’t really say enough good things about TB2. If these two bags survive this month, they’ll become my new full time bags.
Well, that’s all for now. Build day for Bar & Nightclub starts at 8AM tomorrow and I have to walk back to the MGM Grand in the rain. Fun.