Why I'm in an indie game studio



Hello, what's good? Welcome to this blog! I've been asked to provide some amusing reading material. They brought me in because they've got low standards and just want something other than those placeholder Latin words, you know? Anything will do. Low stakes. I could just copy and paste a recipe for a banana bread. They'd never know

This started when they said "Hey Jamie, you're a funny guy. YOU should do this", which made me think read hard about how I ended up in this sorry state: as an instrument of hilarity for others, like a quiet clown without the quiet dignity or close-knit circus community where everyone looks out for each other. It's the ears, isn't it? They carry all the punchlines that little bit further, it's called the Lee Evans effect.

I should probably say a little about myself, so you know I'm not just some nebulous floating automated company voice, but a real human boy with feelings an' stuff. It's very liberating knowing most of you will skim this, takes the pressure right off.

I've known for a while that I could never be the guy in a boardroom in a suit; practising law, banking or business investment. Talking about projected revenue or marketing demographics or some other such beige b*****ks. Look, I'm not throwing shade, but it is, even you know it. We all know it.

I'm not really into the Zoom calling, video conferencing culture, although I've made do with it. People's looming giant faces like they're looking scientifically into your Petri dish, and having the conversation flow differently because of lag and those moments when people glitch out and then talk very fast like an auctioneer. Not cut out for it, mate.

Me, I draw cartoons sometimes, not even that well but good enough to get by! Art is all subjective and I cling onto that one fact like a sloth on a plane's landing gear. I also write and animate although it takes bloody ages! I have experience in game design and development as well.

Having just finished Uni at a ripe age - one of life's big late bloomers, and trying to turn it all around with some sense of urgency after more than a decade of retail work that had surgically removed my soul and sauteed it in breadcrumbs to be feasted upon by small, chattering, ravenous needle-toothed demons (or customers as they are often called). It was in these shops and places of public service that I realised being funny and depressed go hand-in-hand, an eternal relationship between comedy and tragedy that's been embedded since the beginning of time. Shakespeare knew it.

I studied Digital Media Arts, which is every bit as rock n roll as it sounds. It's so cool that it's constantly in danger of being cancelled because the Academic world thinks fun and learning are mutually exclusive. But it was super challenging too - or do you think it's easy making films during a pandemic? Every student was a superhero during this time - dealing with all the same work, stress and dwindling mental health but with the social life removed and the isolation dialled up by 200%.

Once I volunteered to be a Guy At A Table for an open day (pre-COVID); to chit-chat, wear a shirt, spread the love and hopefully snag some more applicants. It was a bit of a wasteland despite proudly displaying an array of beautiful finisher projects and having one tempting VR headset that people could try, but no-one did because there was no air-con and VR is like doing Pilates in a motorbike helmet at the best of times. At least at the moment - one day I'm sure VR will be a contact lens or a syringe injection or some kind of avocado smoothie.

I only spoke to about eight people that afternoon, despite calling out at some of them like a grocer trying to flog the last few misshapen carrots - although maybe that was the problem - and watched others SWARM to the other tables for stuff like Chemical Engineering and Hospitality and Management. Really? That's what y'all are into? You could make cartoons, games and films, but instead you want to engineer the chemicals?! Alright.

So I'm watching them all walk by, passing up our Cool as F**k course for learning about Search Engine Optimisation or the chance to sit in lectures on housing development or the structure of a crankshaft or how to sell microtransations to whales and I think man, we sure are all into different things. Different stuff lights our fires, sends our eager brains into a romantic, life-long free fall. You can't choose it, it chooses you. Go on, young scholars, do your dissertations on anabolic enzymes, I'll be sitting over here happily at this table with my cartoons and my ears. I'm not curing diseases, but maybe I can make those with diseases laugh a little bit? Or something, I don't know.

As I continued to go forward, I made sure that my job and future direction was also seated at that same kind of table, which is king of how I came to work at Play Well For Life. Knowing what kind of table you want to be sat at is important I think. I mean, it's the least we can do for ourselves, right? I'm super-glad I'm finally at the right one, even if attaining personal happiness might make me less funny. That was always the risk.

More soon, Jamie Jones

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