Andy and I have decided to leave Vienna and move abroad (or, in my case, another abroad).
A lot of reasons have accumulated over the last couple of years. Andy wants to experience living in another country. I have lived in Vienna for 11 years - the longest I've ever lived in one place in my life - and I am ready for something new.
Vienna's game development industry, while having grown considerably over the last few years, is too small to offer Andy the decently-paid, full-time game design job that will allow her to get to the next level as a designer. (Apologies to her previous and current employers, who are fine people working on fine projects, but compared to bigger game dev clusters, or just bigger companies, the choice of game design jobs in Vienna is poor, and I think my wife deserves better.)
Also, I was struck by this article by Steven Berlin Johnson, particularly the bit about time speeding up. I've noticed that I'm stuck in routines, both personally and professionally, and I want to change that.
Narrowing down the countries we could imagine ourselves living in turned out to be surprisingly hard, but in the end we ended up with:
The Netherlands is obviously an option language-wise (Andy has learned Dutch in record time), and I could imagine living in my home country again, but I've been observing the industry there for a while and I just don't know if it can provide the jobs we're looking for.
I've lived in Germany for 7 years and, well, it wouldn't be a big enough change. The Nordic countries and France have their charms but one or both of us would have trouble with the local language. I don't mind learning languages - au contraire - but I also like using language at a very high level, and I've noticed that my German and French, while good enough for fluent speaking, are not as good as my English, and I feel this is holding me back.
So an English-speaking country it will be.
These locations are not equal in terms of being easy to move to. The UK is no problem, Canada seems doable, but moving to the US is a pain because we need two H1-B visas, there are quotas, there are deadlines, and it restricts us to the kind of companies that can sponsor our visas and probably won't go bust or lay us off while we're there. We know it's a long shot, but we love the Bay Area, so… who knows.
We'd like to move, or at least know where we're going to move, in March at the latest. (Our respective employers, co-founders and co-workers have known about our plans for a number of months already.)
Andy is looking for a decent game design job at a professional company. She has been making games for 8 years. She is passionate about storytelling in games, languages, teaching through games (not necessarily all at the same time). I have hired her at Mipumi once and, to my great chagrin, have never managed to hire her again, because whenever we needed a game designer, she had another job, and whenever she was available we couldn't afford to hire anyone.
As for me: I started off as a programmer, then turned to design and production, then, as co-founder and creative director of Mipumi Games, I not only got to do more programming again, I also got to wear a lot more founder-related hats (something I spoke about recently for the AltDev Student Summit - you can see that here). Basically, I can get things done.
Life is too short to talk about what I think will get me a nice job as opposed to what I really want to do. Like I say in my LinkedIn profile: I am passionate about the intersection of interactivity, technology and storytelling. So that means interactive storytelling, AI, procedural stuff, design-programming hybrid positions, or managing projects involving any of that are my cup of tea. (Note that I am not a game AI expert.)
I also want to work on high quality games that advance the medium. I get very unhappy when I have to work on bad or mediocre games. And I think there is still an enormous amount of things that can be done in and around games, and I can't wait to help make that happen.
As for what kind of position in what kind of company that boils down to: you tell me. I can go from hands-on development all the way to the executive level if the people and projects are right.
That was a lot about me. Sorry.
We've already been talking to various companies, but we both need a job in the same place, so to speed things up we've decided to talk about this a bit more publicly. If you could help spread this blog post through Twitter, Facebook, etc. that would be lovely.
If you are looking for people like us: please look at our LinkedIn profiles (Andy Schmoll and Jurie Horneman). References are available on request, or, you know, just look for common contacts on LinkedIn and ask them. We also have normal CVs of course.
Thank you for reading this far, and thanks in advance for any help.