A few months back I got my annual e-mail announcing the upcoming GDC this spring. I opened it, looked at it, closed it, then deleted it.
A few weeks after that came an e-mail from a really great group of people that I’ve had the pleasure to dine with at the GDC for the past few years, announcing this year’s dinner location and menu. I opened the message, read it, closed it and never replied.
A few weeks later the renewal notice for my subscription to Computer Gaming World came in the mail. I’ve had a subscription to CGW for almost a decade, but I threw the notice in the trash, unopened.
A few weeks later I received some materials in the mail about the upcoming GDC. They went in the trash, unopened.
A few weeks later I talked with a good friend who’d just heard that his company was sending him from Europe to the GDC this year, all expenses paid. We’d shared a room in prior years to defray costs, and I knew I’d miss seeing him again, but I felt no pang of loss at not attending myself. Even the location, which I knew so well, seemed an echo in my mind’s eye. (Except for the little drive-up/take-out Mexican place a couple of blocks down from the conference center that I’d become enamored with.)
Somewhere along the line I began to think about these individual moments in sum, and I wondered what they really meant. Was I truly sick of the games biz, or was this just an emotional low after the letdowns I’d had the previous year? What did it all mean?
Honestly, I didn’t really know until by chance I happened to look at the Mission Statement here on my site, which reminded me why I used to like working in the games biz more than I like working in it now. I don’t know if I’ve reached any real conclusions about where all this is leading me, but I do know there’s a trail of breadcrumbs here, and I don’t think they lead back to interactive entertainment the way the business is right now.
As an antidote to this malaise, I involved myself in an entirely new enterprise over the past six months, during which time I was able to rise through the ranks in fairly short order and materially participate in one of the most amazing and important reversals of fortune that I’ve ever seen. I may write about the specifics later, although probably not, but two points about the experience stand out. First, it reminded me that I have been most successful and helpful when I trust my own judgment, rather than following someone else’s lead. Second, any time money becomes important to me, it probably means I’m not enjoying my work.
— Mark Barrett