Do you know the story behind why I decided to become a software engineer? Some of you know this already but I’ll give the rest of my readers a short version. After abandoning my career as a mechanical engineer after only one year at one crappy job, I decided to become a video game tester at Electronic Arts Canada.
I started this crazy adventure in the summer of 2000. Being at EA was nothing like I had seen before. The whole business was to make video games. It was a lot of fun and the job was rewarding in many ways, except for the financial compensation part. Over a year into my testing career, I realized that two raises in, I was still only making $12.50 an hour. As I was 27 years old at the time, I began to worry perhaps this wasn’t the best way to earn a suitable living.
I also wasn’t using my brain as much as I wanted. Being educated as an engineer, I liked using math and it really bothered me none of my hard-earned knowledge was going to good use. One day, I was upstairs helping a software engineer recreate a bug at his desk. He stepped away for several minutes and I couldn’t help but spy a pay stub next to his monitor. Using my powers of multiplication, I realized the dude was making $60K a year!
Soon after that day, I decided that I wanted to give it a try as a software engineer in the video game industry. I also realized that I had to leave my job as a tester if this dream was ever going to come true. The QA department is wasteland when it comes to promotion and I surely did not have right education to do the job as a software engineer. So, I quit my job and got myself into grad school.
Now, I hadn’t planned on the whole SJC thing being such an important and life-changing experience but hey, I’m not complaining. Three years later, I exited UBC with a Master’s degree in hand and my dream still burning inside of me.
I tried fulfilling my dream soon after graduation when I applied to EA in May of 2005. That didn’t go so well. I made it as far as the in-person interview but that was about it. It wasn’t so bad however, since I soon found employment with Backbone Entertainment. They took a chance on me and I’ll be forever indebted to them for that. As you know, I’ve been with Backbone for over a year now.
I have to announce though, I’ll be leaving my job at Backbone in early August for a software engineering position at Electronic Arts. It was a very difficult decision and something I hope I don’t have to go through again. There were many things that I would have stayed for at Backbone but EA made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse, to reuse a tired cliche. There’s no doubt in my mind that my new job at EA will be an extremely challenging one. I’ll be honest and admit that sometimes I’m not much of a risk taker. This opportunity, though, was one I had to take. There’s no guarantee of success but I’m hoping I’ll rise to the challenge.
The odd thing is that I won’t be working in Burnaby where I used to do testing. EA maintains a studio downtown in Vancouver and that’s where I’ll be. All my remaining EA friends are back in the studio in Burnaby which is unfortunate. We’ll all be co-workers now but I’ll see them as much as I did when I worked elsewhere. Garrett, Tim, Chris, Cam, Petey, and Jeff Mac, we’ll have to think of something else.
I want to make it very clear that I have nothing but good things to say about Backbone. More than any company I know, they are willing to take chances on people. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for in company, a chance to show what you know and what you can do. They did that for me and allowed me to learn. I wouldn’t have been able to be where I am today without that chance.
So, in some weird way, I’ve fulfilled my dream of returning to EA. It’s amazing to think I started this whole journey with a wage of $10.50 an hour. Where will this adventure lead me next? I don’t know but let’s hope some good times are ahead.