WHO MAKES MORE THAN ME?

The yearly Game Developer magazine salary survey has been released for calendar year 2008. The average salary for an American developer across all disciplines and experience ranges is $79 000 USD. That’s a useless stat really since there’s so much variability due to different job functions, companies, geography, and experience.

The stat I’m most interested in is how much do programmers make. In the US, the average programmer salary is a whopping $85K USD. If you convert that into Canadian dollars (for today at least), that’s about $100K CAD. I make considerably less than an average American game programmer, especially if the dollar is factored into it.

I have the hard copy version of the survey which actually has Canadian survey data. While the sample size for Canada is smaller (and thus possibly less accurate), I believe it maybe more relevant. The average Canadian game programmer rakes in $65 500 USD or approx. $77K CAD. This stats makes me feel slightly better but it still doesn’t change the fact that I would almost definitely get paid more if I plied my trade in the US. Also of note is that if you’re gonna makes games in Canada, do it as far west as you can. People making games in the Maritimes make the least, while those in B.C. make the most. Keep in mind though, the cost of living goes way up as you move from east to west.

Last but certainly not least, is the data on QA personnel. The average salaried QA person in games in Canada makes about $35K USD or $42K CAD. In both Canada and the US, people working in QA still make significantly less than all other disciplines. That’s just the QA people who have managed to get a salaried position. The majority of the QA workforce are hourly workers not represented in the survey. It’s been a while since I was in that position but I believe the hourly wage is still in the $10-12 range.

In the end, the stats are nice to know but the thing I appreciate the most is that as of now, I can continue to make a living writing software for video games. Given how the last couple months have gone, I feel pretty lucky about that.

SLIPPERS

So just after the holiday break, I brought a pair of slippers to work. The reason behind this starts with a co-worker of mine. He is well known for taking off his shoes when he gets to work and walks around the studio all day in his socks. He says for him, it just feels really comfortable to do so and since we have a casual dress code, it’s all good. He only puts his shoes on to go for lunch and when he goes to the bathroom.

I don’t wear uncomfortable shoes, so if I had to, it wouldn’t be a big deal if I kept my shoes on all day. I do admit though, it is rather nice to kick off my shoes and make myself feel at home while at work. What I didn’t like though was walking around in socks where other people might be wearing shoes. Sure the cleaning staff keeps everything generally spotless but I’ve encountered the odd coffee spill or errant grape on the floor that made me regret being in socks. I could just put my shoes on whenever I leave my desk but that’s inconvenient.

To solve this problem, I decided to get a pair slippers from Wal-Mart. They had a wide selection including some really boring slippers that old men wear when they go get the paper off the porch. If you know me, old man slippers aren’t really my style. I wanted to be careful though since if I picked an unsuitable pair, say a pink one, that would give off the wrong impression. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I ended up choosing a fuzzy blue pair with yellow ducks on it. It had just the right mix of frivolity without giving off too much of a gay vibe. I hope. Anyways, I’ve really come to enjoy wearing my slippers. I can kick them off when I’m at my desk but still have something protecting my feet as I walk around.

People on my team have made a lot of positive comments about them. Lots of co-workers have said its a good idea but I’ve yet to see anyone else get slippers. Since I wear them in the elevator to go to the other floors in the studio, it’s there where I get the most entertaining reactions. Other people in the studio don’t really care but it’s hilarious when it’s me and three other accountants in suits and ties in the same elevator car. They kinda make a quick stare at my slippers before averting their eyes. I act as if there’s nothing weird at all going and sometimes I have this really serious look on my face, even though I yellow ducks on my feet. The odd time, a woman from a non-EA floor will make a nice comment about them, which I appreciate. I just hope she doesn’t think I’d be a great person to watch Sex in the City with all weekend.

I’ll be doing the slippers thing when we move to Burnaby.

TEMPTING FATE AGAIN

Last Friday, I was told that on the first day of work when myself and my co-workers move to Burnaby we will all have new business cards waiting on our desks.

If you’ve read this blog for a long time, you’ll know this development has some significance for me. If you need some reminding, read this, that, and here. I was supposed to get business cards from EA about a year and a half ago but some things got in the way of that. First, about a year ago we were told the skate team was supposed to move into this fancy new Yaletown studio. In fact, it was scheduled to be around this time. So it didn’t make sense to make cards with an address that was going to be invalid so soon. So they waited. Then EA realized the company was losing lots of money, so to cut costs, we abandoned the plans to move to the fancy new studio. I was kinda bummed but I was gonna be even more bummed by the next development. Not only were we not moving to Yaletown, we were going to abandon downtown Vancouver altogether and shack up with the folks in Burnaby. So again, another reason not to make cards until we were settled somewhere.

So here we are. I’ll be getting business cards at the beginning of June. I know the sample size is small but the facts remain, I have never received business cards and not quit my job within 45 days. Sure, this has happened only twice but strange things do occur. I’ve watched a lot of Twilight Zone episodes.

I actually not all that worried based on one fact. For those two previous jobs, I was clearly unsatisfied with employer for many different reasons. I really have nothing to complain about in my current job. I suppose they could give us free pastries more often. Does that count as a complaint?

So we’ll see if I break this streak this summer.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

While doing some random surfing on the weekend, I stumbled upon the web site for the ABC News show What Would You Do? Though the show has been airing segments since the early new year, I was somewhat surprised that I was not aware of it. While WWYD takes its pedigree from Candid Camera, the issues it addresses are much more serious. Veteran ABC reporter John Quinones is the on camera personality who takes us through each show.

The setup for each WWYD scenario is similar. At the core is the situation or question they want to examine. A location is determined and then actors are hired to enact the scenario. Hidden cameras are placed to catch all the action. Unsuspecting people then get caught up in the scenario. At appropriate time, the people are then let in on the ruse. Quinones then interviews the participants, those who chose to get involved and even those who didn’t.

The type of scenarios that have been written cover an extremely wide variety. Some of the less serious issues involve things like would a person say something if their online dating partner looked nothing like their picture on the first date? Or, would you confront a wedding crasher? How about stopping a loud cell phone talker in a restaurant?

The most compelling pieces though come from the scenarios that deal with serious issues like racism, abuse, and bullying. In one example, random shoppers are exposed to a black woman who is asked to leave an upscale clothing store. In another, people at an open house witness a realtor telling a Muslim couple that terrorists are not welcome in the community.

I was completely fascinated by the various setups and how the show’s producers always through in a different variable in each one. For example, they usually examine how changing the gender of one of the participants affects people’s responses. Other times, they’ll change the race instead. My entire Saturday afternoon was spent viewing all these segments online.

After having done dozens and dozens of these segments, the show has discovered some very interesting trends. First, there will always be people who witness the event but who don’t say nor do anything. Second, people always speak up or spring to action faster and more often if a woman is involved compared to a man, even if the situation is identical. Last but certainly not least, women by a large margin are far more willing to intervene than men even if it the situation clearly could present a danger to them physically. Quinones says in one segment that research has indicated the brain chemistry of women have predisposed them to act and intervene, more so than the brains in men. So while Hollywood might have you think that most men are macho, in reality and everyday life, there’s a greater chance that a woman will come to your aid.

In the segment you see above, the actors are a blind woman, a blind man, and a man posing as a bakery clerk. The clerk is rude to both blind people and then, in plain sight of all the customers, will attempt to short change them. Will anyone speak up? Watch the clip to find out.

If you like what you see, I encourage you to watch more segments on the WWYD web site. Alternatively, you can see them on YouTube by just searching for the show’s name.

NIGHT OWL FOCUS

The above comment comes from one of many Diggers who are discussing a study between “early birds” and “night owls”. In short, the study revealed that night owls were more focused on a mental task 10.5 hours after waking compared to early birds who did the same task 10.5 hours after waking. Based on this, one could assume that night owls get more out of sleeping in and working late into the early morning compared to their early bird counterparts.

I quite enjoyed reading the other comments on Digg as it’s always nice to know there are others out there like me. We’re constantly forcing ourselves to go to sleep earlier than we want to because some external factor (school or work) prevents us getting into our preferred sleep schedule.

THE METRONOME

On my way home this evening on the bus there were two ladies in the two seats in front of me. There was nothing out of the ordinary in this situation and soon enough I found myself falling asleep. As I’ve written many times, napping on the bus is something I quite enjoy.

Anyways, near the end of my commute I woke up as I usually do. I noticed the lady near the window in front was awake but the lady next to her (closest to the aisle was asleep). Not only was she asleep, she had some crazy head movement. When people fall asleep while sitting I have noticed they usually either bob their heads forward and then snap back up or they sway from side to side. This particular lady was a side to side swayer and what a swayer she was. I’d never seen anything like it before. When she was leaning into the aisle, she was tilted over by nearly 45 degrees. If someone was coming down the aisle, there’d be no way they could get past her. When reversing her tilt, she was completely leaning into the poor woman to her left. Her head would be fully supported by the other woman’s shoulder. The other lady was so polite about it too and didn’t once push her back over.

What I don’t get is that sleepyhead had a very high tolerance for not waking up due to head movement. In my experience, if I lean too far in any direction, I wake up and instinctively snap back into a more centered position. This lady didn’t have any of that. So even though the bus would be travelling straight, I’d watch this woman lean way into the aisle, sway back to center for a few seconds, and then lean into the other woman like she was a comfortable pillow.

Go Ducks of Anaheim!

A WORD OF CAUTION

Tonight the Vancouver Canucks defeated the St. Louis Blues by a score 3-2 in the first OT period of their game four playoff series. Having won the previous three games, the Canucks won the series and now advance to the second round and are also the first team to do so.

While I let out an initial “woooo” when Burrows slipped the biscuit between Mason’s wickets, I was witness to much more celebration downtown by some other fans. Now if these fans’ wishes were to only see the Canucks win just one round, then I’d say to them celebrate as much as you want. If their wishes are to see them win the whole championship, then I’d say the celebration is a bit too early. Not to be an old man and/or a party pooper but winning the first round of the NHL playoffs gets you nothing tangible. Except if you own the team, revenue from playoff home games are nearly pure profit. Returning to my point, no one gives you a trophy for winning the first round. There’s at least twelve more games to be played before a real championship celebration can be had.

Last but not least, watch this video where a reporter interviews people who attended the game. Take note of several things. First, while I know the sample size is small, it appears that all Blues fans are white people. Yes, I know Vancouver is more multicultural than most cities but there have to hockey fans of other ethnicities in St. Louis. Second, look for the one Vancouver fan they interviewed. It appears he went to the game alone and not only that, he was wearing Canucks gear. I’m not sure if he got home safely. I hope he did.

THE MOVE

I’m not sure if you remember but there was the unpleasantness in late January when Black Box suffered through some substantial layoffs. Costs were being cut in almost every way possible. One of the most painful cuts was the decision to abandon our fantastic home base in downtown Vancouver. To save money, we’d have to retreat to the wilds of Burnaby where we have the “compound” that is otherwise known as EA Canada.

We were initially told that the move wouldn’t happen for months and that it would likely in the summer time. Well, we’ve now been told our move date. The whole move is happening in stages and for us, we’ll be moving on the last weekend in May.

I would say about 99% of the people on my team would prefer to stay in downtown Vancouver. People have built their lives around working downtown. I would say people might have even made home purchases based on where we worked. Downtown for obvious reasons, kicks ass. It’s the transportation hub for nearly all the transit services in the Lower Mainland. It’s so easy to get downtown. It’s also convenient for shopping, food, and entertainment. After work, you go outside and you’re surrounded by everything. When you go outside of EAC, you got nothing. It’s just a huge industrial park.

I feel most sorry for the downtown residents on my team. For months and years, they’ve lived a very urban lifestyle. They use walking in almost every aspect of their lives. They walk to work and they walk to shop. For some of them, they’ll be riding transit for the first time since they’ve arrived in Vancouver.

We’ve got a little over a month before this all ends. I am, for one, going to do a farewell tour of my favourite restaurants for lunch.

Let this be the best month yet.

TWITTER

At the risk of sounding like both a geek and a geezer, I will state that I’ve surfing for porn using the Internet longer than some of you have been alive. As such, I’ve seen a lot of web and Internet apps come and go in my time. Some have faded away into obscurity, others have found a strong base and are still with us now.

I hear these days a lot of you kids are using “Twitter“. Some of you are fond of “Twittering”. I know the use of Twitter was/is reaching critical mass when celebrities were starting to Twitter. Usually celebs aren’t too good with technology, so if they’re starting to do something, it sure must be both easy for them.

I for one doubt I’ll ever sign up for an account. I just don’t think I live an exciting enough life that I’d feel the need to update everyone on what I’m doing from nearly minute to minute. Even if I did have something to say, it would be stupid to think there would be people who actually wanted to know if I indeed decided to eat a chocolate bar after taking that dump at work. I sincerely do appreciate that you, my readers are loyal to this blog but it would be wrong of me to think you’d also want to know the fine minutiae of my everyday activities. Besides, isn’t that what Facebook status updates are for? Aren’t those the same thing?

Anyways, don’t expect to see a Twitter account from me anytime soon.

THE NEW SUPPLY CLOSET

UPDATE:

The stationary items were indeed where I had left them. By the late afternoon though, someone had moved them onto the sink countertop.

———————————————————————————————-

So yesterday I was at the studio doing my “business” in the “executive washroom”. Next to the throne is the toilet paper holder which is a nice brushed metal thing which goes over the top of the roll. It’s got a flat top and its big enough to rest things on it.

On top of the holder I noticed two rows of staples. They were not loose staples but the kind you see in a box of staples, all attached to each other in a neat orderly row. I am not sure why they were there or who put them there. I didn’t think about it beyond my initial discovery.

Today I went back in there and the staples were still sitting right where I saw them last. Not only had the staples remained, there now another item on the toilet paper holder. Someone had put a pen next to the staples. Now a pen might make some sense. Maybe its a communal pen for doing crosswords while on the can? I’m still not sure who’d want to touch such a thing. Anyways, now we had staples and a pen on the holder.

I began to think we were onto something here. I was going to take this odd thing to the next level. After washing up, I ran over to our supply closet where we keep items like pens, pencils, log books and other items you might find at Staples. I selected a small yellow pad of Post-Its and a few paper clips (the kind that open like jaws). I ran back to the executive washroom and placed my items next to the ones already there. So now we had two rows of staples, a pen, some Post-Its, and a few paper clips.

I’m not sure what’s going on in there but whatever it is, I want to get in on the ground level. I hope the cleaning staff doesn’t just dismiss us as idiots (if that hasn’t happened already) and removes all the items.

I’ll report back what I find tomorrow.