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A New Plan

I’ve been planning to say something for a while now about some life changes that I’ve been slowly working toward. As the list of things likely to go wrong shrinks, and the other things I’d like to say increasingly need references to stuff I haven’t shared yet, it’s about time for an announcement.

Those Who Can…

This autumn I’m going to start training as a teacher: secondary (age 11-16, maybe 11-18) mathematics. Reasons for this are several:

  • Since¬†university, I’ve wanted to teach (I even applied, but that’s a story for another post).
    • I still love maths, but the more I look at this age group (on top of my experience mentoring students and adults) the more it becomes about helping people improve and make the most of themselves, regardless of exactly what I’m teaching.
      • Which is good, because I have IT industry experience and A-levels in Computing and Physics, which are two other major shortage subjects.
    • In fact, the ways in which my perception of teaching and my ambitions for it have changed are interesting (to me, at least), so perhaps I’ll come back to them.
  • I can’t keep working on my own; I miss having a busy workplace full of interesting people.
    • I shouldn’t be working alone (and nor should most other indies), but I’ll talk about that more in my post mortem of the last two years. Suffice to say it’s too late to change now.
    • In particular, I miss having leadership and mentoring responsibilities, from when I led a team in a big studio. It may take me a while to get back into leadership, but I can quickly become responsible for a lot of mentoring (and more to the point,¬†teaching).
  • Being independent for almost two years has taught me an important lesson about how I feel about the games industry: I don’t need it. I’d much rather have another job that I mostly enjoy, and if there’s time I can make games as a hobbyist, without the pressure of needing anything from them (just as I do with my writing).
    • I was lucky to have such a stable industry role on RuneScape, and I don’t expect to get another with anything like the job security of being a maths teacher (even accounting for real-terms funding cuts across maintained schools).
    • While game design is an interesting day job, even as a senior designer and team leader it wasn’t much more than that (and that again was the luck I had on RuneScape, where they tended to respect some work/life balance etc. In other studios it can be more than a day job in all the wrong ways). While I have the dream of all designers – a huge team making my game to my spec – I don’t really have the ambition to try and get there, especially when that probably means moving country every few years to keep career momentum.
  • Being an indie has good points and bad points, but the main downside will catch up with me soon, when the money runs out…

The last thing likely to go wrong with it now is that I turn out not to be eligible for the training bursary (without which I can’t afford to train, on the back of being essentially unemployed for two years). If that happens, I suppose I need a job to save up for a while.

Until Then

I’m resolved to finish and ship a game – any game, any size, even for no money – before the course starts. This would be partial redemption for the last two years, in which I’ve basically failed to finish anything.
I’d also like to get one of my work-in-progress novels into shape, but as much as I’m tempted to self-publish it (since the goal is to let it be read) in practice this may come to fruition as a campaign of collecting traditional rejection letters for it. We’ll see.

This Blog

As infrequently updated as it is, I still hope to make game design observations on this blog, but may start to say something about teaching from time to time, and perhaps other personal posts.
Upcoming planned posts:

  • A post mortem of my time as an indie developer (basically the talk I couldn’t quite be bothered to pitch to Develop this year).
  • Possibly some comments on applying for teacher training.
  • Does anyone want to hear my ‘feedback’/advice for having a wedding? It seems a shame to have a bunch of potentially useful observations I made doing something I never plan to do again.

Anyone want to hear anything else? If you’ve got this far you may be my only reader, for all I know, so you’re entitled to some customisation.

That Other Blog

I’ll probably leave www.somewhatunlikely.com in place, with a brief explanation of why Somewhat Unlikely isn’t producing anything, and a link to here.

Name of author

Name: Matthew