I can’t readily recall the name of the mood stabilizing drug I am on, so I lovingly refer to it as “Fucketall”. This drug is supposed to contain my “mania” (what I appear to be in, when I hit my flow state… John Gaeta and Rudy Poat called their company Manex for a reason…). This medication does allow me to sleep though the night. It feels like a “limitless pill” to me. It allows me to engage in social conversations, look people in the eye, not interrupt, hear what they have to say, ease their concerns with a calm demeanor rather than frustration at their failure to unbox themselves. Often when they are droning on for an hours about fear of innovation. I know they are boxed in, hiding, afraid to lose their livelihood trying something new. I see them using phantom rules to keep them trapped in the world of “Money”, and “Authority” based on titles and dictatorships rather than the Merit of their unchained creative ideas… I can’t help but become agitated even on my medication… Today I meditate through that agitation rather than fight it.
I have said for a decade that the only currency is TIME.. My time is so valuable to me as I have almost died several times in my life (fighting in a cage, motorcycle accident, a house fire 2 months ago, a car accident just over a week ago). I don’t have time to hold someone’s hand and tug them into a brick wall as they kick and scream as it approaches… we reach that wall at full speed and I calmly chuck them over it (it’s 2 feet high usually but when you can’t take a leap of faith and leave the ground, a 2 foot wall can kill you). So I throw them over it, while they blame me for the wall being there in the first place. A Brilliant tools designer that I had the pleasure of collaborating with for years, once said to me: “you can lead a horse to water, but you can only hold its head under for so long before it drowns” – Athomas Goldberg (a reference for employment)
He said this referring to my company I have been with for 17 years. While I have gotten 2 promotions over the years (and a demotion at my request, and another promotion 6 years later). I am at the ceiling of where I can be. The next role for me would be an executive. You can only play chess with someone who eats the pieces and says they are winning for so long before this comical dance becomes an asinine exercise in futility for us both. My company has been Lennie Small from “of Mice and Men”… My games have been the Rabbits Lenny oh so wished to play with but crushes accidentally (or on purpose depending on how you read George’s interpretation of Lenny’s answer to him when he asked if he killed the bunnies when they try to get away from him). I am often reminded of the abominable snowman from those classic days of bugs bunny though, (when making games using the Marvel License especially)
Daffy and The Abominable Snowman, My games are Daffy Duck, and I have to sit and watch from the day the company becomes excited over the game… until it has the soul of what makes it brilliant, watered down and crushed… “Too much Risk” I hear, even when the work is complete and functional. “out of scope”… even when functional.
I am not sure how many kids realize the Abominable Snowman is Lenny when they watch Bugs Bunny, probably only me and my sister, since we read “Of Mice and Men” for fun as kids, rather than as a punishment from a westernized educational system where school isn’t supposed to be fun.
“Fun is derived from learning a skill or tool you can apply to improve an existing skill or tool, or gain a new one” – Games Theory 101.
Lets face it, my generations knowledge of art, culture, and literature came almost entirely from Chuck Jones… We know the Venus de Milo, we know the Mona Lisa (and how her smile only fades when Pepe le Pew runs by). Our parents didn’t raise us, we are all orphans of divorce and debt and working mothers. We were raised by entertainment… Chuck Jones took us to the Louver, and Broadway Opera What’s Opera Doc… He was more a father to me than my own flesh and blood. As an adult the role was filled sharing an office with Nilo Rodis-Jamero who raised me with “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” as well as “Robocop”. Nilo gave me Buddhism in the form of Jedi, and Stan Lee raised me with the Christ Hero’s Journey and prepared me for life through “Captain America”, “Spider-Man” and in my darkest days “Wolverine” and “Punisher”… My parents were not Karen and Charles really. They were Chuck Jones, Nilo Rodis, Stan Lee. In my adult years, very much the Wachowski brothers, Rudy Poat, Glenn Entis, Wil Mozell, John Gaeta and still… Nilo and Stan Lee…
It seems the world is waiting for me to “grow up” before I become an executive. Change from yoga pants into a suit. Remove my viking hair cut, cover my Buddhist tattoos, and leave Neverland so that I may grow old and quietly die a mortal man. “We have to work on your people skills, you can’t just talk to the CEO whenever you want” – a CEO i was part of hiring in 2003 on FIFA as a designer after I took a small team and more than doubled our efficiency to divide the team into 2 games leapfrogging one another in production… I won’t grow up.
The moral of Peter Pan, is that we shouldn’t lose our innocence and child-like sense of wonder and awe even if aging is inevitable. Truly listen to the lyrics of this song… We make games we hate, for a paycheck every 2 weeks. 60-80 hour work weeks, turning our wives and children into “Alpha Orphans” and “Alpha Widows” respectively for half the year (as I was told when I moved to Florida was the name of the club for the spouses). There are no clocks in Neverland… and where we work “All grown ups are pirates” – Rufio, Hook.
Walt Disney once said “it’s fun to do the impossible”; this quote is a wood carved plaque just below my pirate flag i have flying over my cube over my Robocop and Scout Trooper Statues (both designed by nilo rodis) as Rodin’s “The Thinker” sits next door to them pondering the nature of growing old and dying… today “Deadpool”) joins them.
I want to work in an environment where I can make games for kids of any age. I am currently making a game with neighborhood children ranging in age from 6-12 in a collaborative environment where all the “Adults” our my age. We stand around laughing while our kids play all afternoon outdoors.., a flashback to my generations youth (a world before computer screens capture their attention for 8 hours a day). I want an environment like IDEO . A playground for millionaires who don’t have to work and continue to innovate (even if we don’t get the money). I have always said I am an eccentric millionaire without the money, however as of this year, I may just have that kind of wealth with the settlement for my house fire. I want to live in a place where I never have to think about money again and can invest my time in myself and the future of this generation of youth, so lost and orphaned by technology that they can’t stand up from their desks, much less stand out. I believe AR and Magic Leap can change that. Get them outside playing war or sports in a safe space.
I suppose this is a cover letter to any future employer. So here is my ask.
Let me play… explore.., show you a world of awe without the prison of our Dogma of “Work can’t be fun”. Let me run a team of misfits, the Problem Children that love to laugh and play the game we are making. Let me teach them to think like children again (the most creative among us, unconstrained. With out the “can’t do thats” toxin in their blood. Unconstrained creative geniuses who don’t get the concepts of an “ROI” for a new IP which no one has played anything like due to there being “Too much risk in that idea” or like Plants Vs. Zombies “It’s such a stupid concept, no one will like it”…. Fortnight has no competitors today because it is in a Genre of it’s own (it does have 7 million people watching the top player’s twitch stream however, monetize that for a penny a minute and Epic and the leaderboard talent can get rich splitting that cash 50/50).
Today I am working with kids who are creating a 3rd person shooter modernized pac-man style game, fighting with Boss Banana who’s sending his Avocado Agents, and the Broccoli Posse after you because you are not healthy food and taste too good… When the avocados die, you have to crush their seed or it grows into 2 more avocados… in our game you run around picking up pickles and dots of condiments (Ketchup and Mustard) to shoot at them, you can assimilate Tomatoes and Lettuce to make yourself stronger (more health) and can jump in a vat of oil and deep fry some armor onto your buns to take some extra hits… This game is entirely invented by two 8 year old kids (one is my step son, the other is his best friend 2 doors down), and the other kids in the neighborhood are beginning to contribute and get involved (a 12 year old knocked on my door with pages of ideas last night at 8pm, I told her get it all written down and we can play deign tomorrow).
Kids start life fully enlightened. They are then beaten down by western educational systems “Sit down, shut up”… they are destroyed by “do as you are told, even when it’s dumb and painful and boring” in public schools (which I plan to pull my kids out of). I learned to read in Montessori school with Star Wars graphic novels. I learned to do algebra playing a puzzle game in kindergarten… I want that childlike sense of awe and wonder back in my life at work. The sense of Awe we had making Matrix Sequels and “Lord of the Rings” as breakthroughs and new mocap tech, we had to be unconstrained. We attacked our work like kids playing a game, inventing the rules as we went along… A zipline to the bathroom… Fight Choreography with David Peng on the mocap stage. “Chair Jousting” in our Aeron chairs from opposite walls, with padded mocap swords (One hard kick off the wall on opposite sides of the stage, and the one hit first loses).
The world of games cannot produce great games, unless we love playing them. I feel it is time to wake up to that… or time to abandon 17 years of work, and rebuild anywhere that doesn’t want me to grow up.
I am asking for a Salary whomever reads this feels I deserve – I support a family of 8 in one home and 4 in another (being the sole source of income for my ex after 5 years, so that my children have 2 comfortable homes to call their own without the stress of money slowing down their unchained creativity… I will start for a living wage, and guarantee I’ll pay for myself for a year, day 1.
so Free Your Mind… Take the red pill with me, then hand me your lost boys. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! ” – Statue of Liberty
I am Pan, I am Rufio, I am the Monkey King on a “Journey to the West” to teach non-violence and play to the kids and adults of the world… I am a powerful tool, or weapon… in a world that only needs to put down their weapons and stop trying to grow up. Come out of the Rabbit Hole… we are safe, we are home, we are free. My wife says I am “A knight in tattered armor” – my metal well tested in the field of battle, as I try not to lose my innocence along the way… An eccentric weirdo who thinks “work” should be “fun to play”,
This is my anthem “BANGERANG!!!!!” LET’S PLAY!!!!!
Keep the Faith, I’m on it.