Tomorrow I start at Electronic Arts
A lot of this weekend was spent recovering from my last day at Relic. I drank more than I have for a long time, possibly more than I have since my student press days. It was nice that I had a chance to say good-bye to people, though given that I live not that far from the office, and will be playing on the dodgeball team until the end of the season it's not like I can't see them again.
For the most part I haven't been talking publicly about what it is that I'm going to be doing next. Up until Friday I was still being paid by Relic Entertainment and THQ so it felt like I should wait. I owe so much to people at Relic and THQ for helping me get started in the games industry that I want to do my very best to not appear to be disrespectful. They gave me two of the best years of my life, and I owe them a lot.
However it's hard not to be excited about tomorrow. In the morning I start my first day at EA Canada's Burnaby office. If you live in British Columbia and want to work in the video game industry EA's always going to be on your shortlist of places to work at. They're the biggest industry employer in the Lower Mainland and have the most high profile games. My parents know what EA is, whereas Relic is a studio for the dedicated PC gamer. Relic has rightfully gained tremendous respect within the games industry, and from gamers, but the average person hasn't heard of it. I'd be hard pressed to find someone in Vancouver who is not familiar with EA, even if all they know is the they make the hockey video game.
The first time I played EA Sports' NHL series it was at my aunt and uncle's place in Sechelt. My uncle had a Sega Genesis and at the time the series was not being released on Nintendo's system which we had. I had always wanted a good hockey video game, but was forced to live with Konami's Blades of Steel and Nintendo's own Ice Hockey. Both games featured some of the trappings of actual hockey, but were nothing like the hockey that any Canadian will know. NHL, or at times NHLPA, had real stuff. Five players aside, real rules it was hockey as far as I was concerned.
I've played a lot of bad hockey games including two different games endorsed by Wayne Gretzky, but EA Sports' games were never anything but fantastic. In high school Graham Taylor would buy each year's edition for the PC which included a lot of the realistic trading options that the console versions didn't, and so after school we'd go to his place to manage our teams and work through seasons one game at a time with him controlling his Chicago Blackhawks and me running the Edmonton Oilers. In university Delme Herbert would rope Cass Hills and I into taking part in his season on the Playstation 2. He'd spend hours making himself the Canucks' starting goaltender and then working his way through season after season until his name became (virtually) as linked with the Canucks as Trevor Linden or Kirk McLean's.
I get to work on that game. That game which has sort of been woven into my life since I was twelve or thirteen is what I'll be working on. I'm working on NHL.
If you're not Canadian you don't know what hockey means to us. Even if you don't like hockey if you live in Canada you know it, you know who Sidney Crosby is and you can't help but know about his concussions. You know when the Leafs suck and what people mean when they complain about "the Habs". It's like soccer (football) to Europe, hockey is our sport in a way that America doesn't have a sport any longer. If you mashed baseball, (American) football and basketball together into one sport then you'd have some idea what hockey is like in Canada.
Throughout my two years at Relic I was constantly afraid that I was dreaming, that this was too good to be true. I knew deep down that somehow my being hired was a mistake and that building security was going to show up at my desk and escort me out of the office at any minute. Tonight I feel that again, stronger than before.
Despite that fear tomorrow I'm driving out to Burnaby and going to EA Canada and starting my first day.