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Fourteen years ago, life was just about perfect for me.

We played volleyball on the beach most weekends. I was running a weekly dungeon, and a monthly Sherlock Holmes game. Our daughter was just getting interested in computer games (Puzzle Storybook was a fine old 286 game for a five year old, or in our case, smart two year old). I played softball, our jobs were great, we had the Renaissance Faire in the spring, and lots of gaming nights. I had a job, and I had a life.

Then Corey Cole (an old GM and bridge partner) convinced us to come work for Sierra Online.

It actually took a while to make the move. It was a big pay cut for each of us. But once my wife saw the possibility of living in fresh air, sooner or later we were going to move. That's when I lost my life.

Games no longer were a hobby. Movies were examined for the seams in the CGI. Instead of working eight hours a day and gaming four hours a day, I wound up making games ten or twelve hours a day, and wanting nothing to do with games when I went home.

My job "required" that I take up bridge again, and get my director's certificate. I'd given up bridge for role playing games around 1978 even though I won most of the time I played at the local duplicate club. I made Life Master, won a minor national title, and play bridge once a week on the internet (OKBridge). I designed a popular online game, and even though we both were working for the same company (The Sierra Network) which we knew was dangerous, and even though I had much higher paying job offers elsewhere, I stayed where the air was clean and the family was happy.

That's about when AOL bought our company, lied to us for two years about their plans for the company, shut down all our existing products (so much for the job offers based on my design skills), and then after they installed our hosting software (enabling AOL to grow from 5,000,000 users to whatever they're up to today) fired pretty much everybody. Thanks, AOL!

For the past five years we've had perhaps one year total where we weren't worried about money, and only four months where we both had decent jobs. Most of the gamers in Oakhurst have left, and I now drive back down to LA once or twice a month to visit my mom and sister and play in some decent games. It's hard to have a life without a job. I've gone from a state of the art computer programmer who in a worst case could always fall back on network administration to an almost unemployable game designer because I haven't had a hit since 1996 (again, thanks AOL). But hey! If you play bridge on AOL, you can still hear my voice ;-)

We left the city for clean air for our daughter's lungs, and it's hard to argue with that decision. But if I ever manage to get back into business programming, I'll never work in games again. It's much better to have a job and a life than to just have a job.

But if I inherited a zillion dollars, yeah, I'd make games again.

The play's the thing,
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