Chapter 3: 18 Hour Days and White Picket Fences

Today I started snooping around to find out what some of the old game guys at Dynamix are up to. I found this fun blog Dynamix: The Rise of a Dragon in Eugene, Oregon which was put together by Jeff Tunnell, Karen Peal, Damon Slye and Piotr Lukasuzk.  Jeff, one of the founders of Dynamix, writes a great blog about the game industry called Make It Big In Games for those of you who like industry information.

But now, back to me.

It was 1993, and we started having babies. I stopped working at Dynamix to take care of the babies full time, but our lives were totally wrapped up in the game deadlines and ship dates.

The hours were insane, which I noticed more when I was home with crying kids than I had when I was hanging out playing pingpong in the break room with the guys. Now, Rhett often came home at 6:00 to eat and play with the kids, then went back until midnight. Some guys were there all night, all the time.

So I swtiched over from hanging out with the guys all day to hanging out with their wives and babies. We created our own corporate culture, and taught each other how to support our exhausted husbands and raise families when our men were hardly ever home.

We lived under big clouds of stress about royalties and bonuses tied to sometimes impossible milestones, and wondered what we’d do when publishers grumbled about canceling projects. Some people took jobs elsewhere.

There was talk of moving to Seattle and working for Microsoft, but those who had joined the empire told horror stories of even longer work hours and never, ever seeing the sunlight.

Ah, the glamour.

We bought a house. I planted a garden. We got a dog.

Rhett worked.

I got a drum and played jam sessions with hippies in the park. Our kids went to Waldorf preschool where they baked bread and learned to knit. We went to the Oregon Country Fair where I got my pregnant belly painted by some groovy midwives.

Rhett worked.

I took a pottery class and my art brain woke up. I bought a wheel and a kiln, cleaned out the basement and started an art studio for mom’s and kids. Soon I had 15 kids over three days a week, and mom’s in drinking wine and making pinch pots on Thursday nights.

Rhett worked.

I started painting dots on suitcases and sending them to stores and galleries all over the country. Julia Roberts bought one, so people thought I was special. I set up big art sale events for local artists and worked with stores at 5th Street Market. I wrote a monthly fashion/lifestyle column for the local paper and did a little modeling and voice-over for fun. I took on freelance marketing and writing projects to make extra money.

Rhett worked.

Our first hunk of company stock options were  going to vest soon, and people started talking about what they were going to do with their money. They were buying cars, homes, remodeling and paying off debt. We liked our little house with the white picket fence, and never cared too much about cars so we weren’t sure what to do.

We had been putting money into our 401(k) but didn’t know anything about investing so Rhett started reading. Soon, we had a library of financial books and stacks of Wall Street Journals and Barron’s newspapers appeared in corners. He talked to everyone and anyone who had interest or knowledge in investing. He became obsessed with figuring out how to invest.

We realized the game industry was changing and the days of talented designers cashing in and retireing on a big hit were drawing to a close. He thought that if we were frugal, careful and clever, we could eventually have a little financial independence to work on the stuff that really mattered to us.

So he started buying data, and he started programming.

Next time: cracking the code and riding the bubble.


1 Response to “Chapter 3: 18 Hour Days and White Picket Fences”

  1. 1 Neven March 16, 2009 at 2:31 am

    Now I’m in suspense waiting for your next installment. Very interesting blog.

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