5-16-05 - 6


Now part of the timeline -

A continuing feature : what should I do with my life?

  • Make indie video games. Work at home and make games by myself, with contract art & sound. I think I could do this and perhaps be successful enough to support myself. There are some big downsides to this - for one, it's very isolating, you work alone all the time. The other is that this business is turning into the mainstream game biz - production values & costs keep rising, and it will be hard to compete with PopCap, etc. On the plus side, my productivity when I work alone is incredibly high.

  • Make interactive multi-media and art. This is similar to the above, but instead of making games, I'd be making interesting interactive experiences. This is actually much more intersting to me, but much harder to make a living at; I'd have to get funding from art galleries and grants and such, and I hate working that scene, basically begging people for money.

  • Write fiction (+ write music). This has always been one of my dreams, but it's the kind of thing where I could spend months on it and wind up with nothing. I'm also way out of practice writing real fiction, I probably suck these days. Making a living at this is hard to impossible.

  • Write non-fiction (on poker & software). I think anyone who reads this site agrees that my non-fiction writing is pretty reasonable. I think I could do this and make a living at it. Not sure how fun it would be. I currently have a half done book on poker that I think would revolutionize poker study, but the market for poker books is flooded right now, and without a celebrity's name attached, it would die. (if you're reading this and you're a well known poker pro, drop me a line).

  • Be a poker pro. This sounds good until you actually think about it. I also don't think I actually have what it takes to be a pro. I do think that my understanding of the game is good enough, my problem is that my emotional reaction is too strong, I can't recover from bad beats. On the other hand, guys like Mike Madusow seem to be able to have success despite being emotional babies and poor play, so maybe it's easier than I think? In any case, this doesn't seem like an actually fun job - the average hourly wage is not great, and it's very stressful.

  • Be a political science professor (write books, help think-tanks). I just had this idea recently, and it's sort of appealing. On the down side, I'd have to go back to school for a while, but politics and learning is very stimulating to me. I've always wanted to be involved in politics somehow in a way that would actually make a difference, and volunteering for the pol parties never seemed like it would help much. Being a prof, I could certainly reach all the kids in my class, and maybe write books, papers, that might have some affect (though plenty of wise profs already do this and it doesn't seem to help much). The down side is all the reality of academia - that's part of the reason I dropped out of my physics studies. To go from a BA to a PhD to a post-doc to an assistant professor to a tenured professor involves a lot of social politics and maneuvring and beaurocracy that's incredibly unpleasant.

  • Be a chef. I love to cook, but I think I like it more as a hobby than a job. This is one of those things where it would be great to be on top - be an executive chef who designs the menu and supervises the kitchen, but doesn't actually have to be in there slaving in the heat and the stress every night. Being a line chef actually seems pretty horrible, though it's romanticized in "Kitchen Confidential" and "Mostly Martha" and such.

  • Run a cafe or restaurant. I've always sort of wanted to do this, but I have no idea if it would actually be satisfying. Certainly it's incredibly financially risky (90% of them fail). I also would have trouble dealing with the stupid customers (if you've seen the British show "Chef", that's me).

  • Work on video games in the industry. This is the "keep on keeping on" option. I could work with a good team and make good games. I'd love to work with some smart, interesting guys on exciting stuff, and I certainly have that option now. But, life is short, there are so many other things to try...

  • Be a tech director or other type of manager in the game industry. This is my fallback career for when all light burns out in my spirit. I can become a corporate zombie and make good money with reasonable hours.

  • Run an alternative health clinic with my sister. My sister is a successful pilates teacher who has a small business and a big opportunity to grow. I think this is a fantastic growth business to be in. I would get a massage license and maybe a Doctor of Chiropractic or something so I could help, but mainly I would contribute money and business advice, and really it would be her business, she's the one with the skills. Certainly this would be very good for my half-crippled body.

  • Write newspaper/online reviews of restuarants, movies. This would be a pretty great job, and I think I'd be good at it; like most people, I think my taste is great, but in all seriousness I think I have broad taste and can express clearly what I think is good & bad about things. It seems reasonably easy to get into this field, because you can start small, just writing reviews online, then for the local small newspaper, and move into the bigger markets. I imagine it's very competitive and hard to crack into the real top newspapers.

  • Be an architect. I love architecture and think I have a good sensibility for it, as well as the good mix of math, physics and artisistic/spatial/emotional skills. On the down side, this would take a lot of school, and architecture is a nasty field where it's really great if you can be at the very top where you get a lot of freedom, but 99% of architects wind up designing strip malls and tract homes.

  • Coach a pro football team. This is included just because it was one of my childhood dreams. It's very hard to crack into this business without having been a player and moving up through the ranks, though it is possible (see Bill Parcells, for example). Working at the lower levels is not very appealing to me, that's more baby sitting than strategizing. It would be cool to be a consultant and do proper EV analysis of football decisions (run or pass, etc.)

  • Be a writer for the Daily Show or other smart comedy. This is included just because it was one of my childhood dreams. This would be an absolutely fantastic job, but surely very hard to get, and it seems I'm not so funny as I was in high school when I used to write comedy sketches all the time with my friend Jordan.

  • Just do fun/miscellaneous jobs. This might just be a temporary thing too. Some options are - work in a state/national park, work as an activity coordinator at a resort in Hawaii, work as a tour guide for rafting or biking trips, etc.

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old rants