As stonking great big updates go, this has to be the biggest one I’ve written about.
I remember my parents surviving redundancy waves when foot and mouth struck in 2001, the impact was massive, as for the start of my adult life and continuing interest in games development, redundancy seems like an almost continual process you read about. As I write this the latest casualties include people at Disney Interactive, Eidos Montreal, Remode, Sony Santa Monica, and Irrational Games. All this has happened in the few weeks after Eutechnyx made me redundant, if you are looking at the numbers those 12 redundancies might pale in comparison, or you might not be interested in the games we made, but every single person matters, I consider my position easier in that I don’t have a family, or a mortgage, I rent an apartment and there’s no real reason why I couldn’t go anywhere to find a job. Even with that I never imagined it would happen to me or how emotionally difficult it would be, I don’t think I’ve cried so much before as I gathered my things from my desk and tried to say goodbye to all the people I’ve sat and worked with, made friends with, for the past two years, even though my time there is nowhere near as long as some of the others – I had work to do and I believed as long as that was the case there was nothing to worry about, there was no indication that anything was wrong.
On Tuesday 11th I was notified I may be made redundant by Friday 14th. I went with the mindset that the worst would happen, I made a very short list of things that I needed to do, and I only focused on one thing each day. Aside from the practical things you have to get in order, there’s the weight of the emotional side, sympathetic messages to respond to, people to talk to, a huge change to a routine part of your life to mentally adjust to. I didn’t have to come back into work until Friday, so I stayed at home and focused on my list:
-Update CV (with the help of a few friends and former colleagues giving me feedback)
-Update portfolio site
-Send job applications
-Tax rebate, ring HMRC (this was from the start of my job at Eutechnyx in January 2012, I still had to claim back from my 30% emergency tax rate)
I only did one task each day. Friends I was in touch with sometimes recommended taking a break, but to me I thought if there’s a job I can find right now, that job might not still be there if I decide to rest, I don’t really see how I could rest. I didn’t want to think about how much time redundancy money would give me to survive on, I wanted to get to work straight away.
If you choose to get in touch with a recruiter as I did, I would advise just getting in touch with one, at least initially, and make sure they are a recruiter who will tell you where they’d like you to apply and keep you informed (I heartily recommend OPM for this). I encountered a situation where a company had received my CV twice but I couldn’t work out who from because my strategy was to throw my CV in every direction at everyone and hope for the best – in hindsight I’d recommend an organised approach, you need to keep track of where you have applied, and been applied to by recruiters, I was advised that you don’t want to become “CV spam”. If I had stable employment I would always apply directly to companies, but having someone approach people on your behalf takes a huge weight off your shoulders when you feel like you have a million things to worry about, with a good recruiter helping me everything we did felt like a team effort, it alleviated the pressure.
From Monday 17th to Friday 21st I had about 6 interviews with 4 different companies. My preparation method is to go through each of these questions for the job I am applying for, write my answers down and continually read over them and make adjustments. You might have some good ideas in your head about how you will answer particular questions, but I find physically writing them down helps me order my thoughts and see more clearly what a good answer is and how much sense it really makes, the questions listed here and variations on them always came up, so answering them in advance is a great help.
Some others to think about that came up but weren’t listed are more to do with your experience, and as long as you have some they might be fairly straight forward to answer (even if this is not at a games company, experiences from team work in university gave me a huge amount to learn from). For example, can you tell me about a time where you disagreed with a decision? Was there someone you didn’t get on with, and why?
It’s worth pointing out that I’ve never interviewed anyone, I don’t look at CV’s so there are many people better placed to explain how best to answer these questions, but my feeling was that you should be able to explain what you tried to do to fix a negative situation or a bad decision, even if it’s completely out of your control, showing objectivity is important. I also felt not naming anyone was important, it’s not my place or right to plant a negative seed about someone who isn’t there. I don’t believe these questions are looking for a name of someone you didn’t get on with, that isn’t a reason to give you a job, they want to know how you approached this problem, and perhaps what the outcome was.
As for some more feelings on redundancy, as it is incredibly hard even for the people who are left behind, if you aren’t sure about whether to send a message of help or sympathy to someone who has been made redundant, or you don’t know what to say, I would strongly encourage you to go for it regardless. It’s the thought that absolutely matters, and I hugely cherish the support that people gave me, and people who recounted their experiences to me. I only learned recently that when my parents were pregnant with me they lost their home and their jobs at the same time. It’s amazing what people can achieve despite what life throws at them.
It’s the end of a chapter for me and the start of something new. I’m devastated that I and a number of others left Eutechnyx in this way, but we have a lot to take away with us, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the best outcome from this, and the overwhelming support from people at Eutechnyx, past and present. Yesterday I finished my first week at CCP in Newcastle and it’s been absolutely brilliant. EVE: Valkyrie is not a game you have to feign excitement about, what we’ve got already is so much fun and we’re only going to build upon that, I have an Oculus Rift on my desk in the office and I’m blown away by the feeling the game has already – you really have to play it to feel what it’s like, but hopefully these videos will give you an idea of what’s to come!