On May 29th 2018, I resigned my position at Valve Corporation after working there for over 5½ years. Friday was my final day after transitioning my work to some unfortunately-already-very-overworked colleagues.
In many ways, Valve has been the best employer that I’ve had the opportunity to work at and it was undeniably the most talented team I’ve seen assembled in the game industry. If a senior person in the industry is interested in working for Valve and they asked me if they should, my answer would be a “yes” and it would come with less provisos and reservations than most of my other former employers.
People who keep up with the video game industry will probably want to know if Steam’s new content policy is the reason that I’m leaving, and the answer is… it’s complicated. I don’t agree with the policy—and I don’t particularly like the writing of the blog post announcing it—but I also don’t think it’s the worst possible policy for Steam to adopt. In the absence of other reasons, it would probably not be enough to chase me away. I don’t want to get too deeply into my feelings on the content policy on this post, instead wanting to focus on another major motivation, and what it means for my professional future.
So, why else am I leaving?
The other big reason is just that I want to work on something… smaller. At a major industry player like Valve, every little change is immediately scrutinized by the entire industry press. For example, in early April I deleted some broken web pages and it became a major news story about the “death” of the Steam Machines project. This led some folks to scramble and issue a statement about the future of that project, SteamOS, and Steam on Linux. While I don’t want my future work to go unnoticed, I would rather have a smaller audience that I could connect with directly, and not need to worry about major coverage of every interaction.
So what’s next for me?
Luckily, my time at Valve and my other former employers has left me somewhat financially comfortable. I’m not ready to retire yet, but I’m able to take it easy for a few weeks, and then take a much bigger risk when I return to working full time.
Valve is the smallest company I’ve ever worked at1, and it had 300 to 350 full-time employees during my entire tenure. I decided that I’d like to change that. The way that I’ve decided to accomplish this is by swinging far in the other direction by starting a company with an employee count of one2. This may be too small for me, but I think I’d regret never trying it.
As I start up my independent business, there’s two main activities I want to focus on, and I’m writing timed goals down here to make myself accountable to you, my small Internet public.
My chosen foci are:
I spent two-thirds of my high school life taking the radio classes offered by my district. This meant I had a weekly on-air shift on WBFH after school, and I spent a lot of my other free time editing together promos, PSAs, and other pre-recorded spots. (I had some of the best Cool Edit Pro skills in the district!) I’ve never really used these skills or this love of broadcasting in my professional life, and I’d like to change that. I have at least one podcast project on deck, and I may also try my hand at being a livestreaming gamer. I expect to start in on this in July, though initial release of podcast episodes might not come until August.
My other great love, and my best skillset, is in software development. While I have some ideas for independent game, web, and mobile projects, I’d really like to work with some small teams and help them fill in gaps in their skillsets. I plan to offer my skills as a backend engineer and architect to small/medium-sized game studios as a consultant. I want to start taking clients later this summer – probably in September after attending PAX Dev. If you might be interested in hiring me, or just want to get coffee, please contact me!
I’m also likely going to write a couple more long-form blog things and be more active on Twitter than I’ve been before. So, watch this space for more concrete information about what Professionally Ridiculous LLC becomes in the future.