Archive for the 'life' Category

Sol in prime sweet summertime

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Spring is here. The Russian forest fires cast a weird, dreamy light despite the warm sunlight. We got just about one week of snow this year.

I have landed a job at a Finnish game studio. I will be working as an assistant producer from June. This is my dream come true and I know it’s going to work out, despite leaving behind a secure, comfortable job and a promising career.

Looking back at my life until now, it’s weird how I’ve built up the skillset for the career I always wanted, yet didn’t really know anything about up to a couple of years ago. Many people do not even know what a producer does.

I’m a game designer at heart, having drafted and planned games forever. Since I learned how to write, I’ve been making game designs. When I first thought about becoming a professional in the videogame industry, there just weren’t any open positions if you didn’t know how to code or make art. I know some code and I dabble in art, but I’m not a professional by any means. Over the years the industry has bloomed in Finland, opening up positions more than there is talent available for.

Some years ago I realized I might become a producer, but it took until now for an opportunity to present itself. I am seizing it and urge anyone with a vision of what they want to do in their life to always keep the target in their sights, no matter what direction your life and career takes you. If you want it – and let people know that you do – there are always opportunities. I’m not saying this has been a straight line towards a job in the game industry, far from it, but I’ve never let it slip from my mind and I’ve talked about it openly, always keeping myself up to date with the industry.

I can’t wait to see a game with my name on it on the store shelves!

Perspective, meet paper

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m thinking about books I’ve read before – books I don’t normally recall during a normal day, good books, books I’ve read years and years ago, some as far back as fifteen years back. For example: Do androids dream of electric sheep by Dick and Gibson’s Neuromancer - well, Gibson generally, really. There’s a feeling that maybe I should revisit them. Some of it has to be just age and a general understanding of the world, a feeling that perhaps I’d understand the novels differently now, which I’m sure I would. After all, I was a teenager back then.

But the fact that this feeling has just now hit me, and across the board, not just with a given book, is what’s given me pause. I’m thinking it’s because of the traveling. I’ve visited countries I haven’t known before, alone, and met a lot of new people. I have widened my world view considerably, albeit in a corporate context and small doses. It’s hard to admit that I’ve been so tightly in my own confines that this little amount of travel would’ve opened me up, broadened my perspective, but it really feels like it. I really didn’t expect any new experience to open my existing heritage to this kind of re-interpretation, but what do you know.

Drunk on Piccadilly

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Across from me sits a woman in late thirties, sleeping. She’s in a junior position at a company. She’s resting her head against a stranger. The stranger is taking it like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Being a commute sleeper myself, I think it is.

On the right, a man wearing a turban is carrying a bike inside the underground car. The walls are so close. When we stop in the tunnel, I can feel the air getting thicker. On the left, a red-faced man in his forties, wearing a suit and tie comes in, sits down and pulls out a Warhammer 40’000 novel.

An advertisement on the wall says that I spend three years of my life in commute. Right now, I think it’s time I couldn’t spend better. This morning I noticed how wrinkled my eyes had gotten since the last time I really looked at them.

The woman gets out and I see myself in the plexiglass reflection, smiling. I can’t help but smile, all the fifty minutes from Holborn to Heathrow. I’m feeling the love of a night out with my dear friends. My music goes from Justin to Ken Ishii, culminating in fragile electro as I wake up to get out of the underground.

Reflection on reflection it hits me. I can’t help but smile.

Abroad

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

20/21 09: London

I meant to post the impressions of my first real business trip during the actual trip, but at hotel internet rates, I suddenly found myself with another batch of unposted travel notes. But here goes, I’m putting them all up in one go.

27/28 08: Alone in Holland

It’s a little past midnight. I am alone in my hotel room, facing the Atlantic. It’s much darker than back home north. The full moon is painting the waves with white light through spotty clouds. The large industrial zone’s massive gas torches light the night to the side, and inbetween are hundreds of leisure boats. A lighthouse’s torch shines in my eyes every few seconds. I should have brought a camera.

I’ve known the colleagues I’m with for a little over a week and it hits me: I’ve never been this alone, this out of my element. I tried to alleviate the circumstances by hitting the internet, but I’m not going to pay 8€ for 60 minutes of broadband. I wanted to call my wife, but she should be fast asleep by now. So instead I wrote this on the Windows Notepad; at least I can feel a future connection to my blog.

I am an individual and I can take care of myself, but I am not used to being alone. It’s a new feeling to me. It’s surprising, really – I guess I actually thought that on a basic level, I’d already experienced most of what life has to offer for me, like it would be all repetition from now on (not to say that’s a bad thing in itself) – but perhaps luckily, it does’t go that way.

Sure I could go more hardcore still, traveling really alone to a place really out of my cultural sphere, but as things stand, this is an interesting place to be.

28/29 08: Adaptation

Twenty-four hours later, I’m again alone in my hotel room, but now I’m savoring the “me” -time. I just got off the phone after twenty-plus minutes with my wife, and after a day of intense interaction with foreign colleagues, it’s great to be alone. It’s been a heavy day of training and tomorrow will be harder still, and with less sleep, to boot. But the networking has been totally worth the Visa bill and the loss of sleep. It’s somewhat revelatory to realize that the people behind our Europe headquarters’ email addresses are just that; people, exactly like the people in my office. Sure, our brand is big enough to attract some superstar talent, too, but most of us are just people, struggling with exactly the same problems that I am. I have especially enjoyed the interaction with our Swedish and Japanese colleagues; Swedish because they’re our Nordic neighbors and Japanese partly because they’re our global headquarters and partly because I haven’t known any Japanese people before.

My back is a pain, though.

20/21 09: Battle metal in London

From air, England looked exactly liked I imagined it would, a curious, sketchy take away from the Amsterdam surroundings I looked at an hour earlier. I got the fly-by of London and didn’t feel any real need to see the sights – though I’m sure they could be impressive from the ground level. Everything looked so unassuming.

Through the male sex’s fascination with football, our dinner plans were cancelled. I was so tired that I didn’t really complain, three hours of sleep plus perhaps another ninety minutes on air not quite enough to deal with the day’s toll. Then I spotted a local friend’s status message on Facebook, stating her intent to see Turisas the same night, and withing ten minutes I had bought a ticket and arranged a date with friends.

I was a little intimidated with the London public transportation and I welcomed my friends easing me in from the Heathrow tube station. We had dinner and beers, I met this interesting magazine editor, and we saw the heroic viking metal show. I had never heard a chord of Turisas, but it was so easy to get in on it. It was really a world apart from my daytime activities, taking in corporate plans, it’s a little hard to orientate myself for tomorrow’s training.

Once again, you see how huge an impact local guides have. I got the London experience within six hours. After my priceless friends saw me into the correct train, I made my way back to the Crowne Plaza, daring to take a local bus and saving myself around 16 GBP in the process.

I am positivey surprised by London. The people are immediate and aware; I got more feedback and interaction (and ketchup) with strangers today than in a week of living in Helsinki. I’ve heard Londoners being called cold, but I just don’t see where that’s coming from. Everybody’s very happy to help me and generally people tend to take you into account. Which generally just doesn’t happen in Helsinki.

Traveling on the job is not easy or fun, but right now I feel like I can value the insight it’s giving me. Of course, without my UK friends I would be typing a very different story tonight.

Smoke

Friday, August 10th, 2007

We brought back a shisha (hookah, waterpipe) from Berlin. The trip was much better than I anticipated, and the shisha is a sort of exclamation point to the whole trip. I’ve been meaning to get one ever since my first to trip to Egypt, in 2001.

I think I fell for waterpipes when I saw the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland smoking one. Since then I never saw one before my trip to Egypt, where I just really liked the atmosphere of sitting around a table with friends, passing a shisha around in the evening. (To be clear, I’ve smoked only flavored tobacco in a shisha, no other sorts of drug.)

So strolling around in a Turkish neighborhood in Berlin, we looked into getting one if we could find something that looked like the locals were actually using. The one we got was not on display and there was the language barrier to get past, since the locals don’t speak English that much.

It works beautifully, and sitting in the candlelight in our balcony, savoring the apple flavor, I felt a bit more at home. Memories of Luxor hit back – only now with a bit of eastern Berlin mixed in.

Change

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

I’m alone in the office, for the second to last day at work in my current job. I have a habit of listening to loud music when I’m working alone; it helps me to concentrate. Being in this crossroads moment, I found myself going through old songs. I listened through Therapy’s Troublegum from the junior high years and now I find myself somewhat overcome with Iron Maiden’s Childhood’s End. Of course it’s iconic and taken in the context, pathetically cliched, but it just fits the mood, taking me back to the first major change in my life, the end of junior high.

I’m 29 now, going into my third real job, these days very much defining myself through my work… and it’s the same feeling, standing on the edge of the old and peering into what’s to come. The feeling of change is almost tangible and something I’m finding immeasurably energizing.

Recommended reading

Friday, June 29th, 2007

I find it very difficult to read multi-page stories on the web, but this is so good that it just breezed by. It’s about Hans Reiser, a Linux programmer now suspected of having murdered his wife. I don’t really want to elaborate on it, it’s a better read if you don’t know much about it before the fact. I suspect the writing style isn’t to everyone’s taste, but I found it enormously well written.

Wired on Hans Reiser.

Summer and St. Petersburg

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

The above sight is from our apartment window, from earlier today. It’s coming from the trees. Beautiful. (Nevermind the sound, I was on the phone.)

I was in St. Petersburg for the past few days with my entire company, some eighty people. I had not been to Russia before. My wary expectations of the country were devastated, and I no longer have any reservations against going there. It is a beautiful city. The locals seem to not speak English, but we managed. I had some five hours of strolling around time, and it was barely enough to see one end of the Nevsky Prospekt (go Gogol!).

The weather was so grand that I burnt my neck for the first time this year. We were on a three-hour cruise on the Neva, and the sun just glared down, bringing the temperature up to +26 Celsius (78 Fahrenheit). Nice.

The dead among us

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

An article titled “Digital Footprints” on the videogame magazine The Escapist held my thoughts. It concerns a phenomenon I’ve wondered before: people talking to dead people on their blogs, forums, MySpace pages and so on, with full knowledge they’re addressing a person already gone.

I haven’t done this myself and I’m wondering: do they think the dead person might hear them? Are they comforting themselves? Are they participating in shared grieving?

Admittedly, I probably would feel like making a farewell comment on a dead friend’s blog, to provide closure, and acknowledge that he or she is gone. Somehow it would feel wrong to see the same old sites, just like they were when the persons concerned were still alive.
Not that this is a new behavior by any means. People have always left cards and spoken aloud to dead persons. It’s just the nature of the Web that these private or small-circle’s thoughts are now public and in many ways more permanent.

In a way, I think it’s beautiful, giving presence to the dead.

Leveling out

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

So for all of January we couldn’t get any snow, now the nature is doing its best to even out the winter average during February.

It’s -25 Celcius (-13 Fahrenheit) out there, with a wind of 3 meters (9 ft) per second to boost it to an effective temperature of -35 C (-31 F). Freezing damage is a real risk if you either don’t equip yourself properly or stay outside for too long. It’s actually going to get colder still, with predictions of -40 C (-40 F), including the wind factor.

With the air this cold, the streets are practically empty, you can’t trust the public transportation and yu avoid trying to start your 15-year old car. If we lived outside city limits, there’d be freezing plumbing to worry about.

I had a parallel to write about in my mind during the commute this morning, but I can’t think of it now. I guess the winter magic erased it from the synapses.