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Jason Rubin Turns Bitter

Jason Rubin is somewhat of a legend in the world of game developers. He founded the ridiculously successful Naughty Dog studios, which is now riding high on the success of Uncharted 2, and he was a key figure behind many beloved games such as the Crash Bandicoot series, the Jak series, and my all time favorite game of my childhood, Keef the Thief.

If you watch him speak on the last two episodes of the Bonus Round, it’s disappointing to see how completely burned out and bitter he has become.

His two main points (best summed on his blog):

  • Even the most talented and skilled developers aren’t able to get creative independence and large industry backed funding.
  • This results in the industry being in grave danger and leading towards fewer quality games and less innovation.

His second point is ridiculous. The level of quality, and innovation we are seeing in the industry has been amazing in the past few years and has been heading up.

His first point sounds like typical mid-career griping. It’s not untrue, but it’s a pessimistic perspective.

Lessons to Take Away

  • Do you need a stable, predictable career path to climb? Academia and government related fields such as education and medicine are far better choices if that’s what you want. In technology careers, the rules often seem to change and many experienced, skilled, good workers sometimes feel like they get tricked and thrown down the ladder, and get burned out.
  • Do you need creative independence in your career? Generally, there is always a struggle between what you want to do at a personal or intellectual level, and what the world wants from you. This struggle usually never disappears, it’s a fact of life.
  • Compare Jason Rubin with his co-panelist Michael Pachter for a minute. The developers of the world work harder and get burned more, but in many ways they are drowned in the obscure details of their work. The analysts have comparatively easier careers, but they see the world from a broader perspective, and as a result, the world is more interested in what they have to say.
  • Don’t give in to bitterness. In some situations, the urge to become bitter is overwhelming. Don’t do it. It only makes things worse. Find a positive angle to view your situation, and find a constructive path to follow for the future.