(not underwear for the
UK folks, but trousers).
Note: This diatribe is only tangentially related to Flash game development. Read at your own risk.
I used to wear jeans
and skate shoes to work every day. I did this for nearly 10 years
even though I was an I.T. manager at a Fortune 500 company. I worked
on web sites and web games, I was never really part of the corporate
environment, so I never worried about it. Even though we were
members of a corporate I.T. staff, our web development team was
looked upon as ‘outsiders’, ‘rogues’, and ‘creatives’ ‘
all dirty words to ‘them’. The ‘them’ being the I.T. business
process drones who went about transforming I.T. Departments all over
the world from legions of computer nerds to legions of process nerds
in from 1999 through the present. It’s very funny to work at a
large company, one that is responsible for many entertainment
products, and to be looked upon as an ‘outsider’ because you work
with or as part of a creative team. It’s as if the creative part of
the company is the dirty underbelly and the Promotions, Public
Relations, Finance Operations, and even governance oriented I.T. are
seen as the ‘real’ employees and the most important parts of the
Anyway, back to the
pants and shoes. One day, 3 years ago, I was working on a web game
and scrambling to get it done. I worked all night long to integrate
all of the necessary assets (delivered to me as 3rd
revisions one day before the QA date). My two year-old son was up
most of the night with a fever, so he was screaming, and my wife was
barely awake after a few days of staying up with him. It was a really
really difficult time, but I got the game complete (at home in the
early hours) and sent it off to the QA team the next day. I actually
loved my job at that time, even though, the ‘dirty underbelly’
creative types always delivered assets late (not usually their
fault). These real creative people (writers, animators, designers,
artists etc) thought of us game and web developers as strictly
‘left-brained’ code drones, while the corporate I.T. people
thought of us as ‘dirty creatives’ because they had no
understanding of what it took to actually produce a game or a web
site. Even so, it was kind of fun to be in the middle like that, and
the work, although very difficult and time consuming, was still
something I loved to do.
The same day I finished
the game, I was told that I had a new job and was moving to a new
building ‘ the corporate head quarters. I had been stripped of all
code, and ‘dirty creative’ duties and given a ‘promotion’ to
Business Analyst. Anyone who works with or as a Business Analyst
knows that this job is about as far from making a Flash game as
possible. I was given the job because in actuality, even though I
was working on Flash games, my job had been Manager of Web
Development. That job included assigning tasks to 20 developers and
Systems Analysts, and working as a lead Systems Analyst when needed.
Because I got to assign tasks, when there was the need for extra game
development help (very very often), I would simply assign that task
to myself and dig in.
Within two weeks of the
‘promotion’, I had moved to a new ‘cube’ with a window, but
all of the developers I had worked with were stuck many floors below
in the ‘bowels’ of the building – exactly where most corporate
I.T. organizations stuff the ‘great unwashed’ they feel make up
development teams and developers in general. I had to go to A LOT of
meetings with other Business Analysts and I started to see that I was
a little under dressed for that crowd. I paid no mind to it really,
but eventually a fellow ‘coder’ turn reluctant ‘B.A.’ asked
me (tongue in cheek) when I too was going to start wearing ‘B.A.
Pants’. What she was referring to was the ‘uniform’ of tan
pants, light blue shirt, and cheap black slip-on dress shoes that
were worn all around me by the fellow ‘real’ business analysts.
Most Business Analysts (and also most I.T. process drones) wore these
BUTT FUCKING UGLY khaki pleaded Docker pants (the still do). What the
fuck was (and is) up with I.T. folks and those god damned pants?
Anyway, I couldn’t
stoop that low, so bought a pair of black and a pair of gray ‘flat
front’ pants, and a new pair of black Sketchers ‘business style
shoes’. The shoes wore out last year, but those pants, supplanted
by various new pairs over three years were going strong until about
March of this year. That’s when the gray pair ripped at the crotch.
The black pair, now in ‘a once a week’ rotation, were on their
way to the pasture also. The button (actually a clasp) was hanging by
a few threads and it was chancy to even consider wearing them. But,
week after week, on each Wednesday, I continued to wear those pants.
I put them on in the morning in a robotic fashion, just like I had
been going about my Business Analysis job for almost three years. I
was doing all of the necessary work, all of the BRDs and documents,
but none of it excited me. Just like the clasp that was doing it’s
job to the best of its ability, but literally hanging on by a few
threads, I was too.
On Wednesday of this
week, I knew those pants were done. I still put them on, just like
every other Wednesday and plodded off to work. The clasp fell off at
about 7:30 (after my gym workout) and then the rest of the day went
down hill as they do when you both hate your job and have 100’s of
‘side-line’ players in corporate I.T. looking for any reason to
undermine or back-stab your progress on a project. The project is a
big one, and it is coming to a close in two weeks. It has consumed
60-80 hours per week of my life for the last 6 months, and I am both
extremely exhausted, and relieved that it will be done. The exact
details of the actions of the ‘side-line’ players are not
necessary to re-iterate, but needless to say, it made me seriously
re-evaluate exactly why I am still doing this job that is so far
removed from what I really want to be doing.
When this project is
complete, there will be another one in its place that will require
all of the same documents, meetings, and process to complete. The
same ‘side-line’ players will be looking for any reason to
predict my project’s utter failure, and no matter what I actually
do, I will always be seen as the ‘creative-type’ who is now a
‘B.A’. They will always look at me differently and hold my work
to slightly more ridiculed standard. There isn’t much I can do
about those circumstances. In the place of the ‘broken’ pants
will be a new pair, but I will never stoop to the tan pleaded khakis.
I wonder though if that button falling off was a sign that I need to
move on. My version of ‘B.A. Pants’ and my version of being a
B.A. are different from most. Literally, figuratively,
metaphorically, the button has fallen off the pants. As I go off to
the office to work on the current project for the 4th
Saturday in a row, and leave my son wondering when his daddy is going
to kick the soccer ball with him again, I wonder if there will or
even should be a next B.A. project or even a next pair of ‘B.A.