Chicago to San Francisco

“We have to go back.”Six years ago, I moved from Chicago to San Francisco. Six years later, I’m headed back.One of the last conversations I had with my father before he passed was telling him we were coming home. This was more than a year ago. At the time, we figured it would happen in a few years. My wife and I had started talking about the future, and we were concerned about the logistics of raising a family in the Bay Area. It’s expensive, and our families are in the midwest. When my father passed, the gut reaction was to panic, and sprint towards what’s comforting.During my extended stay in the midwest last summer, I considered not coming back.

But life cannot be defined by crisis, and I’d have regretted pulling the trigger so quickly. I loved the life I’d built in San Francisco, and I loved my job. Around the time of our wedding, we committed. The plan was to move back for the first anniversary of my father’s passing, and that date is rapidly approaching. A year moves fast. You might have gotten a sense that change was coming when I started experimenting with streaming from my apartment using a MacBook Air. Man, that was dumb! It was around then I was mulling the logistics of no longer being in the office, and how that impacts the work I’ve come to value while being part of Giant Bomb.

I came to this place as a wordsmith, but have since spent most of my time in front of a camera. When I move, the extra time means I’ll naturally gravitate back towards more writing and reporting, but I don’t want to lose the connection I’ve built up with Giant Bomb’s incredible audience. I’m actually excited about what’s possible being disconnected from the office. Alex and I have been talking about doing a live morning show, since we’ll both be in earlier time zones. Perhaps most importantly, I haven’t had time to break any big stories.

Now, I will. It’s very frustrating to sit around and watch other reporters file stories that I’ve sat on for weeks or months, knowing I could have easily done that. Now, I can. Besides more frequent Encylopedia Bombastica entries and Spookin’ With Scoops episodes, you can look forward to much more thoughtful, in-depth reporting from me. I’ve really missed it.June 21 will be the last day I’m in the office, but I’ll continue to be your news editor at Giant Bomb.We’ll leave the teary goodbye for another day.

Hey, You Should Play This

Besides Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, there’s not another horror game I’m looking forward to as much as Among The Sleep. It’s comforting to have my enthusiasm justified. On paper, Among The Sleep is a winner. You’re a two-year-old trying to find your parents in a house where things are going very, very wrong. I’d play that game, even if it turned out awful. As part of its Kickstarter funding, the developers released a playable version of the game. They are very much on the right path with this one.

And You Should Read This, Too

Speaking of horror games, Frictional Games co-founder Thomas Grip sat down with Slender: The Arrival and wrote a thoughtful analysis of what does and doesn’t work. Scaring people seems like one of the most difficult task for a creator, whether we’re talking about games, books, movies–whatever. Horror is incredibly subjective, and requires participation by the player/viewer/reader in a way other genres do not. Grip’s methodically breaks down and articulates why Slender: The Arrival can get under your skin.

“Most of the creepiness comes from the game featuring perfectly normal situations and locations. It is easy to draw parallels between the game’s scenery and your own life experience. There is no need to figure out the world and your place in it, all that comes automatically. This makes it possible to become immersed in the atmosphere almost instantly. It also makes the game leave a certain amount of dread behind after you have finished playing.”

Apparently we’re keeping it morbid on Worth Reading this week. Former THQ president Jason Rubin has penned a stunning editorial about the unfortunate working conditions at Metro: Last Light developer 4A Games. It’ll have you reaching for the buy button on Steam by the end, and only makes what 4A Games has pulled off with both the Metro games all the more impressive. It makes you wonder what 4A Games would be capable of with better support. You know, like proper chairs.

“When 4A needed another dev kit, or high-end PC, or whatever, someone from 4A had to fly to the States and sneak it back to the Ukraine in a backpack lest it be “seized” at the border by thieving customs officials. After visiting the team I wanted to buy them Aeron office chairs, considered a fundamental human right in the west. There were no outlets in the Ukraine, and our only option was to pack a truck in Poland and try to find an “expediter” to help bribe its way down to Kiev. We gave up not because this tripled the cost, but because we realized that the wider Aeron chairs would require spreading out people and computers, which would lead to extra desks, and that ultimately would have required bigger offices. Yes, really.”