I’m moving to Canada to work for Big Fish Games

Well the post title says it all! I signed the contract yesterday!

I currently write games for Big Fish Games as a contractor and it’s a great job. But a couple of months ago I got an email from BFG half-jokingly saying “We’re opening a new studio in Vancouver, are you interested in being the first designer/programmer there?”. My immediate thought was “this sounds cool, yes I am interested!”, so I got back to them and asked for more details.

We were thinking of moving anyway

Helen (my partner) and I had been discussing living in other countries for a few months at a time (particularly in wintertime to escape the British weather) anyway, so it wasn’t a big shock to get this offer and consider it. Because we both work at home and use the Internet and PCs to do our jobs, we could in fact be based anywhere. So we had talked about going somewhere warmer and working there just for the experience. Working for BFG in Vancouver is bound to be an experience worth having, even if the weather is not much different from England. It will also be a great learning experience for the kids.

Trip to the US and Canada

BFG paid for us to fly to Seattle, where they are based, and meet lots of nice people, and I was interviewed for a day and half. You can read about our trip here. Then we went up to Vancouver (it’s just over 100 miles away) and checked it out. We really liked it. It’s next to the sea and has beaches, parks, lakes, mountains etc. The down town area is not massive, you can walk across it easily, and there are really nice places for a family to live hardly any distance from the centre. You can rent wooden houses on a plot of land with a garden in a nice quiet neighbourhood that is a couple of blocks from a main street, or a couple of blocks from a beach the other way! Very handy.

The job

So I’ll be an employee again instead of running my own company. In some ways this feels like a step backwards, but I’m doing it for the experience. I’ll be working with some great people and will be learning tons about the casual game industry, and I’ll enjoy every day at my job, plus I’ll get paid (very well) regularly. I’ll be loosing the flexibility of working at home, and my independence for a minimum of 2 years but I’m willing to make that trade for the experience. I love making games and I’ll be able to make really great games with the resources of BFG at my disposal. So it’s swings and roundabouts of course. One thing I’ll have to do is make sure I remain fit and healthy as I’ll be sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day!

Aikido

I’ve been at Bridport Aikido Club for 11 years, and running it for 5 years. It will be sad to leave but I have two black belts who can take over. When I’m in Vancouver I’ll set up an Aikido club and get training as soon as possible. Then I can arrange a special Summer or Winter school where my Sensei and people from England come to visit for a week of training – it should be great fun.

Lots to organise

We will keep our house in the UK as a base and will rent it out whilst we are gone. So we are currently embarking on a host of home improvements to make it suitable for renting. We are also de-cluttering by recycling, giving away, selling or dumping loads of our stuff. We don’t want to put much in storage as it’s expensive and we don’t want to ship much over there – the idea of starting afresh with minimal stuff is quite nice. I’m crazy busy with my current game, so Helen is dealing with most of this (phew).

When are we going?

Well we don’t even know the answer to this. BFG are applying for a Visa for me, but that may take a couple of months, and there’s a slim chance it won’t work out. But the aim is to move later this year, perhaps in October or November. So watch this space and I’ll proffer more details as they occur. Wish us luck!

Here’s a picture of a beach in Vancouver near down town – it’s called English Bay:

Vancouver

12 Responses to “I’m moving to Canada to work for Big Fish Games”

  1. Gavin Bowman Says:

    Good luck :) !

    Congratulations, I’ve really enjoyed following your progress and reading your blog, it’s been inspiring and entertaining. I hope the move works out well for you both.

  2. Grey Alien Games Says:

    Thanks Gavin! Well actually I hope it works out well for all *four* of us (Helen and I, plus our two boys Conan and Callum) :-)

  3. Richard Olpin Says:

    Nice one dude, good luck!

    I’ve got a (British) mate in Vancouver, working for Digital Eclipse. If you want me to hook you up you might fing him useful to get to know the place.

  4. Ben Says:

    You decided to make the leap then – nice one :)

    Let me know how things go – I hope you can keep on posting on Binary Joy, maybe we can get some insider exclusives… ;)

  5. Grey Alien Games Says:

    Thanks Richard. When I was there I went to an Indie meetup of about 15 developers (PC/IPhone/XBox etc), it was cool. I’m thinking of arranging another one when I get over there to make some more contacts.

    @Ben: Yep I did :-) As a BFG employee I’m not allowed to say much unless I gain permission of course, so we’ll see…

  6. jc Says:

    Good Luck to you!

    This should definitely be a great experience. I have done something similar a decade ago. I move to the UK (I am from France). Like you I was thinking about staying there for a couple of years. I ended up staying 8 years ;) then I did get really home sick and despite the great weather and excellent food that we enjoyed in the UK, I had to go back to France ;)

    Jean-Claude

  7. Grey Alien Games Says:

    @jc: Surely that last sentence is a joke! “Great weather and excellent food in the UK”, you must have got us confused with France! ;-) One of the places Helen and I considered moving to for a little while was France, also Spain, Portugal and Italy. Basically warmer places with nice countryside.

  8. Phil Newton Says:

    Wow Jake, that’s great news! It’s always good to see somebody’s hard work pay off :)

  9. Paul Henderson Says:

    Sounds like a great adventure and opportunity, good luck.

  10. Stu Collier Says:

    Gratz – hope it lives up to your expectations. Gratz again.

  11. Jon (techdojo) Says:

    Hi Jake,
    Congratulations on the new job, I was just about to email you regarding purchasing a copy of your game framework – is it still available and will you still be supporting it?

    Please email me directly or send me a post through the GameProducers forum.

    Regards

    Jon…

  12. Grey Alien Games » Blog Archive » I’ve made it to Vancouver! Says:

    [...] while ago I wrote a blog post about my imminent move from the UK to Canada to work for Big Fish Games. Well it all went to plan [...]