May 26th, 2010 will be my last day as an employee of Electronic Arts. On June 1st, I will start at the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that is behind one of the websites with the most traffic, the Wikipedia.
I will be doing user interface design and usability.
Deciding to leave EA was difficult. I thoroughly enjoyed working there. It wasn’t the work itself that I loved, though; rather: the people I worked with and the energy that permeated everything we did. It was a hell of a thing to just bump into the likes of Peter Moore while standing in line for coffee and be able to ask him questions.
You know. Nonchalantly.
In the end, it came down to a couple factors:
1) I want to make and write games again. When you work for a game company, you can’t do that: whatever you make, they own. You have scads of non-compete clauses and while you can get legal exemptions for them, the effort involved borders on the insane. Writing games has been my favorite hobby for nigh on 20 years now. It was difficult not being able to do so.
2) I want to get back into design. I am a rather competent programmer and love doing that, but I love designing interfaces and working with all the psychology that is inherent in that field. In many ways, this is my core strength: understanding behavior. While there were a few projects at EA that allowed me to flex those wings, they were few and far between.
3) I want to spend less time in a car. While I had a generous “work at home” allowance (two days a week), I still spent two hours a day in the commute. It had gotten to the point where I started coming into the office before seven so that I could leave at three, taking short lunches, just so that I could shave forty-five minutes off my drive time. Now, I have a nice five minute walk to a train that drops me off at the office doors, ten minutes later.
4) I want to work for the good of mankind. That sounds really, really cheesy, but it’s true. I’m getting older; the opportunities to Change the World are appearing with slower regularity. I have long been a supporter of what Wikipedia is trying to do – spread knowledge – and it feels good to be a part of that process.
So that’s that.