How and why I joined the “suit people”


It is now official: I have traded my freedom & home office for a job title, an Aeron chair in a cubicle and a 401K.

I received my new employee package and, in less than a week, I will officially become a full-time employee at  SCEA (Sony Computer Entertainment America).

I’m going to work in the PlayStation department, working on PS3, PS2 and PSP game titles developed by various game studios.

Why ‘o why?

Why leave behind a happy life of indie contracting to join corporate America?

For many reasons actually:

  • A Team

Being a consultant I have been working with other independent consultants and existing teams. Nonetheless, I really miss being part of a stable team which grows together and learns from each other as we go through new projects and maintain old ones.

  • Long term plan

As a consultant, I usually start projects or “rescue” existing projects. I work on them for a little while and then move on. It’s exciting and rewarding but you don’t really pay the consequences of your mistakes. You usually don’t have to maintain the code you wrote and you rarely deal with the mistakes you made.

It sounds good, nobody likes to maintain the crappy awesome code they wrote 2 years ago and most developers love working on new stuff. But at the same time, to become a better engineer you need to learn from you mistakes and assuming responsibility for your bad decisions is part of the process.

It might sound weird, but I’m actually excited to work on long term projects and feel some sort of ownership over the projects. Having to support games for many years means that I’d better not mess up the implementation. And if I do, I hope I’ll quickly learn from my mistakes.

  • Avoiding burn out

There is no secret: when you are passionate about what you do, you have a hard time stopping and taking a break. I’m a recovering workaholic and it’s really hard for me to say no when I’m presented the possibility to work on interesting projects. I love what I do and I keep writing code even after I’m done with client work.

The problem is that this can start me on the slippery slope to isolating myself from friends, family and people who don’t share the same passion. I’m really lucky that my wife is a geek and loves hanging out at conferences, looking at code and playing with my buggy prototypes. But still, I spend too much time “playing” with my computer and I just can’t manage my free time wisely.

Having a full time position will hopefully help me put boundaries and will hopefully teach me to disconnect from work.

  • Exciting projects

Hey, let’s be honest, how many geeks do you know don’t want to work in the video game industry? By the way, if you don’t have a PS3, they are now at $299 and on top of getting an awesome console you get a blue ray player! (And no, I do not receive any bonuses or commissions for mentioning the console or promoting it in my blog. I had to pay for my own like everyone else.)

Corporate America? Are you going to write Java now?

No, I’m mainly going to stick to the language I love: Ruby.
From time to time I will probably use other languages here and there, but that usually makes me love Ruby even more. The reality is that Ruby’s power and flexibility seem to be appreciated by SCEA, which makes sense when you have tight deadlines and a lot of new technologies to deal with. Ruby is a perfect match!

As you can guess, I can’t go into any detail about how and why Sony uses Ruby, but let me just say that while games are still usually written in C++, they are becoming more and more interactive and need to communicate with game servers where some logic operates. Game players also need to interact with other gamers as well as check their gaming progress online, as well as the progress of the players around them etc… Basically, outside of the game engine and the console SDK, there is a lot of potential for Ruby.

Coming back to Corporate America, I have to say that I’ve known my future manager for a few years now. He’s always been a fervent Ruby advocate and has introduced lots of teams to the happiness of Ruby & Rails development. He’s also a great developer who’s contributing patches to major projects and has a bunch of cool stuff on github. To give you an idea, my job description mentions Rails, Merb, Sinatra, CouchdB, MongoDB, Redis, AWS. All these Ruby technologies are actually already used in production or are being seriously evaluated.

I’m also really looking forward to join the existing team. I know I’m going to love working with a bunch of awesome developers coming from various backgrounds.

Those who know me, know that I’m not a morning person. And while your typical office job is categorized as ’9-5′, don’t feel too bad for me. I will be joining the video game product department, and morning people are rather rare in these kinds of groups ;)

Conclusion

I’m really excited about this opportunity. For me, it is proof again that the Ruby revolution took place and that the Enterprise is evolving. Of course, time will tell if I am right, but I am quite confident.

Also, Sony is always looking for new, talented people who want to push the entertainment world to the next level. Feel free to keep in touch with me if you are interested in joining the fun.


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  1. #1 by kain - February 2nd, 2010 at 11:29

    Best of luck Matt, you well deserve it!

  2. #2 by Edward O’Connor - February 2nd, 2010 at 11:35

    Congratulations, Matt!

  3. #3 by Leah Silber - February 2nd, 2010 at 11:36

    Good luck Matt! I’m sure it’ll be awesome :D

  4. #4 by Mike Moore - February 2nd, 2010 at 11:39

    Congrats! I hope you enjoy working in small, gray, box-like spaces. :)

  5. #5 by Mark Turner - February 2nd, 2010 at 11:40

    Congrats Matt! I have a good friend that just started at the Sony Studio here in Bend, Oregon and he LOVES it. I’m sure you will too.

    • #6 by Matt Aimonetti - February 2nd, 2010 at 12:28

      Cool, I will probably end up working with your friend then, looking forward to it.

  6. #7 by Emmanuel Oga - February 2nd, 2010 at 11:41

    Congratulations! And don’t forget to have lots of fun!

    P.S.: can you get me a special price for a PS3 and a copy of Castlevania Lords of Shadow?

    Just kidding, just kidding :-)

    • #8 by Matt Aimonetti - February 2nd, 2010 at 12:29

      haha I’ll see what I can do but as I said, employees don’t get super discounts on the PS3.

  7. #9 by Alistair Holt - February 2nd, 2010 at 11:44

    Sounds great, well done!

  8. #10 by Othmane Benkirane - February 2nd, 2010 at 11:49

    Congratulations. You’ll be useful to Sony. But will you still contribute to current projects ?

    • #11 by Matt Aimonetti - February 2nd, 2010 at 12:30

      Absolutely, also, Sony is starting to slowly embrace the Open Source movement.

  9. #12 by Rob Kaufman - February 2nd, 2010 at 11:57

    Best of luck dude, seems to make a lot of sense for where you are at right now. We’ll miss you out here on the freelance beat ;-)

    • #13 by Matt Aimonetti - February 2nd, 2010 at 12:30

      Thanks Rob, the Freelance world is in good hands, I don’t worry about that :)

  10. #14 by Coby Randquist - February 2nd, 2010 at 11:59

    Congratulations Matt! Rose colored glasses always help to get through those big company days. With any luck they will be few and far between, but they will happen.

    • #15 by Matt Aimonetti - February 2nd, 2010 at 12:32

      Duly noted, coming from a corporate veteran like you, the advice can only be good.

  11. #16 by Paul - February 2nd, 2010 at 12:03

    Congrats Matt, best of luck!

  12. #17 by Ed Clifton - February 2nd, 2010 at 12:07

    Hey,

    see you in 2 years time back to indie’s life. You tasted the other side, so be ready to pull your hair in 24 months, starting now.

    what’s the dress code there ?

    Best whises, really.

    • #18 by Matt Aimonetti - February 2nd, 2010 at 12:33

      Hey Ed, time will tell, there is no dress code and everything is very relaxed but will see. I’ll post an update in a few months.

  13. #19 by Mark Menard - February 2nd, 2010 at 12:51

    Hi Matt,

    We have a firm here in Troy, NY that develops back end systems for games. They use Ruby and Python everywhere. You should have a good time.

    Congrats,

    Mark

  14. #20 by Sandro Paganotti - February 2nd, 2010 at 13:37

    Congratulations Matt !! Enjoy your new job !!

  15. #21 by Chris Petersen - February 2nd, 2010 at 13:55

    Congratulations Matt! That’s great. I don’t know if you ever met my friend Robert, he works at Sony on the PS3 marketplace and loves it. It sounds like a really good environment (but he’s writing Java… poor guy). Best of luck!

    What campus are you going to be working at? Rancho Bernardo?

    Congrats,
    Chris

    • #22 by Matt Aimonetti - February 2nd, 2010 at 14:10

      Thanks Chris, I don’t think I met Robert yet but I guess I will have the opportunity to meet him soon.

      I’ll be working on the Sorrento Valley campus which as you know is pretty close to where I live.

  16. #23 by Nicolas Mérouze - February 2nd, 2010 at 13:58

    Congrats! Hope you will have fun :)

  17. #24 by Nate Wiger - February 2nd, 2010 at 14:20

    LOL at “suit people” – does this mean you’re going to dress up for us? :-)

    Looking forward to you joining the team here at PlayStation Matt – see you Monday! Your post made me laugh, I’m currently rewriting my crappy, er, “amazing” Vlad deployment code as I type this.

    P.S. There’s no “&” in “Sony Computer Entertainment America” :-)

    • #25 by alexr - February 2nd, 2010 at 16:22

      If they’re handing out Aerons in San Diego, please feel free to box one up and send it to us poor folk in the Foster City office.

  18. #26 by Jarin Udom - February 2nd, 2010 at 15:10

    Hey congrats man, rock those leaderboards!

  19. #27 by Vitor Pellegrino - February 2nd, 2010 at 17:28

    Wish you all the best luck that one can have. I’m pretty sure that i’ll have lots of fun at your new job. Congrats!

  20. #28 by AkitaOnRails - February 2nd, 2010 at 18:50

    Wow sounds really exciting, I’m jealous now :-) Great to hear you’ll stick to Ruby at SCEA, looking forward to hear more about it. Congratz man!

  21. #29 by Satish Talim - February 2nd, 2010 at 19:02

    Matt, wish you all the very best.

  22. #30 by Martin Emde - February 2nd, 2010 at 20:14

    That sounded like a sweet job. I’m sure you’ll love it. Congrats!

  23. #31 by Stephen Waits - February 2nd, 2010 at 22:52

    Glad to have you join us Matt. Your stuff will directly support my game. And my next game too. :)

  24. #32 by Nicolas Alpi - February 3rd, 2010 at 01:57

    Congratulation Matt. All the best for the new job!

  25. #33 by Looka - February 4th, 2010 at 02:45

    oh, and this blog is made with wordpress (php)

    • #34 by Matt Aimonetti - February 4th, 2010 at 09:33

      Yep, I’m very pragmatic, WP works great, why using something else just because I like Ruby better? ;)

  26. #35 by Peter Gumeson - February 4th, 2010 at 09:15

    Congrats Matt!

    Anyone else who was trying for that job suddenly realizes why they had no chance ;) Kick some butt, and don’t forget to put cover sheets on those TPS reports.

    • #36 by Matt Aimonetti - February 4th, 2010 at 09:34

      Hey Peter, I don’t think you were trying for the same job (Sony has a lot of open positions), best of luck anyway :)

      • #37 by Peter Gumeson - February 5th, 2010 at 11:19

        Not quite ready to settle down yet. Just feeling sorry for anyone trying for the same job as you… It was my failed attempt at a compliment.

  27. #38 by zhando - February 4th, 2010 at 10:08

    Sony, a Japanese company using a Japanese citizen’s (Matz’) invention? Ruby?

    No! You don’t say…

    Best of luck. I hope you really are getting a Herman Miller chair.

  28. #39 by david N. - February 5th, 2010 at 16:04

    Hey I don’t know you (I am new to programming as a hobby and recently joined SD Ruby) but believe me I feel your plight.

    For years I was self employed and rather than enjoying the “I’m my own boss” attitude, I ended up working all the time and blurring the lines between where my work hours start and ended.

    There’s so much stigmata about corporate environments, but its pretty nice to have stability, insurance, random perks, and getting paid whether you slack off or not.

    Congratulations to you for getting a job in this economy, I’m a bit eager to get back into the corporate world where work stays at work and weekends are for me. I also miss working towards that common goal as a team, like you mentioned.

    Good luck to ya.

  29. #40 by Arun - February 10th, 2010 at 11:52

    Congrats Matt, they’ll not regret the decision.

    Do a post of picture of yourself dressed in “suit” :)

    • #41 by Matt Aimonetti - February 11th, 2010 at 00:34

      Thanks Arun, I actually wore a suit for my first day (well, just the jacket) but it was more a joke than anything else. I’m back to my usual flip-flops, jeans and tshirts ;)

  30. #42 by Carl Byström - February 16th, 2010 at 10:50

    Great to hear about your job!

    Regarding Ruby in games, I think dynamic languages are still underused by game devs as for scripting games. Sure, a few big players such as Blizzard are in the game with Lua. But there’s lots of room left for improvement.

    Anyway, I’m glad to hear that SCEA are embracing Ruby even if it’s not for game scripting (or is it? :) )

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