Before I began my Hooby Groovy adventures, I spent 5 years working in the games development industry for a THQ-owned studio called Bluetongue Entertainment, here in Melbourne. For those 5 years, Bluetongue was like a second home for me, and the guys and girls working with me were like a second family. Sadly, THQ announced that it would be shutting down its Australian studios and so last Friday was Bluetongue's last day.
Working at Bluetongue was my first proper full-time job. I started my games industry career as a QA tester. Back then, Bluetongue was still small, though rapidly expanding and I was the sole QA tester on the project that I worked on. As the fortunate person (sarcasm, if you can't tell ;p) that had to tell someone when they'd made a mistake and they needed to fix it asap, I learnt about games development very, very quickly. I also learnt about crunch time and late night food deliveries around the area. I learnt how to laugh at discovering an insane bug at 4am, instead of crying out of sheer exhaustion or punching someone. Most of all, I learnt about what I loved most about games development and that was working in my team. There's nothing like having team members to laugh with over that stupid crazy 4am bug.
Over the years, I lost a few of my team members and gained new ones. I moved into being a QA lead and instead of being the only tester on a project, I started having my own QA team. After that, I moved into the Production team as a Project Coordinator. In that role, I learnt even more about the ins and outs of game development.
Popular saying is that 5 years is the limit of any game developer and sadly I added to that stereotype statistic. By the time my 5th year rolled around, I was fairly burnt out, mentally, physically and emotionally. For a lot of people, a job is a job. When you leave the office, you leave the job behind. I'm not that kind of person though. I poured everything into Bluetongue and became really emotionally attached to the company and my team. When I said before that my Bluetongue team members were like a second family, I really did mean it.
After I left, I often thought about Bluetongue and my happy days working there. I always imagined that maybe one day I would like to go back. I visited a few times and kept in touch with some of my ex-colleagues. On my final visit not too long ago, I came away feeling like Bluetongue had already moved on and I had not moved on with it. It made me realise that 1.5 years after leaving, I still had that emotional attachment which was causing me to feel sad about Bluetongue changing and me not being there to go through it together. I resolved to myself that there was no way to return to the Bluetongue of my memories and so I should let it go.
When Bluetongue shut down on Friday, I went along to the "wake" as they called it. It was really nice catching up with everyone and then I realised my team was still my team. No matter what kind of restructuring or corporate changes there were, they were always there at the core. They were still the same people that laughed with me all those years ago over that stupid bug. Only now, we were all older and hopefully wiser. And more inclined to go home and sleep at 4am. But inside all the past and present Bluetongue people there on the day that Bluetongue shut down, were still the same passionate and caring people that I worked closely with for 5 years.
It was good to be with my Bluetongue family once again, even for that one final day.