Jan17

Why I left my dream job at Rockstar Games

There was a point in 2015 where I had entered the big leagues. I landed a dream job to work at one of the most successful video game companies in the world.

I joined Rockstar Games in New York City and worked on my favorite R* franchise, Red Dead Redemption 2.

promotional image for red dead redemption 2

As someone who has played thousands of video games and sank hundreds of thousands of hours into them, I never once considered working in the video game industry. I especially didn’t think I would work at Rockstar Games of all places. Yet somehow, my experience in video game troubleshooting and video editing led me to what many would consider a dream job.

Before I continue, I want to explain why I rarely mentioned my association with Rockstar Games. When you work in game dev, you sign a Non-disclosure agreement promising that you won’t discuss anything related to the game or what you contributed to the project.

I still won’t share any details of went on behind closed doors (it’s not that exciting), but I will explain why I, the lifelong gamer, couldn’t stay at a dream job in video games.

First off, there are many talented and lovely people at Rockstar. They were all friendly, good at their jobs, and they were gamers like me. I could say, “It’s time for obscure video game trivia” and someone would know the answers and get my video game jokes.

One of my fondest memories was when we all went out to watch Mad Max Fury Road at the huge AMC screen in Times Square. This was a special occasion because I lived extremely far from the office. Hanging out with them meant that I wouldn’t get home until two in the morning.

And there was the first rub.

Rockstar Games was painfully far from my home. I would get up at 7:30 in the morning to catch an 8:15 train. I would get into New York City around 9:20am then take a subway down to SoHo and arrive at the office around 9:45am. On a good day, I would leave the office at 7:00pm and get home at around 9:30pm. On a bad day, I would leave the office at 11:00pm and get home around 2:00am.

The commute to NYC destroyed me.

My co-workers often asked when I was going to move closer to NYC. I avoided the question by answering, “Not yet,” or “Working on it.”

But I wasn’t working on it. I didn’t want to live in the city. Don’t get me wrong, NYC is a great place to visit. There’s plenty of places to go, plenty of parties to crash, great people, and a huge selection of food. But like all places, it also has its downsides: outrageous rent, a badgering homeless population, and non-stop noise. Peace and quiet is a rarity in Manhattan.

Living in NYC was completely doable. I had the money and capability to make the move, but something was bothering me about the commitment.

I didn’t think I could be happy working long-term at Rockstar Games.

For the longest time, I didn’t understand why I felt that way. The work was challenging, my co-workers were amazing, and the pay was rewarding. I had no reason to leave my dream job.

And then it dawned on me.

I couldn’t envision a future at Rockstar Games.

What could I do after my role of technical camera assistant?

I couldn’t tell Rockstar to make a video game off my novel. They had Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, why would they waste time and resources on a new, unknown IP?

The cinematics camera team wanted to train me for their team, but I didn’t share a passion for cinematography. The motion capture studio was even farther from where I lived and the idea of spending all my free time over there was a huge turnoff.

Because of the extraordinary time requirement, I came to the horrifying conclusion that I didn’t love Rockstar enough to give my life over to them.

What I truly wanted to do was build my own IP. I wanted to do what George Lucas did with Star Wars and create my own franchise.

Working at Rockstar Games was not conducive to that. 50% of my time was spent riding the train. 49% was at the office. Only 1% went to living my life. I couldn’t even propose to my girlfriend for fear of being called into work on the day of my proposal. They would have let me take off, but the anxiety of not knowing if I was working overtime or not made me fearful of requesting time off.

Due to always being at the office and struggling with the fact that I didn’t love my dream job, I became snippy and angry. My relationship with my fiancée suffered to the point that we almost broke up.

On the one hand, they liked the work I did and rewarded me with huge bonuses. On the other, I was having an existential crisis where I truly believed that I would die sitting at my desk, staring at an export screen.

When you work at Rockstar, you are encouraged to live and breathe the company culture. You are given cool swag, they sponsor bike races, and they throw extravagant Christmas parties. I wanted to love Rockstar as much as my co-workers did, but I couldn’t. I needed to make my own road in order to find my happiness.

One day I would like my novels to be TV shows on Netflix, or movies, or their own video games. Helping Rockstar make another $700 million dollars was cool, but making my own franchise would be much more rewarding.

I miss the prestige of working at Rockstar and I definitely miss the pay. But most of all, I miss my wonderful co-workers and the good times we had together. If Rockstar had offered an opportunity to work from home, who knows, I might still be working there.

But regardless of whether I still worked there or not, I would have continued writing my books. And I would have left the company in order to pursue my dreams.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how popular, cool, or big a company is. If you don’t like your job or you don’t get satisfaction from the work you do, even a dream job becomes a regular job.


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Winter Update – End of 2018

She thought a prototype suit would turn her into a superhero. It did. But it also unleashed a desire to kill.

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Publication Year: 2018
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A disgraced cop takes matters into her own hands when the murderer who killed her partner comes after her family. To stop him, Cindy Ames fuses with a prototype suit and transforms herself into a superhero.

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The ultimate weapon is a woman with a vengeance. In this action packed superhero fantasy, the powerless becomes the powerful.

As the Manhattan snow fell on her shoulders, Cindy Ames stared in disbelief at her bloodstained hands. Her fingers ached from violence. All she wanted was revenge for what happened to her sister.

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A Bitter Winter 2018 promo artwork by Alexander Chelyshev

Wilmar Luna

Couldn't be a superhero in real life so he decided to write his own. When he's not creating empowered female characters he can be found watching films, reading books, and playing lots of video games.
Buy his books here: https://www.thesilverninja.com/purchase/
Wilmar Luna

Latest posts by Wilmar Luna (see all)

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About the Author
Wilmar Luna

From the time he put on Superman pajamas and leapt off a flight of stairs, Wilmar Luna has been captivated by stories of heroes saving the day. As he grew older, his fascination with 90's pop culture, video games, and movies filled his overactive imagination with fantastical worlds and legendary heroes.

He found an outlet for his creativity by studying video editing and motion graphics design at Mercer County Community College. After graduating in 2008, he freelanced throughout New York City and has edited numerous indie films, freelanced for the NFL, and also worked with the cinematics team at Rockstar Games. He assisted with the launch of Grand Theft Auto V and was also involved in the creation of cutscenes for Red Dead Redemption 2.

After years of watching his name scroll in other people’s credits (please don’t remove me), Wilmar wanted to develop his own projects and ideas. He decided that if he wanted to tell stories of empowered female characters, paranormal detectives, and ghost stories, he would have to venture off on his own.

Wilmar published his first novel in 2012 and his second in 2014. He also published several horror short stories on Wattpad, as well as concept ideas for a gothic fantasy novel. In 2018, Wilmar completed his novel The Silver Ninja: A Bitter Winter, fulfilling his childhood dream to create an empowered, independent, brand new superheroine for a generation of readers hungry for new stories.

For updates on his latest projects, please visit https://thesilverninja.com or follow him on Twitter @WilmarLuna.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wilmar Luna

Couldn't be a superhero in real life so he decided to write his own. When he's not creating empowered female characters he can be found watching films, reading books, and playing lots of video games.
Buy his books here: https://www.thesilverninja.com/purchase/
Wilmar Luna

Latest posts by Wilmar Luna (see all)

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