Software Developers Journey Podcast

#119 Virginia Harrison is following her gaming dream


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Virginia Harrison 0:00
I had gone to sleep for the night. And he knocked on the door and he had said, "Hey, are you awake?" And like the real answer was "no". But I was like, "yeah, yeah. What do you need?" And he said, "do you do you need like a job?" And I was graduating A week later. And I said, "Yeah, yeah, I'd do anything, literally anything". He said, "Well, I told them, you do web design, and they need somebody who does web design", so and so I was like, "Alright, I'm good enough right now". So I went and I interviewed in my pajamas. And they were like, purple universe pajamas, just as absurd, as you could imagine. And sat down into this interview in front of like a group of strangers on the internet, and ended up getting a job just out of just out of luck, you know.

Tim Bourguignon 0:55
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast, bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. My name is Tim Bourguignon. And on this episode 119, I receive Virginia Harrison. Sponsor: But before we get to our guests, did you know that Python was again ranked the top one to language on the 2020 StackOverflow survey by fellow developers from around the world. In the past few years, Python has become my language of choice. But I still have tons to learn. Is Python on your bucket list as well? Well, Michael Kennedy, who shared his dev journey with us in Episode 94, and hosts the talk Python to me podcast can certainly help. Among he is Python for absolute beginners, Python for the dotnet developer or countless other advanced courses. There's certainly one for you. Go have a look at his catalogue and use the link talk python.fm slash journey for a $50 discount. And finally, stick around until the end of the show for a chance to win Michael's Python for absolute beginners course. And don't forget to thank him for sponsoring the show. And now on to the episode. Gini designs, video games for a company they own, called WaywardAI. Coming from a background in full stack engineering, and web design, they delight in using technology to create interactive experiences. Gini, welcome to DevJourney.

Virginia Harrison 2:28
Hey, thank you very much. Glad to be here.

Tim Bourguignon 2:30
Hey, glad to have you. So this show exists to help the listeners understand what your story look like, and imagine how to shape their own future. So let's go back to your beginning, shall we? Where would you place the start of your DevJourney,

Virginia Harrison 2:44
I believe I would place the start of my dev journey. Very, very, very young. My parents were always very tech savvy. So we always had some sort of computer around. And I think the first thing that I remember creating were either websites, there was a service called AOL, hometown, I believe. And I found it because we had AOL, and it started making tiny, very pink and purple websites, myself, and posting art, things on them are just sort of things like that. And also, a good friend of the family had gifted us flash the animation software. And so the intermingling of technology and art happened extremely early, with flash having ActionScript and small scripting aids for making animations interactive, and things like that. Wow.

Tim Bourguignon 3:48
I'm jumping way, way, way ahead. But there's not so much of a jump between doing flash animations. And flash was well known for all those tiny games that were usable directly in the browser. And the game, daily work that you're doing right now,

Virginia Harrison 4:07
my career is had a very fun symmetry, I think, between now and now. And then for sure, and it's been a lifelong interest. You know, I've always had video games around and I don't think there was ever a moment where I was like, I guess there was where I was like, oh, people have to make these things. I'm people. I couldn't make one of these things. Um, but yeah, it's uh, I remember one of the first one of the first games that I made was in Flash, and it was like a person floating down and balloons and you would collect ducks as you felt on the screen. It was, it was a lot but

Tim Bourguignon 4:46
cool. I want to hear this. How did you go from from flash and starting to dip your toes in maybe HTML and then ActionScript, which I found personally awful when I tried to do it.

Virginia Harrison 4:59
It's terrible. It's the worst.

Tim Bourguignon 5:03
It's so how did he get in there? And and even though it's the worst your words, but like mine as well, even though it's the worst, how did you did you manage to find the the interest of making games or making animations and making something out of it and continue on this journey,

Virginia Harrison 5:23
it all sort of started to weave together, I suppose, because I was looking for more information on how to make games even super, super, super young. And I remember I found a JavaScript game that was just a carbon copy of some other game that existed at the time, but it was like a text based game. And, you know, I copied and pasted into a text editor and I changed some variables, and I went, Oh, I can make a game on the internet. Oh, and, you know, is, at the time, too, I could, you know, just try to get every friend that I had involved as possible, which is another running thing is, hey, you can make websites and you can put games on your websites. And there's this thing called JavaScript. And it's really neat. And, you know, it just sort of grew from there from like, young until, you know, even through high school, were games always at the center of your interest around computers and programming. Um, I think, really anything to do with design and solving interesting problems. Were that was always my focus. And I felt like games kind of combined all of my interests in that, like, people would talk about puzzle games and crosswords, and Sudoku and things like that and be like, why would I do that I could just build a program and get the same, the same thrill out of it. Not to not to put down those hobbies are infinitely more accessible. But yeah, I think games will probably always be the center of that focus, because I loved that there was art and there was animation, and there was music, and there was interactivity. And it's sort of this conversation between the player and someone who has created this very flexible presentation of an idea and a narrative. And it was just kind of everything to me, it was anything I wanted to do it fit in a game, do you still have some of those early games

Tim Bourguignon 7:23
that you did look

Virginia Harrison 7:24
out goodness, there, I believe five families still has them on a computer stored somewhere, I have no idea if it still works, but I don't I don't know that I have any on hand or trustworthy a format would be very fun to find them.

Tim Bourguignon 7:43
You should try I, I developed one. The only game I developed was during my studies with the with a friend and we we screwed around with with Zelda and sprites and everything. And I found it something like three or four years ago, oh my gosh, and it was still running. It was written in Delphi. And I realized we had a one one big mistake, which was not to add a timer in the game loop. So we were doing so much computation with a with a star pathfinding and everything back then, that we were running at the, at the very limits of what our computer was, was able to do. And so it never occurred to us that we would need some kind of timing, the game was as fast as the computer could go. And so I started on my computer nowadays, and just couldn't see anything. Until I realized that the computer is so fast nowadays. That's everything. Everything was just happening. And it was just a blur, and they couldn't see anything. It was just way too fast. And that was that was a big laugh. I I was really jumping around when I finally understood what was happening. And then it was still working just unusable.

Virginia Harrison 9:00

Tim Bourguignon 9:04
So maybe you will have some discoveries, like this I and then you can tell tell about it afterwards.

Virginia Harrison 9:10
I should certainly hope so those are always the funniest things. And the thing is I get the most response from people is I made this and it is I didn't really think it through for whatever the conditions are now, so now it's ridiculous. But yeah,

Tim Bourguignon 9:26
but it's it's part of your story and made you who you are. So so it's important as such. That is cool. So when did you realize that this could go from from a hobby from something that was really interesting to something that could become your life?

Virginia Harrison 9:43
I knew it was something that would happen in my future because it was something but it seems such a distant thing for a long time. And I would I figured for a long time that first of all, I thought it was going to be a professional dancer for a very long time. I had, I think when I stopped it was 17 years of classical ballet training. Oh, and I just kind of thought that was what I was going to do until I hit college. And I kind of realistically sat down. And I said, what kind of career Am I going to get from this? Because it seemed to me that the end of that career path was teaching and instructing. And that wasn't really, I wanted to be creating my whole life. So I thought, you know, computer science seemed like the right trajectory to get there. And I figured, eventually, would hit games. But the most accessible thing because I had started doing websites. So early was have a ton of experience making websites. And that's something I can produce really quickly for people and a lot of people need. So that was, that was the first sort of arena or the, the path that I took. And then it was, I think, the first time that I really actually thought about it, like, Hey, this is something I can achieve was, when I got hired. For my first job out of college, I sat down with the CTO, Ted Tanner from pocket Doc, and we were at a pizza place. And we both ordered pizza together. And he said, you know, what do you actually want to do with critter technology stuff, you know, what's, what's your angle here? And I said, Well, I really like games. I just want to do games. That's all I want to do. And he said, Be careful what you wish for. And, and then life, you know what I mean? Life did his thing. And I'm here,

Tim Bourguignon 11:42
but what do you interpret behind his words, be careful what you wish for.

Virginia Harrison 11:46
I don't know, I think as soon as you express something, it's the same thing if you like, you know, when people tell you, if you look at something you're going to run into it. Like, I think that's kind of the idea is like I expressed something, and I express something and it sort of it didn't necessarily make it real, but it sort of focused my brain on some point in the future. And whether I knew it or not, it directed me towards it. And I know, he helped throughout my career, sort of directing the sort of projects that I would take on and everyone, everyone who helped me a pocket doc was very, very keen on orienting me the right way. Like this is a silver project. This is an art project, maybe this will help you somewhere down the line, you know, stuff like that

Tim Bourguignon 12:39
is really cool for them. That they were able to intentionally nudge you in though in this direction.

Virginia Harrison 12:44
Yeah, it's I view I view that experiences, my real college experience, honestly, I feel like I got the most education out of out of the things that they the challenges that they set in front of me, because I had an abysmal abuse, abysmal time during college. And part of that was a mindset thing. But uh, I was I always like to joke, which I think is kind of inaccurate, I always tell people is the one story that I tell people every time, which is how I got hired out of college because I had had such a terrible time. And the joke is that I would say, I got my first job because I failed calculus, which is goofily is incorrect, really? Because when I thought about it later, and I really set to think like, how did I get here? And what, what drove me this way is I made a decision early on, that I wasn't going to put up with someone who had acted disrespectfully towards me. And I had had a professor in calculus, who said some very disrespectful things to me and some other students. And I just said, No, I'm good. After though, after that lecture, it just never went back. I didn't even go to the exam. And because of that, I was a class short. And I wasn't going to be able to graduate but I, I kind of stated my case with college, the college and said, I'll take a class over the summer. And that'll wrap it up, but let me walk during normal graduation. And they let me do that. And the class that I took, I had asked my parents I'd said, I need to do this extra class. I just I had lived at home for my college experience and I just had some just this one time, can I live on campus can I live downtown? And they said, this is important, we'll make it work. I think that's also something that is impacted me very much through my life is you know, I've had a lot of support from very gracious people. But so this during this three hour course just this one video game course because I was like, often if I'm going to suffer through another course, I'm going to take something I want. But my roommate that I had at the time, he was working for pocket doc. And I had gone to sleep for the night. And he knocked on the door and he and said, Hey, are you awake? And like the real answer was no. But I was like, yeah, yeah. What do you need? And he said, do you do you need like a job? And I was graduating A week later. And I said, Yeah, yeah, I did anything, literally anything. He said, Well, I told them, you do web design, and they need somebody who does web design, so and so I was like, Alright, I'm good enough right now. So I went and I interviewed in my pajamas. And they were like, purple universe pajamas. Just as absurd as you could imagine. and sat down into this interview in front of like, a group of strangers on the internet. ended up getting a job just out of just out of luck, you know? But uh, goodness, yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 16:07
That is nice story. And I'm sure people can now relate to it. Now that we have had this pandemic and everybody's working from home in their pajamas. Yes, absolutely. that's a that's a nice story. And and that kills my next question would would have been Why did you suck it up? Because like you apply it or take a job offer up?

Virginia Harrison 16:35
Yeah, I mean, really, though, it's, it's funny, but that is kind of the reason why I was so happy with them is because they let like that was, as long as you did your best. And you, you know, you worked as hard as you could without ruining yourself, you know, they encouraged you not to burn yourself out or anything. But as long as you were working hard, they could let things slide like I am. The perpetually late to everything. So I don't think I've ever been on time to anything in my life. But, you know, I was in every other aspect. You know, I was doing my best and acting in good faith. So they were like, Okay, well, you know, it would be nice if you actually made it to meetings on time, but and then they just started leaving me out of meetings. I didn't want to be there anyway. But anyway.

Tim Bourguignon 17:32
To be fair, you were five minutes early at this meeting?

Virginia Harrison 17:37
Well, I guess I'll correct it. And I say I'm either like, three hours early, or 30 minutes late. I'll admit, I like I don't think nervous is the right word. But it definitely had a lot of energy thinking like, Oh, it's bad guys time. It's just time and time to make a giant pile of Dungeons and Dragons books and put my microphone on. You know, the usual stuff.

Tim Bourguignon 18:07
The usual so when you when you look back at you at this time at Paki duck, well, the the highlights that the things you remember most fondly?

Virginia Harrison 18:17
Oh, my goodness, I really loved the whole experience was fun. I think the earliest the earliest if it was the most fun, because it was a when I joined it was, I believe posts series A. And it was super small company, it was the size of you know, you could count the number of people on your on two hands. And it grew pretty quickly after that. But um, I remember, we had to come up with some very interesting solutions. Because when pawcatuck started, it was initially a price transparency sort of thing. Like we had an online marketplace. And we were trying to get answers from doctors on how much things would cost. And that was very hard to do when we started. And they had been working on it even before I had joined by cold calling and asking for appointments, and will How much will this cost? And they just got tossed back and forth between like, Oh, we have to ask you How annoying and then accounting would be like, Oh, we have to ask management manager be like, Oh, you have to ask the doctor and then it would just be this horrible circle. So one of the funnier things that we did, we very fondly refer to as the dirty facts, which was they came to me with this idea and they said, Hey, Jenny, we need you to create a fake facts that we can send to doctors that looks kind of like a patient referral from some office. And the goal of it is to get them to actually tell us what the price If something is, so I made I have it framed on the wall just I'm looking at it. And it's it is ugly, ugly, ugly. Like, I skewed the image. So it looks like it was faxed incorrectly. And I misaligned everything. So look like someone from the office that just quickly filled out a form and said, Hey, this is your patient, they want this procedure. Please respond say how much it will cost, here's their budget, this kind of stuff. And we the hooked it up to an automated faxing services started sending it out if you know, even if we didn't get a price, we got a reaction. Goodness, that was a fun one. Because it was such an odd odd request that I had a blast making

Tim Bourguignon 20:49
this then this. And this is a hell of a testing. When you think about Google, Google design, we see stuff like this where you try to get as some working process as fast as you can. That's a perfect hack. Congratulation, you cannot do better. And even better if it's framed on your wall. That's me. That's Jerry.

Virginia Harrison 21:11
It is a treasured memory of how meticulous things were. Goodness, so much

Tim Bourguignon 21:18
fun. Oh, God, any other memory of the time.

Virginia Harrison 21:21
I don't know anything that's like professionally relevant. It was like a fantastic, fantastic time, like everybody who was there was wonderful, and not one of my co workers later on with Dr. Denise Gosnell, who you had as a guest before, but still buddies with everybody. I do remember when something that was super, super proud of was pretty pretty late in my stay with pocket doc was they put me on this project. And they said, Hey, Intel's got this thing called hyper ledger, excuse me, hyper ledger, sawtooth. And they are looking to make some sort of blockchain explorer thing and we want you to make an app that does it. And as a Oh, sure, okay. And I didn't, I don't know that I knew immediately that it was going to be just this solo thing. And they just kind of let me do what I do. But that was the most wonderful part of it is they gave me a lot of freedom for how it was gonna look and how it would work would work. And I find a lot of fun in presenting information in a way that people can digest, which is what draws me to UI work, still in video games, putting things on the screen in a way that people understand. And I don't know, I just had a really good time doing it by myself for you know, I don't know, it was just good. I liked it.

Tim Bourguignon 22:52
Then Then, my logical next question is, why did you leave?

Virginia Harrison 22:57
Um, so it was, it was just one of those things. I, I felt like it was time I had wanted to do something with video games for so long. And things with pocket got a little bit more. I guess the word is professionalized, but it was a bigger company, and they were doing, it was more like, you know, is more health care and less. You know, to me, we had a, we had all the technology sort of figured out and the rest of the journey, it seemed to me was like, convincing people that it worked, which is the most absurd thing, because we would run a transaction in front of somebody and say, Hey, this is your healthcare data. Right there. There it is. And it was a NAD looks fake. Like, no, we look, I don't understand. But you know, in it, so it just, it was more meetings and more things that I just wasn't interested in. And I express that I wanted to do something else. And, you know, it was, I was like, I'm kind of, I'm done. And they're like, well, what are you gonna do next? You're gonna do the video games thing. And I was like, I'm gonna do the video games thing. So yeah, exactly, goodness.

Tim Bourguignon 24:11
But just just a comment before we we change topic, when you say, professionalized itself, I have the the series of Silicon Valley in mind. And at some point in this series, there had to have a startup. And one of them introduces them to Scrum. And he had you see the face of one of the characters that's trying to understand this and the only comment he made is, ah, this just became a job.

Virginia Harrison 24:39
Yeah, that's what it felt like 100%

Tim Bourguignon 24:42
that's what I'm hearing.

Virginia Harrison 24:45
Here to come here to go sit in a meeting. I came here to make stuff and have a good time. And what is all this is there's a place for all this, but I don't I don't see myself in it.

Tim Bourguignon 25:03
That's that's also a nice way to quit saying, well, I understand there's this place for this, but I don't see myself in it at all.

Virginia Harrison 25:11
Yeah. Yeah, I think they had already kind of, I think I think they knew that she was having less fun. So we were like, yeah, it's probably it's probably time.

Tim Bourguignon 25:22
You'll sit you kind of knew it from the beginning, apparently. Yes, you leave at some point. Yeah. Okay. So So take us through these. This getting on your two feet? In the video game industry? What did you do? Where do you start? Would you just try? And what did work? What didn't work? And how did you go from there?

Virginia Harrison 25:43
Oh, gosh, there's a lot of things that didn't work. So I knew I, based on my knowledge of myself, like I had run small web design business through college and give me a little bit pocket change. And I knew that I was very happy working by myself. So I knew that I kind of wanted to start a company and have that be my direction and my vision for things. And I'm happy to just kind of bootstrap this thing until I'm ready to hire people. And so there wasn't really a question of like, where to go, I sort of had my mind set on is like, this is it. I'm starting a company, I'm gonna get an LLC, and I'm gonna figure out what on earth that means eventually. But yes, and then I just sat down and tried to make games and a lot of those games. I think, I think the most interesting challenge about game design that I don't really I didn't encounter before. And it's one of those things you take for granted, because it's so obvious is like, what is fun? What, what actually makes something fun? And how is the definition different between people. And I didn't entirely understand that until later. I'm not even sure that I understand it. Now. I think this just going to be one of those things that I chase for a very long time. And I made a lot of small projects that were not fun. It was like filing paperwork kind of stuff. I tend to worry about things, a lot of kind of a perfectionist streak. So every time, things didn't go well, I started really doubting and questioning myself. And this went on for longer than it ought to have gotten on. And one of the ways that I actually broke out of it was I was making things too complicated. And so I said, well, what's something I can do to just bust out of this awful, awful mire of corrosiveness that I had made for myself. And what it helped me was there are these small events, sometimes they're competitive, called game jams, where, yeah, very, very fun. You either go solo, or you have a team and just the goal is to make a game in a very short amount of time. Some of the more notable ones like ludum Dare are 48 hours, but some of them can be a week or two weeks. And these things they happen all the time. And so I called a good friend of mine who is a Yuki Okamura Wong, and she's a fantastic, fantastic, fantastic animator. And I'd asked I was like, I'm having a lot of trouble making art and sort of executing things. Would you be interested in making doing like a game jam with me? And she was like, Ah, yeah, sounds awesome. What What am I doing? And so I had the, walk her through a little bit of the technology. And she had to walk me through a little bit of the animation process. But it was a really nice way just to do something and be done with it instead of just being stuck with something for a very long time, which was the problem that I had made for myself. And I made a few more of those and sort of overtime on stuck just where I had the trench I had built for myself. Just making anything, I think was was really the thing into finish it was a massive boon. And do you continue developing nighters doing projects that are done sooner and maybe then build on top of it? Or did you change now that you've got your mojo back? How do you handle this nowadays, I'm kind of doing both. So what I'll do is I have a long running project in the background. That's sort of a some more ambitious undertaking that I'm doing by myself. And then every once in a while I'll call we've got a group of like, I think five So people who are miraculously down most of the time and I'm like, hey, do you want to do another one? And we're like, yeah, yeah. When we was this sort of Allison's about a penguin. It's like, Oh, I guess next one will be one about a dog. And then you know, this, this kind of stuff. And it's just like, it's just like, taking a breath of fresh air, and breaking things up and letting me mentally clear the buffer.

Tim Bourguignon 30:25
If that makes sense. It does. It does. And do you use this to test some ideas as well?

Virginia Harrison 30:31
Yeah, it's, um, as I said, like, just trying to find something that's fun, and testing different types of games like different genres, and seeing what works and what people respond to, like, there was the first one that we did actually did, we didn't finish because we had over scoped it. So that was a fun lesson to learn. But as time went on, and we started making more started understanding, like, this is how we choose our requirements. And this is how we would test like, do people respond to our kt games or do people which was, which was definitely the way to go for the short timeframe was something had something that had a lot of limits on it, which is also a really good thing to learn, I think, is if you have is the blank page problem, where you're just staring at it, like, I don't know what to do, I don't have any, but limits are very good for creativity.

Tim Bourguignon 31:33
That is very true, indeed. And it's a lesson that is very hard to learn. Because you have the feeling that you're you're limiting yourself that you're you're limiting the possibilities, you're you're removing things from the table. But you have to go through the process and in the end realize that, that it's it's it's opening. It's really freeing you.

Virginia Harrison 31:56
Yeah, exactly.

Tim Bourguignon 31:59
I'm, I would like to talk about the gaming further, but I have one burning question. How did you sustain yourself during this time? Did you sell your games? Did you continue doing something on the side? How did he did you handle that?

Virginia Harrison 32:15
So I had saved up I had seen a fair amount of money because I live had lived pretty minimally for the entirety of my stay at pocket doc. So I was able to save a good amount of money, and then started doing a little bit of design stuff on the side. But actually it worked out without having to go back to doing something. Something normal like a boring job, right? Yeah. One thing that I am not great at.

Tim Bourguignon 32:52
You seem to have found your your spot the plus, but you are particularly heavy. So So yeah. Could you do digging in there? That's the way it should be. How's it going in terms of sales nowadays? Which platforms are you? Are you selling? And? And is it How is it being a web developer or web game developer nowadays? I have no idea.

Virginia Harrison 33:18
Yeah, so honestly, I have not sold my first game yet. Okay, yeah. So it's still an ongoing, ongoing journey. I'm at like, the bottom of the I've been doing a lot of research and I have pitches drawn up and I'm gonna start talking to publishers, and then I'll be able to better answer that question later. Because it's a in the narrative, I'm, I think, late at two.

Tim Bourguignon 33:52
Okay. So fingers crossed. Yeah. You have a backlog of ideas that you want to try or things you want to put in the game someday and just don't fit in this. In this long running ambitious project. You hinted at?

Virginia Harrison 34:09
Yeah, more than more than I care to admit but a little some of those get exercise in the in the game jams. Um, yeah, tons, tons of ideas. And it's very difficult not to get distracted sometimes. Because even going outside I think everyone saw see something like, Oh my gosh, that's a good game. It's like, No, you have to finish the game. You're working outside of it. That's a really good game. Like carwash thought. My fiance turned to me and said, You really don't stop thinking about video games. I said, Look. This is this is my life.

Tim Bourguignon 34:44
I can relate to this. This is this is the thing I've been fighting for for the past years. Now that I have kids to be mindful and be present when I'm with them. And I all I am a nerd. I always have things running in my mind things about work, which is my passion and, and taking care of people. I've been speaking a lot about mentoring and doing a lot of mentoring, in the past years and racing, how can I help this person, not that person, and trying to be mindful and be in the moment is really, really hard. And you have to hack your brain to be able to, to, to juggle with this? With both words, I would say, well, it's so yeah, I understand what you're what Yeah,

Virginia Harrison 35:30
I definitely struggle with that goodness.

Tim Bourguignon 35:33
So what worked for me was kind of using the Getting Things Done idea. So whenever I have an idea, I really need to write it down. That kind of helps my brain to say, or to let go and say, okay, it's written down. It's in my book. I know, it's, it's there. I'm going to find it later. So I can let it go from now. And so it's been a it's been a process, teaching the family saying, well, when I'm playing with you, and suddenly I reach for my book and write something in there. It's not, it's to be more with you.

Virginia Harrison 36:07

Tim Bourguignon 36:09
it's not easy, but that's the way I can I can let go. And, and it kind of works for us. So yeah. Nice. So where do you see your job, your journey going? Doing bigger, better games doing more similar? Maybe more more relatable games? What what's what's your idea of, of your journey from now,

Virginia Harrison 36:33
the game is that resonate with me most are the ones that are smaller experiences, they're not these. While I do enjoy the sprawling triple A's sort of movie level things. I think the most interesting games, to me personally, are ones that do have the smaller scopes. And they're a very contained narrative. And they usually a pretty simple graphics, like I'll probably always do, I could, I could see doing 2d stuff for a long time, for example, because it's a very fast way to communicate ideas. I'm also pretty knowledgeable about it, especially after all the game jam things. But I think in the future, those are the experience I would like is just small, meaningful things rather than long, expansive, movie, like sort of 600 hours of playtime, I think, I think that they're running a little, I don't know, I value time. And I think it's more meaningful to do something quickly that you can think about than getting too deep in it.

Tim Bourguignon 37:43
Absolutely, thank you. I struggle with my, my time. And so once in a while, pick a game and I will just play through it during a week. And that's it. And I really need to, to get done with it. And so I'm tending to go for smaller games, when I can really play in a couple of sessions. And then then I'm done. And having the experience something interesting, I was put the settings on the hardness or the logical lead complexity, you know...

Virginia Harrison 38:12

Tim Bourguignon 38:14
difficulty level exactly, to the lowest ever, just to be sure that I get the story and I get, I get the the experience of going through it but not struggling with it, I just need to get done with it. And so

Virginia Harrison 38:27
that's the same way that I play games is I just want to see, I want to see what sort of the vision behind it was. And I don't want to be necessarily interrupted, especially if it is a narrative game. There are some games that I play for difficulty but it's very, it's a limited selection.

Tim Bourguignon 38:43
Do you have some some special stories you want to tell? So some emotions, you want to transmit something special that you you want to get

Virginia Harrison 38:51
a lot of those stories that I enjoy are about sort of identity and community and communication in general, I think it would be nice to make people feel comfortable in their own skin. I think that's, you know, it's a sometimes people don't fit in certain molds. And the games that I would like to make, I would like to just, you don't have to think about that stuff. This is a place where we can explore other things. But I would like games that are going to be welcoming and kind of accepting of, of all the weirdness that comes with being humans.

Tim Bourguignon 39:34
And I think video games are a particularly interesting medium for that. Being able to, to get a story and people react to stories, in many ways, but stories have been there for for centuries. And so it's definitely something that's that belongs to to humanity, and but also being able to influence stories and see how how you react to the story changes toward when you do something, I think that's that's a particular medium that is very interesting. And that kind of helps in getting to getting at New emotions and new state of minds. So I think you've got something

Virginia Harrison 40:15
there. Yeah, I definitely, definitely agree it is a very unique, medium and endlessly fascinating to me for that reason. And I think, I think as soon as you've got the player talking about something like I did something instead of the character did something, it's both ways are very interesting ways of telling stories, but I think video games are truly uniquely suited for that sort of self exploration.

Virginia Harrison 40:44
yeah, it's, it's very fascinating way to create art and to create experiences and actually have that input and influence from the viewer, which, in other mediums, it's a bit more passive.

Tim Bourguignon 40:58
And sometimes, it's really a little the little things. I remember playing the Telltale Games, I think it was the walking dead. Yeah. And the game itself was was really good. But what's really hit me was this statistic at the end, during the game, you had to, to to make some decisions, and sometimes you had to to save one person or the other. And at the end of the game, they will show you some statistics and say something like 20% of the players chose the same purse to save the same person that you did. And 80% chose the other one, or the 50 5050 chose this path or this path. And, and reflecting on this was just mind boggling. See, okay, I had the choice between saving a little girl or an old man. And I chose the little girl and 80% would go for the yellow one. And it's just, it was well, yeah, see the world differently?

Virginia Harrison 41:58
Yes, I think what is actually a suit another super interesting thing about games is sometimes there's context missing, that is informed by the player's life that isn't necessarily reflected or expected by the developers is, you show you made that choice for a specific reason, because of who you are, and what you've seen and done in your life. And I think it's fascinating that maybe that 80% had a different thought in mind for why like, I don't know, it's, it's, again, like very, very unique to video games, that we could explore this sort of interesting social interaction without having to be in danger in that moment,

Tim Bourguignon 42:45
you know? Absolutely. I wouldn't want to face zombies.

Virginia Harrison 42:48
No, absolutely.

Tim Bourguignon 42:52
We never know what the next girl and I is going to be. Coming back to more lighter topics. Thank you very much for for creating such games and helping us explore our feelings and emotions and life. Yeah, that's, that's very great of you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Um, do you have any any advice in retrospect, how someone could get into maybe this this this gaming industry, but it's a bit loaded? Question. When I say gaming industry, I would say more, exploring this creativity and art that goes into video games, someone would want to go in this direction, what would be your advice to them?

Virginia Harrison 43:40
Probably, I would say your experiences in life are interdisciplinary. It's not, nothing is ever one thing. So you can take advice and listen to people who have been in tech technology and these sort of career fields. But it really pays to talk to other people who do other things. Like I've received a lot of good advice and counsel from writers and from artists and from people all over the board. Neither of my parents were necessarily in technology fields, but some of the best advice I could get came from them and their perspectives that were that were vastly vastly different than mine were. And I think Giving that a shot and listening to something that's not you will pay off. Especially if you're looking to create creatively express yourself. Because it's life is a very complicated thing. And you need as much experience as you can that isn't going to come from your own life.

Tim Bourguignon 44:45
Amen to that and bigger for diversity. In every way we can get thank you for the advisors fair, very wise. Thanks. So, um, where could the listeners continue discussion with you,

Virginia Harrison 45:01
I believe probably the best spot that has the most collected information is going to be on Twitter. Me personally is Jenny, the cat spelled like my name G and I. And if you're looking for my business, it would be wayward AI is the tag on Twitter. And that'll link to that a link to everything else.

Tim Bourguignon 45:27
Okay, so these two links to the show notes, and plus maybe a couple other ones. We'll see. We'll see.

Virginia Harrison 45:33

Tim Bourguignon 45:34
Awesome. Gini, thank you very much for sharing your story. That was fantastic. Getting your insight. Thank you very much.

Virginia Harrison 45:41
Thank you. Thank you for having me on and making time to chat with me. I enjoyed it very much.

Tim Bourguignon 45:46
But that was really cool. And this has been another episode of dev journey. And we'll see each other next week. Bye. Sponsor: Even though we developers learn all year long, I still think about September as the back to school time. This time, I am focusing on my Python skills. Dev journey guest number 94 Michael Kennedy is gifting five of you Dear listeners, he's heightened for absolute beginners course to enter the raffle and maybe win one of these five keys. Subscribe to the dev journey newsletter at dev journey dot info slash news during September 2020, and we will pick a winner each week. Good luck.