Friday, February 6, 2009

Survivor's Guilt

This week was a pretty darn rough one. As someone was very quick to post on Stratics, we've just been through a substantial round of layoffs. Not just at the Mythic studio, but throughout EA. It's one thing when you hear the statistics, see some random dude bawling his eyes out on the news after getting laid off, but when it happens right in front of you to people you know and care about, it's a whole different ball game.

There's a number of things that go through your mind while what feels almost like apocalypse comes crashing down. At first, it's the panic: OMG, what will I do if it's me? Where will I go? How will I meet my obligations? Then it's the denial/rationalization: nah, it won't be me because (insert reason here)... Then the ugly finger pointing: if any one needs to be let go, it should be (insert name here) because (insert argument here). And then the list of casualties starts popping out, and each time you see one of the bosses walking towards you, your heart skips a beat and you pray that they will keep walking. Please let it be someone else... And when it turns out to be someone else, you struggle with relief, sorrow, sympathy and guilt.

When all has been said and done, the victims aren't just the ones who got laid off. The ones left behind are too, especially in a more family-type studio where a lot of people have been together for years and many actually are married couples or relatives/siblings. Not only did many of use lose long time friends but a lot of us also feel guilty that we were "spared" because we have less obligations, don't have families to support, don't have as much seniority, etc.

But life goes on. You resume your daily routine but the absence of those who left is felt even more strongly. It's not just the loss of the camaraderie, but also their contribution, that extra weight they used to carry that you now have to shoulder. All those things you always took for granted and now you're like errr... And it gives you a renewed appreciation for them. Too bad it's when they're gone.

I take the party to count my blessings. I still have a job I love, with an amazing team. I've seen how devastated our leaders were going through this painful process and how determined they are to make sure this doesn't happen again. A lot of studios shutdown but we weathered that storm. Way I see it, it's up to us to make sure our buddies will a home to come back to when the sky clears in a hopefully not too distant future.

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