Any YoYo Games users reading this will have more than likely read the website’s latest glog entry, on a job offering to work within Game Maker at the YYG Office in Dundee full time. I know for some of you, it’s a very tempting offer – a full time wage to use Game Maker! I also know that for most of the tempted ones, the “big thing” that’s holding you back is the need to relocate to Dundee, Scotland.
This is a blog entry to try and convey exactly what I went through, and still do, having done that relocation from a quiet village in eastern England to the city centre of a Scottish city. It will be a little similar to a previous glog entry, I Would Drive 500 Miles (Nearly), though that was written just six days after I arrived and five after I’d started work. I’ve now been here nearly seven months.
I won’t lie, the relocation is hard. If you’re close to your parents (I am) and your relatives, friends and pets (again, yes), it’s a little difficult at first. But MSN, Skype, or even just your everyday telephone alleviates that quite significantly. There’s also the travelling to Dundee with your belongings – by train works if you don’t have to bring too much, though without the car space of my dad’s Ford Mondeo I would’ve had to shed 90% of what I did end up bringing. If you’re not within Great Britain you’ll probably have to factor in a plane too. These aren’t hugely expensive; a return train ticket this Christmas from Dundee to my home village (450 miles each way), bought two weeks in advance, cost me £100 (about $150 or €150, I’d guess. Don’t quote me on that). This was without any special discounts, just the fact I bought in advance. Plenty of websites will let you gauge the fares of whichever method of transport you think you’d end up taking.
Dundee itself is a very nice city. It’s far from a massive metropolis, but it has everything you need. There’s about six different Tesco supermarkets, including a nice large one by the River Tay and a Tesco Metro (the store I use weekly) within the city centre, essentially a half-sized Tesco which has everything you need to live off, just a bit less of it. There are three malls in the city centre with everything from clothes shops to Argos (for those unfamiliar, it’s like Amazon.com but a shop of it) to Starbucks. They vary in “quality”, with the Overgate being predominantly full of well-known brands while The Forum (I think that’s its name) seems to be more leaning towards independently owned shops. Both have a Gregg’s bakery. For pubs, Japanese supermarkets and pretty much any mainstream chain you can think of that operates in Britain, Dundee is more than adequate.
On the entertainment side of things, I haven’t done much research, but there’s a large, swanky Odeon cinema and Dundee Megabowl, with its 36 or so bowling alleys, pool tables, arcade area and a little Wimpy’s segment so you can stay in the place for several hours and let the fast food bit cover a meal. Both of those are a couple of miles away from the city centre, but it’s only around £10 both ways for a taxi. If you’re a fan of sightseeing, Dundee is great. There are a number of points of interest (it’s the “City of Discovery”, y’know!) including the permanently anchored RRS Discovery ship and the McManus Gallery, which includes some DMA Design-related tidbits from Russell and Mike (including a collection of Mike’s old business cards!).
Weather is a common complaint, and is fairly understandable. Being up north, and part of the UK in the first place, it can be pretty cold. It doesn’t rain a huge amount though – certainly no more than England. There was some very heavy and disruptive snowfall this year, which also caused one instance of the rare but cool thundersnow, and at least one day when every road was like a giant footpath. I’ve been told by Russell that it’s the worst case of snow Dundee has seen in decades; it isn’t regularly snow-coated here. But generally, if you own a coat (hypocritical of me, I know, given I don’t!) and you didn’t live in a permanent sauna before, you’ll be fine.
Last part I should probably get to mentioning, and probably the most important too, is the job itself. The next thing I’m going to say, I have to reiterate is 100% my own words. I’ve not been told to say this, I’m not lying, and I’m not doing anyone any favours. I absolutely love the job. I’m getting paid a very liveable salary to do what I spent seven and a half years of my life prior to starting doing for nothing. When help is needed with something I have some very experienced and very friendly people all around willing to give it. It is just an amazing atmosphere. Casual, but not jokey. Productive, but not overly-serious and not strenuous.
Yes, the distance from home is a bit of a kick in the balls. Yes, I miss my daft cats, and my little bedroom in the little quiet English village. But can I go back for a visit whenever I want? Yes. Is it a great city I’m in with plenty of convenience and friendly citizens? Yes.
And do I love my job? F**k yes.