The Best of the Best of the Best
There were not many jobs for hackers in the hard sciences. I would have to get a Phd in one of those fields. That meant an investment of years, and a risky one at that. As I did more research I figured out that scientific careers were surprisingly similar to artistic ones, meaning that you had to be the best of the best of the best to get a job, and thereafter you would be forever treated like shit.
There were jobs for enterprise web developers, but I was yearning for something more exotic. Something to really push myself. I still wanted to use the computer as a musical instrument, but I had seen how hard the real-time aspect of it was. I tried to find areas where I could become competent with real-time data, other than the commercially irrelevant discipline of algorithmic music performance. I discovered three exciting industries as possibilities; defense, games, and finance.
I considered the defense option first. The DoD was spending like crazy as the Iraq war began. Of course, I was completely opposed to the war. But I now saw opposing it as an individual to be futile and stupid. I felt that even though I might have to do unethical things, that they would be justified by the learning that would happen along the way. Besides, if you refuse to push the button they just get someone else to do it.
Of course, there were more serious obstacles than ethics. Between my poor health, my subversive political background, and my increasingly regular marijuana use, there was no way I would get a security clearance. Even if I could, I was afraid of losing my autonomy. In the military you don’t get to make your own decisions, and following orders isn’t really my thing.
So I considered working in the game industry. Game programming tapped all of my interests in art, science and engineering. It appealed to my metaphysical instincts, and it seemed like a great way to develop my computer skills.
But I quickly figured out that the game industry is populated by gamers. I have nothing against gamers but I can’t call myself one. I like to play games but I can’t carve out the time for them like I can for coding and politics and music and a whole bunch of other stuff.
I’m no better of a gamer than I am a soldier.