Almost half-way through yet another year, and the Deans are crazy busy as usual. This month Sinead and Sean both go on holiday to California (but at different times), while I go on business trips - not so unusual there you might think, except that one trip was for a few days in Hawaii! So we decided that we would pay the extra for Elaine to come too, so she could get a break while I was working. I won't pretend that it was a hardship, we were very lucky to have this opportunity and grabbed it with both hands.
Birthday season continued with Elaine's birthday - Joe was back from college that weekend and we all went out for breakfast. I took Elaine away to San Francisco for a long weekend and we had a great time walking around the City, but especially a wine tour of Napa valley on a coach trip. (Of course I tried this a couple of years ago, when I took her on a surprise trip to Calistoga, but it didn't turn out to be the romantic getaway I had hoped for! Jump back to April 2010 if you need a reminder! This time we did have a nice weekend!
Joe continues to enjoy life at Utah State, and we went to see him in a guitar ensemble, plus he was performing in a few other events up there. Sinead looks like she'll be leaving the job at the tanning salon - it's not working out as she had hoped, and she has given it a good try. She does work hard. Sean bought his own first car this month - first step towards building his own line of credit in the hopes he can get a house in the coming year. His new job for Wizards of The Coast seems to be going really well.
It seemed as if we waited forever for Winter to come along - we had some snow, the occasional dump of the fluffy white stuff from above, but nothing with the persistency of the last few years; snow would fall, melt then come again a few days later. March started off as if Winter had finally woken up -- huge dumps of snow for the first few days - enough that I could finally use the snow plow! Yay! It has been used so little this Winter that I had to jump start the darn thing when I finally needed it in anger!
Of course March starts the birthday season in the Dean household - Joe and Sinead turned 20 this month. They have grown into such wonderful young adults, we couldn't be more proud. We did the birthday morning by Skype, like we did last year, as Joe was up at USU in Logan. He drove home later on his birthday and we did his present opening then.
A week later and Sean turned 24; really pleased that he has a new job doing tech support for Magic The Gathering, a card game and online game that he is quite the expert at. It has given him a real sense of purpose, which is great to see.
Elaine continues to study for her exams (I really dont know how she does it - works stupid long hours at her veterinary clinic job, studies every evening for 3 hours, tends to the cats and dog, gets to bed late, gets up early... rinse and repeat). She worries like crazy about the exams, they're getting harder and harder. But she will do well - she always does.
At EA, we continue to reorganize, a state we seem to have been in for the past year in my part of the business. The work is great - leading edge freemium game development for mobile and social games - a great mixture of the business and the creative and I'm loving being responsible for two studios - EA Salt Lake and EA North Carolina (even though its on the other side of the Country and I spend a week there each month). Overall the organization above me has been in turmoil, but signs are that the new leadership is strong and we finally have a solid focus. It means further cancellations at my studios, which I have to manage very carefully and try to keep my people seeing the glass as half full.
I don't know how many times my monthly summaries reference the busy pace of life we seem to have, but it doesn't seem to slow down! For Elaine and the twins, it was exams and studying. For Sean, starting a new job. For me, life at EA continued to be a frenzy of re-organization, and some more tense times around the potential of project cancellations and job losses. Seems like a constant theme each year, and it's getting very tiring.
One big highlight this month that really helped solidify not only my studios, but also my own standing within the company, was the launch of my first mobile phone game - Monopoly Hotels. A gamble in many ways for EA and for Hasbro, it is a free game - yes! Free to play. Players can pay money (called micro-transactions) to get faster advancement in the game, but we expect that 99% of our players wont ever pay us a dime. That said, those who do pay (in theory) pay us enough to justify the costs. The game is also new in that it's a live service - eg we update the game every week with new features, to keep players engaged. On its opening weekend, it became the #1 game globally on iPhones and iPads. The work I have been doing for the past year, the gamble the company has been making, had a great start. We're now officially at the forefront of a revolution in our industry. It's exciting, and risky as hell! And I'm travelling more than ever!
Incredible to believe but it's 13 years this month since I came over to Salt Lake City and started working, while Elaine was back in England looking after the kids (ages 11, 7 and 7), packing up the house in Burbage and otherwise doing all the hard work of getting the family unit relocated to Utah. We described it back then as our American adventure - we didn't know if it would last, and told ourselves we would give it two years. As ever life has thrown us a few curved balls and time has gone by in a blink of an eyelid, but looking back we're glad we took that first big step and have enjoyed living in the States. Every month we have been here I tried to keep this website as a diary of our lives - which soon became too much work -- and in these days of Facebook its more of a photo gallery now - but I have maintained it and it's fun to see how far we have come and the adventures we have had in our time here. Click on some of the other months and you can look back too.