Now that Helene and I have been in Edmonton for three weeks, the question I get from my family and most of my friends is, naturally: how do you find it?
It’s a question I haven’t had the chance to fully figure out yet. Edmonton is definitely not a city that makes a strong first impression, compared to say, Shanghai or even San Francisco. And work-wise, I’m still new and figuring things out, and most definitely in my “honeymoon period”.
But with that in mind, how is it? It’s pretty good. Prettyyy, pretty good.
Work-wise, I have to admit: BioWare is a good studio. I’m impressed by the stories I hear of working there, and by the people I work with. It’s not all rosy and some projects are difficult, but people here, from HR to programmers, all care deeply about making good games. They want to work together, and they’re absolutely open to working out problems. There’s a laid-back yet hard-working energy at play in the studio. I like it, and I feel I get to contribute to a great studio.
City-wise, well… As my colleague and (new) friend Dorian puts it: “I expected to hate it, but to my surprise, I’m rather neutral towards it.” Neutral is a good description; it really ain’t that bad. I expected a big Western Canada Laval, but Edmonton is (thankfully) more complex than that. People are very, very nice here, and seem open-minded and curious. The city does have an overabundance of shopping centers, and there isn’t all that much to do in the evening, but we’re finding our own comforts and settling in surprisingly quickly.
Sure, there’s the -40 C weather and the unbearably long roads without sidewalks; but there’s also the little shops on Whyte Ave., and the people such as my next-door neighbor who set up his telescope on the night of the lunar eclipse so everyone entering the building could get a peak at it. In all my years of living in Montreal, I never knew my neighbors. That has to count for something, right?
I can’t say I prefer Edmonton to Montreal, because I don’t. But it seems to me that the combination of work and the city might actually be worthwhile. Combined together, they’re giving me a purpose and a sense of belonging that I find quite appealing right now.
Let’s see how it turns out once the honeymoon period is over!