After 8 years, I'm leaving San Francisco. I am hesitant to write, because my perspective seems to belong in an alternate reality. Compared to other meaningful issues being discussed, mine are not fully represented. I am not a political activist, I am not a socialist, I am not a capitalist, I am not a venture capitalist, I am not a venture-backed founder, and I do not enjoy the extreme narratives in the United States. Then I remember that this is not medium.com — I own this platform, and I should write.
If you don't know me, my career energy unlocks for one thing: I like to make websites. In fact, I love making websites. In 2000, I discovered a cyberspace equivalent of your friendly neighborhood game shop. The platform was more focused than mIRC and ICQ, and prominent during the years before OpenRPG and Python 1.0. I still remember joy from running NetZero in San Rafael, California and participating in a multiplayer role-playing session using Returner's FFRPG for 4 hours before someone realized why the telephone line was busy.
Experiences on the internet can teach you that context, forms, and narratives will shape your reality. On the internet, anyone can create a multi-user space to experience this. Some multiplayer platforms become personally valuable because they become a refuge. The awakening is when you realize that the pain you experience in one world does not have to permeate into the other, or vice versa. For many reasons, in 2010, I was determined to work in this domain. I told everyone that if you wanted to build the future of software for creators and immersive worlds, there was only one place to do it, and that was San Francisco. I moved here in 2012. Fast forward to 2021, I've worked with 7+ founders here. What a privilege — that I've gotten to live here without working for Big Tech/FANGS while still retaining my love for the craft. I am surprised, especially in the current climate, that I desire to leave San Francisco only to stay at home somewhere else.
World-building is a unique craft. Today, there are brand name experiences and individuals that soak up the majority of our attention. When you read the credits, you realize just how much talent contributes to every project. To name a few: you need writers, software developers, 3D designers, audio engineers, choreographers, symbol & language scholars, and the frequent drive-by drop of genius. Want a compelling world? You need a diverse team representing as much of the world as possible. The work itself invites the best principles in us. Geographically, where does this world-building ecosystem exist today? In San Francisco, are we just ravenous misery hunters chasing pre-whale-fall conglomerates? I wonder which urban environment is optimal to produce artistic specialization. If I seek to find the infectious passion to shape a new romantic context through craft, the modern Medici family, where do I go? Adopting a cynical perspective, it's certainly not San Francisco, but it's painful for me to be comfortable with a cynical worldview in the place that I call home.
I am grateful for everything, and optimistic about the future of San Francisco in some distant future. Perhaps with the departures and apartment vacancies, the next generation of talented youth will come and fix the problems that prevent this city from reaching its true potential. See you around, friends.
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