I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count how many times I’ve been asked this in incredulity. In fact, just a few hours after new year’s, it happened again. You see, even if deep down Irish are proud of their heritage and their idiosyncrasy, most of the time they just make fun of it. I’m sure there is a more serious research in this matter than my empiric evidence, but my opinion is that this is a symptom of their complex struggle with the U.K. in the past. A long series of episodes that left deep scars that manifest in all form of insecurities, dealt with their best weapon: humor.
I often prescribe as an antidote to those who ask me to take a stroll outside of Europe and U.S.A., where they will probably discover Ireland is in a MUCH better position than they give it credit for, in many areas. That’s not to say the country is not going through a hard time, but they compensate this crisis with so many amazing qualities.
Of course I didn’t know this before I came here, so why did I choose Dublin? My relationship with Ireland started more than 15 years ago through the Irish language (again, something any Irish would probably find strange). I found myself fascinated with this romanticized-juvenile image of the country, and for a while I got addicted to it’s music and myths. That passion subsided as I grew up (as most beautiful things do), but another interest of mine never did: video games.
After studying Audiovisual Media it was time to get SERIOUS with video games. With a tight budget I studied my options and, surprisingly, I found myself considering an old friend as a destiny, again.
Game Development education was much less expensive in Ireland than in most countries that offered it.
More importantly, it was an option that people rarely considered when moving out for education -at least in my country- and rather than dissolving among thousands of others newcomers trying to break in into the industry in a huge city as New York, I thought it was more clever to follow P.J. Harvey’s advice and move to a smaller, less popular site that still had a lively community.
It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever taken.
What Ireland gave me
Dublin wasn’t AT ALL what I expected it to be. People rarely spoke Irish, in fact they cared little about it, it was less greener than I imagined, beer wasn’t super cheap and, drunk mates, well, were not always ha-ha fun.
It is a small, multicultural city with a strange Georgian-Gothic-Modern mix going on and a strong class “separation” in some areas. It’s a city of shades all concentrated and packed up in a relatively tiny portion of land, a place where you walk by and in the same block you can feel and see the aggressive ups and downs of a country that has gone through heaven and hell in a short period of time.
It’s very hard to describe, but this was far more fascinating than my stupid folk expectations.
And then there’s its people.
Let me get out of the way first that I’m incredibly proud of being Venezuelan and I’m in love with what my country used to be. Sadly, apart from my friends and family, my homeland feels like a strange place now filled with unfamiliar faces that I no longer understand.
In 2013 I lost hope, I felt betrayed and frustrated. I didn’t feel like there was a place for me in my own country and that despite the fact that most of my compatriots were doing far, far worse than me, they still embraced our horrible situation. I was a stranger.
I also felt alienated for a while in the Game Development department. Granted, I wasn’t in the right social circles for many years, but I had met a few people that desired to make games just like me and felt demotivated for a myriad of reasons.
Things have changed and now I understand we had the tools to follow that dream by ourselves, but the context was less than favorable.
I’m not Irish, but I’ve rarely felt so much part of something as I do now. I’m incredibly lucky to have chosen and been accepted into this country among many others. That cold attitude that’s expected from a lot of people from the north, that usually clashes with our south-american affection, Irish don’t have it.
They are among the most friendly, joyful, loyal and funny human beings I’ve ever met. In fact, all things given, they are very similar to Venezuelans.
Because not only are we equally loud and share a love for the pints, we also try to get the best out of the worst by the means of a joke and a smile.
A couple of days ago I read a post from a Venezuelan friend that lives in another country in Europe and was complaining about the arrogance and bitterness of game developers where he lives. I was shocked by this comment.
I’ve been even more fortunate in this area. The Game Development community in Ireland is small but growing stronger and stronger every month. I think 2013 was a particularly amazing year for it and this one is going to be even more promising!
Everyone is willing to help each other, to lend a hand, a word, a space, a pat in the back. It’s a tight, humble and pure group that makes you feel welcome and wants you to get better at what you do, so we all become more awesome.
The contact with these boys and girls has taught me more than whatever I’ve learned from the institutes I’ve been in and has given me back the hope I lost a year ago.
I love them and I’m infinitely thankful for their support and friendship.
So, yes. I’m not Irish, but I’m an #IrishGameDev. That’s how I feel. That’s the best gift I was given.
I hope that someday in my country, when we get our heads out of the ugly mess we’re into, we can look up at everything that’s happening in the globe around us and be able to look for the same personal goals with less fear and hatred in our hearts.