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“Dad, can we go on vacation?”

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“Dad, can we go on vacation?”

Santi, my little four year old son, has been insistently repeating this question in recent weeks. In early January we went on vacation to the wonderful area of Lake Vichuquén and the experience was so meaningful to him that since he returned to the big city he wants to go back on vacation.

Vichuquén Lake
Vichuquén Lake is about 300 kilometers south west of Santiago, and it is surrounded of incredibly beautiful forests and small towns.

Although we had already gone on vacation in previous years, apparently this year was the first time Santi realized that holidays were a special and milestone important in his life. At his young age, he just realized that during those couple of weeks a lot of things he loved occurred around him:

  • mom and dad did not have to go to the office
  • his older brother did not go to school, and his baby sister did not go to the nursery
  • he did not go to the kinder garden
  • and even more important: we all traveled together to a gorgeous place where he had the chance to run, play, swim, sail and eat nice food.

How is he not going to be eager to repeat it?

Work and Environment

“I dream of arriving to the office in the morning and sitting down to work looking through the window at grazing cows and sheep”

Several friends and co-workers have heard me saying something like that.

I’ve spent most of my entire life in Santiago, a city where every year there are fewer green areas and, of course, it is impossible to see cows, sheep, or any animal of the country. I studied here, I grew up here, I’ve risen my children here and I work here.

However, I do not like living in a city like Santiago. Noise, pollution, traffic jams, people’s high levels of stress, lack of empathy among neighbors, large buildings and real estate companies that devastate neighborhoods, are some of the reasons that make me think of leaving this city.

I also do not like working in Santiago. First, I feel that a place like this promotes stress and decreases the quality of life of those who live here. But also, I feel that game development, like other creative industries, requires an environment with more harmony and balance, an environment conducive to creativity.

In fact, despite what most people believe, videogames are much more than a computer program. Videogames are a creative expression, a manifestation of what a group of game developers think, feel and imagine. Games are an artistic work conceived for the purpose of accomplishing something, an objective: entertain others, convey a message or express an idea.

So I have always felt that big cities, filled with concrete and “civilization”, do not favor the creative work at all, but rather hurt it. And I have the strong impression that I am not the only one who thinks and feels this way.

santiago pollution
Cities like Santiago, packed of concrete and “civilization”, are environments that, in my opinion, do not favor any kind of creative process.

So why do I work in Santiago?

When we started with Wanako Games in 2003, the only reasonable option for the company was to start in Santiago. There was no professional game development industry in Chile, and the country’s capital city was the best alternative to build the strongest business relationships and connectivity with the rest of the world.

Fortunately, in the following years, more game companies have appeared in Chile and, with a slightly more consolidated industry, some of these new companies took the challenge to come away from the capital. Currently, around 20% of the video game studios in Chile are not in Santiago.

Valdivia, Concepción, Valparaiso and Viña del Mar are some of the beautiful cities in which the video game industry is making headway. While some of these cities are also large and share many issues with Santiago, they are not as pronounced and there is a better balance between “civilization” and the “humanity” of the place.

Someday, I hope to move to any of those and leave forever this concrete jungle.

(continues on next page…)

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Juan Pablo Lastra

Juan Pablo makes videogames since he was 8 and he is a father since 2004. Today, he has three children and he has worked in more than 20 videogames. He got interested on how paternity and the videogame industry are related and he decided to write about it, founding "Papa Game Dev"

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