New Life

On December 1st 2015, I will be celebrating 10 years at PlayStation. This has been the most rewarding period of my professional life. I have had personal highs and lows and the company has supported me throughout. The last few years in particular have brought so many professional highs, that it’s been hard to take it all in.

So it might surprise you to learn that I’m planning on leaving this wonderful company. Some will want to know why, and some will want to know what it means to developers and to the amazing Strategic Content team that I will be leaving behind. Let’s start with the latter.

Strategic Content will continue. There are no plans to change anything. Our approach to developers will also be unchanged. We have many talented people across the board who work tirelessly to support developers in bringing their videogames to PlayStation. Leaving this company has been the hardest decision of my career, because I get to work with the most dedicated, friendly and inspiring people in the business. So why am I doing this? Why leave when things are going so well?

I want to make games again. I stopped being a developer around a quarter of a century ago and have seen so many changes since then, with most of the exciting ones happening in the last few years. I want to be part of that. It’s that simple. The team at PlayStation, while sad to see me go, completely understands my desire. I am privileged to enjoy their support.

I’d love to keep in touch with you as I start my new life in December and as always, you can reach me on Twitter (@shahidkamal), where I will continue to be a friend of PlayStation, its partners and its fans.

Always Believe In

“Nothing left to make me feel small
Luck has left me standing so tall”

Name that song. And if you don’t know it, first hand, as if it was being sung right in your teenage face, just for you and only you, you can’t know the joy I feel being able to unselfconsciously blast this into my untethered headphones as I am carried home on the jammed A40 feeling the wistful pangs of love for a city I loved so differently as a child.

If I were ever to karaoke, it would be to this. All gay abandon and an infinitely unfettered trail of carefree consequences.

“Always believe in”


I think I need a break. I don’t mean a holiday. I mean a break. Doing something radically different. Not as long as a sabbatical, but not as short as a fortnight in the sun. A boot camp for a physical and mental skill in a totally unfamiliar environment.

Like a rock tour after a fortnight of woodshedding, something like that. Ever get that feeling?

The Box

I was never any good at thinking outside the box, but that didn’t bother me because there is so much stuff inside the box that I find interesting and that plenty of other people can’t be bothered with. That said, I think it’s time I changed the shape of the box.

There Is So Much More Than Darkness

I wasn’t always a moaner. I wasn’t always cynical and angry. 

I loved to read. I loved to play football. I loved being the best at English and maths and reading and spelling and I loved being top of the class.

I didn’t know anything about arrogance. I didn’t know anything about hatred or revenge or “us” and “them”. I didn’t know about hurtful smackdowns, then of course, nobody knew the word “smackdown” in the early 1970s. Or at least I didn’t. I didn’t know anything about fear, or terror or being beaten up for being brown. I didn’t know anything about foul language and using it to hurt others as to my shame, I did.

I learned all these things. I learned all these things because I was taught them. I used them myself as a defence mechanism and sometimes, as a survival mechanism. My life did not improve. I did not find any joy. I found others like me, but I also found others who saw potential in me way beyond, no, above my station. After decades, I listened to those better, calmer voices that wanted to lift me above the filth of sordid battle where nobody knows who the pigs are anymore because we’re all covered in shit.

So I got better. I stopped moaning (as much). I looked for the good in myself and in others. I gave. I gave. I gave. I forgave. I grew. 

There is already too much division. There is already too much polarisation. There is way too much hatred and misunderstanding and knee-jerk self-righteous indignation.

There is already too much finger-pointing and justification and calls for retribution, but like scratching an itch, it feels better for an instant; and then you scratch and scratch and scratch and suddenly it’s not about the itch anymore, but your bleeding, scabby skin that’s infected and threatening to take your arm or leg to the morgue to be buried with all the other victims of hate, all of whom, under the skin of whatever colour, bled the same red.

The only responses worthy of our consideration are those responses human beings of all races, of all backgrounds, of all religions — and none — have already spilled their blood for. This is not a time for hypocrisy, this is a time for our highest values. For justice. For peace. For inclusion. For balance. For harmony. For understanding. For fairness. For gentleness. For kindness. For healing. For love.

And not just this time, but every time. No matter what. Always return. Always seek out the light. It is always there. If we see only darkness, then let’s open our eyes because my God! There is so much more than darkness. 

I Smile

I jog past a colleague outside the office, pausing for a moment only to apologise for not being able to stop to chat, because I have a train to catch. I always played things by ear and even as recently as autumn, I would have stopped. There was always another bus.

I stand patiently in line at Oxford Circus to buy a ticket to the suburbs, just outside London. I don’t have a pass because my last weekly one expired as I continue to optimise my commuting expenditure. I note that I’m trading a non-renewable resource, my time, to save a bit of renewable resource, my cash.

Skipping down the escalator I keep repeating my mantra, “stay patient”. Arriving at the crowded platform, I read my book for a minute and when the tube arrives, I continue for another few minutes, standing, of course, being jostled, forcing myself to smile because the alternative would just be miserable.

At the inter city rail station, I scan the departure board for the train times. I missed my preferred train by one minute. I don’t curse as I used to. Jogging to the holding area, well, not quite jogging, more a fast shuffle, like the undead on uppers, I find the optimum position for scanning the TV monitor for the platform announcement. Like sprinters, poised, we hope to catch the ‘b’ of the bang as the frame with the platform number appears. It appears. I’m on the move.

Speed-shuffling to the train, I suppress the joy of the small victory of a double seat that will remain singly occupied for the duration of my journey.

I read my book. It was a gift from a man who I respect, admire and like an awful lot.

As I meditate on my status as a commuter, taking small pleasure in trivial trip optimisations and feeling the merest twinge of grief at the most minor inconveniences, I feel also a prick of cognitive dissonance when I look at the title of the book, which is “Punk Rock – An Oral History”

I was once that teenager into punk, who swore he’d never become a commuter.

I smile.

Cmd-Z in Safari

I just closed a tab in Safari on my MacBook and just out of idle curiosity tried ⌘-Z (the default Mac keystroke for “undo”). To my complete surprise and delight, Safari reopened the tab I just closed. Even better, history is preserved when you undo.

I’ve just started mucking around with Unity too, and there are a couple of keyboard shortcuts you should be aware of in the Mac version that I find time-saving. The first is ⌘-P to play the current scene. The other is ⌘-Backspace to delete an object.

Finally, if the cursor keys are a bit of a reach for you, then I discovered this useful list of emacs-based keyboard shortcuts that can be used in any Mac OS X text field. I find Ctrl-A and Ctrl-E particularly useful.