James

About ten months ago, during the summer of 2012, my employers were contacted by The Willow Foundation. A young chap called James was suffering from liver cancer and wanted to visit the creators of the Total War franchise. We were delighted to help and prepared a day for him to remember; you can read about it here.

A couple of months ago we learned that he’d succumbed to the cancer. At the time he visited, he was about to discover whether or not the cancer was inoperable. I have a role in recruitment; on the day, he came to me in my role as coding manager. I talked to him for ten or fifteen minutes about being a coder. He asked me about the best way in to the job, what universities I would recommend, should he do maths or computer science, all the usual questions. I guessed, and I’m sure he suspected, that he wouldn’t make it to the beginning of the degree, let alone the end. However, questions about whether he was showing unicorn optimism, or denial, or love for his carer-brother, all rather flew out of the window as I carefully answered his questions without bursting in to tears, welling up, or showing a flicker of doubt, which was pretty damn hard I can tell you.

I lost my mother to ovarian cancer in April 1999. The day before she died I visited her at home and we chatted away; to be honest, I was so grief stricken that it’s rather a blur. I do remember her talking about visiting the Scillies again and thinking “that’s not going to happen” and admiring her indomitable spirit. I saw that spirit again in James.

I love working in the games industry. The thought that someone, in dire straits, would want to come and watch us at work is quite humbling. If I was working as a developer in a bank, writing front ends for databases, I doubt the same sort of thing would happen. I may earn half as much in games, but the job satisfaction can be out of this world.

The story turned up in a lot of places…