How I Got Here

What drives me to work with video games

It’s crazy to look back and think that I got into the video game industry in 1999. As I connect the dots from then to now, I see a common thread, an arrow really. I know now that it points in direction that gives my life meaning.

What is that meaning? I use video games to draw people closer together. Not online, but physically. In the same space. In person.

I believe video games can heal families, help people make friends, and maybe, just maybe, show kids how to find their own arrow, their own purpose.

I know that might sound crazy to you, but I hope to show you through this blog that a little crazy might be a good thing. So let me draw the arrow for you.

I became an engineer for two reasons. One, because my dad was an engineer, and second because of a short story by Orson Scott Card. The story was called, The Tales of Alvin Maker. Alvin, you see is a maker. He is the 7th son of a 7th son and as such, he has incredible powers to change the world around him. He fights chaos, by “making”. I just love the idea of making something out of nothing. Being an engineer was as close as I could get to being a “maker”.

I built my engineering career at Motorola, where I earned most of my patents. I learned a lot about innovation and invention. I was pretty good at it. But I left that industry jumping into video games, not so much because they were fun – but for one key reason. At Motorola, I could not shake the feeling that I could not help, or hurt that company. Everyone’s efforts appeared completely disconnected from the outcomes. It felt like shouting at a wall. Maybe given enough time you could bring the wall down, but I was young and not willing to wait that long.

So I abandoned the safety and security promising career in semi-conductor marketing to join a crazy little video game studio. I risked “it all” for a chance to be recognized for the creative work I did, but more than anything, I wanted that work to make a difference. My new bosses were afraid I wouldn’t be able to hire anyone. I laughed. We grew from 12 engineers and artists to over 200 in less than 2 years. Turns out a lot of great people want to do creative work that makes people happy.

Twenty years later I am still here, trying to do creative work, and trying to make a difference.

If any one thing has changed, it’s that I now feel obliged to share what I have learned. So in this blog I will write about creative work, and about making a difference. I will share some of the methods you might explore for making environments where creative people make a difference, not only for your customers, but for themselves and your company.

Oh yeah, and I might talk a little bit about how we can use video games to fight loneliness and isolation.

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