I was having a talk about what I do for work last night and it was a sudden, positive talk that’s still lingering with me as I go throughout my work day. It made me realize that a lot of my friends have no idea what I actually do for work. I’m “that Wowhead chick” (or LolKing, if they’re of the Summoner’s Rift variety).
It also made me realize I have no idea how I ended up here.
When I was younger, my dream job was operating a cash register. No, I’m not joking, it really was. I owned a real cash register stuffed full of real change and fake bills. I loved playing store. I owned fake fruit and flowers. Sometimes I would take the cans down from our shelves in the kitchen and pretend to ring them up then put them in paper bags we kept around the house. I printed receipts, my mom gave me old Visa cards to slide through my fake credit card swipe, and I would “sell” dry goods and fake food for hours. I kept inventory, I wrote receipts, and I even made gift certificates. Office Depot and Office Max made hundreds of dollars from me and my love of carbon copy papers.
Then I decided by age nine that I was going to be a teacher instead of a cashier. Our first computer, back in 1995, was a goldmine for creativity: it came with Microsoft Access, which meant it had thousands of potential databases I could make. I made a fake school with dozens of fake students; I made tests, report cards, and grade books; and I even wrote answer keys. I would get the test questions from the variety of books around the house, like my “How do Castles Work” book, and then I would get a variety of pens and fill them all out in different handwriting styles and colors. I’d put different answers for each student, adopting a persona. And finally I’d grade them, load up my Access database, and print out their report cards.
At age twelve, I discovered HTML. I loved HTML and I ended up loving Photoshop even more. I made so many websites and I learned so much. A fansite to a Resident Evil character, a layout based off Cowboy Bebop, a mixtape exchange site. Eventually I even made websites for my school–from my debate club to the environmental committee at one of my colleges. Then I even made websites like Girls Don’t Game or Hellmode, moderately popular blogs to showcase my writing.
But throughout all of this, I was pretty deadset on being a lawyer. I still felt I had to do that life path and I worked for it to some degree; I took the right classes, I volunteered for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence where I got valuable work experience, and I wrote countless essays about war, famine, and political regimes.
Until one day I woke up and I didn’t want to do it anymore. At all. The internships I was applying for seemed pointless, the TA position I nearly got frustratingly political, and the idea of spending that much time in school daunting. When a friend got me a job in the video game industry so I wasn’t unemployed at twenty (love you Suzie!) she inadvertently gave me something I was naturally good at and had been practicing for years.
She inadvertently gave me keys to an entire kingdom I was too afraid to access: a job where my sole job was to help make a game and market it, to create its manual and pitch it to companies to publish it. Within a year, I helped get that game on Steam and Direct2Drive as well as Stardock. I wrote comparisons, I researched social games, and I took to the entire process like a fish to water.
I had a job where suddenly my time spent on de_dust mattered. My knowledge about Steam’s early years paid off. Where knowing what a hundred different game manuals look like helped me build our own in my own style.
Think about it: I used to make databases, edit code, and write. A lot. Not only that, I spent my teen years crawling around on the internet and building websites plus fostering communities. I also have put in tens of thousands of hours of gaming–from Counter-strike to Final Fantasy VII, I’ve played it all.
I was basically made to manage a community, to create and cultivate sites–especially those pertaining to video games. It was a huge passion of mine and I never knew it until then. The years I spent in my other job and the time spent here at ZAM taught me that there’s nothing else I’d rather do.
I have this pretty vivid memory of my childhood. We just bought Warcraft II and I was enamored with its manual. You know, video game manuals back then were gorgeous. Drawings of Orcs and Trolls everywhere. I remember reading it, I remember carrying it in my bag to school and opening its wrinkled pages during my history class. That manual and me were totally in a loving, exclusive relationship for at least a year.
But most importantly, I remember opening the manual one day, and saying I wanted to do that for a living. I pointed to a little blurb about what an Orc was. I wanted to write about Orcs and Humans and I wanted it to pay my bills. I wanted nothing more than to be paid to celebrate Warcraft’s existence.
It’s funny how life turns out, isn’t it?
P.S. Sorry for not touching this place for over a month. Worst blogger NA, no problem.