My name is Scott. I've been playing video games since my hands were big enough to hold a joystick. I started with the Atari 2600, and graduated to the Atari 800 computer where I taught myself how to program in BASIC. I eventually got a NES, and later a Game Boy. The first summer I ever worked, I was a CIT at the day camp I attended. I worked all summer long to save up enough money to buy the SNES the very day it came out.
I attended college at the University of Pennsylvania. I was introduced to the internet my freshman year in 1993, and I fast became a console pirate, purchasing a copier and downloading ROMs off of IRC channels. Good times. In my senior year, I purchased the N64 as soon as the street date was broken, and skipped classes for the next three days to play Mario 64. I also bought a used PSX the same year.
After I graduated with a degree in Computer Science and a degree in Psychology, I was accepted to Digipen. I was part of the very last class that attended the school in Vancouver, before they moved the campus to Nintendo of America's HQ in Redmond Washington (across the street from Microsoft). After completing the program, I got my very first job as a programmer at Ubisoft.
I lucked out with Ubisoft because they were actually opening a studio near my hometown in NYC, so I actually landed my dream job and got to live on the east coast near my family. I worked on Batman: Vengence. I met a number of cool people, but the only one I still keep in touch with happens to be a buddy of mine who was the lead designer on "Army of Two." He is without a doubt, the greatest game designer I have ever had the privilege of working with.
The studio in NYC didn't pan out for Ubisoft, and they decided to fold the team up to Montreal. After living in Vancouver for a year and a half, I decided I had enough of Canada, so I stayed in the NYC office, which transformed into GameLoft. I stayed there until me and the buddy I mentioned landed a job at 3DO. We both moved out to Redwood City and started working there.
3DO wasn't a great company, but it wasn't terrible, and I met a crew of people who became some of the greatest friends that I have ever had. I worked on Dragon Rage, which was being led by Kudo Tsunoda. He told the execs that it was going to be an Army Men game with an art asset swap, and it would take 6 months to complete. The truth was we were building a new engine from scratch, and it would really take a year to get it done right. When the six months were up, the execs asked for the game, and we weren't even close to finished, so we had to do 12 hours days, 6 days a week until the game was finished. 3 months later, nobody cared about it anymore, and it went straight to the budget bin.
3DO closed down very shortly after. While I was at 3DO, I got to know two people who amazed me: Howard Scott Warshaw and Tod Frye, two of the original Atari 2600 programmers. Getting to meet them and talk with them about "the good old days" at Atari was an amazing thing to me. (I totally recommend visiting Howard's site, Once Upon Atari and ordering his DVD about what those days were like.) I still run in to Howard infrequently at retrogaming conventions and it's always a delight.
After 3DO, I worked for a THQ studio that used to be called (oddly enough) Pacific Coast Power & Light. It's known as Locomotive games today. I was put on the WWE Crush Hour game, the game that was designed to mix the WWE up with Twisted Metal. I created the game's shell and character selection screen. It was actually a pretty cool game, but THQ's love for WWE had cooled down when the game was close to finishing (right after WWF became WWE, the ratings started to tank), so they rushed it and laid off the whole team.
Wishing to return to the east coast, I applied for jobs that I could find there, and actually lucked out with a job opening at Firaxis Games in Hunt Valley, Maryland, home to Sid Meier. When I got there, they were toying with the idea of remaking Pirates, and were prototyping a lot. The results were mixed, and Sid decided to get involved with the development personally. They knew they wanted to make a console version, and they put me on the small team responsible for porting the game to the Xbox. I had doubts about the game, and I wasn't enjoying the tasks I was being given (such as working on the in-game glossary), and things didn't work out. I made a lot of good friends there who I miss working with.
By this time, I had been with four companies in six years, and my girlfriend at the time was in the middle of going to school to get her degree, so I did something drastic: I grew up. I ended up looking for any available programming job, and accepted a position with a UPS owned software company as an algorithm designer. I've been there since 2005, I get paid more money, and work fewer hours than I ever did as a game programmer. But I really miss the creative environment and working with people that I have a lot in common with, i.e. a love and passion for video games.
I am currently own and operate StrategyWiki, which strives to become the best online source of video game guides and walkthroughs anywhere in the world. I am now living in northern Maryland. Welcome to my blog.
Before I start writing this post, I just want to say up front that there's no need to call the Waahmbulance. I'm not writing for sympathy, or a whole bunch of "cheer up, it'll get better, you're better off" comments because I know that's not what this community specializes in. What it does specialize in is humor, and I really need to laugh right now.
So my wife is leaving me. No it's not another guy (or another girl), no I wasn't an asshole, no it wasn't any of the usual dumb shit that a wife leaves a husband for. After being married for a little over 2 years, and being together for over 7, my wife decided that being married simply isn't for her. She didn't want to be responsible to anyone else in the world but herself, and she realized that her continuous denial of the fact that I actually worry about her when I don't hear from her hurt me quite a bit. She doesn't want to hurt me anymore, but she doesn't want to change either, so she decided it was time to leave, even though we still love each other very much.
The thing is, I had this beautiful half black, half Japanese gamer chick for a wife, and at the moment, I don't see how I'm possibly going to replace her with someone else. Early on when we were going out, I wasn't sure if she was exactly the right girl for me. I used to think it was because of the race difference (I'm just boring vanilla) but now I'm starting to wonder if I didn't know something was up way back then. All of my friends, mostly game developers, thought I had found the holy grail: a hot chick who likes games. And I felt that way as well, so I made it work. And to this day, I would have continued to make it work because of my "never say die" attitude towards marriage. She finally decided we could never be happy if we kept going the way we had.
When we first got married, she said she wanted the same things out of life that I did. She's finishing up her degree in Japanese language, and she had an opportunity, just a few months after our wedding, to go to Japan on an exchange program. It was 3.5 months, and I knew it would be hard as hell to live without her, but I thought what the heck, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I figured when she got back, the ball would roll back in my favor, and she would dedicate herself to the marriage. Instead, she was so inspired by living in Japan, that the ball actually rolled further in the opposite direction. She wants to spend a year there, and I just don't want the same thing. I want to plant some roots and build a family.
So now I find myself in the unenviable position (or is it?) of being single again at 32. I was never good at the bar game, and I think I come across way too much like a gamer geek when I write profiles on on-line dating sites, even though I'm just trying to be honest. I have more dimension than just my interest in games, but that's hard to communicate. Anyway, I'm slowly coming to grips with the fact that it's over, even though a very small part of me holds out hope that she will change her mind. I guess I'm just a Pac-Man who has lost his Mrs. Pac-Man, a Link without a Zelda, a Mario missing his Peach.