I’m a 20+ year veteran of the interactive entertainment industry (more colloquially known by the generic term of “computer games”), starting out the way many in the industry started, as a game tester. Believe me, it was somewhat of a shock after college to join the workforce and make just slightly more than minimum wage ($9/hour) — but at least I had the benefit of overtime pay! That first week at Spectrum HoloByte, I put in 72 hours testing the PC game Tank, including one span where I worked from Noon on a Sunday all the way through to 1 PM on Tuesday. Double-time, ka-CHING!
From testing, I made my way to instruction manual writing and page layout using Adobe’s old desktop publishing software, PageMaker. Spectrum took pride in the quality of its documentation which ranged from a simple eight-page booklet to ultra-complex tomes that came in at 64 or upwards of 300 pages. Many times, I also designed the page layout and chose the typography for the book, as well as overseeing the occasional print check. During my time at Spectrum, I wrote (and/or designed) more than 25 manuals for games as varied as the puzzle game Wordtris, flight simulator Falcon 3.0, adventure game Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Final Unity, and a Sega Genesis platformer Soldier of Fortune just to name a few. I was also involved in user-interface design for two games — the out-of-game UI for Falcon 3.0, and one of the initial out-of-game experiences for Falcon 4.0.
In the mid 90s, I was in need of a new challenge. The “dot-com” era was gorging itself in full excess, and I joined the up-and-coming Total Entertainment Network as a senior writer and editor, helping to foster the online community and keep them informed on new games, tournaments and so forth. TEN was an online multiplayer game matching service where hardcore gamers could play games like Quake, Command & Conquer: Red Alert, and many others. Unfortunately for us, many game companies decided to host their own servers for playing games, which pretty much blew our business model right out of the water. Three rounds of layoffs later, TEN shrunk over 120 people down to a scant 40ish. Fortunately before we hit the hard, cold, bottom, we managed to acquire a one-person company that created and hosted Java-based casual games, and built our new business model (and new name, Pogo) around this new technology.
Pogo continued to grow, and the makeup of the company changed fairly radically. As there was less writing work in this new incarnation, I was called upon to learn the ways of web development and the tangle that was the early days of HTML. As Pogo’s site grew, it became necessary to hire more developers, and I transitioned into a working managerial role — leading a team of front-end web developers, and acting as product manager/producer for some of Pogo’s features and games. Pogo was eventually purchased by Electronic Arts and grew into the leader in web-based casual entertainment.
I’m currently a product/project manager at Stanford University, working with an external web design firm to redesign the university’s philanthropic site, Giving to Stanford. In this capacity, I’ve done a bunch of writing (including product requirements, information architecture work, and RFP writing), along with a lot of detailed project management using Basecamp, Wrike, Jive, and Excel. We’re looking to launch the site in early fall, so stay tuned!
In my spare time, I’m an avid golfer, enjoy social and PS3 games, hot sauce, and a good bottle of wine now and again. Politically, I also enjoy creative writing, and am currently working on a couple of screenplays — one a television procedural drama, and the other is a poker movie. I’m also in the process of writing a nonfiction golf book.