Tell us about yourself. Anything you’d like to share!
This is me in a nutshell: I grew up as an only child and used gaming as one of my only social outlets. I have been nerdy and game dependent since then:) I found my true love in LARPing and tabletop RPGs. It turns out that I even got my first Masters Degree in it- Opera Performance. Thats right, dressing up in period clothing can actually be a profession.
From there I decided to get a “real job”- Ok so I married someone with the same interest in nerdy profession (she also has a Masters in Music) so one of us had to make some money:)
I went and got my Masters of Business Administration so I could “pretend” to be an adult. I discovered something really cool; business is actually one of the best games. It’s like an awesome deck builder and worker placement game where you have to balance your resources and keep your meeples happy, all the time trying to rack up the highest score.
How has social media impacted or improved your life? if in a bad way please share as well
Social Media is basically having a social group of friends, ready-made for your interests, without having to be a social person. I love this! Because I am naturally an introvert (though you would never be able to tell from my podcast interviews…lol), I like being able to use social media to connect with like-minded people and build a relationship. After I build up some trust online, I feel more comfortable interacting in more “real life” ways.
Who inspired you to be the geek you are today?
I think possibly Ray Muzyka, one of the founders of Bioware gaming studio. He and is parter were medical doctors that decided that they would rather make video games for a living. I like Ray’s story because it is an example where someone made the choice to leave a prestigious and profitable career to pursue something much more nerdy. Bioware’s huge success has really helped legitimize for me that Geek Culture is really where it’s at.
If you could give a geek from this generation advice what would you say?
I think the main thing I would say is that Geek Culture really is much more mainstream than you think. I know some people like to embrace their respective sub-niches and isolate themselves there. I would encourage geeks, aspiring geeks, or struggling geeks to really reach out into their communities and get involved and cross-pollinate with each other. One of the coolest “games” for me is making connections in life and seeing how those connection can leverage into exciting new “real life” opportunities. Whatever professional interest you have, there are geeks that DO that think… connect with those geeks and unlock new opportunities for yourself.
If there was one thing you could change about geek culture what would you change and why?
Hmm…this is a really tough one. Ok, can I be real here??? <hears crickets> <steps out on a limb anyway> I would really like to combat the smelly dirty gamer stereotype.
I am a gaming career and project coach and this is something that I actually have to address fairly frequently either to help someone land an interview they are trying to get, or to sell a project/product to potential publisher. We all need to take a shower, brush our teeth, comb/tie back hair, and wear clothes that fit. </ends limb rant> Feel free to send me hate mail🙂
For those of you that are still reading… Let me tell you why Geeks are some of the smartest, most creative, and most resourceful people in the world. PERIOD. We love people throwing up obstacles which we can work around (gaming the system)and get what we want.
Since that’s the case, why would we make it more difficult on ourselves by potentially offending a boss or publisher by having a sloppy come-across. I want us to play the game a bit more so that we move into more positions of power and get more our ideas out into the world. It’s worth it, I promise.
If you had to give up one geeky hobby what would it be and how would you replace it?
Oh… So many to choose from! I suppose, I wouldn’t still be a gamer if I gave up playing games and that’s just not ok. I do binge watch superhero/sci-fi/fantasy content online and Netflix and that can be many hours a day. I think that would be the thing I would sacrifice if I had to. I’m a big fan of proactively getting stuff done in my business… So I think I’d replace it with “Real Life” gaming and time optimization.
Where can my readers find out more about you and the projects you work on?
You can find out about me on my website: www.thecompanybard.com
and get the low down on me and the stuff I’m up to.
As geeks we have all be ridiculed at some point in our lives. How did you cope and how has it effected you as an adult?
I’m sure people generally have long stories that they could share in this section🙂 I was ridiculed A LOT (how did you know:) What I learned from it was to be super talkie- so I could either talk myself out of a beating or so I could get around authority figures that were stopping me from doing something.
That really has impacted my life a lot. There is ALWAYS a way to get something done. You just have to ask the right person, or to ask enough times to get attention, or to
Do you have any hobbies that aren’t considered to be in the geek realm?
Hmmm. I well, I am still an opera singer… Not sure if that counts🙂 I’ve always felt that it was just a geek of a different type. We have a very active music community here in Austin, TX so it doesn’t feel so Geeky to do that.
Tell us about your show The Gaming Careers Podcast. How did it start? How long has it been operational? Who is your target Audience?
The Idea behind TGC was to find out the main ways people can start careers in the gaming industry. I had a hypothesis that there were 3 ways- Join a studio/publisher, Start your own company, or do it part-time on the side. It turns out that I was completely WRONG! There are so many different variations on that it is hard to really peg it down to those three. Almost everyone I have talked to have kind of “fallen in” to the industry rather that specifically pursued it.
Its been going over a year now and has had steadily increasing listenership. I have been very surprised at the level of success the show as I started having these conversations because I was just curious about how people did it. It’s cool to see that other people have liked those conversations also.
My target audience is for people who are looking to start a new career in the games industry or people who want to start their own game company. There are a lot of moving parts to sort out and hearing real life examples about how others have succeeded is really helpful. It’s also cool to know that you aren’t going through it all alone.
Lets hear about your RPG obsession! Why is this your favorite genre? What started your love for all things RPG?
“A PALADIN REALLY!?!?!” One of my all time favorite quotes from an old dragon magazine cartoon. 3 things that don’t exist: Dragons, Unicorns, and a Girlfriend who cares about your RPG character🙂 “A PALADIN REALLY!?!”
So my Jam is Fantasy RPGs. I got started with Dungeons and Dragons way back in the day.. and haven’t really stopped. I have NO idea why I like swords and spells a lot more than technology or superpowers… but I definitely have the bug.
I actually think I started as a LARPer in middle school. It was like an awesome game of pretend… with matching outfits and weapons. I discovered RPGs AFTER that…”what… I can still play like this… even when we aren’t at the park?”. Yeah, so I’ve been dragging people over to my house with funions and mountain dew to do dungeon crawls ever since.
What are some of your favorite RPGs to play? Are you currently playing one?
DnD tops the list for sure. I used to have ALL the books. I can’t imagine how many thousands of dollars I’ve spent on them. I used to love cramming over them all and memorizing gear tables and monster stats. Later I burned out on that really. I discovered that I really liked the roleplaying a lot more that maximizing the stats (powergaming)
Thats why I think my favorite system is FATE at the moment. Almost no rules needed or books. Just pure RPing. Very cool. Honorable mention to Dungeon World RPG system for the same reason.
How was it working for BioWare?
Dude! It was AWESOME!!! Tons of great food, nerf wars, and hard work. I really loved “crunch” times because everyone pulled together to get the job done. It felt really cool working with such talented people.
What did you enjoy about being the QA lead on Star Wars The Old Republic? What all did your job entail?
So one of the best things about being a QA lead getting to be really picky about all the little micro-bugs that exist in the system. You get to go hunt them all out and send them off to be destroyed! The worst thing about being a QA lead is that you have to find all those really annoying and picky little bugs that most people wont see.
I also really liked working with my team. I had a team of 16 in-house testers and about 100 outsourced testers. It was amazing to set them to task, remove blocks, and watch them wrack up the “bug count” for your devision. When everyone is pulling together it really makes light work of very detailed and tedious work.
My job entailed delivering different work assignments to the team (critical path testing, pvp or raid content, border testing, or open testing), making sure everyone completed their assignments on time, worked well with one another, and weren’t blocked by technical problems.
Like a non-gaming job, it was a lot of handling logistics and hitting deadlines. I was just that we got to do it while “playing games”.
Could you offer advice to someone looking to make their passion into a profession?
Hmmm-Tough one. Passion will keep you going when things get really tough at the same time, it can also lead us into making poor decisions.
My advice would be to sit down and write down the following things on ONE SIDE of a piece of paper.
1. What kind of STUFF do you want to have in your life? (Big House, Expensive Car, Pool)
2. WHO do you want in your life? (Lots of friends, Spouse, Big family with kids)
3. What do you want to EXPERIENCE in your life? (Travel, lots of training, mastering a skill)
Next write down what your PASSIONS are and what you want to do with them on the other piece of paper.
Now, here is the exercise. Figure out what you would be willing to sacrifice from your Stuff, Who, Experience list in order to something on your passions list. This will determine what priorities are if you were forced to choose. And sometimes a passion will require that from you–> Then decide to live with the consequences of your decision Good or bad🙂
Here is the other thing: Understand that passions and priorities change over time. Know that its ok for you to change your mind later on and follow different passions and priorities as life takes you down different paths.
How are you liking being apart of The United Geeks Network? I know when we first started this interview process you were just new to the group!
Dude, I LOVE UGN! I have found closer connections and interaction with this group than I have found in a lot of other societies. Jeff King does an awesome job curating content and supporting the community.
How did you start your gaming career? Do you have any tips for someone looking to start their own career?