"I need you to be my neighbor. Check Facebook." The text is from my 36-year-old niece, Pam Charron, who has never played videogames. I call her immediately. "Are you serious? You're farming?" Indeed she is, and if I'd only accept her neighbor request, I'd help her to get the Blue Ribbon.
Ironically, it was the Blue Ribbon that made me love videogames, the one you found in 1981 on the fourth floor of Wizardry 1: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord. It was the first digital puzzle I encountered in my whole life. It let me into the secret elevator that took me to the ninth level. There, behind the door on the left in the corner of the room, there was a teleporter that took me to the tenth level and, ultimately, Werdna's lair. So there we are, Pam and I, coming to games - she with one Blue Ribbon and I with another. I consider the many conversations that have been missed with my relatives who lost me to this medium they knew nothing about, and I wonder if it will be this amazing movement, these social games, that will at last let them hear the drumbeat that I hear.
The miles across the country roll on forever. I stop in Austin and have dinner with Jon Jones, Harvey Smith, Tom Hall, Brian Cash, Sheri Graner Ray, Tim Ray, Kain Shin and a host of other game developers I meet for the first time that night. We eat deep-fried everything and laugh hard at jokes that would only be funny to people who do what we do. The dinner, the mid-way point across the country, feels like a portal, and the dessert stretches on even longer than Texas.
I drive all day every day, my beloved car with the "GAMEDEV" license plate, packed to the absolute gills. It is 2 a.m. when I roll across the Arizona border into California. It is a surreal moment. I have never come to California to stay. I come for conferences and for client visits, but not for ... ever.
@ bbrathwaite Hello, California.
I arrive at my apartment, rented sight unseen, and roll my air mattress out on the floor. I am so excited, I can't sleep, and I'm ready for work at eight the next morning. The early hours are filled with HR, IT and introductions, but when I return from lunch, games fill my dual screens.
There. They. Are. These are the games I am working on, and it is bliss.
The Blue Ribbon
Today, like every day since the first day, feels like 1981 again. The energy is astounding - the small teams, the rapid iteration, watching a game rise and get shipped right before my eyes. I believe in the people I'm working for, and I can actually see them and talk to them and listen to them articulate their vision. I feel like I am drowning in new names and faces and details, so I jump in even deeper hoping to grok it faster, as fast as I can. The days go by in blinks, and Monday mornings excite me.
I am making games every day, all day, and I can't imagine any place I'd rather be.
Brenda Brathwaite makes games for a living and plays games for fun. She is presently working with an undisclosed company in California, and believes she is the luckiest woman in the world. She also drives an awesome car, one fit for a game developer.