Sunday, April 26, 2009

Introductions Are So Passe. . .

But, short of parading every teacher, friend, and ex-boyfriend I've ever had out on stage for a homespun version of "This Is Your Life," how else are people supposed to get to know me?

So, an intro I shall write.

My name is Amanda, I'm 28 years old, and I live in a barn in the middle of North Carolina.

For the last five years, I have been a professional soapmaker. It happened quite unexpectedly, as I had a 0-4 losing streak with lasting jobs post-college and I needed something to do when I wasn't pounding the pavement looking for work. I made my first batch of soap, sold it to my mother and a few friends, and a thriving sole-proprietorship was born. Between making product, editing my website and Etsy store, and traveling to craft festivals, I was a very busy little entrepreneur.

Unbeknownst to me, I was slowing becoming more and more like my mother (oh, the horror) and her sensitivity to fragrances and scents, natural and synthetic alike, began to manifest itself in me. Around Christmas 2008, the allergies REALLY started kicking into high gear. Between the physical demand of making every product I sell from scratch AND doping up on Allegra 180 and Sudafed every day, I burned out. Fast. I knew that I couldn't be a soapmaker forever. So, I began looking into a career change.

The problem was figuring out just what I wanted to do with myself. When I wasn't scouring cyberspace looking for ideas or filling orders for my website, I played video games. I have a PS2, a DS, a PSP, and an Xbox 360. Plenty of things to keep me busy. I'm something of an eclectic gamer (more on that later), but for the most part I play action-adventure titles. I have two pet peeves when it comes to games: Shoddy plotlines and clunky game interfaces. About the eight-millionth time I got frustrated while playing KoTOR II and Assasin's Creed, I was hit with a revelation: I can't code worth a darn, but writing I can do. Why get mad about crappy video games when I could just write something better?

I have always had a cursory interest in the game development field but given my lack of programming expertise, I settled for a part-time position in game testing and left it at that. Of course, one cannot live on ramen and Dr. Pepper alone, and that was pretty much all I could buy with the money I was making testing games for Merscom here in Chapel Hill. I needed more information on the local game development scene, so I did what comes naturally: I talked to EVERYONE I knew to see if anyone had a clue as to what I was talking about. Eventually, the Universe threw me a bone: It turned out that one of my associates (we'll call him M) worked for Red Storm Games. M gave me his email address after a particularly stirring post-GDC conversation about jumping puzzles and quick-time events and said, "Start firing questions at me, and I'll do everything I can to help you get started. You can do this, if you really, truly want to, but you'll have to work harder because you're a different kind of nerd."

I'm paraphrasing, of course, but you get the idea. As a result of M's advice, I joined the International Game Developer's Association, which turns out to be a lot less daunting that it appears. (That, and their dues rates are a lot more reasonable than the ones over at the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild.) And this week, I'll be attending the inaugural Triangle Game Conference here in North Carolina instead of vacationing in Myrtle Beach. (The fact that Myrtle Beach is currently ON FIRE has absolutely nothing do with this decision. No, really, it doesn't.)

So, I begin this blog three days before TGC with the hopes of documenting my adventure in the days ahead. I figured this was as good a place to start as any. I haven't been to a conference or convention in about six years, and that was the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Mobile, AL. While I have an idea of what to expect, I think each industry's conventions are their own kind of animal and should be treated as such.

If nothing else, this should be good for laughs. ;)


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