“Video games are always on the cutting edge of technology. I like to be on the cutting edge of video games.”
— Nancy N. Blackburn
Where I started: With no idea…
I started with no idea what I wanted to do with my life. With a bachelor’s of science in mathematics with an emphasis in scientific computing and a love and skill for the creative — I was a writer by trade: a journalist and professional ghostwriter and editor — I yearned for a career that meshed my analytical and creative passions.
As with most things in my life, I didn’t discover what I wanted until I gave of myself. My mother asked me to be my youngest brother’s best friend. The sister in between was leaving for a mission out of country and had always been the glue between me and Zeke. Not because Zeke and I didn’t get along, we just didn’t have anything in common. Oh, how the tables turn. I happily accepted that assignment from my mom: Afterall I liked my brother, we just weren’t close. So I went about to close the gap and I knew the key: video games.
“…imagine his delight when I came to him and asked him to play with me!”
I sacrificed my desire to not play his online game: imagine his delight when I came to him and asked him to play with me! He was thrilled! He didn’t even mind teaching me how to play first-person shooters. From there he forced me (no really, he wouldn’t let me leave the room!) to play Portal all the way through in one sitting. Next was Half-Life, and Half-Life 2. Then came Portal 2 and at this point, there was no more forcing! In fact, I replayed the game on my own and started suggesting games to him!
“I could make video games for a living!”
Then one fateful day I was replaying Portal 2 with the commentary on when Valve mentioned how they had used numerical methods to render the scene in real-time. I thought, “I know numerical methods!” (That was my emphasis in my degree after all), “Hang on. People make video games for a living! … Well, I know how to program. I like video games! … I could make video games for a living!” And the rest is history!
Where I landed — After much determination, persistence, and dedication: Experimental Gameplay Engineer
I am Gameplay Engineer by trade and I love working closely with, or as, a game designer and concepter, occasionally team lead, and rarely a concept “artist” (for those times when my peeps just don’t know what something should look like).
Some would consider me a generalist, but really I just enjoy everything to do with the gameplay experience: from ideation to polish. Ultimately I think I fit best as a development director, but for now I am enjoying being a gameplay programmer (player controller, UI, user experience, AI, game mechanics, networking, and so much more), thus my game design usually focuses on gameplay mechanics, level design, narrative integration, and game refining based on games and user experience research. I am a writer, but I like to focus more on ideation and game editing.
I’ve done work on educational, training, simulation, stealth, narrative, and action-adventure games. I’ve done a little bit of work for gamepads and consoles, but most of my work has focused on PC premium and mobile games.
My Life’s Blessings
My family and faith are of utmost importance to me. I have 16 wonderful niblings and I absolutely enjoy every moment of being the cool aunt! I have six amazing siblings who are my best friends, I’ve been blessed with a handful of amazingly wonderful close friends, and all that together with my faith in Jesus Christ brings me daily joy.
“Also, I crochet, because that’s important to know.”
The best part about my family is that they are FUNNY, supportive, intelligent, loving, faithful, loyal, and FUN! I have the best family. I feel truly blessed.
My mother always encouraged me to be busy and do things (also swayed and helped me when I took on too much). So I attribute my variety of skills to her support and love. But my Dad is the programmer. I played soccer, lacrosse, camped, hiked, played the violin and piano, minored in chemistry, I’m good with makeup, fix and spruce up jewelry, program, make games, tutor, have fun, serve, and enjoy life. Also, I crochet, because that’s important to know.