When I was finishing up what ended up being my second-to-last semester at the University of Michigan, I knew I was going to be a High School English teacher. That was my goal. The forthcoming summer was the first summer since my freshman year that I didn’t have to take two terms of summer classes. Since I was already pretty massively in student loan debt, I figured I’d a get job for the summer. The summer after my freshman year, I was scheduled to take an internship as a game developer at Stardock Entertainment but could not accept the job due to a lack of a car of my own (and no money to get one). I ended up working as a game journalist while also doing programming for the University of Michigan’s Space Research department. Luckily, though, I was still in contact with friends at Stardock and we ended up organizing an internship for that summer after my senior year.
Now, two years and a few months later, I’m leaving Stardock Entertainment and following a superb opportunity to work as a Game Designer with LightBox Interactive. LightBox is composed of a large portion of members of Incognito Entertainment who, most recently, released the superb Warhawk. And Warhawk is a game that, to a large extent, was the reason I bought a Playstation 3 in the first place. Every single person I’ve met and talked to at LightBox has been incredibly friendly and amazingly knowledgeable in regards to their work. To say I’m excited about starting there is a bit of an understatement.
One of the unique aspects about taking this job is the opportunity to live in Salt Lake City, where LightBox is currently located, for the next two and a half months and then move to Austin with the rest of the studio to settle down. I have lived in Michigan all my life, so while the move may be sort a sort of logistical nightmare, I’m eagerly anticipating the fact that I get to check out Salt Lake City — which is gorgeous from what I saw when I was flown out for my inteview — and then head to Austin just a couple months later. And I’m sure my ferocious tiger cat will enjoy the road trips to each place. I’ve lived in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area since I came to the University of Michigan six-ish years ago (and have lived all around Michigan before that), so the geographic change alone seems like it will be pretty amazing.
Most importantly for me, I’m incredibly excited to start working in the capacity of a Game Designer as it’s a change I’ve been wanting to make some time. Game design has always been one of my primary interests in the game industry and after working for the last couple of years in a programming-focused position, I’m pretty psyched to get to work in a more creative capacity that more directly impacts the gameplay experience that players engage in. And one of the things that stood out to me about LightBox was the breadth of knowledge and clear passion for games and game design that LightBox’s Lead Game Designer, Josh Sutphin, conveyed in my phone interview with him. Which is a good thing because, as anyone who has read this site is aware, I like video games and game design a little bit.
I have had a pretty great time these last couple of years at Stardock. Since I’ve been here I’ve worked on The Political Machine 2008, contributed some work to Galactic Civilizations 2: Twilight of the Arnor and Demigod, and put a lot of time, work, and love into Elemental: War of Magic. I have met some truly great people and worked alongside some crazy intelligent developers in the process, and I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to work here. Had Stardock’s Vice President not suggested that I take an internship here way back in January 2007, I would probably be an English teacher right now.
So, I have about three and a half work days left at Stardock. And as I go through my final week in Michigan for the foreseeable future, it’s really strange to be making such a major change. I’m packing a small amount of absolute necessities for the temporary stay in Salt Lake City (so, you know, clothes, consoles, computer, cat) and “looking forward to” what is probably a twenty-four hour drive spread over three days across one giant freeway through the middle of the country.
And, yeah: crazy excited.