|Q: How and when did you first get into gaming?
A: I distinctly remember playing Frogger on the Apple II when I was probably about 2 or 3, but my “first love” was Final Fantasy III (6) on the SNES when I was in middle school.
When I was about 2 or 3 years old, my parents taught people how to use the Apple II out of our home. The computer was used primarily by students, but somehow but somehow I distinctly remember playing Frogger on it. I was immediately fascinated and entranced by video games, but it would be a lot later in my life when I would really get into gaming.
The Apple II was short lived in our house and was replaced with the IBM 5150 PC on which I learned to write my first program but didn’t have any games. Later on, I got a copy of “Prince of Persia” on a 5.25” floppy disk but needed the manual to answer a randomized question to get past the first chapter. Outside of home, my cousin did own a racing game on an Atari, a neighbor owned the original Super Mario Brothers for NES, and there were game arcades with the original Tetris and Street Fighter (among others). However, my cousin and neighbor seldom gave me a turn to play on their console and I had no money with which to play arcade games. Looking back now, I guess I spent a lot of time watching other people play video games.
At some point after I came to live with my uncle in the U.S., there was an SNES at home and a Final Fantasy III cartridge. I’m a little fuzzy as to how we came to possess both the game and the console (i.e. I don’t remember whether I bought it or if someone else did), but I do recall being deeply immersed in the story and gameplay. I loved the plot twists, the many remarkable characters, and the wide open world to explore. In short, it was magic. It was then that my passion for video games blossomed and I started seeking out more games to play, buying or borrowing them with money I earned from delivering the local newspaper on foot as a 12-year old. I also dreamed of one day starting my own game company.
I was often chided by my peers and adults for my passion for gaming – back then, video games was a niche industry and people believed there’s no future in gaming (just as people at one point thought there’s no future for computers – HAH!). Even so, I zealously followed the development of each console generation as the gaming industry grew larger, often spending hours on foot playing game demos at retail stores because I didn’t have money to buy them (delivering local newspapers only pay so much…). It wasn’t until I was hired in XBOX Live as a contractor a few years ago that my parents stopped chiding me for being an adult gamer.
Nowadays, I enjoy introducing new puzzle, strategy, and story-based games to my son (e.g. Where’s My Water, Plants vs. Zombies, and Lego games) as well as play it with him. Although he gets frustrated sometimes, I love seeing him overcome struggles and obstacles on his own (with hints from me periodically). He has become very tenacious and methodical at problem solving both in games and in his life in general. Although I am sometimes criticized for letting my son play games from such an early age, my philosophy is that supervision and moderation is key.
I still wish to build a successful game company in the future but for now am content with simply working in XBOX. Contributing to the launch of the new XBOX One is literally a prayer come true (but that’s a story for another time) and I hope to have even more impact in the gaming industry in the future. For now, however, I am truly enjoying God’s blessings in this aspect my life: I get to work with people who are passionate in making the next generation gaming even more amazing than before, play cooperative games with my son (and even quite literally be his “hero” sometimes) that teaches him tenacity in solving problems, and even get to introduce certain games to my non-gamer wife (she loves Brain Age, exercise games, and Plants vs. Zombies 2).
Soapbox message: Follow your passion and don’t let anyone deter you from it!