I moved to California in June of 2011. You could argue that it was by choice, but really— I was a mom supporting three people on food stamps and writing SEO spam, who occasionally wrote and self-published tabletop games in my spare time. Spare time, honestly, wasn’t really a thing— I wrote my games while my infant slept and my daughter was at school, in fits and spells just long enough to bring me back to sanity. And then I’d go back to writing another 400-word “Article” on why buying silver was a smarter choice than buying gold, or fake reviews of decorative fountains for your office.
California was, and is, alien to me. I remember when I was a kid, living in the middle of nowhere, Montana and going to church all the time— my pastor used to tell all of the young men and women stationed on the air force base that they were in the Wilderness, like Moses. The Wilderness is where you go to be tested, where you go to be alone, and where you go to grow. The barren landscapes of Montana were home; but the first time I took the CalTrain into San Francisco and saw hills that would have seemed so familiar if they weren’t crowded by pastel houses, I knew I was in the Wilderness.
I was very lonely when I first got here— I didn’t understand the language, I wasn’t used to going to an office every day, and I’d never lived in such a huge metropolitan area. I sent stories of my alienation and my failures out into the Twitter void with the hashtag #eastcoastgirlsarehip. My first job lasted four months, and tested me nearly to the breaking point; instead of breaking, though, I grew. I joined a company founded by my hero, and worked alongside a legend, and worked for the single greatest man I have ever known— one I admired long before I’d ever met him. And when that adventure was over, I ended up at another, larger company; a place where I found my voice through fighting to be heard, and remembered what it was like to lead.
California will always be foreign soil to me, but it’s the most fertile ground I’ve ever known.
Does this sound sentimental? It probably does, because I’m leaving. California and the industry. (Well, the former more than the latter.)
I’m moving to Portland and joining an amazing ad agency called Mindspace. They specialize in designed experience— they call it gamification, but through all of the stimulating and fascinating conversations I’ve had with the people there, it’s clear that the games they make aren’t the badge-laden confections normally associated with the word. The games that they make exist at the intersection of psychology and design that have fascinated me for so very long, and I’m unbelievably excited to take those reins and see just how far we can go together. I’m going to grow in new and exciting directions, and I’m unspeakably grateful for the opportunity.
You’re not rid of me entirely, though. I’m going to continue making my own games— and they’re going to be more ambitious, and bigger, once I no longer have to worry about stepping on the toes of the company I work for. And as for the advocacy work I do? My soon-to-be-boss closed the offer conversation we had with this:
“I just wanted you to know that we are all very much aware of your voice and your advocacy and your social media presence. And we want you to know that we stand behind it, and we want you to continue to do what you do.”
I love you all, and I’ll see you at Indiecade, and GDC, and everywhere else too.