While the mainstream media often paints gaming as a hobby that encourages laziness, the young video gamers and computer wizards of years past are now full fledged members of the work force. Among them is Becky Taylor, a lifelong gamer who recently moved from Central Massachusetts to Seattle for a job as a video game brand specialist for Amazon.com.
“My first memory of gaming was Who Framed Roger Rabbit? for the Commodore 64,” Taylor recalled. “I don’t remember much about the game besides a conveyor belt and something about matching. Along with that game, I strongly remember Treasure Math Storm, a 1992 DOS game.”
During the mid-1990s, Taylor recalls herself fully falling into the world of video games and computer technology, beginning with a gift from her dad.
“My father bought me a custom white box Windows PC for myself along with a really nice gaming joystick,” she said. “My first game on PC that I was obsessed with was Delta V. Set in the future with a cyberpunk theme, I played every single morning before school and again as soon as I got home and until bedtime. I watched the full beginning cinematic every time I started it. The music and the woman’s voice drew me in, feeling like I was a true fighter pilot protecting the interwebs.”
In addition to her on-screen piloting duties, Taylor also dove in to programming websites at the tender age of 7 years old.
“I was majorly into game cheats to play around in games after I finished them,” Taylor said. “My favorite was playing my second run of Diablo with cheats. I don’t remember how, but at some point I managed to get my hands on Macromedia Dreamweaver. At some point I had written a full walkthrough of Baldur’s Gate II and had it up on the internet.”
Wanting to continue building websites, Becky later made a move that got her banned from the internet for her teenage years. Despite the faux pas, however, she continued on her quest.
“I hacked into my dad’s network and routed a Cat5 cable through the wall into my bedroom so that I could have internet on my PC without my dad knowing,” Becky recalled. “I was banned from the internet by my parents from the ages of 12 to 18. Even still, I had fun creating mini-offline websites for myself. By using Macromedia Dreamweaver, I slowly learned HTML and CSS on my own. When I entered high school, I went into Computer Science and learned BASIC, C++, C# and Java.”
Taylor’s offline experience translated into awards for web design as she entered college. Now without her parental internet ban in place, she continued to learn various programming languages as well as mobile game development. In her senior year, she learned that it was possible to take aim at a career in the video game industry, but found it wasn’t as simple as knocking on the door.
“My school required a six month internship in order to graduate. I applied to every single game studio in America,” she said. “Unfortunately, it is amazingly hard to get an unpaid internship. Even though I had great grades, nobody would take me in.”
Eventually, Taylor would hear back and be brought on to Tencent Boston, known today as Stomp Games. During her time there, Becky would move up from her internship position to become a marketing and press relations contract worker.
“I hadn’t planned at all to go into marketing, but I took the position anyway to expand my knowledge, get my foot in the door and make industry connections. The best thing about this position was that I got to meet so many people.”
Now with Amazon, Taylor continues her career in the video game industry, stating she is hopeful to see some changes in the current habits of the industry.
“The part of the games industry that kills me right now is that the ‘industry’ has become some exclusive club,” she said. “I won’t say who is was, but I remember being at an event and having some individual say to me ‘Look at this, they’re all here for us!’ No. They were there because they loved the product we made. They were there because they loved games. That’s why we’re here, too.”
Taylor also says she would also like to see a change in how some of the industry releases major titles, noting a difference in how major studios and smaller studios treat their products.
“I miss the good old days of games releasing when they were good enough to release,” she stated. “Now, games get released from AAA companies that hardly work, are full of bugs and contain the same content. Where’s the evolution? There are hundreds of indie game studios out there now who are pushing out games they are passionate about. They spend time to make sure the art, story and gameplay are creative.”
While hopeful for the future of video gaming, Taylor says her advice for those wanting into the video game industry on any level is fairly simple.
“When I give advice to those trying to get into the industry, I tell them to network,” she added. “It’s really what helps the most.”
The author of this piece can be found at PatrickScottPatterson.com and on Twitter @OriginalPSP.
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