I was 15 years old the night my family entered a local Safeway store, and things were about to change forever.
A troublesome childhood had deteriorated into a hell-raising adolescence. After battling with my father over everything two people can battle about, we had settled into a tense, uneasy silence. We would never admit it aloud for my mom’s sake, but my father and I just didn’t like each other. In fact, we may have hated each other.
Having taken refuge in video games, words like "blast processing" were still fresh in my mind as I considered the tremendous technological leap from the original Metal Gear to Sonic the Hedgehog. Unfortunately, my father learned how I dreamt of earning a living in video games and quickly made it his mission to destroy that ambition. He almost succeeded, brainwashing me with continuous mental pummeling about how I'd never make it, how there was no money in video games, blah, blah, blah. Couple this with mainstream society's negative view on gaming and, well, it didn’t look like I had a bright future ahead of me.
My mother was a different story. Positive, nurturing, and creative like me, she secretly pushed me towards my dreams. That night, I would finally take her seriously.
Dad took my sister to get whatever it was that he needed while mom nudged me down the magazine aisle. There was something she wanted to show me.
“Great”, I thought, “Mom's gonna get lost in another Cosmo and forget why we're here….”
To my surprise, she bypassed the Cosmos and reached for a magazine I had never heard of before: GamePro.
I gasped as she handed it to me, and she stayed silent as I flip through the shiny, glossy pages, with my mouth agape. No words could articulate my jubilation. This magazine was bringing my world to life in beautiful, vibrant colors. It critiqued games I had played and ones I didn't even know existed. It previewed what was soon to arrive on every available console. Most importantly, it showed me that I was not alone. Here were men and women just like me, who were just as consumed by their passion for great gaming…and they had managed to turn it into paycheck.
It gave me proof. Dad was wrong.
I looked at my mom like she was the light of heaven as she softly spoke.
"You see? You can do it."
I nodded. I didn’t know what else to say. She purchased the magazine and (eventually) a subscription. Later in life, she introduced me to the International Game Developer's Association and paid for my membership. I made friends with people I still know today. She was the first to learn I had been hired by Sony Computer Entertainment America. She's who I dedicated my first book to. Had she not introduced me to games journalism and shown me that this was indeed a profitable industry, I don't know where I'd be today.
Thank you, Mom and GamePro, for the start in life.
And thanks for reading.