7.28.2017

Fantastic Streams and How to Film Them

I'm not a professional streamer. I don't know if I ever will be, assuming that "professional" means anything other than "I stream on a somewhat regular basis because I enjoy doing it and once in a while people toss me a couple of bucks on Ko-fi. I'm completely fine with that, but I'm the type of person who likes to put the extra effort into any project regardless of profitability, popularity, or anything else.

In the past, I streamed mostly for Extra Life, a charity gaming marathon where participants stream for 24 hours and supporters donate funds to benefit Children's Miracle Network hospitals. I didn't know much about lighting or sound outside of its theatrical applications, so my "streaming rig" consisted of XSplit and a secondhand webcam. I used a gaming headset and whatever lights happened to be on in the background and that was it. It did the job, but it wasn't the greatest viewing or listening quality. I tried a couple of times to research what it would take to set up proper lighting and audio, but the handful of tutorials I could find involved a ton of effort and available space, or were unclear about where to obtain the items mentioned, e.g. all the articles mandating key and fill lights, but no real recommendations as far as how to set them up or what types of lights to use. They talked about green screens and softboxes and just seemed far too complicated for my budget or free time.

After leaving Blizzard, I found myself with lots of time on my hands for a change, and I'd saved up a decent amount with which to get myself started on some projects, including streaming more consistently. I wondered if, based on the information already available out there, I could glean enough to get myself set up for a decent-looking and sounding stream that wouldn't cost a huge amount of money and would fit in my current space, which is the corner of my average-sized bedroom. It would need to be easy to set up due to my health issues, which often leave me too tired or in too much pain to spend hours putting a studio together by myself. Since I don't drive, I wanted to find it all online without ever having to leave the house. Bless you, Amazon Prime.

Verdict? Totally possible. Behold, my incredibly messy, but still somehow effective workspace:


Again, I'm not a professional. I'm a beginner. The whole point of this is to put together an effective starter kit for the streamer on a budget who isn't yet an expert on the ins and outs. 

And now for the breakdown.

I'm using the Logitech C922x Pro Stream Webcam for video. The quality is pretty good even without the lights, but... eh...


I'd rate it a solid so-so. I'm committing a bit of a lighting sin here by not having that window covered to begin with, but with space being a consideration, I can't move my desk away from it, and being in an apartment means hanging curtains is a pain in the butt. I kind of blend into the background, which is just my bedroom -- heck, I think the bedsheets stand out more than I do. My skin looks really muddled.

That's where the two super-cheap swing-arm lamps you'll see in the workspace photo come in. I chose white ones partially for a stylistic choice and because white doesn't affect the coloring or brightness of the lights themselves as much. The TMS brand I went with work fine, but any halfway decent lamp should do -- I liked these because they were very inexpensive and they came with a C-clamp that made mounting them on the edges of my desk quick and easy. No sacrificing valuable floor space here!

For bulbs, I wanted something bright and clean that wouldn't jack up my electric bill any more than it already is during the SoCal summer. The consistent recommendation is to go with the highest color temperature you can find, which are better known as daylight bulbs. The high CRI, or color rendering index, that goes along with color temperatures of 5000k or above will ensure a well-lit subject while still maintaining the purest color representation possible (if you're a science nerd, check out this article about CRI and visible light spectrums because it explains the concept way better than I can). This 4-pack of energy-efficient 100w Philips bulbs boasts a 9.1-year lifespan and a color temperature of 6500k. Daylight deluxe, my friends.


Other than the fact that I'm bare-faced for this test image, thus causing the "hot spots" on my forehead and cheeks -- woo, oily Mediterranean skin -- you'll note that the blast of brightness from the window which really should still be covered up is lessened and the background is no longer the most prominently lit thing in frame (although this can and will change as the sun changes position in the sky throughout the day). My hair and shirt no longer blend together. One light is positioned to shine on my face at an angle behind the camera, and the other is shining from the side. Both are necessary to cancel out any harsh shadows on my face. The light itself could be softened more if needed by adding a diffuser to one or both lamps, which is easily made in about 10 minutes if you follow Carleyy's excellent tutorial. I could also adjust the brightness in my camera settings. There's lots and lots of options to tweak things depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, and all of them are exceedingly cheap or free. The best!

My lighting kit is technically still not complete, as I need to add a backlight behind me which will help pop me out from the background even more, and once I get more space, I'd like to set up a cheap green screen or at least a folding screen to separate me from the rest of the room; for now, though, I think this is already a noticeable improvement.

Bonus section on makeup: Foundation and pressed powder will take away any shininess on your face. Smashbox has an excellent Camera Ready line of color-correcting primers in case your skin tone doesn't look quite right on camera if you're really finicky; remember that green cancels out red, blue cancels out yellow, and cyan cancels out magenta (and vice versa).

So things look good now, but they need to sound good, too. Enter the beast known as the Blue Yeti!


Blue microphones -- that's the brand, not the color -- are some of the best USB mics around. Whether you go with the Snowball or the Yeti, you're in good hands. I chose to go with the Blue Yeti USB microphone based on recommendations made to me by a few friends who stream and record regularly. If you're big into aesthetics, it's available in several different colors.

The Yeti comes with a desk stand, but since my desk isn't that big to begin with, and having the microphone right on your desk can result in lots of background noise as it picks up "hits" from keyboard strikes and mouse clicks that vibrate through the desk. The solution is a shock mount that can then be attached to a scissor arm or boom. I went with this one from Auphonix with an InnoGear scissor arm, both of which were very inexpensive and sturdy enough to support the weight of the notoriously heavy Yeti. The arm uses a C-clamp like the lights to attach to the side of the desk and can be swiveled around as needed to make sure the microphone is in the best position to pick up your voice.

As a side note, the default positioning of the load-bearing screw on the scissor arm was set for a much lighter microphone. The instruction booklet came with a very clear how-to on how to move that screw to a different hole in the arm itself for the Yeti and other heavy mics, a process which took all of five minutes and a standard-sized Phillips head screwdriver and made a huge difference.

Attached to the microphone and mount is a DragonPad pop filter, which helps to cut harsher sounds like "P"s and "T"s while you're speaking. Like the microphone itself, it's available in a variety of colors to match your decor or personal taste. Over the top of the microphone where you'd speak into it is a windscreen to limit the amount of background noise that gets picked up during transmission, like the air conditioning kicking on or the sounds of typing and clicking. Any brand will do, just make sure it's sized to fit larger microphones like the Yeti -- it slides right on and can easily be removed if needed.

The microphone is arguably the most "complex" part of the rig, but it's deceptively easy to put together, pretty inexpensive, and gives a great end result.



An advantage of the Yeti is that it allows you to quickly switch between multiple recording modes, controlling the direction in which the microphone picks up sound. An omnidirectional mic will capture sounds in a 360-degree circle around the microphone itself, which is great if you're trying to record nature sounds or an orchestra playing, but not so much if it's just you talking while you stream. A cardioid recording pattern picks up only sound from in front of the microphone, which is preferred for any kind of solo voiceover work or vocal recording -- podcasters, this is also perfect for you!

You may also need to manually increase or decrease the microphone's gain, or sensitivity. Start off with the gain set to a value right in the middle and lower it for less sensitivity or increase it for more. Depending on how loud your mouse and keyboard are, you may need to adjust this even with the shock mount and windscreen, but it's important to note that most people I've spoken to have pointed out you likely won't be able to completely eradicate this noise, especially if you're using a mechanical keyboard; the goal is just to mitigate it so that it's not taking center focus in your stream. It's also good practice to try and avoid typing while you talk anyway, which helps this be less of an issue.

If you were feeling lost when it comes to setting up your own streaming space, I hope I helped to point you in the right direction! And if you've got your own tips, tricks, or anecdotes that might help, please leave them in the comments.

7.21.2017

The Sun is Shining and I'm Depressed

Note: This post talks about depression, self-harm, substance abuse, and suicide, which may be upsetting or triggering for some. If you are one of them, please go here to look at some cute pictures of zooming puppers and kitties instead.

I remember wanting to die for the first time in fourth grade.

I knew exactly what death meant. I've been able to understand death as well as any adult can since I was in preschool. I also knew that I was tired of being sad all the time and I just wanted it to end.

All through school I was bullied mercilessly, until I discovered black lipstick and stompy boots and aggressive-sounding music in junior high that I bore as a shield against the rest of the world, which always seemed to always be trying to hurt me. I won't get into too many details about my home life here, but let's just say it was not ideal. My sadness wasn't terribly surprising to anyone who knew these things -- although sometimes I also flew into an irrational, uncontrollable rage, and sometimes I just couldn't feel anything at all -- but it went beyond something situational and deeper into a constant, throbbing malaise.

It didn't matter if the sun was shining and life was going well at the time. Every smile was forced. Every social interaction, every morning that I put my feet on the floor was a measured act that should have won me an Oscar.

Sometimes the mask I wore would crack. I'd melt down. I'd cry out for help. And I was, more often than not, told to just snap out of it because it was clearly all in my head. My argument that yes, that was pretty much the definition of depression but it sure as heck didn't fix it went unappreciated and unacknowledged. "What could you possibly have to be depressed about at your age?" adults would scoff.

I started therapy when I was 12, medication roulette when I was 15. Antidepressant after antidepressant was cast aside because it either didn't work or came with horrendous side effects. Talk therapy only helped for about an hour after my session ended, and then the clouds would come rolling back in. I lost faith in anyone's ability to help me, so I started trying to help myself; by the time my 16th birthday rolled around, I was already an old hand at hangovers and mixing drinks. When I was wasted, I could feel the Terrible Things swirling around me, but they couldn't get in. It was like the alcohol put up some kind of barrier that kept them at bay, unless I'd get too drunk, which I frequently would, and then I'd be drowning in them.

Cigarettes became a friend around the same time because not only would they soothe that heavy tension in my chest, I could press the lit end against my wrists and arms and grit my teeth and finally have something to distract me from the emotional pain with which I struggled daily -- physical pain, I thought, being so much easier to deal with than its less tangible counterpart. I hid the marks under thick stacks of jelly bracelets and arm warmers, or hooded jackets when it wasn't so warm that anyone would question why I was overdressed.

At 19, a series of seriously traumatic events occurred, and these plus the Terrible Things got to be so much that I tried to overdose. I was in the psychiatric ward of the local hospital for two weeks around Christmastime. I remember the EMTs in the ambulance chastising me for making them drive out in an ice storm. When I was stabilized and lying in the ER, terrified, begging the social worker at my bedside to just let me go home, she gave me a hateful look and told me "You should've thought about that before you did what you did, then," turned on her heel, and walked out.

Nobody came to visit me. My supposed friends sent my calls straight to voicemail. They told me afterwards that they just didn't know what to say to me, and that my depression made them "uncomfortable," so they chose to abandon me instead.

I was diagnosed and misdiagnosed for years. My chart ran the gamut of borderline personality disorder from the hospital psychiatrist, who spoke to me for a total of 30 minutes during my two-week stay and made accusations rather than suggestions; bipolar II disorder from another therapist, later changed to just bipolar disorder by yet another who didn't believe that bipolar II or any sort of spectrum existed; and, of course, variants on the theme of "angry teenager" and "situational depression, it'll clear itself up if you just think happy thoughts."

I gave up on psychiatrists and psychologists and therapists and social workers for a very long time.

Then, with my self-medicating at an all-time high, unable to hold down a job, and my meager savings going to buy more alcohol and more cigarettes just to keep my brain quiet, I finally found a mental health crisis center that would help me. The diagnosis was now major depressive disorder and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. It was explained to me that the CPTSD, when combined with the MDD, would look exactly like borderline or bipolar disorder to someone with little to no experience in helping trauma survivors, or someone who couldn't be bothered to ask the correct questions.

I tell this story because with multiple recent celebrity suicides in the media, I feel it's important to do so, but with the following coda:

I'm still depressed -- in fact, I've been dealing with a bad downswing for the past week or so -- but things are better.

I'm one of the people that medication just doesn't work for, so there was never a good resolution to that. The closest we ever got was Celexa (citalopram), which worked for about a year before I developed such a high tolerance for it that there was no longer a safe dosage for me to take. I've been clean and sober for two years as of the end of August; getting there was an uphill battle with plenty of false starts and setbacks, but I'm finally at the top of the mountain. I quit smoking a few years ago and never looked back.

I found an incredible therapist specializing in EMDR to treat my CPTSD. After a year or so of regular sessions, I could finally deal with my trauma well enough that the only remaining beast is the major depressive disorder, for which there is no cure. Cutting ties with unsupportive "friends" was a step in the right direction. By being honest with myself and with other people about my mental illness, I've managed to curate an amazing support network of friends that always have my back, no matter how low I may spiral. I've found that, at least for myself, hypnosis has helped for severe depressive swings or anxiety attacks, although I also feel the responsible thing to do here is remind people to please continue taking your doctor-prescribed medication and do not stop in favor of something with no scientific or medical evidence and may, in fact, be entirely psychosomatic just because one person on the internet said it worked for them.

It took me a long time to overcome the fear of the stigma that surrounds mental illness -- the one that often prevents people from asking for help before it's too late, or makes them feel like if they speak up, they'll be outcasts. There's a certain guilt that accompanies depression, as well, especially when you can look around and logically say "yes, everything is great, there is no reason for me to feel this way," and yet you still can't feel anything approaching joy or contentment. You wonder what's wrong with you. Are you just being spoiled or entitled? Are you subconsciously just seeking attention like so many others have accused you of doing? Is it really just that you're not thinking happy thoughts hard enough?

No. The "problem" is that you have an illness, like an additional 42.5 million people in the United States alone, and that other people have made you feel bad about something that is entirely out of your control. It's the equivalent of having a broken leg and being scolded because you can't run a marathon, or telling someone with cancer that they're only sick because they don't smile enough.

For anyone suffering, please know that there are many resources available to you. There's online therapy options if you can't get to a therapist, or are nervous about talking to someone face to face, that can help you, no problem too big or too small. If you're in a crisis right now, please look here to find the Suicide Hotline for your country, or if you're anxious about talking on the phone, the Crisis Text Line will let you text with a counselor. If you, yourself, are not suffering but know somebody who is and want to help, check out articles like this one on how you can help your loved one.

Above all else, remember that nobody in this world is entirely unloved, even if it feels that way sometimes. Reach out to trusted friends and family -- and remember that yes, internet friends count just as much as real-life friends do. Do your best to fight the little voices of the Terrible Things that tell you you're burdening them or that they don't understand what they're getting into.

Be excellent to each other, folks, and if you can manage it, be excellent to yourself, too.













7.13.2017

The First Anniversary

This weekend marks one year of many more to come spent with the most incredible man I've ever met. I always wanted to have a cute and clever love story to tell, and I'm ecstatic to say that in him I have found a better tale than any romantic comedy writer could come up with.

My previous marriage was over with the exception of some paperwork to be filed and fees to be paid. I had finally reached a point in my life where I felt I was really better off alone, taking myself on dates to the luxury movie theater, going to my favorite restaurants, spending time with myself doing the things I wanted to do.

One of those things was jumping into the world of programming. Things hadn't worked out with the guy I'd been sort-of-seeing, but to his credit, he made me believe that I was indeed smart enough to learn to code. He'd always mention his boss, Ben Deane, and what a great resource he and his frequent engineering talks were for the novice programmer. "When Ben Deane talks, you should definitely listen," he told me.

That year at BlizzCon was the first ever engineering panel, where Blizzard engineers from all different teams gathered to talk about what it is they do. It was a rather informal setting with the interested community gathered around on soft benches and wouldn't be officially recorded like the other panels at the convention. I'd heard that Ben would be one of the speakers and, with the advice ringing in my ears, I decided to give it a look. I remember seeing him walk onstage and thinking "Wow, that's a cute ginger." I was impressed by his knowledge and his demeanor, simultaneously authoritative on the subject about which he was speaking and completely approachable. I'll have to remember this one for sure, I thought to myself.

After BlizzCon had come and gone, it was as if the entire company had suddenly decided to try wingman-ing Ben to me. I was repeatedly told to talk to Ben, to go to his talks whenever he'd give them at work. A couple of months later, I got an email that Ben would be delivering a talk on C++ called Using Types Effectively, and that signups were open. Finally, another chance to learn from someone who clearly knew what they were talking about!

There was a minor hiccup in that my job title didn't have "engineer" in it, so I had to get special permission to attend, which, fortunately, was granted. On the day of the talk I was very nervous strolling through the doors of the auditorium -- I was the only non-engineer there, and the only woman. I hid in the far left corner of the back row where I thought nobody would notice me and prepared to take notes.

When Ben started his talk, I was completely enamored. Though I had scant experience with C++ at the time, he managed to still make the concepts he was explaining accessible to me. Again, I found myself daydreaming about how handsome and intelligent he was. But he'd never give someone like me the time of day, I'm sure.

I had no idea that at the same time I was convincing myself there was no chance of even a mentor-type relationship with Ben, he had noticed a cute girl hiding in the back row and was thinking She's really pretty and interested in code, but she'd probably never want to go out with a nerd like me.

So imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks later, I got a notification on Twitter that the object of my nerd crush had sent me a message.


(As a side note, he still feels bad that he asked me out over Twitter. I keep telling him it was actually the best move he could've made -- if he'd just shown up at my desk to ask me in person, that'd be a bit inappropriate. If he'd sent me an email, it would've had to be via my work address, since that's the only one he knew, which also would've been weird. And God forbid he'd asked someone for my number and then surprise-texted me without us having spoken to each other before. A polite inquiry via a social media platform on which I'm extremely active? Perfectly appropriate and non-threatening.)

I figured that maybe my manager had said something to him about my wanting to move into an engineering role and that he was offering me a business lunch, maybe letting me know about an opportunity on his team I should apply for. It was, apparently, our first date. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't know, because I almost certainly would have put my foot in my mouth and said something ridiculous. I walked back to my office after that lunch thinking I had totally nailed that interview. Technically, I did -- it was just a different sort of interview than I expected.

He asked me out for an official date the very next day. After screaming with my best friend for an hour or so, she convinced me to stop telling myself I was going to screw everything up and accept. That first date was like something out of a dream; we had dinner at a restaurant that we were both delighted to find out was each other's favorite, walked around the lake and looked at the stars, browsed in a bookshop (again, mutual delight that we were both bibliophiles), saw a movie. We found out that we'd previously worked just a couple of doors down from each other, never crossing paths until recently, and marveled at yet another coincidence in our meeting.

The concept of love at first sight is rather overplayed. For me, it was love at first kiss. I knew by the end of that first night that I loved him, and it turns out he loved me, too, and still loves me to this day.

He's continued to stand by me throughout my illness, cared for me after multiple surgeries, supported my changing careers to pursue what I was really passionate about. What began as sheer happenstance putting us on each other's radar has turned into a happier life than either of us could have imagined.

I'm still useless with C++, though.

7.03.2017

So You Want to Work in the Games Industry

Usually when I mention having worked in the games industry, I'm met with envy. Once again, a slightly paraphrased version of that line from The Devil Wears Prada pops up -- "A million nerds would kill for your job!" So when I announced that I was leaving Blizzard, I was actually delighted to get a different response.
The answer is complicated, and certainly too complicated to answer in 140 characters on Twitter. In short, yes they do, and the industry as a whole can be a nightmare if you go into it completely unprepared. It takes a very special kind of person with a certain amount of dedication and comprehension of exactly what they're signing up for to thrive.

Disclaimer: These are my experiences in the games industry, and are general statements only based on the studios that I have worked at -- but I'm not going to go very deep into specifics, because this isn't that type of blog. I'm not bitter or angry about the time I spent in the industry and I don't regret a single second of it. The goal here is to prepare any interested parties and help them make informed decisions about their career, not to dissuade them from entering it at all.

A shift for me was expected to be eight hours long, plus an hour for lunch -- note the expected in that sentence. During a game's development, twelve-hour days, six days a week for months at a time was the norm for most people. If you're an engineer of sufficient rank, you might also be on call for live issues, meaning 2 a.m. phone calls to come into the office and fix a problem that's just cropped up. It's nowhere near as bad as before the EA Spouse lawsuit, which theoretically limits the demands that a game studio can place on its employees, but it's still no walk in the park. My marriage fell apart for many reasons, but an inability to match up our schedules was very much a part of it. Later I dated a couple of coworkers before finally finding the love of my life just a couple of office doors down from me; I didn't have the time or the energy to go anywhere else to meet people, and it's hard to find anyone outside of the industry who understands and can cope with your schedule.

I did not get to just play videogames all day. I had way too many meetings and way too much work to do. I found that I knew less about the games I was working on than I did before I started working on them. There's a running joke that you can figure out who's a developer by finding the worst-geared character with the least progression in the game, and it's often not too far off the mark, although there's obviously exceptions to this rule. Raiding after work was an impossibility for me because I was just too tired. I didn't have time to grind out everything I needed to get raid-ready, anyway, and by the time I cooked and ate dinner and cleaned up, it was nearly time to go to sleep so I could get up and do it all over again.

My physical wellness took a major hit from the time I entered the game industry. I was exhausted all the time. The stress inherent to any career where you have tight deadlines, lots at stake, and the desire to get ahead caused the symptoms of my existing illness to flare up more severely and more frequently. It goes without saying that the mental strain was nothing to ignore, either. I gave up a lot of the things I enjoyed doing because I just couldn't bring myself to do them anymore. Looking back, I'm fairly sure that I spent many years of my time in the industry fighting depression without even realizing it.

Not only did I not have the energy to do the things I loved, I wasn't allowed to do them in many cases. Most studios won't let you work on any creative personal projects at all, others will require you to submit them for review and get official permission to work on them. When you work for any studio, you're representing that company, no matter how many disclaimers you put on your social media accounts. You're limited on what you can talk about and how you can present yourself; there's the obvious things, like don't talk about unreleased content, but even things as simple as theorycrafting aren't allowed, lest they be misconstrued as promises of things to come. You cannot give negative reviews of other developers' games, even if they're constructive. You're encouraged to not weigh in on "controversial" subjects, and if you do, all it takes is one follower upset enough to send your employer an email -- you could very easily find yourself marched into the HR office the next day for disciplinary action. This is at least part of the reason that I delayed speaking about the less shiny side of the games industry until I had left; it can be something as simple as expressing mild displeasure that leads to severe consequences for you.

An important thing to note is that every game studio is very different as far as culture goes, especially if you're female. I have been very fortunate to only experience the "brogrammer" mentality a handful of times, but other women in the industry have really suffered as a direct result of some narrow-minded individuals. More often I found myself having to deal with offhand comments like "oh man, I'm so triggered" and "I have PTSD after that match!" being thrown around, not out of malice, but out of ignorance -- they've sadly become common memes in the gaming sphere and thus in the industry without the words and context being fully understood. However, as a PTSD survivor myself, the lack of intent didn't really make it less upsetting. There's also a pervasive culture of drinking in the games industry. I don't drink because I'm in recovery; while everyone I met in the industry was very understanding and accommodating whenever I'd refuse an alcoholic beverage, having kegs and bottles of whiskey all within easy access sometimes got very uncomfortable for me. I am proud to report that despite the constant temptation, I'll have two years sober under my belt in August.

By now it probably seems like a whole lot of stormclouds instead of the sunshine that most people expect when they dream of a career in games, so let's move on to the good stuff that makes it all worth it.

I have met too many incredible people to list them all in one place. The ability to work with so many like-minded people who shared the same passion for games as I did was really a once in a lifetime opportunity. These friendships have lasted for years and through multiple job changes. This isn't unusual, either; most people I know who've been in the industry for a while are still in contact with friends they worked with a decade ago. I've had the opportunity to shake hands and work with people I considered my idols before I started my career. It's a humbling experience, to be sure.

There's also the knowledge that at the end of the day, all of your hard work has been poured into making something that is being loved by people all over the world. There will be plenty of detractors on internet forums and trolls in chat, but when you're walking into a convention with your employee name tag on and a group of random people screams "YOU ROCK! THANK YOU FOR MAKING GAMES!" at you, it's enough to move you to tears. When you see people posting about how they met their spouse or their best friend in your game, or how they've used your virtual world to escape something truly terrible in their own, it suddenly seems very much worth it. You get the knowledge that you made a thing. You can hold the game box in your hand. You can point to your name in the credits. It's a kind of immortality, really -- long after you've left the industry, long after you've died, someone's going to launch your game and see a part of you.

I won't lie: the swag is pretty awesome, too. At the very least, you'll never need to buy another T-shirt or hoodie again. If you're the type of person who enjoys collecting memories and sentimental things, you'll be in absolute paradise! I started my career with maybe half a small moving box's worth of stuff to decorate my office space. When I left my career, I had four boxes worth after donating or throwing out a bunch of stuff.

You gain a completely new appreciation for videogames. There's a sort of deeper understanding that comes with working in the games industry and seeing the work that goes into them. This can, of course, be a double-edged sword, because I've also lost the ability to just sit back and play a game without analyzing it to death or wondering about the underlying mechanics, but it can lead to some really interesting conversations and thought processes down the line. They're not just games on a shelf anymore, they're living, breathing things containing the work of countless engineers, designers, artists, producers, quality assurance analysts, customer service representatives -- it really does take a village.

If you've weighed out all of the pros and the cons, done your own research -- I can't stress that enough -- and still settled on the games industry as where you want to be, I support you, and I wish you nothing but the best. I hope that it is everything you want it to be and that you achieve each and every one of your dreams while you're there!

And let me know, too, once your game drops, because I'd love to stream it.