20 Years In

While writing a bio for my essay for Hobby Games: The 100 Best, I realized that I’ve been working full-time as an author and game designer since I graduated from college in 1989, twenty years ago. It really doesn’t seem like I’ve been at it that long, but that’s likely because I enjoy doing it so much. In lots of ways, I still feel like I’m learning new things and taking on new challenges all the time, and that keeps me engaged and fresh in a way that I suspect working a regular job would not.

I’ve not ever had a full-time job outside of games. When I was younger I drove pizza, bagged groceries, worked a phone bank for the University of Michigan, and even managed a pizza place once a week. I worked as a course assistant for Eric Rabkin’s Science Fiction and Fantasy courses at Michigan, which wound up teaching me even more than when I took the courses while I was in school.

I had a series of short-lived jobs too. I worked one long night as a security guard at the University of Michigan Medical School and had to go poking through the gross anatomy lab with a flashlight in the dark. I was a bellhop at the Ocean Key House in Key West for two weeks. I never even showed up for the first day of work selling steak knives.

I’ve been a freelancer for most of that 20 years. I spent four years as the president of Pinnacle Entertainment Group after co-founding it with Shane Hensley. I ran the adventure gaming division—and served as the sole employee in that part of the company—at Human Head Studios for just under two years. But I still freelanced for other companies while in both of those positions.

[Edit: Forgot to mention the six-month internship I worked at Games Workshop when I was fresh out of college.]

Today, I’m a confirmed freelancer. I make more money this way and have far more freedom. I get to work on new and different things all the time. And honestly, I have a ball.

So, thanks! Thanks to all of you who make this possible. From the editors and creative directors who hire me all the way through to the readers and players who buy my stuff, thanks for a fantastic 20 years. As much hard work and fun as I’ve put into this haphazard excuse of a career, I could not have done it without you. Meeting and becoming friends with many of you has been one of the best parts of it all.

Here’s hoping the next 20 years will be just as amazing—and that you’ll be along for the ride.