Tuesday, August 2, 2022

About Me 2022

I haven't really written an about me on my blog since 2010, so in the spirit of the Introduce Yourself Week for Blaugust, I thought I'd lay it all out, again. So, lemme catch you up with the past 12 years!

Hi. TLDR: I'm Tom. I live in a suburb of Austin, TX, but I'm originally from Utah. After working for a contractor for the Air Force for 14 years as a Technical Editor, I moved to Austin to be in the video game industry. I've been writing ever since I could keep a journal, and I've been writing about games for years. It just comes naturally to me.


Now for the nitty-gritty. My parents were pro-journaling. I have journals dating back when I was writing about jumping in piles of snow in my front yard and my cousin stepping on my toys and breaking them. One Christmas as a kid I asked for a typewriter, and my parents delivered!  It was a cheap plastic thing, but it was a legit typewriter. I loved that thing. Yes, I was a weird kid, and I like to think I was also destined to love to write.

360 photo of my old neighborhood in Brigham City

Eventually in my late high school years I took up songwriting and poetry and started down a lyrical path with my music. In my college years, I sensed that wasn't going to work as a career for me, and I opted to major in Communication with a minor in Technical Writing and took up a job as a Technical Editor to start and support a family, which it did for 14 years.

360 photo of our old neighborhood where my wife and I started our family

As it turns out, writing about video games was pretty natural to me. I was blogging as well, but it was a personal blog that was mostly about my kids and music (I've since hid that stuff from public view. It's not really worth reading anymore). Most of my writing about video games up until 2008 was done over e-mail or on guild forums. Typically I'd just write about my thoughts, wants, and goals for my Cleric and Beastlord characters on Everquest.

My Beastlord was named "Stingite" because he was an Iksar from a land where scorpions roamed in the newbie zone, and I had this little OC backstory about my mother naming my beastlord "Stingite" because she would feed him scorpion tails.  I know.  It's kind of dumb, but the handle stuck and I'm still naming myself Stingite in video games all these years later.

In 2008, I fell in love with a new game called Wizard101, and the words just started pouring out of me. I took up the mantle of blogger and started writing about the game and how I was playing it with my family. Wizard101 liked what I was writing and made me an official fan site and their featured blogger. 

This actually led to writing about Wizard101 for Beckett's Massive Online Gamer Magazine and Beckett's Fun Online Games Magazine. Kind of cool actually being paid to write for a magazine. That used to mean something, and I was incredibly proud of seeing my byline in those magazines.

During this timeframe I started to realize how cool the video game industry was while trading emails with Kiersten Samwell, Fred Howard, Nelson Everheart, and other people that worked at or with KingsIsle. It put a bug in me, and I applied for three different jobs at KingsIsle over the period of a couple years. It never worked out. Either the job didn't pay enough to support my family of five (wife and I with 3 kids) or I was always their second choice for the position. I figured three strikes and you're out, KingsIsle, and never applied for a job there again.

Then one day in 2012 I got a phone call from Fred Howard. He wanted me to play the alpha of Pirate101, which was an exclusive honor at the time.  No more than a handful of outside people even got to play in the Alpha of Pirate101, so it felt pretty great.  After a week of playing, he called me back and offered me a job as the Community Manager for Pirate101, no interview needed.  I was floored.

So after working it out with my family and working out salary with KingsIsle, I took the job . . . and the pay cut . . . to work in the video game industry. Living the dream! I spent six and a half years in Community Management / Public Relations / Social Media / Marketing / Management and then made the jump over to Game Design. 

Old designing buddies at KingsIsle

I've now been in Design for four years: at first working as a level designer, then transitioning to more formal game design and narrative design. The past year I've been working as a Senior Designer working with outsourcing groups at WIMO Games.

I have other loves of course, outside of games, and this is mostly a history of my life through the lens of video game writing, but since this is a game blog first and foremost, I'll talk mostly about games here.  If you'd like to hear about my forays into music, well, you could head on over to my music blog or my bandcamp page. For my personal life, I usually stick to Facebook or Twitter, but I'm typically a pretty private person. Suffice to say, I am a church-goer and feel like I've been led and guided to where I am today.

Thanks for reading the Friendly Necromancer!


Tipa said...

Your home back in Utah looks beautiful! Must have been hard to leave that for a big place like Austin.

Here's me not knowing that WIMO outsourced their game development, though I guess it makes sense.

Stingite said...

Thanks, Tipa! Oh yeah. It was tough leaving behind friends and family, but my wife and kids absolutely love it here in Texas. I don't think they'd move back at this point and my youngest doesn't even remember living there anymore.

WIMO has a couple internal development teams, and outsourcing was kind of a new foray last year for us. I'll be writing a bit about the two prototypes we developed during Blaugust.

Flash33 said...

A very nice read, and nice to finally see where the name Stingite came from (I had always wondered about that). I always heard about Beckett when I started playing Wizard101 but never read an issue (though to be fair I never really looked for them as I've always preferred staying home, but even when I went to stores I just never saw any).

Even after all these years I still enjoy reading your posts, and in fact it's you as the first blog I ever read who inspired me to take up blogging myself so thank you for that. Good luck in the future, and here's to hopefully many more years of blogging to come.

Stingite said...

Flash33! The wizarding world has always been a better place with you in it! Super cool you've taken up the mantle of blogging. I'll have to spend some time today catching up on your posts! I truly have appreciated all the thoughtful insights you've shared with me over the years.

Nimgimli said...

I thought I was about to have a seizure or something, then I realized that yes, those photos actually WERE moving and it wasn't all in my head... :)

Roger Edwards said...

I live in a busy suburb of London in the UK. We have parks and plenty of open space, but when I see pictures of places like Brigham City and the rugged environment in which it is set, I find it fascinating because it's so far from my personal experience. I like to go walking and that certainly looks like terrain that would be interesting to hike through.

Like many folk outside of the US, a lot of places I see mentioned such a the state of Utah, I only know through TV which is not often the most reliable way to get to learn about a place. I recently watched "Under the Banner of Heaven" which was set in Utah and again, I was enthralled by the locations.

I'll stop blabbering now. Thanks for an informative "getting to know you" post.

Stingite said...

@Nimgimli -- haha! In fact you can grab those with your mouse, spin 'em around and even zoom in and out.

@Roger -- I miss those mountains, and if you live in Utah and don't take advantage of them (hiking, skiing, or hunting), you're missing 90 percent of the fun. As a kid I was up and down those mountains every day, even had a close call with a rattlesnake up there. Hiking up to the top and screaming at the top of your lungs is incredible. Texas has . . . hills. Meh.

I haven't yet watched under the banner of heaven, but if I remember right it was set near Provo or Orem? They call that stretch along the mountains the "Wasatch Front" and towns dot the path along them North to South. At top in the North are Logan and Brigham city, then you move down to Ogden, Kaysville, Farmington, and Centerville. Further down south you find Salt Lake City and its suburbs leading to Orem and Provo. In ancient times all of those cities would have been underwater and you can see giant lines along the mountain where ancient Lake Bonneville rested and slowly condensed down into the now Great Salt Lake and the Bonneville Salt Flats. If you're into geology, Utah has the widest variety of any of the states; although down in Southern Utah is where all the famous Geology resides (like the delicate arch).

I better stop typing, I'm starting to pine for home.

Justin Olivetti said...

Hey, I know that guy! Rock on Team Blaugust!

Stingite said...

SYP!!!! :) *waves*