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What I’m Thankful For, 2015 Edition

It’s the day before American Thanksgiving. At its best, it’s a time to acknowledge and reflect, so that’s my jam today. I’m going to focus on two things to be thankful for on this post.

Thankful for People

I met many of my closest friends because of games. I met my wife because of games. We were able to pay for a wedding by freelancing, self-publishing, and my Patreon—all game work. Games covered our healthcare when we needed it. Games gave me a way to move to Seattle.

I built a livelihood and life around games, one that’s done alright. When it comes to that, I get to start by thanking (once again) the early catalysts: Andrew Hackard and Paul Tevis. Leonard Balsera, Josh Roby, and Tim Rodriguez all showed me how to be a partner in a creative endeavor, in different capacities. Jennifer Brozek and Amanda Valentine forged me into being a better editor. Working with Daniel Solis taught me how to coach a writer through struggles. I learned a lot working with Fred Hicks—who was the layout guy for my first book, well before I started doing anything for Fate—as well as various projects with Cam Banks. Brennan Taylor hiring me to be IPR’s general manager showed me sides of the business I hadn’t before really understood. Ken Hite and Chris Hanrahan have each given me gems of wisdom over the years, some of which has taken a long time to sink in. Working in Paizo editorial was a massive education in process and production (with a hat tip to Jessica Price). Jon Edwards gave me my first video game job, which was weird in yet another eyeopening way.

There are dozens and dozens more names I could drop here, but this is starting to rival the credits list for Katanas & Trenchcoats. Suffice it to say: If we’ve worked together in the past (and you didn’t stiff me or try to tank my rep), I’m thankful to have had you in my life.

I’ve also met so many great humans in games, not just work colleagues. Jerry was my Best Human at our wedding. I treasure my friendship with Albert and Nancy, who I’ve has the pleasure of knowing for around a decade. I’m always excited to hang with Drew, someone relatively new in my life. Even before I was published, there was Sasha (my first GM), John (who gave me my cat), Frank, Ray, Jason, Brian, Tiffany, and more whose names I can’t recall.

When I look at the wedding coins I had made from Campaign Coins, I think about the effect these people have had in my life.

Thankful for Skills

Games gave me a way out when I was flailing as an underemployed software developer (and a burned out government programmer before that). Games was my side job since 2007, and became my main job at the end of 2011. I was one of those rare few who had a salaried tabletop games job at the beginning of 2013, and before that I was riding without health insurance. But even then, I knew the score: freelancing in games is a hard grind of feasts and famines, and most day jobs in tabletop don’t pay great or give opportunities for career growth.

So whatever game job I took was going to involve learning skills I could put into being a tech writer or editor outside of games. Thanks to working in games for years, I’ve learned how to:

  • Read a room—useful as a convention GM and as when being interviewed for a job
  • Manage timelines and deadlines, rather than have them always managed for me
  • Better understand human behavior
  • Understand budgeting in not just an abstract way
  • Ask for big things
  • When to stop putting effort into a business relationship
  • Modify writing voice for various audiences

And that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head. I wouldn’t be in the career I have right now without what I learned from games (or in this specific job, since I got my in from a friend from games).

I hope you have a good Thanksgiving, if that’s your jam, or a good Thursday otherwise. And if you’re looking to get out of games—I know a few of you out there are—take some time to figure out what weird skills you’ve gained from games.

–Ryan

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