This is a series of posts from my road trip in 2011 where I traveled around the US and Canada giving talks, attending conferences, visiting IGDA chapters, networking, hanging out with friends, and dog sitting an adorable pug named Thomas!

I’m finally getting a chance to post again.

On Day 42 I met Foaad Koshmood at California Polytechnic State University aka Cal Poly. I had been talking with Foaad on some of the Global Game Jam organizer calls when he found out I would be coming around to his area on my road trip. We did some back and forth discussions and set a date for me to come speak to the Game Dev Club1 at the school, where he teaches.

No, this is not a picture of Foaad, but a picture of a lifesize picture of Foaad he had hung on his wall.

I met with Foaad early and we did some chatting, met one of his colleagues, and took a few minutes out to confirm that Eugene Jarvis was in fact showing up Friday night to the Chicago Game Jam and to also confirm Adam Urbano was coming as a judge on Sunday. My IGDA Chicago work doesn’t end just because I’m now in California! Then we headed off to the room where I was to speak to the students.

I didn’t do a talk on customer experience this time since it was mostly students, but, after a discussion with Foaad, did one on breaking in, staying in, and getting involved with the industry. After doing a poll on Facebook I also made sure to include a slide for the students meant to “scare them” (and see if they were really cut out for and still interested in this industry) covering things like: crunch, the ea_spouse letter, affects on your ability and time and enjoyment of playing games, not starting out generally working on the game of your dreams, etc. You can find my slides here:

After my talk we did a little bit of Q&A. Then they had a local concept artist come speak for a bit about what his role is like. Then back to more Q&A and discussion. I think based on that small attempt to scare the students that I did manage to talk at least one student out of becoming a game developer, but in my defense he was a 3rd year CS major who thought programming was boring. I mean, really?!?

Once we had wrapped up the Q&A session, Foaad and his wife Kholood took me out to eat at the local IHOP (because the place we were originally going to go to had a fire!). There we discussed more about game dev, crunch and work life balance in the industry, and the presentation I just gave, as well as what we thought of the students and how they were preparing to possibly enter the video game industry.

With a discussion that could have gone on for hours longer and all the pancakes eaten, Kholood stepped in and suggested we head back to Cal Poly so I could get my car and start my long drive south for the night. I appreciated that Cal Poly not only invited me to speak but had paid for my room for the night before! So we got back to Cal Poly, found my car, I said goodnight, and drove off.

I decided to push it and went all the way down to Orange County. I wasn’t going to be able to stay with my friend in San Diego after all, so I had to bite the bullet and book a room in Santa Ana at a Hampton Inn I’ve stayed at previously. I would be staying here until the day I left to head back up to LA and use this as my base of operations.

However, this is California and that means traffic, even at 11pm at night. I crawled on the 101 for over an hour before it let up and then crawled on it again for another half an hour. Uggh! The traffic was literally at a standstill for a lot of it and packed. I ended up not getting back to the OC (oh be quiet, I lived there for 4 years, I can call it that) until almost 2 AM. Needless to say I was exhausted and barely unpacked what I needed to before falling asleep.

The next day was not a day to rest, however, and I was up and at ’em early in the morning. It was through a sheer stroke of luck that I managed to be in town while some of my friends at WIGI3 were preparing to do an event in collaboration with the Girl Scouts. As a huge supporter of WIGI (I’m on their steering committee) and a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts4 I was totally on board with helping out. Today, we were meeting at the mOcean5 offices were Amy Edwards Allison6 works to do our planning and rehearsal. I was excited to meet some new gals as well as engage with old colleagues including Belinda Van Sickle7 and Shirin Salemnia8. The traffic (again, uggh) was out in full force, but I managed to find my way there mostly on time. I think we planned a great 40 minute session for the girls attending the event and I’m excited to be a part of this and looking forward to being there next week.

Next up – laundry! I had a little time to kill so I drove out into the fog towards the coast by Santa Monica and found a nice little laundromat to get a load or two of laundry done. When you’re out on the road as long as I am it wouldn’t make sense to try and pack for almost two months worth of outfits so this was a must. While waiting for loads to get done I hunkered down in my car and tried to get through more emails on my laptop.

Once that was done I headed over back towards LA to meet Cat ‘Princess of Awesome’ Wendt9. Cat has quickly become one of my best friends, she is a great IGDA10 volunteer, and an awesome associate for Design Direct Deliver. Cat is my go to gal for many things and she’s also one of my “must sees” when I’m in California. I was really happy to have been able to work out seeing her while I was in the SoCal area. Cat and I headed to one of our favorites, Cheesecake Factory, for an early dinner and then decided to actually just drive around the area seeing the sights, talking, and singing to some of our favorite tunes in the car. Cat, whose currently a contractor for the IGDA is also a great volunteer and she “gets it” when it comes to how you should be treating volunteers and members. I’m glad she’s always had my back and I will always have hers. I’m so glad to have met Cat via the IGDA and I expect great things to come of her. [I’m also glad she doesn’t mind my singing voice! *grins*]

That lead me to today, Sunday. I have a GTD check-in later today, I’m hoping to hear that the IGDA Chicago Game Jam wrapped up well, and I’m going to try and rest and get some work done (at the same time!). I’ve got a big week ahead of me culminating in the IGDA’s Leadership Forum11 and the Girltopia event with WIGI so I’ll see you later.

Stay awesome,

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