As I look at the “drafts” indicator on the backend of this site, it keeps taunting me with the giant 8 plastered beside it. It is not like I haven’t gotten some really great ideas and started writing things down, but I never managed to get any of those articles to the point where I was satisfied with them. I’m still leaving them there to go back to in the future and flush out further. That however highlighted a much more pressing point of “why are there 8, why can’t I just finish one”. The answer to that problem is much more interesting and what I thought I would write a little about.
Back in the summer of 2016, I was introduced some individuals that effectively changed the course of my life. At that point in time, I had pretty much reached “adulthood”. I had the wife, the child, the dog, and the job all pretty much on lock down. Sure there were hickups, as there always is, but overall things were good. The only burning problem, burried deep down inside was something that most people that work remotely struggle with; that abilitiy to go out to the bar afterwork and talk “shop”. I had tried talking about some of the stuff that I did with friends, and its not like they didn’t attentively listen, but much like when they talked about their professions our understandings of each others careers was only so deep. This lack of ability to talk things at a technical level with like minded people was starting to play a toll on my resolve to interacting with the public. I naturally am not a very social person, but without any sort of drive to go out and talk to people I was becoming more and more of a recluse.
I had met a gentlemen by the name of Rick sometime in 2015, he had contacted me professionally to pitch and idea, and to also connect with me as he was a tech centric person that had recently relocated to Peterborough. I remember that first time we talked it was fun, and I had held up going drinking with friends on St. Patties day (that point forward in the day I don’t remember). Either way, fast forward almost 6-8 months and Rick messages me and says hey check out this “HackersNest” thing on Meetup. I popped it open, and with a specific set of skills aquired in another lifetime I looked through the organizers. One of them stuck out as a sore spot for me, everything about him gave me red flags, and I had commented to Rick that it seems like a good idea, but that one guy made me think it wasn’t worth my time. Rick went alone, and reported back that it was an excellent event and that I really should go out to the next one, and that there were people there worth engaging with. I’m paraphrasing a bit there, but the intent is there.
The next event was scheduled and Rick again pushed on me to go, this time I really had no excuse to go, I was hot off the official announcement of dotBunny’s involvement in Torment and we had just finished some government R&D work so I was riding a high. I arrived there and Rick wasn’t there yet, but I went in anyways, me and my Chive shirt were going to rock this place. There was almost noone there; shit I was early. I spoke breifly with the organizers and I got talking with the one person I had profiled out as being someone I should avoid. The conversation was light, but I was constantly reminded of why I wasnt engaging in with these communinities in town. This person was single handidly destroying my desire to stay any longer with every word out of his mouth. Slowly but surely people started arriving and I met a few more interesting people; eventually Rick arrived and I excused myself to chat with him a bit. As I travelled around with him for a bit I overheard some people tucked away at the back of the room talking about some machine learning / robotics type things which perked my curiosity and they mentioned a tech I had never heard of before “Elixer”. Eventually I interjected myself into their conversation and listened to them and began talking more direct with Phil, one of the guys talking in that group. I don’t know what it was but I could tell that there was something different about Phil, he was there for very similar reasons to mine. We talked for a while, and he had mentioned that I should come out to their programmers pub night to meet some other programmers. The months went on and as a group we slowly formed, finding more and more talented invididuals that we could have great conversations with; evolving to a point where we actually hungout outside of the monthly meetups (look at us go!).
The first “HackersNest After Dark” happened after one of the events, where we gathered on a patio in a backyard and drank beer and chatted. Very reminescent of highschool, where you’d be sitting out on your parents patio drinking with friends trying not to be too loud and wake anyone up. In this case we were trying not to talk too loud and wakeup the wife and kids. At one point I had mentioned how my son had asked me about why none of the people I worked with lived in town; we all laughed but were quick to realize that in itself that was one of the fundamental problems with the town we lived in. The tech drain away from Peterborough was a very real problem; I’ll leave that for another post, i could write endlessly on that topic (seriously i just cut out a 2000 word tirade). However, the discussion didn’t stop there. I find that in the world, people fall really easily into two simple categories: those that do something, and those that talk about doing something. The individuals that were there that night were people that had the capacity to do something. It was pretty clear right then that, if I wanted my son to have better opportunities then I had (no fault of my parents here, game development just wasnt as prevelent back then, my parents did a fantastic job raising me), I would need to build some sort of game development community right here in Peterborough. Within a few days I had gone on the good old internet and bought up as many domains related to Peterborough and Game Jam as I could and I started contacting all of my friends in the industry and explained my crazy plan. Some laughed and said I was crazy, but they knew me so they knew it was going to happen (remember I’m someone that gets shit done — except blog posts apparently). Others actually thought it was a really cool idea and immediately offered whatever support they could.
That first event came together in weeks, and when we had more the 10 people register I was so damn happy. When it got to 15, I swear you could see the sparkle in my eye from space. We nabbed a few more above that for that first event and it was something else. I met so many awesome people along the way, and even forced myself to go out into the public eye. I still struggle with that part, its not something I like, but now I’ve got a team that works with me, so I can delegate to them. We are well on our way to our second event next month, having grown leaps and bounds since that first event. We already have people asking about helping out with “03”. It’s great to see the community develop and build. Couple weeks back we were asked to keynote another gamejam at the local university (yup thats right! they had their own, it made me so damn happy to see them do that … means that 01 had kickstarted something there for them, which was its exact intent!) I guess all of this article is summed up with, I’m busy organizing these events, running dotBunny (Torment ships end of Feb 2017, and we’re doing some wicked stuff backed by the CMF which is going to be a game changer in the game/animation space), and being there for my family most importantly.
All in all, if I hadn’t met Rick, I wouldn’t of met Phil, and I wouldn’t of met the rest of the other hidden tech talent in our community, and the PTBO Game Jam wouldn’t exist.
How does one life matter? (the big question posed by Torment)
It clearly does.
The elephant in the room – No I left my plight with local support out of this, I’ll address that some day. I also no longer go to HackersNest because of a certain “community sponsor” which I disagree with on a moral and ethical level.