The Accidental Programmer

On the “about” page of this site, I said:

After high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life and I was working at a grocery store. One night I left pissed off and heard a commercial in my 5-minute drive home announcing that “you too can have a computer career in less than a year.” I called the numner when I got home (it was a Friday evening) and someone answered. He said he was working late anyway and if I wanted to come in and take the test, I might get into the class that was starting the following Monday.

I did go that night and take the test, and I passed, and that following Monday I was sitting in a classroom.

 

I was thinking about the details when I wrote that.

My drive to and from work at the time was maybe 5-8 minutes, so that was my window to hear that ad.

If dude hadn’t been working late to take my call… if he hadn’t offered to test me that night… if I didn’t get signed up right then and there to be in a class on the very next business day… if the school itself hadn’t been, also, just a few minutes from where I lived at the time…

In a few hours, my anger at my boss would have passed.

I’ve never thought about getting into computers before. (Hell, I didn’t think about it then! ) This was 1983, and the IBM PC had only just started up the “personal computer” market two years before, and they were expensive and not all that useful. To me, at the time, computers were what I saw on TV, perhaps accurately depicted in terms of being larger than refrigerators but inaccurately shown as things that would burst into smoke and flames when something “did not compute.”

“Never Tell Me the Odds”

But because that night I got pissed off, and in those 5-8 minutes I heard that commercial, and because someone was there… I found a life-long passion, something I’m good at, and something that’s given me a good living for most of my life.

Crazy, huh?

Destiny? Fate? Or just an incredible turn of random, fortuitous events? I won’t pretend to know, but what I can say with certainty is that if any higher force in the universe played a hand in this, I’m in their debt.

In 2022, there were an average of 29 new games released daily on Steam. How does one compete with that?

I’ll give you one person’s opinion: you don’t care.

Would I love it if everyone loved the games I’ve yet to (but will!) create? Sure. Would it be awesome to get paid for it? Definitely! But neither of those things is why I’m here. I’m here because I’m a lifelong coder and gamer and I love both, and making games is the perfect marriage of the two. I’m here because the idea of making a game that I’d like to play is too cool to resist. I’m here because the process of making these things stimulates me.

In the first Star Wars movie, when Han Solo uttered that epic line – “Never tell me the odds!” – it made a lot of statements about the character. “I’m about to do something insanely difficult, and I’m going to do it no matter what you say. Your naysaying, even if factually based, isn’t going to help me or stop me, but it might get in my head and take me off my game if I’m dumb enough to listen.”

Han Solo knew who he was, and he was always honestly, unapologetically, himself. He knew what he needed to do and he was going to do it and that was that. Everything else is just noise from people who weren’t doing it.

I Got Lucky

No matter how I slice it, I feel very, very fortunate for that strange turn of events from that one night – I have no idea of the date – in 1983. Han Solo was always my favorite Star Wars character, but he’s fictional… I’m not. I’m sure I liked him because I identified with him in a lot of ways, but I’m living in an unscripted world where things don’t always work out for the best.

If we focus on doing things that we love, doing things we feel are important, and surrounding ourselves with people who support our efforts, then we’re doing the best we can with what we have.

I got lucky in that a single moment changed my entire life.

Embrace the Unexpected

My self-discovery journey, paved with an intersection of computer coding and gaming, genuinely shows how a seemingly random moment of dissatisfaction may lead to an astonishing life pivot. I took advantage of an unforeseen opportunity, which led to the discovery of a skill that I would not have discovered otherwise.

Chances come in the form of detours and bottlenecks in life, but they can also be doorways to chapters you never imagined penning into your own tale, much like that night in 1983. As I reflect on this uncanny experience, I realize how critical it is to be open and responsive to unexpected possibilities.

Is it fate or a series of chance events? It makes no difference. The trick is to seize the opportunity, step outside of your comfort zone, and allow your actions determine your fate.

Two constants have remained throughout the years: my passion of coding and gaming, and while game development is a relatively new thing for me, it might be where I was headed all along. So, keep in mind that no matter how crowded the market is, the proper audience will connect with true passion. If you enjoy what you do, go for it! Don’t allow the odds to deter you from following your dreams.

Embrace Han’s spirit by being unashamedly yourself, facing the obstacles head-on, and allowing no voice to drown out your intuition. Keep exploring, experimenting, and, most importantly… playing!

Life, after all, is a game full of surprises and obstacles. However, with each move, we either win or learn and improve. And every now and then, like that night in 1983, we discover a whole new fascinating level we had no idea existed.

I consider myself to be just a lucky coder. But who can say? With the appropriate perspective and a little luck, we could all be a few playthroughs away from discovering our own hidden passion, our own “game of life.”

Thank you for accompanying me on this gaming adventure. Here’s to numerous more levels and games in the future. Have fun gaming!

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