Unconsoleable turns one

Today is a big day.

My baby is one year old. No, not that baby. He’s nearly four :) I’m talking of course, about my other baby, Unconsoleable (and here’s her baby picture, before she was adopted by ESN :-))

My adult life has been a series of phases. I had my rudderless phase, where I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. Hardly unusual of course. I tried a few things. None of them took. Then I discovered media.

A year seems to be the length of time it takes for something to change the course of my life. Here’s how it happened before, how I got into journalism.

This time, it was another low point in my life. Post-postpartum depression (on to just regular depression), no job, no means of acquiring one that would also cover the costs of my son’s care, no desire to write, no desire to do much of anything really. I did take a full-time newsroom job when my son was a year old. My nanny made more money than I did, but I thought I could build this into something maybe. Alas, it didn’t work out. Turns out parenthood and reporting aren’t very compatible, at least not if you want to do both well.

Some of the friends I had made on App.net had started a gaming podcast. I was barely a gamer then. I could probably tell you all the games I had played and it wasn’t a long list. The only console I had ever owned is the Wii (actually that hasn’t changed :-)) As for PC games, I had played Oregon Trail and Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego. I think that’s all. I had a neighbor who had an NES so I experienced Mario and Duck Hunt, but only rarely.

But I had played some awesome mobile games recently and then I think it was my friend Steve Lubitz who recommended Monument Valley. It’s not for nothing that we call him our Gaming Yoda. Steve knew then what I didn’t yet. He knew that there were all kinds of gamers. And he also knew that you didn’t have to be born with a controller in your hands to become one. I thought, back then, that gamers were a specific type of person. Insert every stereotype here. I was only faintly aware that women gamers existed. I didn’t think this was a hobby for me and I also thought it was too late. I was 34 and had a child. People like that don’t play video games, right? Wrong. Wrong. And wrong some more.

Like many people, I had a very narrow conception of what games were. I thought they were Call of Duty and Halo and sports games, because those were the only types of games I had ever heard of. I certainly didn’t think mobile games were real games. (It really says something about the virulent hate in gaming towards mobile that this had somehow seeped into my consciousness without ever having read a single gaming website or publication, but I digress). I knew nothing of indie games. I didn’t know Steam existed or any such similar platforms. All of this had passed me by.

When I started discovering all that was out there, I was amazed and blown away by the wide variety of games that exist and I was thrilled to discover that I could play and enjoy so many of them. Especially on my phone, because it’s always with me and I can play for short bursts (or longer ones when I so choose) so it fits my life much better than 150-hour console epics. I’ve played a number of games on my MacBook Pro too, but that’s not as great an experience for a number of reasons. Let’s just say I began to understand why people spent thousands of dollars on gaming PCs.

We didn’t talk about mainly mobile games on Unconsoleable at first, but it went in that direction because it was clear that 1) mobile games are not considered by many to be “real games” and we wanted to change that and 2) mobile is a woefully under-covered sector in games and especially so from a female and not “core gamer” perspective. We also just selfishly began to wish for better mobile games. Wonderful and amazing ones exist, to be sure, but there is room for so many more. The world does not need the millionth Candy Crush clone, but it does need a Prune, a Sling Kong, an Alto’s Adventure, a Bertram Fiddle, a Pac-Man 256, to name a very few.

By highlighting what we think is the cream of the crop to our growing audience, we hope to encourage developers to take mobile games and gamers more seriously. We hope to discourage those who think that you can shovel just any crap out onto the App or Play Store because pfffft, these mobile gamers don’t care, they have no taste, they’re just killing a few minutes waiting for their bus. We hope to help indies gain traction, because they are more often than not the ones making awesome things and don’t have a dime to spend on marketing. We hope to loudly and clearly declare that women play games and it’s a real game even if there’s no controller or keyboard involved. We hope to, when possible, highlight the fact that women also make games. Women like Megan Fox and Jenna Hoffstein. And that even young girls playing mostly mobile games are already starting to detect that gaming is not exactly an egalitarian paradise.

Just like my journey into journalism and maybe even more so, this one has brought me to a place of incredible new, hopefully life-long friendships, and wonderful, creative people who are immensely passionate about the work they do. I am so fulfilled and so lucky to be able to do this.

Of course none of it would be possible without my co-host and technical whiz, Jessica Dennis. Literally, the show would not exist. Because I still don’t know how to edit audio and don’t particularly want to learn. My talents lie in other areas. Jessica and I make an awesome team and I have nothing but excitement and anticipation for where this adventure will take us next and. It has already taken us somewhere amazing. Just listen to our anniversary episode if you don’t believe me. It’s great having someone to share this with and even if by some chance we ever hit it big, I can’t imagine ever losing our sense of excitement and wonderment. We will never stop squeeee-ing, I know Jessica will back me up on this :-)

There are way too many people to thank for helping us get to where we are so I’m not even going to try. Some of you have been mentioned, some I’ve thanked privately, some I may forget and I’m sorry. So for now, I think I’ll just thank the listeners. If you’re a listener of the show reading this, THANK YOU. Especially if you’ve been a listener since the beginning, but even if you haven’t, we love each and every single one of you. We do this for you. Here’s to many more years! *clink*

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