I’m going to use up the whole page on the first question… I was born in the Dominican Republic – my sister/cofounder Emily was born in Guatemala a few years later. We then moved to:
back to Austin
back to Madrid
Between high school and college I taught English in the Dominican Republic, worked as a cook in Telluride, CO, and got arrested in Newport Beach, CA (you’ll have to tell us more about that later! –Sam).
Then I went to college at Princeton.
During college I spent a summer in Austin that turned into a year, and I almost dropped out (see question 2), but did make it back to Princeton and switched majors from History to Computer Science. I graduated in 1995, and moved back to Austin to work on Ultima Online…
As for what I remember most – probably the most intense day of my life was my first day of school in Madrid. I was 10, and had spent the previous 6 years as a regular American kid in Austin. My parents, to their credit, thought I’d get more from an authentic experience in Spain from a “real” Spanish education. The school was the size of city block, 8 stories tall, and had 3,250 kids in 13 grades. Most of them had literally never met an American. I was literally swarmed at recess with kids 3 deep saying “Do you ride a horse to school?”, “Who shot JR?” (it was 1980). The best were the ones who asked me to translate elaborate Spanish oaths, like “¿Cómo se dice…’Me cago en las tetas de la Virgen María para que el Niño Jesús chupe mierda?'” (If anyone wants the answer to that one, email me. It’s not fit for publication.)
I adjusted to the school pretty well, mostly avoiding the cuffs on the head that the teachers doled out regularly. I even became a teacher’s pet – my 4th grade teacher would send me down to the tobacconist to buy him cigarettes – he smoked in class, ashing on the floor. On the plus side, I learned to handle myself in a very foreign environment. I got way ahead in math – they were doing binary arithmetic. I can draw a map of Spain freehand very well. And I could go anywhere in the city on public transportation by myself at age 10. It was a great place to be a free-range kid.
I remember watching the Ford/Carter debates with my grandmother. I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew that it was important. It got my very sweet grandmother worked up.
I remember that my mother and father always voted the opposite of each other – to save time they had a pact that neither would vote, saving time and effort since their votes would cancel out anyway. That lasted until my father snuck off behind her back and voted anyway… she was as mad as I’ve ever seen her.
For political reading, I’m a big fan of Lawrence Lessig’s Republic, Lost – campaign finance is my #1 issue.
As for games, I’m a pretty serious poker player – I started SF Poker League, an office tournament series for game developers and techies (T4A.org members welcome!).
My mother got an Apple ][+ to write her dissertation – I think I was 11 at the time. I was immediately hooked – at that time the gulf between playing games and making them was much smaller. You turned on the machine and were typing at a BASIC prompt. I typed in lots of games from Softalk magazine. I literally typed for days – it was a great way to learn. I started by making my own modifications to the game – I changed the hero from an “@” sign to a “+”, and gave him new weapons, etc.
In high school I decided being a nerd wasn’t the way to get girls, so I pretended to be a jock. Joined the wrestling team, etc. It sort of worked, but I definitely felt like an impostor until my best friend (and CounterPAC cofounder) Zack Simpson got me a summer job at Origin Systems when I was 20.
Of course things changed once she bought the game… to her credit she doesn’t hold it against me. At Kongregate I’ve definitely been the pitchman and she’s been the operator – she would never have started the company without me, but it wouldn’t have lasted a year without her…
The biggest benefit is probably that we can fight efficiently in meetings without freaking people out. The biggest drawback is that people sometimes assume we’re husband and wife, which is icky.
Obviously it’s easier to do when you’ve retired, so it’s not a fair comparison. And up until this year I haven’t walked the walk. I’m active in the San Francisco Bike Coalition, but hadn’t gotten involved in politics beyond campaign donations to politicians I admire: Obama and McCain in particular – as well as EFF, the Nature Conservancy, and CRP. Lacking time, I gave money. As I step back from Kongregate, I’m going to give more of both.
In general I’d say that online communities have pulled our loyalty towards smaller groups and away from big ones. It’s a lot easier to find precisely like-minded people on Twitter than in the Big Tent of a political party.
If it has to be a guy, David Byrne.