Any history of my life begins with a history of my family's, and in specific, my Grandfather. Before Castro's rise to power, my family was a member of the Latino Aristocracy in Cuba. When the atrocities of his new regime began to spread across Cuba's soil, my Grandfather rose up to fight against him, using his financial influence to purchase arms and equipment for the struggling rebels. Eventually, he was caught and imprisoned, escaping the firing squad by only the thinnest of margins.
Luckily, my Grandmother's Father was an employee of some influence with US Steel, and was able to arrange for what was left of the Patino's to flee to the United States. My Grandmother arrived in the US with nothing but the clothes they were wearing, never having worked a day in her life, and with seven children to feed. Only six months after their arrival in the US, both of my Great Grandparents had passed away, leaving my Grandmother with only a sister to aid in the raising of her kids. She took a job as a secretary at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she worked till she retired, about 5 years ago.
My Father and his siblings spent most of their childhood in a desperate level of poverty, not to mention being isolated in a strange country where they did not even speak the language! Though all the chips were set against them, every single one of my Uncles has achieved the American Dream. How many people can say their family boasts a Doctor, Engineer, Fire fighter Chief, Pilot, Pastor, Corporate Executive, and Programmer? This from a group of kids with nothing but the will and desire to make something of themselves.
My Grandfather was finally released in 1966, after surviving several years of imprisonment in the political prison system of Cuba. After a tearful family reunion, he immediately set about developing communities dedicated to the welfare of his fellow political prisoners in the communist controlled Island of Cuba. Additionally, my family started a not for profit organization that arranges medical relief in impoverished countries, which has arranged the delivery of millions of dollars in medical supplies to over 18 countries.
As you can imagine, all of this history was a heavy burden to bear as a child. My siblings and cousins were all raised to understand the importance of hard work, of striving to succeed, and of defending your ideals by sweat, tears, and blood. This was the legacy I was born to, and to this day I still struggle to uphold the values, beliefs, and example of my family.
I was born in Hollywood, Florida, in 1974. Throughout the bulk of my childhood, my Father was both a Fire Fighter and a Pastor, and my Mother was a Teacher. The eldest of four boys, I had what most would consider a rough and tumble childhood. Camping, Boy Scouts, Paint ball, Horses, Dirt Bikes, and Sports were a large staple in our elementary education. My mother began home schooling us at a young age, and all of could read before we were sent to kindergarten, which likely led to my current love of literature. Though relatively poor, my Mother's position as a teacher guaranteed us a free education at a private school which emphasized the arts and music. All of us learned to play instruments, as well as participating in various thespian activities, which I believe rounded out our personalities and encouraged us to develop a strong level of confidence.
In the 80's, my Mother's Parents took custodianship of a campground in Northern Florida. As kids, we would move up for the Summer and work on the campground for a very modest hourly wage... which still seemed huge to a child! We learned to shoot guns and arrows, ride horses, drive ski-boats and tractors, wash an incredible amount of dishes, and tinker around in the garage fixing the inevitable broken down something or other. It was, quite honestly, the best playground I can imagine for growing up, and we loved every minute of it. Even as a child, I was fascinated with computers, so I saved my pay for three Summers until I had enough money to buy my first computer. By today's standards, it was a piece of junk, but I couldn't have been more proud of it.
As a child, I was always reading. And I do mean always. During school, walking home, in the bathroom, up on top of a tree... you name it, I read there. I read an average of forty books a month, and had a college level reading comprehension in third grade. In sixth grade, an offhand bet made by my Father set me on a new goal, reading the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica. After completing that I went on to read the World Encyclopedia, and to this day I feel that a large part of my "intelligence" comes from that early foundation.
When I was not reading or being pulled into some sport by my siblings and friends, I was on my computer. To this day I still remember my adventures in King's Quest, Hero's Quest/Quest for Glory, Zork, and the various BBS games of the time. At the time, computers were still a very new technology, and the world wide web had yet to be invented. I even have a copy of Mosaic laying around somewhere, the very first "web browser" that allowed text and pictures to be displayed. I loved riding the wave of the internet's new evolution in technology, and that thirst for innovative development has never left me.
Between my passion for books and computers, you would imagine that I would grow up an introverted child. Were it not for my family, I am sure I likely would have, but charm and charisma were values that my parents stressed very highly in our education. With their careful influence and guiding hand, we all developed into personable characters that are comfortable and confident in just about any setting.
When I turned 15 I immediately took a job at a local bookstore. As an avid reader, I was always there anyways, so it was no surprise that they just decided to start paying me for my time. My work ethic was pretty advanced for my age, which I largely attribute to the influence of my family, so I quickly moved my way into management. I loved working in bookstores, and continued in the field for about 9 years. If they ever started paying bookstore managers a decent salary (which will never happen), I would seriously consider moving back into the field.
When I was 16, I was offered the opportunity to attend college while still completing my last two years of High School. This was a huge opportunity, as I had a very difficult time retaining interest in the high school courses I considered remedial. For the last two years of school, I attended high school for one class in the mornings, then college for a full course load, and then off to work. In my Senior year of High School, I actually worked TWO jobs while maintaining that schedule! Luckily for me, we were still in Miami where there was a plentiful supply of Cuban Coffee.
When I was 17, my parents were divorced and my Father left his church. As life changing moments, this ranks in the top ten. My Mother sold our childhood house and actually started going to college with me! There is nothing stranger then having a college friend ask you if he can date your Mother.
In 1992, I met my ex-wife. We were married about a year after, with all the ensuing drama and mistakes that a young couple rushing into marriage normally make. Eventually, we moved up to Gainesville for school, and after five years we split up... sadly on the same day my childhood dog died. To this day, that was the saddest evening of my life.
Here we begin my "mini mid-life crisis". After the divorce, I left the bookstores that had been my home for almost a decade and took up bartending. I stopped pursuing my college career, and started pursuing... er... other things. It was a dark time for me, though I did flesh out my inter personnel skills in avenues I had never previously ventured. After two years of "living the life", I decided it was time for a change, both of career and my morals. So I picked up everything I owned and moved to California, where I took a job as a QA Tester for MGM's Interactive Games Division.
Testing games was an awesome change of pace from bartending, and I probably would have stayed in the gaming industry forever if MGM had not closed down their Interactive Games department. This was in 1999-2000, right when the first MMOGs were hitting the market, and it was an exciting time to be a gamer. Sadly, I took a different route, and obtained a position at NetZero (now United Online) as their Infrastructure Operations Coordinator, my first real taste of the Corporate life. It was an interesting and educational position, and I developed many friends there that I keep in touch with to this day.
After the dot com market crashed, NetZero bought Juno and became United Online. They cut about a third of our staff at that time, and offered me the opportunity to move to Manhattan (at the same pay) or to take their buy out offer. I took the buy out, and started aggressively pursuing consulting as a full time position.
At first, my jobs were relatively simple web sites, intranet portals, and so on. But as I began to really watch the methods and work flows that my various clients used in their business models, I noticed that there were some glaring holes in their process structure. After a few off hand remarks made around cocktails to a client, my career as a business process consultant was born. Contractor work suited me fine, as it provided ample opportunities to travel, but I never loved it the way I loved the gaming world.
Simultaneously to the evolution of my business career, I was venturing deeper into the world of Gaming. As noted in the COMMUNITY section of this site, I had begun developing a fierce interest in the cultivation of online communities. I took various "side jobs" in the Gaming industry as a Reporter, PR & Marketing Lead, in game Customer Support Representative, Event Moderator, Forum Administrator, and so on. All of these positions provided me with a growing tool kit of connections and skills to facilitate my growing obsession in community development.
While working in Michigan, I met my current girlfriend, Kelly. Our mutual love of billiards led us from fling to fantasy, and we have been together for just over 2 years now. In fact, our first date was July 4th. How's that for irony? After completing my contract in Michigan, I was ready to get out of the snow, so we packed up and moved to California.
And so we come to now, where my passion for gaming, online community building, and business design have led me to a new goal, working for your studio. My skills in web design and graphic manipulation, my experience in Meta-Community building, my talents in both creating and running Support Teams, my contacts throughout the gaming industry and media, my passion for gaming in general; all culminating in the creation of someone who, if given the opportunity, will throw all of that creative fire into the betterment of your online worlds. I can be what you need, and perhaps even more. As your studio expands its IP interests, I feel my skills could prove quite useful in the proper development, utilization, and management of your player-base and support staff, as well as an advocate for community oriented features that will perpetually leverage your player's interest.
If you would like to download this page, including all samples and associated materials, I have also provided them in a printed format.
Next up, my DOWNLOAD page.