Employee Profile: momgamer

There are only two people on the planet I call "mom." One is my actual mom, and the other is momgamer. When you meet momgamer in person, there's a certain steadfast quality to her that makes you feel all warm and safe. Like no matter what hits the fan, she's going to bring you out of it looking better than you went in. The first time I met her in person was at PAX a few years ago, as she oversaw the media room. My concerns about the unruly gaming media giving her static were quickly dashed as she dropped game knowledge few could posses while simultaneously building a city in Minecraft and kicking non-media people out. Over the years I've been lucky enough to see her at every PAX, and she's become one of my favorite reasons for going.

If the measure of a person is who they leave behind in life, mom will be considered one of the greats if only because her kids all seem to be well adjusted and awesome like she is. The GWJ community is lucky to have her!

1) Who the devil are you?
I was born and raised in Alaska, but now I live Outside (near Seattle). By day, I'm an applications developer/chief-cook-and-bottle-washer for a small, online legal research library. With my work schedule being what it is, I'm pretty much that by night, too.

2) What are you supposed to be doing when you're reading GWJ?
Mostly, watching a SQL server think, or big hunks of data move around the system. Or waiting for a pot to boil. I do a lot of reading (forum and otherwise) while cooking.

3) When you're not working or gaming, what do you do with your time?
Work and kids and games pretty much ate my life for a long time. Now that they've grown, I've been trying to get back into things. My fandom is fairly random, and most stuff would be charitably called "mixed media." I do a lot of sewing and needlework, but that's mostly expressed as costuming (the article picture is me as Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle). The most interesting bits on that costume are on the inside; the bloomers and petticoat underneath were a heck of a lot more complicated than the dress. I like to knit with a loom or crochet while playing games with the kids. It gives me something to do with my hands while kibitzing.

I do a lot of cooking and canning, too. I make preserves and apple butter (someone's going to have to explain that joke someday). I bottle stews and sauces to have on hand for quick meals. Properly boned, you can put an entire chicken into a quart jar.

This Easter I used the ThinkGeek April Fools joke as inspiration and made homemade Peeps shaped like Minecraft creepers. They turned out both tasty and awesome (thank you, Martha!) and according to the kids, this topped the previous year's Aperture Science Peep Containment System.

4) How about family? Kids? Pets? Particularly meaningful inanimate objects?
I have four children, all grown now. This has been chronicled here and various other outlets. My eldest son is out of the Army now and works in security while going to school. My younger son works in Texas for a directional drilling company (yes, I've heard ALL the innuendos). My elder daughter works in a daycare, but will be moving in a different direction when summer break starts. My younger daughter (the married one) works at Home Depot and Big Five right now but is looking at going to school soon. Her husband is working at a paint store and hopes to start training to be a policeman.

Pet-wise, I have two Betta fish. My daughters decided I would be lonely when I unlocked the "Empty Nest Syndrome" achievement this last winter (even though three of the kids live within 2 miles of me) and because they're twins, of course we couldn't have just picked one. They started out as Bit and Byte, but that changed once we got to know them. The red one is named Sarge due to his extreme aggressiveness; he even floats with a frilly swagger. The blue one is named Caboose because he's kind of loopy and doesn't swim quite upright due to brain damage from an infection when we first got him.

I have a lot of meaningful inanimate objects. Mostly gifts from my kids. The first that comes to mind is a sign hanging on the wall over my desk. My elder son was in shop class in ninth grade and ended up getting grounded the week before Mother's Day. So my gift was a cut-out wooden sign that reads "CruellatheDev."

5) When and/or how did you get into gaming?
I started off with pen and paper gaming in 1980 when my best friend got the original blue box D&D set from her grandmother for her birthday. That pretty much ate our imaginations; we even figured out how to play during class by ruffling the edges of the textbooks and using the page numbers for randomizing. We branched out from there to other systems like Champions (now known as Hero) and then went even further when the group started to include more boys in high school. Paranoia and Twilight 2000 were big hits.

Electronically, about that same time another friend got access to her father's Commodore 64 (it was the cool one with the cassette tape drive) and we used to have to type in the games to play them. In many respects, chasing typos and bugs and re-writing what looked like inefficient code was the beginning of my professional career as well as my gaming career. During sleepovers we'd call her ex-boyfriend's computer line in the middle of the night and make screeching noises and play the data cassettes into the acoustic coupler to make his modem do random stuff. Don't know if that counts as gaming, though.

6) What is your fondest gaming memory?
There are so many. Saturday afternoons and late nights rolling dice and telling our stories with the rest of the Knights of the Crooked Table (the name of our D&D group). Staying on top of the leaderboard on the Hogan's Alley machine in the college rec room while my ex played Gradius. I remember what a pain it was when I had to re-do it after I got married because my initials changed. Switching several WingCommander games, Merchant Prince, and many others off between him, our roommate and me until way too late on a work night. Trying to play Vampire: The Masquerade (not LARP! — well, only a few times) with sleeping houseapes in my arms.

And hundreds of them with my kids. Playing The Neverhood and seeing what happens when you eat more than three of the Belching Fruit. One day we tried to play a song on Guitar Hero all at the same time by having all five of us take a different button on the same guitar controller. We didn't get very far before all of us fell out laughing. More recently, opening Mass Effect 3 with my eldest son and the first thing he did was switch the coversheet to the FemShep side (well done, my padawan!). Or sitting at this last PAX East with my daughter using multiple Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders papercraft models that were included in the swag bags and a bunch of paper weapons and scenery we made to create our own stop-motion battles across the table. I think we're going to turn the pictures taken into the world's strangest story-book.

7) Why do you play games? Why haven't you outgrown them?
I've always felt that games grew with me. And when I had my kids, I consciously kept in touch with it, because I knew they would get into it to one degree or another, and I wanted to have that connection with them. And, as my gramma used to say, "You don't pay money, you pay attention." It's stood me in good stead over the years.

Someday, I hope to be that weird old lady who lives at the end of the block with blue lights and flashes in the windows at night so all the neighborhood kids think I'm a witch. That way I should have enough room to go back into miniature gaming properly. Maybe then I'll finally have time to play as much as I want.

8) What is your favorite game over the last year or so? Why?
I'm still playing way way too much Minecraft and I've started a replay of the Persona series. But as far as the last year's releases, it'd be a toss up between Catherine, Gratuitous Space Battles, Assassin's Creed: Revelations and Batman: Arkham City. Note my copies of Final Fantasy XIII-2, Skyrim and Xenoblade: Chronicles are still in shrink wrap until I get this frickin' project shipped, so that list might change soon.

9) Which upcoming game are you looking forward to most? Why?
Doing a big, geeky potty-dance for Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, which is an RPG collaboration between Studio Ghibli and Level5. Talk about two great tastes that taste great together! Assassin's Creed 3 is also big on my list.

10) What first brought you to GWJ? What keeps you coming back?
Elysium traded front page articles with Dave Long from Gamerdad back in 2004. That brought me here for the first time, and they haven't been able to get rid of me since. I started writing for the front page in early 2007. (Please don't go read those unless you've got your dice loaded to land on the Elder Sign so you can get your sanity back from Cthulhu. I've learned a lot since then.)

11) What is the story behind your handle?
Pretty self-explanatory, really. I game a lot and I have kids.

12) What is the story behind your tag?
There were a lot of awesome suggestions: "Broad Gaming Experience", "My Eyes Are Up Here", "Matriarch-nemesis" and many more. The winner, "Spawn Point", was suggested by Yoyoson and it was picked due to the fact that it mortified the children completely.

13) Thanks for taking the time to answer our hard-hitting questions! Any last words?
I guess I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes, attributed to Mark Twain: "Leave 'em laughing, or leave 'em wondering what the hell you meant." Hopefully I'm successful in one or the other.


We love you mom! Keep up the awesome!

It's always a joy chatting to Colleen in the PAX Media room. After the hustle and bustle of the show floor, she always brings a smile to this terribly jaded and sarcastic Englishman's face