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Donating my Xbox

Today I donated my Xbox 360 Elite to Goodwill. It represented a time in my life as a developer that I'm not overly proud about living.

I worked for a couple years designing games at Microsoft. It is honestly difficult to say the exact group I was in since the organization was hit regularly by massive reorgs and general management failure.

This was the era right before Kinect and there was yet another effort underway to broaden the audience to extend beyond the 'big black boy box' brand that so defined the original Xbox. Ultimately, the anemic outcome of this great leap forward was a handful of resource starved trivia games and gameshows. But the dream of bringing socially positive games to more people really appealed to me.

I was an outsider. Intentionally so. On the rare occasions I used a console, it was likely to be one built by Nintendo. Instead, my earliest influences stem from the Amiga and early PC titles, not the regurgitation of a roller coaster known as Halo. As such, my design direction tended towards non-violence and cuter, gender neutral designs. I still design original mechanics and will trade cutscenes for gameplay in a heartbeat. 

The capital of the console ecosystem
In many ways, a gig at Microsoft was a career peak for many developers I worked with. Since childhood, they had played console games, worked at console companies and then finally made it to the platform mothership from which all their life's work was originally born. The repeated mantra was "The things we do here will impact millions." The unsaid subtext was "millions of Gamers just like us."

It was also a cultural hub. You worked there because you were a gamer. People boasted about epic Gamer Scores and joked about staying up multiple days straight in order to beat the latest release. The men were hardcore. The management was hardcore. The women were doubly hardcore. To succeed politically in a viciously political organization, you lived the brand.

You got the sense the pre-Xbox, 'gamers as bros' was a smaller subculture within the nerdy, whimsical hobby of games. Over two console generations, a highly cynical marketing team spent billions with no hope of immediate payback to shift the market. In an act of brilliant jujitsu, Nintendo was slandered as a kids platform, their historical strength turned against them. Xbox put machismo, ultra-violence and chimpboys with backwards caps in the paid spotlight. Wedge, wedge, wedge. Gamers were handed a pre-packaged group identity via the propaganda machine of a mega corporation. For those raised post-Xbox, Microsoft was an unquestioned Mecca of modern gaming culture. Dude. They made Halo.

Cognitive dissonance
I'm okay with not fitting in. Over the 17 years I've been part of the game industry, I've gotten comfortable being an alien floating in a sea of Others. There weren't a lot of computer-loving digital makers in rural Maine in the 80s. I spend most of my days dreaming of an intricate systemic future where things are better. It is a state of constantly being half a second out of phase with the rest of the world.

Still it was a challenge being in an group that knew intellectually they had to reach out to new people while at the same time knowing in their heart-of-hearts that just adding more barrels to a shotgun was the fastest path to gamer glory. Talking with others in the larger organization would yield a sympathetic look. "Someone has to deal with those non-gamers. Sorry it has to be you. Bro."

I am not actually a bro. Don't tell anyone.

We made adorable hand-drawn prototypes and watched them climb through the ranks only to be shot dead by Elder Management that found cuteness instinctually revolting.

Correct games
There is a form to modern console games. If you've played the recent Bioshock Infinite, you can see the full glory of the vision. These are great games, especially if you know and appreciate the immense skill that goes into their creation.  Each element serves a business purpose.

First there is a world rendered in lush 3D. This justifies the hardware.

Next are intermittent dollops of plot. These are voice acted because it is a quality signal. They feature intricately modeled characters on a virtual stage. This gives the arc narrative momentum and lets you know you've finished something meaningful.

Filling out the gaps in the 7-12 hours ride are moments of rote game play with all possible feedback knobs tuned to 11. Blood, brains, impact. Innovation is located at 11.2. This makes you feel something visceral.

Each element of this form is refined to a most perfect formula. There are crate-raised critics who make subtle distinctions between the 52 historical shades of grey. There are documents and research. If you are a creative working at or within a publisher, your higher purpose is to judge games based off their adherence to the form. The game is a product and consistency, much like that found in McDonalds fries, results in repeat purchases. As a publisher designer, you are someone with taste.

You police the act of creation. It is a job. It is a set of orders that come from above. It is your childhood dream.

Away, away
I no longer work at Microsoft. Instead, I started up the independent studio Spry Fox and spend my dreamy days making odd little games. Easily the best career choice I have ever made. My current games barely have plots. They focus on player agency and more often than not sport cute 2D graphics. Very few can be won. None come in boxes. We don't need to spend billions, because people love playing them without the crutch of traditional marketing or press. (For those who wonder, articles like this drive almost zero traffic to our games)

As part of my personal journey, I've found that I'm driven by ideals that fit poorly with a highly gated console monoculture: What if games can connect people? What if they can improve the world? What if they bring happiness and joy to our lives?

Hardcore gamers, women, men, children, families, bros, feminists, and wonderful people that play no other games...they play these intimate, quirky games of ours. Yeah...if you count up the numbers, we impact tens of millions. Deep down, I'm not sure if any of them are people like me.  My job as a game designer is to make beloved games, not fit some limited corporate definition of a gamer. 

So far, none of our games have been released on the Xbox. There's so far little economic or cultural fit with the artificially propped up tribe residing in that cloistered warren.

So goodbye, big black box. I never really liked what you stood for.

take care,

Edit 4/7/2013
Whoa...that spread further than expected.  To clarify a few minor points that keep cropping up. 

- The inspiration for writing was that I was cleaning out my closet.  I thought I might put into words my reflections.  This sort of thing happens regularly with writers on a rainy Saturday. 

- There are some really wonderful people that work inside Microsoft.  My personal observation is that the environment rarely lets them shine. However, I have great hope for those that escape. 

- Spry Fox is doing quite well...easily the best career decision I've ever made.  However the point of this was not to promote a company but instead talk about a personal journey.  If you are a game developer and you take something from my mistakes, great. If not, that is okay too. 
Andrew Morris's profile photoAlex Byrom's profile photoShane Nokes's profile photoStephen Hugli's profile photo
Dang. You make it sound like crushing your Xbox would have been more appropriate, considering your feelings towards it. Anyway, excellent commentary of that culture--I feel the same.
More power to you. But you won't gain respect from the Microsoft culture until you show you're doing better financially at Spry Fox than you did on salary in Redmond.
+Allen Varney I have zero need for their respect. :-)  Nor is it useful to anyone for me to reveal my finances. ;-) 
Spry Fox: It is your childhood dream!

EDIT: Maybe your adult dream? Anyway, its dreamy :)
Great post. I felt it was an interesting way to frame the way I feel about the Xbox ecosystem too. Thanks for sharing it.
Bruno B
Great post, but still I wonder, what do you think about Microsoft's role in the development of the indie culture? In the end, it was Microsoft that launched XBLA (and its less successful sibling, XBLIG).

It was Microsoft and its money that pushed the very first indie success stories (Braid, Limbo, Super Meat Boy, Castle Crashers).

I wonder if, without Microsoft's push, the indie games scene would be the same as it is nowadays.
+Bruno B Never mistake the poster children for the prime movers.  Yes, XBLA was one of the many platforms opening up due to the advent of digital distribution.  And they were particularly good about connecting with the existing press apparatus.  It is important that you recognize these for what they are: "Success stories"  Exactly the sort of PR tale that a new and untested platform needs in order to bring in more developers and gain network effects.  It is worth noting that now that those network effects exists, the contracts for XBLA have once again turned predatory. 

Yet Flash portals, TIGsource, and eventually Mobile or Steam all spawned their own hobbyists and entrepreneurs. This is a technological and distribution sea change, not a few isolated events performed by heroic figures. The indie movement would have occurred independent of a handful of minted millionaires. Though of course, the unique flavor they add is undeniable. :-) 
Bruno B
Yes, of course Flash portals like Newgrounds existed long before XBLA, and the PC scene has always had tons of underground, often free, productions.

But before XBLA and its initial stream of "indie" productions, there was not an indie culture as we know it nowadays.

Nothing heroic, just a cynical market analysis on Microsoft's part probably, yet still, it leaves me wondering if much of nowadays' indie "culture" is actually a byproduct of Microsoft's (and, to a lesser extent, Sony's) marketing strategy.

If you check Japan's indie scene, for example, it seems to me quite different from the western one, as there's not the same separation between "indies" and "hobbysts" ( we experience here.

And why is that? Maybe because Japan (and, to a lesser extent, Europe) has been less subjected to Microsoft's own definition of "indie".
If you look at the exclusive/2nd party IP's this gen for Xbox

Gears of war
Alan Wake
Viva pinata

Not very dudebro in my opinion

What we have seen is other non microsoft studios taking gears of wars dudebro style and copying it
Thanks for this.  I really appreciate your comments as an outsider myself.  Do you regret your time at MS?

You are quite skillful with your use of vocab, very entertaining btw.
I'd say Bruno B has a point. Reducing XBLA to a string of isolated "Success stories" comes off as very cynial. It was a platform they pushed very hard at the beginning of the generation, integral to their reimagining of the Live service. It provided a first proper console outlet for types of games that were being marginalized on those machines for years (not on PC, obviously), and the roots of that problem lie in the generation prior to the one in which Microsoft entered the business.

Of course, it eventually mutated into something that's not as inviting anymore, and it was somewhat of an opportunistic move in the first place - just as their push for Kinect after Wii's success was, and just as their presumably more social-oriented future strategy will be - but it did serve as a spark that brought us quite a few good things in the long run.

By the way, I'm not deluding myself into thinking that Sony or Nintendo are any less opportunistic. Wii U itself was a very cynical attempt to cash in on the tablet craze (and 3DS is not very far either), and a misguided move which was rather obviously going to produce a tepidly received product.
Bruno B
+Victor Strobe thank you. :) I think it's true that Microsoft (and Sony) have helped the indies in gaining momentum and popularity, as cynical and interested their actions may have been.

What I'm also trying to say, is that Microsoft (and Sony) also "shaped" what an indie should be, by pushing titles such as Braid, Limbo, Flower, Journey, and so on.

Nowadays you can develop, let's say, a perfectly nice and enjoyable sidescrolling beat'em up in your basement, using only ur grandma's money, but unless you make it quirky, or artsy, or in any case openly "against" the mainstream, it won't be accepted so easily as an "indie" title.

Because "indie" has become synonimous with small, quirky, artsy, meaningful, and so on, and IMHO Microsoft (and Sony) plaid a big role in this.
Hmm. Well, I pretty strongly disagree. Crediting Microsoft (or Sony) with any part of the success of today's indie scene seems to me like a fairly astonishing revision of history. It simply didn't go down that way.

It's true that the 'popular success stories' were picked (sort of) by the publishers, but that was as much something they stumbled into as it was a strategy. They improvised well, but that's hardly enough to credit them with 'shaping' the scene (unless you mean, 'in the mind of the more mainstream consumer', in which case, sure).

From what I saw at the time, it was companies like Unity and Kongregate that were shepherding the initial scene, and they did it by getting the community involved. What I saw was that, in the end, the indie scene was built by the indies, not by a corporation. I think they deserve the credit for what they have accomplished (good and bad).

(for the record, I'm a corporate guy. ;)


Dan, honestly, I think this is one of the finest posts you've ever written. Utterly inspiring. Thanks for sharing.
Like i said on /r/games, I like how i feel the same thing, especially in this sentence : "It is a state of constantly being half a second out of phase with the rest of the world."
Keep it up!
Well said! Makes me feel even better knowing that you're behind Spry Fox, cause of the quality of games that you put out.
The first console I bought (from any brand) was the XBox 360. And I bought three of them: I sold the first to buy a Playstation 3 (because my best friend had a Playstation and I wanted to play Modern Warfare with him), sold the Playstation 3 because I hated how they designed it (friendship not-withstanding), bought another Xbox which had the power cube go out, and finally decided to just buy a new one instead of go through the rigmarole of getting the power cube repaired/replaced. In short: I went from a non-gamer to a Xbox FANATIC. I played a lot of the Halo and the Modern Warfare and the Black Ops. And then...I got tired of it all. I started to feel a deep seated urge to play a game which didn't just reward reflexes and low ping above all else--a game which would incorporate the use of my brain. And I was suddenly blown away by how clearly the Xbox focuses on action and FPS. There were only a handful of Strategy titles available--many of them overly simplistic and "old" (as in 2009-ish). I played--and enjoyed--Civilization: Revolution but soon found the lack of options for diversifying the multiplayer tiring. After getting to the point where I beat the AI every game in Civilization, I stopped using my Xbox for gaming. It became merely an overpriced Roku box used for streaming Netflix. Then when my wife and I started watching all of the content we were interested in on my laptop (1080p, 15.6"), the Xbox and the attached 42" TV were never used again. After months of just sitting there, I sold them both. I suspect that I am not atypical and that at some point everyone will get tired of the focus on action and violence and shooting games. I just want more from my gaming--and when the studios focus on producing multi-billion dollar blockbuster games, it rapidly results in Halo 8, Modern Warfare 12, Black Ops 7...and a whole bunch of derivative shooters and action games. If you like one of those games, you'll likely like the others, but should you ever tire of the genre (like me) then all the sudden you're not interested in anything the Xbox has to offer. 

I'll keep my eye on the Xbox 720 (or whatever it'll be called) and see if things change there--but as of now I don't anticipate they will, and thus I probably will not be buying into the next round of consoles.

I've discovered that there are a lot more titles that I'm interested in on the PC: Civilization 5, Anno 1404, Anno 2070, etc... games which look pretty, exercise my brain, and don't rely on my reflexes or ping.

Look out Microsoft (and Sony): gamers are getting tired of the same ole' thing and I think there will be a tipping point. When it arrives, mark my words, analysts will be scratching their heads: "why aren't people buying Modern Warfare 13?! They bought every other version of it in droves. We made billions and billions and now...costs are up, profits are down. What do gamers of today want?" Something different. Variety. We want a diverse array of games so that we can tailor our gaming to our mood or our evolving preferences. When you put all your eggs in one basket--as Microsoft and Sony especially are doing--you're bound to lose them all at once. 
I too believe something is lost when art is exhaustively processed, optimized, distilled into its most perfectly saleable dollops that appeal to the most basic instincts of the reptile-with-a-credit-card built deep inside our brains by faceless teams who think the final goal of everything is to make a sale.

Good luck!
The tone of this article strikes me as strange because most of the xbox gamers I know are women.

I'm glad you've found a happier place to produce your art!
My Xbox 360 (number 4 due RROD) and AAA game collection recently went to a teenage son of friends since my daughters were never keen on it ,  they seem to prefer playing those cute plot-less games (see Team Lava).

It started with playing Call Of Duty : Black Ops 2 and realizing how crap it was and how my entire gaming for the last few years has been playing the latest action shooter from Bungie, Epic, Take 2 or Activision.

Recently played TellTale Games The Walking Dead game due to them winning Game Of The Year at Spike  and it was a for more enjoyable and memorable experience.

Also the recent blowup over the requirement for an always on Internet connection for the Xbox 720 also makes me feel better exploring other ways of playing games.
+Vincent Leon

You do know that Sega approached Microsoft to make the original XBOX compatible with the DreamCast.
I guess this means Triple Town isn't coming to XBLA? Too bad, it'd go nicely next to Fez, Braid, and Lumines.
Hi Dan. Your section on 'correct games' struck a nerve. The part that I don't think you emphasize enough is that this correctness does actually resonate with a large population. It is a collaboration of sorts between MS and the gaming population, a kind of feedback loop that gamers enter into with MS, and it expresses legitimate utility on the part of the gamers.

The reason I say this is because I love Counter-Strike, but I also think World of Goo is a world-class game, and spend a lot of time on Kongregate, playing astonishing, amazing little works of art. E.g. I liked Chronicles of Riddick but I also love Charlie Kaufman movies. It's possible to enjoy both Halo and Braid.

The world is not divided into such neat categories. Like dark matter, alternative cultures exist, mostly silent, because they don't have PR firms broadcasting their existence. :)
You claim to have never liked what they stood for, but had no problem taking their money and a job with them. You also say that when you played a console, you would have played a Nintendo one. Why not take a job with Nintendo, then?
Just wanted to say that I completely agree with your opinion. I had grand hopes when Microsoft purchase Rare. Viva Pinata is still one of my favorite games on the 360. 

Also, now that I have a place where my voice might be heard... do you have any intentions to bring SteamBirds to Wii U eShop? I've heard good things about how Nintendo handles indie devs and you can get in touch via eshop [at] 

Nintendo has more info about putting your games on the Wii U on their GDC page:

As a Wii U owner, I can say that your games would definitely have a home on the eShop.

EDIT: And I wasn't only referring to SteamBirds, I meant any/all of the games developed by you and others would be appreciated by a majority of Wii U owners, look at Toki Tori 2 as a recent example.
I don't think we need only one type of games whether if it's violence games or more intelligence requiring games. Personally I like playing war games as well as games with less action and more plot. I also play browser-based strategy games which has jpegs as graphics and requires diplomacy skills with real people. I think what world needs is diversity. There are no right games people should be playing. We should play everything to get every kind of skill and joy from them. 
I thought you said you'd let me borrow that Xbox to finally try out Kinect some day! I feel so deprived now.
Perfect. I was worried that Xbox would become hipster, low-power, low-quality console (like Nintendo) and drop the core experience. However your post means that they care about hardcore gamers like me and I can buy Durango without worries.
it's weird because the ps3 doesn't seem to have these issues. little big planet, journey, flower and many other games seem to be the kind of games you would be interested in developing, maybe sign on with sony.
Bravo. I raise my glass to you good sir. Kudos to you for going after what you truly believe and share it with passion, being able to explain it inside out. Might a big giant like M. miss you. Keep up the good work. 
I miss those resource starved games. Fun while they lasted and I wish more like them would emerge. 
Perhaps this post is just a marketing scheme ;)  As an ex-EA developer, I can truly understand about getting away from the giants and doing your own thing.  On the other hand, I believe that the technology should be used for something else than just games.  Interactive technology is a powerful tool that we have yet to use to its fullest potential.
You selling it means that the next young mind can be poisoned with Gears of War crap. Fix your karma by buying one laptop per child or something.
Sure, the masculine-dominated world of blockbuster video games is sadly limited. I'm not sure that today's "casual games" made by companies like Spry Fox of the slot-machine-inspired wait-or-pay genre are any better. Aggressive competition has more going for it than compulsive self-destructive behaviour.
Did you have anything to do with Bunni Bunni? Some night in my research in "how to be a mobile game marketer" (I'm still looking for some guidance, holler at me, wise ones) I found and played this sweet flash game (or well-built prototype? I'm unsure...)
It was a magical few hours and even if Sly Fox only published it, this millennial who grew up on PF Magic and Maxis has high hopes for more ethereal-yet-cute games in the market. Thank you. 
Goodwill? Seriously? Why not donate it to a Children's Hospital instead? Or sell it on eBay and donate 100% of the proceeds to Child's Play?
TL;DR Likes new Bioshock, doesn't like Halo.
Keep dreaming Daniel! The world needs more dreamers. :) 
Dan, just a short note to say I really enjoyed reading this post!
Lily L
Hey +Daniel Cook, just wanted to say I'm the kind of person you're probably developing for. I saw this post, and although I don't  agree with everything you said (I like violence AND cutesy things), I've now spent the entire day playing Triple Town and Highgrounds (so cute and addicting!). Good on you for leaving XBOX, but don't belittle the hard work the teams in big name companies are putting into their games just because the head honchos decide they want to keep regurgitating the same things over and over again. There is passion at every level, from the big guys to the little guys, and that's what should unite us gamers. :)
+Daniel Cook So you're not planning to target Xbox, but do you think Spry Fox games might ever show up on Ouya?
Really introspective Dan. I'm glad you found a place in the gaming ecosystem, a unique niche that is fulfilling.
+Abe Burnett People aren't going to suddenly all get sick of FPSs, they will continue to be very profitable for the same reason that summer blockbusters continue to be profitable: the never ending parade of 14 year olds. Somehow the world just never runs out.
+Daniel Cook ( ^ω^ ) How does it end? I was so close to solving the 'dance' riddle near the end and 'finishing' the narrative but lost my connection and I could never seem to log back in to the save game. Also, talk about a spookycute hook in the beginning with the ghost bunni! 
Really liked reading this. This line is a gem: "adding more barrels to a shotgun was the fastest path to gamer glory". :)
(I wonder if Microsoft is working on a game where the primary goal is adding barrels to your shotgun…)
+Daniel Cook Thanks for sharing these thoughts with us. For me, it's really reassuring to read this as, somehow, you are wording some of my own thoughts. I think your "rant" can be easily extended to most of the main big publisher/studios of console games. And at the end of the day, to any other mass media...
Well, you convinced me to download Triple Town.
I love Triple Town but also Halo and Bioshock. By the way, Halo was developed by Bungie, a not so big studio at the time, and it fueled the development of e-sport on console (featured at the WCG and MLG). My first LAN party was not with PCs (didn't have the cash for a competitive rig at the time) but with Xboxes on Halo (at the time when we couldn't play on Xbox Live yet).
Basically I met or reunited with some of my still closest friend through playing Halo at a somewhat competitive level (co-organized a French Halo tournament too, gathering players from all corners of the country).
So now you can spit on Halo and the "Bro" culture around it and other console FPS (let me call it simply friendship or community) but just because you don't like it shouldn't make it bad.
It's quite an achievement to bring so many people together. 
Few indie games ever did that.
As I said, I like Triple Town a lot, spent several hours on it, but why the hate for the achievement of bringing quality FPS gaming to consoles?
At the time of Halo in 2003, I was totally blown away because it was so new on console. Now the market is flooded by FPS games but no need to blame Halo or Microsoft as the root cause of all evil.
Microsoft didn't kill Nintendo, for all I know.
What Microsoft represents might be different from what you aspire to, and you obviously made a great decision in starting Spry Fox, but as other have said, no need to be so dismissive of the "Bro gamers", since many of them could also be playing your games.
If you want exposure I suggest being part of the Humble Bundle for Android. I myself have bought many bundles, I love indie game devs, and love even more supporting them.
Thank you for your article.  I would like to agree and disagree with you if that's okay.  I understand corporate culture and what it means being in one and also from the outside.  Like any culture, including indie, it has its advantages and drawbacks.  There is no denying that.
The only thing that bothered me was us versus them tone of the article.   It has been interesting to read your views on their culture and how it stifled you and now you're working outside it and thriving.  I would have loved to see you take it one step further and talk about how you're trying to bring both the big plot driven games with the fun and not so plot driven games sides together.  To me it looks like you're doing the same thing you accuse Microsoft of doing.  Maybe it's a tone that I'm just reading into it based on personal experiences.  I did really enjoy your view and take on things and I'm 100% sure it happens across all platforms and publishers out there.  I understand it was a personal thing for you so there's no need to stress it too much.  Like I said I may be putting my own past experiences and reading into it too much.  Thanks again!
+Daniel Cook the thing that astounds me more than anything else in this write up is the nakedness. As a long time game developer I fear the Code of Science so much I feel uncomfortable even commenting on something like this out here in public. Yet I am glad you have said it and given people something more to think about.
I am with you man, this is why i hate microsoft and sony for what they did in the 90s and 00s with the playstation 1, 2 and xbox. They turned gaming into popcorn.
Ha, so you wrote that! Why am I not surprised :-)
Profound. You are like a philosopher of gaming. Best sentence I've read in a long time: "There are crate-raised critics who make subtle distinctions between the 52 historical shades of grey."

I just tracked down your used XBOX and I'm having a blast! I was still on an old Vectrex system...

I wish there were more first person shooters though :-(

The Brainy Gamer podcast did a 4 episode stint recently, revolving around this subject.
Great insights into the development process. One concern though is that this post divides games into the console / computer, simple / complex, corporate / authentic dichotomies that simply does not quite stand as an overall generalization. To take one example from your post, Bioshock Infinite is available on both consoles and PCs, so it is hard to call it just a console title. The difference seems you seem to be pointing to is between every rough-edge smoothed AAA titles and more jagged indie titles, rather than console vs. computer. While I have no doubt that your experience is representative of the culture within Microsoft at the time, I don't think it quite applies to all console games or gamers.

But again, thanks for the post. Fascinating read, and very helpful.
+Nicholas Boterf it may be presumptuous of me to speak for +Daniel Cook or Irrational, but impling AAA titles are console centric is not that inaccurate. Tools like Unreal make multi-platform development much more seamless and teams try to be balanced in their approach, but games of that scale are often developed in a console first manner. If the team does a good job this can be hard to see, or sometimes the internal cultures means it isn't true. But if you look closely you can see how certain features (UI is often a good example) lean toward the console side.
I've worked in several IT companies that have grown to become publicly traded companies and changed their culture beyond all recognition in the process. Sadly always for the worse, which is why I keep moving on. For some reason management ceome increasingly distant from the environment and treat employees like numbers and customers like dupes. I wish I understood why that was, or could change it.
Nice to see some passion still left in the industry 
Huh. I worked in some of the same circles as you Dan. While I know there are some folks that behave like feminine hygiene products there are also some good solid people there as well.

I've spent the last 5 years almost exclusively on things Xbox related on campus.

It honestly sounds like it's something you didn't want to do from the start so it was something you would have hated regardless.
I fondly remember the days of Amiga, Dan.  I remember how very smart, intelligent and creative you were. I hope everything is going well for you!!
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