So, who the hell is this Midnight Ryder guy, and why should I be listening to his podcasts and reading all his drivel?
OK, well, I can answer the first part, though it might take a bit of doing. There’s a reason for that – I’m not particularly old or anything, but my life has had a long winding path to get to where I am now. Plus, well, I talk a lot and all my stories are long. Go get yourself a cup of coffee or tea (might I suggest a nice RadioactiviTEA from 52teas?) One you’re ready to sit for a spell, I’ll explain who I am.
My name is Davis Sickmon. I’m a tech sort of guy, and started doing programming professionally when I was 17 (my first gig was doing a credit card authorization system in BC 7. I know, I just lost half my readers right there.) When I got a full time job, I worked at the same company for nearly 11 years. The job was cool – I wasn’t doing the same thing every day, and I got to travel all over the USA, and to China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Canada. Very cool. I learned an incredible amount of interesting stuff along the way, of course, and had some interesting experiences.
A bit before they shut down the division I worked for, I had an itch I really wanted to scratch. You see, ever since I was a kid, I wanted to write video games. My history in computers dates back to playing games on the Atari 2600, having a Vic 20, Commodore 64, a Timex-Sinclair 1000 (with the wonky 16k memory pack hanging off the back with a match book under it to keep it connected), and an Amiga 1000, and all sorts of other goodies. My parents actively encouraged me when it came to computers and video games. And I did write games as a kid – I just never released them.
So I sat down and started an experemental game called Boulder Panic! (actually, originally it was called Diamond Mine, but I didn’t like the title.)
The game sucked bad. Horrible graphics, lots of bugs, incredibly bad sound, and poor gameplay. But that didn’t matter – I had done it. So my next task was to begin selling the game, for a whopping $7.00 a copy. And it did sell – not lots, but it sold. That got me started on a path though, and I began improving it, writing Boulder Panic! 2 to fix a lot of the problems with gameplay.
A few more revisions, and Boulder Panic! 2 DX was released – 117 levels of maddening fun. Now I had something.
That’s when I got laid off.
I was married, and there were two of us with an income – so together we took a risk: I moved to becoming a video game developer. I did a grand total of seven games that were self published, along with a number of games I worked on as a contract basis. I also got the opportunity to go to conventions and speak on the business end of being a game developer. Life was good.
Then Gamer Zone happened. Gamer Zone was a LAN Gaming center – people came in, paid money, and played games on computers and X-Boxes. This wasn’t my idea at all – in fact, I was just helping out a friend. Before long I was running the show, acting as the lead partner of the group of four of us. For me, it seemed like a perfect fit – I already know games, so it would be a great way for me to get feed back on my existing game development efforts. I have rooms full of testers!
Except it didn’t work that way. Instead game development slowly disappeared as I struggled harder and harder to keep Gamer Zone moving forward. I lost sight of what I was most passionate about.
Along the way, I made more interesting connections, and had more interesting experiences, of course. One of those was founding, producing, and co-hosting a TV show on video games. The World of Gamer Zone television show covered reviews, news, and even information on getting into game development. It started as the worst possible thing that ever aired on TV. It ran for 12 episodes, and at the end we had a product that was more polished than a lot of the stuff I see being released online by some of the bigger game review places!
Gamer Zone died horribly. It took everything I owned – my car, my house, my money, and I ended up divorced (which wasn’t caused by the lack of money, but was a side effect of the loss of Gamer Zone.) Then the TV station that aired the World of Gamer Zone show was bought out, and I didn’t offer the contract to the new owners (I, by the way, still own the rights to the TV show. The deal that happened to make the show a reality was amazing, and a bit against the grain of how things normally go when dealing with TV.)
I was broken. Not just money issues, but everything crushed me. At some point, some spark occurred, and slowly life became real again – I slowly began working towards becoming someone again. I started working construction, running a project to build a friend’s new restaurant (What, a geek running construction? You bet. I also work on cars, work at a farm on the weekends, and a ton of other things. I’m not so easily drawn into tight little boxes that people expect a computer geek to work within,) Then, rolling over what little I could, I did my first contract gig back in the computer field.
I was back in the land of the living, for the most part. I started taking on web development projects (my first website was back somewhere around 1997, 1998 range if I remember, and I had been keeping up on web development ever since, so I knew the field). Slowly, I became a web developer.
One day, a random idea hit me – I still owned the domain for Gamer Zone (GamerZoneCenters.com), so I started a blog to share the stories of Gamer Zone, starting from the beginning, and running until the end. About 18,000 words in, I realized something – this wasn’t a blogging project anymore. This was a book.
And thus, my first book was born: The Story of Gamer Zone.
And that’s how I’ve managed to work in three entertainment fields so far – video games, books, and TV. (Four, if you want to count Gamer Zone it’s self, since it was an entertainment destination, and five if you add roles in two short independent films.) And in every field I work in, I have a habit – I suck the marrow out of it. I didn’t just learn how to use a camera, for instance. I learned how to edit, produce, write, and even how to run a TV station to a certain extent. I find experts in a field near me, and I suck their brains out so I can use that knowledge elsewhere. Metaphorically, of course – I’ve yet to actually physically remove someone’s brain.
Oh, that doesn’t tell my entire story. Hell, that doesn’t even tell ONE of the pieces of my life (go buy The Story of Gamer Zone if you really want to read a whole book about just one facet of my life), but it gives you some idea who I am.
Now, back to the second half of the question: why the heck would you want to read all my drivel? I have no clue. Maybe a source of fascination with the amazingly messed up situations I find myself in. Maybe just a curiosity of if I ever get any more interesting. Who knows. But if you’ve managed to just read twenty years of some random guy’s life on the about page? That might mean I’m just interesting enough to keep reading about 😉
And, getting around to part of the point why this site exists: I’m also writing multiple books at once, so along with my personal blog type stuff, I also keep all my book information at. Right now, there’s three in print; the semi-autobiographical “The Story of Gamer Zone”, my first role playing game “The Horror Game”, and my first table-top miniatures game, “The Plastic Army Game.” For me though, the real fun begins with the weekly serialization of Muse, Autobiography of a Super-Villain, The Incredible Dave, IZ, and First Footprints. Five books, all being written at once (OK, not completely true – the first book of Muse was written quite a while back, but never published. I’ve been holding on to it for a while now.) And five books all being published at once, here online, as weekly serials. For me, this is a blast! 🙂
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr