First I would like to say Happy Mothers day to the three great mothers in my life.
My Mom, Mary, without whom none of this craziness would be possible.
My Wife, Julie, without whom none of this would be worth while
My Mother in Law, Jeanne, who welcomed this crazy gamer into her family.
Dave Williams and DJ Trindle
After giving away 10,000 copies of Shadis #9 and then selling 10,000 copies of Shadis #10, we were off to the races. Jolly moved from South Carolina to California and we got a little two-bedroom apartment in Corona, California. Selling copies with hot Magic content was easiest, but Jolly was dead set against changing this content of the magazine. Shadis quickly became a known name as stores started to carry it and we continued to make sure that copies got distributed at conventions.
I cannot remember why we thought we needed an intern. We were literally publishing the magazine out of the apartment, but the page count was growing and the number of advertisers was increasing. We were a start-up and we were far from breaking even or making a living. We posted a few hand-typed signs at a local convention looking for interns, “Call Shadis magazine for an interview.”
We got 5 or 6 callbacks and set up interviews. We had some nice, smart people show up. We made notes on basic things, like if they showed up on time, their skills, and basic thoughts about each applicant and Shadis. There were a few guys we could have picked but one guy showed up dressed for the interview like he wanted the job. He wore a tie.
It was literally the tiebreaker. We selected Dave Williams because someone somewhere had told him when you interview you wear a tie.
Dave was a gamer and an early player of Magic. A very good player. He and I connected very quickly and he ended up helping a lot with things not specifically associated with creating the magazine. Mailing orders, subscriptions, following up with advertisers, hauling boxes to the street corner and waiting on the UPS guy to show up … yes, we were big time.
We helped Jolly where we could, but he needed more than we could give him. I just don’t remember how it happened. I don’t remember if Dave said, “Hey, my roommate is smart guy and he can help”, or if he just showed up one day with Dave and started doing things (which is how I sort of remember it), but one day DJ was not at the apartment and it seemed like the next day he was. Desks went up in the office and there were two of us living there and four of us working there every day.
DJ Trindle: DJ became the lead editor for Shadis, and after that the editor for all AEG products. He was also a great sounding board. He could spot quality work and help people create their best in game design and writing. He worked miracles as we grew, he was our memory, and I cannot imagine us ever being able to do more than one product without him at the office. (Turns out DJ had approved or suggested the tie on interview day so he gets an assist in that area as well.)
Dave Williams: It turns out David was not just a good Magic player. He did not know it yet, but he was one heck of a game designer. Dave was lead designer for many of our CCG’s including L5R, Doomtown, and many others. It is pretty safe to say that if he had not worn a tie to that interview, that we might have accidentally picked someone else and the trajectory of all of our lives would be vastly different than it is.
So, Dave, thank you for wearing that tie. And thanks also to his parents for teaching him how to dress to impress.
How the first AEG staff came together could be turned into a movie scene where a ragtag group of heroes karmically are pulled together. Next week I’ll talk about how I met the guy who is the Ying to my Yang and how we starting thinking about more than magazines.
PRO TIP: if you want to get your gamer tie on check out the Tactical Meeple Depot they just ran a great little Kick Starter and who knows that tie you wear today, may get you a job, and into a blog about how cool you are 25 years later.