Thank You, 2015

by M. Joshua

Thank you all so much. There’s so many things that I’m thankful for this year. So many fantastic people have assisted in fulfilling my dreams, blessing others, and just been awesome to us. I just wanted to take the time to thank everybody who made 2015 ultra memorable.

Vocation Discovery

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Aspire Ventures

First and foremost, I’d like to thank Joe Krzemienski for sitting me down and asking me to seriously think about what I want to do. He had to make the hard decision of letting me go from Aspire Ventures in March. It made a lot of sense because I couldn’t hide how unhappy I was in a corporate environment, and it was clear that I had a growing passion for production elsewhere. I haven’t really talked to Joe since I’ve been processing what this new trailer-production business venture of mjoshua.com, but I’ve never been happier and more excited to work than since Aspire Ventures gave me the tools I need and was able to let me loose into the wild.

Seriously, thank you, Joe. And Mike Montiero and Sam Abadir for believing in me and giving me the two-year opportunity to contribute as a team and learn how to rapidly prototype ideas and communicate them as a minimum viable product.

Massive thanks to Riley Hearn, Courtland Ellis, Joe Pietrzak, and Austin Billings for being awesome people to collaborate with.

18 South Youth Center

Thanks to all the other volunteers and all of the awesome teens that make Thursday nights (and the occasional Fridays) super interesting. I’ve absolutely loved getting to know folks like Garrett and Seth, and way too many other dudes to count.

Thanks to the new volunteers that make it so much easier to focus on hanging out with the kids and getting into stories and relationships and affording me the opportunity to not have to police the kids simply because we’ve got great mamas and grandpas who actually take an interest in the kids. It reminds me that we need less police and more moms and dads. Thanks to folks like Chris and Becky. And all the other new volunteers that I haven’t even seen yet!

Oh, and absolute thanks to my wife, Jessica for being an awesome director at the center and using amazing management skills to bring everybody together and trust things in capable hands.

Theology Gaming

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Thanks to the Theology Gaming community (Theology Gaming University) for being such a brilliant soundboard for anything and everything that I’m thinking about. Massive Ultra Mega thanks to Bryan and Zach for being available and supportive of making new leaps in my career as a games-trailer producer and for always being there when I need to toss an idea out. Also, super duper thanks to Zach for creating a website (theologygaming.com) that’s allowed me to just try new kinds of articles, posts, videos, and whatever whim I need to explore — be it theologically or gaming-related. Thanks so much, guys!

Gamechurch

It’s hard to believe that this is the fourth year that I’ve been along for Gamechurch’s Games Jesus Loves list. It’s been an absolute privilege to write, contribute, and build the name of Gamechurch among the writing community and see some of our articles get some bigger attention and press. But my great love and thanks goes out to Drew Dixon and Richard Clark for forging and crafting my “Show Don’t Tell” focus as a writer and helping me to unearth goodness in everything I engage with. Thanks so much, guys.

Plus 10 Damage

I cut my teeth on the sticky edge of Plus 10 Damage’s seat. It got gross. And lovely. Giant thanks to David Gutsche for inviting me into a world of punchy sass — and games writing that I’m truly proud of. It’s hard to find a venue where you can talk about dislocating your jaw to swallow video games whole. So thank you for that. And Matt, I loved that you created a place for where I could thrive. Some of my absolute favorite write ups still linger in the Plus 10 marshes and I loved writing alongside you guys. Thanks for being awesome.

Smaller Contributions

I got to dip my toes into a few lovely pools this year.

Casey Covel gave me VIP access to the Geeks Under Grace kingdom where I could freely write about rejecting an Elohim that don’t look like Jesus in The Talos Principle. We even made a video to showcase the way the game does this. Thanks Casey, and the Geeks Under Grace team (especially Michael Morejon).

Robert Edwards had me on his Played Out Podcast where we he (as a nonreligious sort) was super curious about how faith relates to gaming. It’s one of my absolute favorite podcasts of the year so give it a listen.

A close second favorite podcast was the first Indie Haven Podcast Josh Hinke invited me onto where we talked about Life is Strange (my second favorite game of the year). It felt like a true welcoming to the team and a warm invitation. So I was massively grateful for that one. Thanks, Josh!

Indie Haven

Jose San Mateo welcomed me to the Indie Haven team with open-arms. It was a bit disarming. I thought I showed up for an interview, but the guy handed me a pair of keys and showed me around the proverbial office. I learned a lot about working with a larger team of folks and how their systemic approach to things keeps the engine running. As Jose stepped down as EIC, Josh Hinke and Erin Hyles took the reigns like a team of seasoned stallions to lead us into a glorious Indie Haven future (which I felt like a part of). Ultra thanks to Jose San Mateo, Josh Hinke, and Erin Hyles for taking me along for the ride.

GAMECELL

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Guys, this year has been amazing. You’re the ones who really made it: Garrett, Greg, Alex, Alex, Tyler, Dan, Josh, Andrew, Seth, Seth, Yoshi, Tim, Tim, Liz, Vince, Wayne, John, Brandon, Brylan, Zac, Zach, Jeff, Devon, Richie, Michael, Roberto, Scottie, Austin, Wes, Logan, David, Maneffaat(sp?), Matty, the whole group of ladies from No Boys Allowed, Matt and Anthony.

Wow. That’s a lot of people. We got together over 22 times throughout the year. Played about three times that many games (63+). Talked about life, belief, and fun hot-button issues like LGBTQ folk and the Chruch, and what to do with war & violence in videogames. We saw various kinds of growth in almost everybody who participated. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!

We even saw the birth of another gamecell-like group in Australia:

Intertain

I’d also like to thank Ayk Iano for being a fantastic soundboard friend and for being willing to step out and try the whole gamecell thing in his neck of the woods (Sydney, Australia) and putting his own spin on it. I’m super proud of him for trying it out and having a few super impressive evenings with great themes. Intertain’s experiences made our own gamecell so much stronger and capable because of the smart ways Ayk asks questions and builds around the theme. Also, this dude’s kindness and generosity is unparalleled. Ultra-thanks to Ayk Iano for being awesome.

Game Trailer Clients of AMAZINGNESS

Making video game trailers is my dream job. And I still can’t believe that I get to play video games for a living, get to their core, and show-off what makes them great. But this would all be a vague pipe dream if it weren’t for some super-key people.

ReElise, NoRoom Games

Justin Fox at NoRoom Games took the risky plunge of having me produce my first game trailer for his game, ReElise. Working with Justin on this process taught us both a million things about what we don’t know, and how to learn fast. Justin also did this super-insane thing of inviting me along to his first game expo as he showed his game for the first time on a floor of unsuspecting victi— er, players. This showcase experience turned into a split-opportunity to share my trailer work from his booth with a swell of co-operation and supernatural goodness. This crazy fro-cat also invited me to sleep on his couch, play his PS4, and dude even cooked for me! His wife Lauren also floored me with her generosity, hospitality, and kindness. Top notch people with a wild game that let to this insane trailer:

Threshold, QuadraTron Games

Thank you, Zenas Bellace and Christian Plummer from QuadraTron for letting me experiment and take risks with the trailer for Threshold. It was a joy to discover how player voices and the player experience can inform puzzle game trailers and give light to the “ah-ha” moments. Thank you so much for welcoming me and giving me a shot despite my then-unproven capabilities. Thanks to Mila, Rob, and Renee for the rad collaboration and for giving me a ton of freedom that made this trailer possible:

Super Flippin’ Phones, BlauwPrint

Thomas Jager, Nelson, Freek, and Harm-Jan, thank you guys so much for working with me on making a hilarious trailer for your super-funny game. This was something that was so different from what I think anybody expected. We all loved discovering how to capture the spirit and heart of the game using some experimental means (like the infomercial and happy customers segment). I thank you guys the most for how you worked patiently with me as we steadily improved the project and were able to end up with something we were all proud of! Thanks to Nelson for making the connection that made this project possible and for giving me a grand opportunity to work with such a rad team!

As for everybody who hasn’t already? Please vote for this game on Steam Greenlight!

That Dragon Cancer, Numinous Games

Ryan, Amy, Josh, Brock, and Jon, thank you all so so much for giving me this amazing opportunity to work on your trailer. It was a dream-come-true in every way. It was weird finishing this project and realizing that it’s done and I have to move onto other things. I’m so excited for the level of response the game is getting, and I hope everybody and their mom gets the game in two weeks. Much grace to you all as you’re crunching hard. And I pray that you’re all able to relearn what it’s like to breathe, rest, and take some time off in the near future. Thank you so much for making me feel like I’m a part of your family.

Friends & Fam

Thomas Henshell

Thomas, I decided to thank you directly instead of focusing just on the trailer we made together for your game. There’s so much that you’ve done to encourage me, equip me for starting a business, and be a valuable soundboard. I’ve loved getting to know you, the level of attention and thoughtfulness you offered, and the way that I’ve been invited into your life. This year would have been a completely different experience with much more self-doubt and second-guessing than it’s turned into. And I truly have you to thank for that. Thanks so much for working with me on the trailer for Archmage Rises and how you shared your process with me on many of the projects you worked on. Plus, thank you for valuing me with transparent and timely payments for projects, never taking advantage of each other, and for being consistent overall even when you’re in the hospital dealing with scary family stuff. It’s been huge. Thank you so much!

And I loved making this with you:

Super Close Internet Friends (Bryan Hall, Zachery Oliver, and Michael Uzdavines)

Bryan, Zach, and Michael, thank you guys so much. You’ve been there for me, you’ve helped me process the extensive changes in my life. You’re the guys I wanted to talk to when I found out we were pregnant and when I was let go from my corporate gig. Thank you for being a constant source of encouragement, advice, and for being dudes that value the process.

Zach, thank you for being so flexible and responsive in our relationship. You’re constantly encouraging me to think more both in my comfort zone and outside of it. And I love that because of how it’s allowed me to grow and discern where I’m going.

Bryan, thanks for asking hard questions, always being honest, and being the kind of person who I can walk through life with. Thanks for letting there be room for brotherly dialogue and for inviting me into the tensions and joys of parenthood and marriage. Thanks for being so ready to be the person I can geek out to about random weird adventure games when Zach can’t get on-board. Haha.

Michael U., thanks for being there when I need to talk or need encouragement. And thanks for being willing to have me work on your trailer even when I was completely unproven in the realm of game trailers. Thanks for encouraging me to step-out and for helping me with legal questions. You’ve been a great friend and I really value our friendship.

My Church Family (Dove Community / The Brook)

Wayne, thank you for caring and wanting to be involved in our lives even when it’s awkward. Walking through everything together is the absolute key to family and movement-forward in the Kingdom. Thanks for inviting me into the things you’re processing and treating Jess, Zeek, and I like cherished family. Tina, thank you for your consistency and for reminding me on what it means to be a friend. Vince, thanks for being an amazing and always-growing brother. I’ve loved being able to connect around comic books with you and you’ve really helped me to open-up my perception of the world, media, and how the Kingdom can grow. Keep drawing and making things. You’re way better at it than you realize. And I hope we can continue to dream together. Heather, thanks for being a true sister and sharing your family with us. Verna, thanks for being a big sister and a consistently gracious friend. Sondra, thanks for sharing your struggles and your joys with us, it’s been awesome to see you with Julian and how he’s made you come alive.

Thank you all for being an amazing church family that’s powerfully supportive with everything we do and go-through.

Mom and Dad

Wow. Thank you so much for spending your time, attention, and money with us this year. And I mean like wow. We made more memories together this year than any year that I can think of in recent memory. St Augustine was amazing with the alligators, beach, and abundance of great food. Jess and I really needed that and we loved that entire week and all that it was. We loved spending time with you guys as you came up with Faith, Riley, and Ethan. That was a special treat. We loved Thanksgiving with you. Thanks so much for the microphone and harddrive for work! And we loved being able to have you up again for Christmas! Plus, watching Star Wars together was a nice bookend! It was super amazing. Thanks again, mom and dad!

My wife

Jessica, I love you. I’ve loved how we’ve grown so much over the past year and feel like we’ve come to really connect in a lot more ways than I could have anticipated. We’ve truly grown together. Thank you for carrying Zeek and maintaining a sense of humor throughout. Thank you for helping me with the abundance of things I don’t understand or have sorted-out. And thank you for loving me. It’s been a great year, but this new one is going to be even greater. Thank you for everything. You’re amazing. I’m excited!