When I graduated from UCLA Design in '98, my first "real" job was working as a Studio Designer for a medium-sized, advertising agency. It was a cool gig because I got to use nearly every discipline I'd learned in school, ranging from print design and layout, to motion graphics and online marketing. While at Kovel/Fuller, I designed print ads for Avia, Jiffy Lube, Playboy, Ditech and many other clients. I even got the opportunity to art direct a few pitches for new business. From there, I was recruited to work for a start up called Random Order, which was led by the late Robert Abel (former UCLA Design prof.) on an interactive television project. After a month of developing an interface for televised concerts, I was recruited to work for one of the first online music portals, RioPort. This was during the "dot.com" days and things were fast and fun, but very shaky. RioPort was really the precursor to iTunes, at the time. The RioPlayer was one of the first MP3 players on the market and RioPort was the support site that allowed users to purchase and download music. While there, I designed portal sites for MTV, VH1, SonicNet and Bolt.
After being laid off from RioPort (just as Apple began works on iTunes) I was recruited to work for a French video game publisher called Infogrames. Infogrames purchased many smaller video game publishers including Atari, which was how the company wanted to position itself in the U.S. While at Atari, I was a part of the small group responsible for rebranding the Atari name. This was a thrill for me, as I grew up playing Atari 2600 games for much of my childhood. I was happy to see Atari make a comeback in the U.S. and even happier to be a part of that. I designed and animated the intro bumper for the first batch of "new" Atari games including: Test Drive, Splashdown and Terminator 3. I was also responsible for designing all of the video game websites for each game release. This was a lot of fun because I got a chance to work with game producers and developers and learn how video games go from concept to store shelves. It was a great experience because Atari was small enough that I was able to really get a lot of hands-on experience in multiple facets of the company. From there, I was recruited to work for America Online.
My business card for AOL reads "Game Guru" in the title area because I am responsible for creating all of the video game content for AOL's Kids and Teens portals. This means I get to review, write and present the latest video game news to a combined audience of about 7 million users each week. I am also in charge of concepting and producing the free, (mostly Flash-based) online, casual games that are featured on both sites. Although it has been a ton of fun to hold the title of "Game Guru" it has also been very challenging. Although I love the creative process of creating new games for the services, I never thought I would have to revise legal documents, manage budgets and negotiate pricing, in order to get them made. It has been a great learning experience though and after more than four years with AOL, I will soon be moving over to Yahoo Games this Fall.