It was a warm summer night in Scranton, Pennsylvania. We were living in our 5th home since the fire destroyed everything my family had last Thanksgiving, but we were happy. I spent the day with my brothers playing games and doing chores while I anxiously awaited the evening ahead.
At about 7'clock I asked my dad if we could go to Gamestop early since I was scared a lot of people would be there. When we arrived the cashier told us we were the first to show up and that he'd check us out and then have us wait outside for midnight when he could give us my pre-order of StarCraft II. My family was very poor, living off at the time what little money the insurance company gave us since the settlement had pushed us into being disqualified for government assistance.
The cashier gave my dad the bill and he asked me if I really cared that much about having the collector's edition because he'd have to pay the rest of the 100$ deposit (he had put 50 down at first which is more than I could have ever asked for at this stage of my life) and I said StarCraft was all I had for the last year and Blizzard was the only company that responded when I told them about how I lost all my games in a fire and was happy I could still play SCBW from my battlenet account. I can never thank my father enough for the support he has shown for my interests and passions in life, no matter how hard things were for all of us. After 17 years of raising myself and my two brothers alone he never flinched when confronted with the choice to help us chase our dreams or save a bit of money.
We sat there for 4 hours eating Subway and talking about the future and how my dad never thought I would be so interested in this game after he got me SCBW in 2004. Eventually at 12:00 exactly I was 1st in line out of 150 people wrapped around the store and happily grabbed my big SC2 box with tears of joy and we drove home to set it up. I played until about 5 in the morning with my 150$ pc I had built by searching ebay for miscategorized computer parts (i got an intel core 2 duo for 15 dollars since someone listed it under soap! Also the 15$ power supply exploded in my face but they refunded me :D).
When I got to University I had to work 2 jobs to pay for food and my tuition since my dad couldn't contribute very much. I added a 3rd job of trying to broadcast my school's matches (I set up the Penn State CSL team in 2011) and of course after that stream. It was so much fun to bring together dozens of students and have a budget to feed them and buy GSL for us all to watch. It was really an amazing way for me to meet other likeminded individuals and StarCraft players that could push me to be better.
Looking back, so much has happened between then and now that I couldn't even fit it in a twitlonger if I tried. I feel so blessed and lucky that in the darkest times of my life when I couldn't attend class and work 2 jobs while trying to stream that a hand reached out from the void to beckon me towards my destiny. When I finally had the strength to reach out to it, I swore I would never let this opportunity go.
So here I am, 27 years old with a good home and a healthier happier family. StarCraft II has given me so much that I could never thank the scene or Blizzard enough for the impact this game has had on my life. I remember getting my very first payment for casting Dreamhack and spending it to finally get a tombstone on my mother's grave. I couldn't believe that my passion for a videogame could give me the power to make not only my life better but help my family as well.
It's very strange to go from living a life where I would go days without eating and have no heat or clean water, being told that things would be better soon if I just "toughed it out" but StarCraft really resonated with me in a way that allowed me to be my best self and pull myself out of all the muck I felt trapped in. Of course I've learned all about burn-out and balancing my work-life balance since I reached the peak of that high but even in my worst most toxic rants about the game or the devs I have always loved this game.
Lastly the people I've met and the experiences with them I've had through Starcraft are unforgettable and will forever be a cornerstone of my heart. I cannot imagine a life where I didn't befriend Rotterdam to show a young foolish boy how to be an adult and take responsibility for myself.
I cannot imagine a life where Totalbiscuit didn't sit down with me to help me with my pacing in casts or remind me not to take things too seriously.
I cannot imagine a life where Incontrol didn't help me get over my fear that first time I went on camera at a real event in front of tens of thousands of people.
Through StarCraft I have experienced pain, loss, joy, hope and love. No matter what ever happens to this game or the scene it will always be a part of me and I will never ever forget where I was before, and where I hope to be for the next chapter, whatever that ends up being.
Thank you StarCraft community for putting up with me and to those of you who enjoy my work, thank you for helping me through the darkest days of my life to become the man that I am today.
Thank you StarCraft. Happy 10 years.