Thursday, August 15, 2013

John Carmack Has Grey in His Beard

Last month I went on vacation and forgot my razor.  Instead of buying a new razor, I decided to let my beard grow out for a week.


After a few days, I noticed I had grey in my beard.  It was a bit of a shock.  While I’ve had a few grey hairs on my head for years, I never saw them because I’m blonde.  Blonde-ish.  Whatever, I’m gorgeous and you can’t tell if those hairs are grey or yellow (unless you’re my wife and in a bad mood).

While I was on vacation, I did some grading for my Intro to Game Development class.  The first assignment I give is to write the biography of a “game god” and one of my students wrote about John Carmack.

I’ve read dozens of Carmack bios over the years, but in a post-greybeard depression, I was struck by the fact that we were both born in 1970 and both had sons in 2004.  In the same time period, Carmack almost single-handedly revolutionized the industry and I…  Well, what had I done?

I drew up a comparison chart of our two lives.

Born in May
Can’t manage to be born until August
Gave up on trying to program BASIC on the Osbourne computer
Arrested for attempting to steal Apple II computer
Went to Beloit College (known for all sorts of amazing stuff, according to my alumni newsletter)
Went to University of Missouri (known for nothing, I guess, since they send me no newsletters)
Gave up on trying to program Pascal after taking an intro class
Dropped out to be a programmer
Breaks up with crazy ex-girlfriend for woman he will marry in 1994
Joins Softdisk.  Creates Commander Keen games. Doesn’t marry anyone
Realizes he’s about to graduate college without any marketable skills. Convinces parents to send him to graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University
Founds id Software, can’t figure out how to capitalize name of company
Graduates with Master’s degree.  Spends six months looking for a job
Creates Doom, which makes 8 million people motion sick in its first three months
Is served with divorce papers
Creates Quake, which is only groundbreaking because it allows dorks to make movies of themselves playing games (Machinma)
Finally gets and has to leave game job
Finally gets married
Married (for good this time)
Forms Armadillo Aerospace, which wins the coveted “dumbest name for a space exploration company” award
First son, starts teaching
First son, doesn’t start teaching
Second son
Can’t make second child
Wrote a book
Yet another stupid Doom game which sells millions of copies

And suddenly I’m not so depressed anymore!

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