First and foremost, this book is dedicated to mom and dad. Without
their support and love none of this would’ve been possible.
Thanks to everyone who helped me with early drafts of this book
and for all their helpful comments and careful criticisms: Karen and
Stephen Dakan, Alan Dakan, Austin McKinley, Neil Hendrick, Becky
Woomer, Laurie Roberts, Rebecca Stultz, Poz, Charles Salzberg, and
Michael Neff. All of you gave valuable insights and your support
helped me see this thing through to the end (which is really just the
beginning.) Thanks to Austin again for his tremendous efforts with
laying out the book and designing this kick-ass cover and logo. Also
thanks to Jeff Bowen, for helping me get the word out and getting this
book into your hands. And if you enjoyed reading my babbling here,
you can read my babbles every day at
Paul Reynolds crisscrossed his sketchbook with furious pen-strokes. The
pages overfl owed with images of the vengeance he would take on his former
coworkers at Fear and Loading Games. He’d founded it three years earlier and,
just a few hours ago, his partners and erstwhile friends had fi red him without
cause or warning. He imagined their regret as his pen brought to life demonic
fi gures from one of the best-selling comic books he’d created, scythe wielding
cyber-men called Myrmidons who tore into surprised computer programmers.
Elsewhere on the page, computers assembled themselves into 21st century
Golems, crushing traitorous CEO’s and producers to bloody pulp as they cowered
beneath their desks.
Sitting at the bar in Señor Goldstein’s Mexican Restaurant in San Jose,
California, Paul’s own artwork engaged him for the fi rst time in months, maybe
years. Under other circumstances, that would have made him happy. But today’s
circumstances allowed only two emotions: despair and rage. Not wanting to succumb
to the former, and not quite wanting to buy a gun and go back to the of-
fi ce, he’d decided to draw.
Paul turned to a fresh page and had begun to sketch his most elaborate revenge-
scheme yet when a woman walked into his line of vision. There were four
or fi ve other women in the restaurant already (most of them employees), but this
one stood out. This one would’ve stood out anywhere. Her hair, cut short and
spiky, was dyed a magenta so bright it seemed to glow. She wore a tight, violet
t-shirt, baggy olive drab shorts that hung on shapely hips, and heavy black boots
with two inch thick soles. She had a faded leather messenger bag slung across
her chest, the strap pressing between her breasts. If Paul had to guess, she wasn’t
wearing a bra. She defi nitely wasn’t your average Silicon Valley techie on an early
lunch break, and certainly not a restaurant employee.
Grateful for the distraction, Paul focused on the newcomer, chilling his
rage for a moment with a swift sip of margarita and melted ice. He ran a hand
through his fi ne brown hair, brushed a few wrinkles out of his Green Lantern tshirt,
and sucked in his bit of beer belly before he turned back to the sketchbook
and resumed drawing. As far as Paul was concerned, a sad man sitting at a bar
before noon was not someone that striking young women with punk-rock hair
engaged in fl irtatious conversation. However, as past experience in many a coffee
house and dive bar had taught him, a scruffy artist sketching away when normal
folks should be working often attracted all kinds of interesting attention. And so,
"I’m here to speak with the manager," she said to the bartender.
"Yeah, sure. Hold on." the bartender replied and skulked off to fi nd the boss.
The girl leaned forward onto the bar, drumming a random beat on the
wood with her knuckles while she looked around the room. Paul, who’d been
watching out of the corner of his eye, took the noise as an excuse to glance over
at her. She was looking right back at him, smiling.
"Hey," she said.
"Hey," he replied. He gave a smile. She was really good looking, he thought,
forgetting his troubles for just a moment.
"What’re you working on there?" she asked.
"Oh, just doodling, you know," he said as he looked down at the page. He’d
sketched the outline of a hydra-like monster with fi ve heads and ten tentacles.
Four of the heads were laughing as the tentacles strangled the fi fth. "I’m a... I’m
a comic book artist."
Was that true? Was he no longer a videogame designer then, just like that?