It’s already 6:00pm back home, but I’ve been flying straight towards the sun for hours. When I land in California in two and a half hours, it’ll be 5:30pm, Pacific Time. It’s easy to forget that our world is small enough that we can point an engine due west and chase the sun down.

Forgive me for being pensive; as I sat down to write, I realized that this month marks my third anniversary at Hipsters of the Coast. Three years is a lot of time. Since I first wrote about teaching Magic and ‘level up moments,’ I’ve become a much happier person, a more directed person, and ideally a measurably better writer. For this week, I’d like to take a break from my usual commentary on Limited, Modern, Cube, community, storytelling, custom card design, and teaching (Drawing Live has come to have a rather wide focus) to talk about myself. If that’s not your cup of tea, feel free to return next week when I’ll doubtlessly be poring over the new commons and uncommons of Shadows Over Innistrad. If it is, would you care for honey or sugar?

War-Name Aspirant

Hello. My name is Zachary Barash. I’m a game designer.

It feels crazy to be saying that. I’m a game designer. I get giddy just thinking about it. I’m in the same business as Shigeru Miyamoto, Sid Meier, and Richard Garfield. Sure, I’m not them, but I follow in their footsteps. I live in the world they brought into being and have the potential to add to it.

I catch myself beginning to fall prey to impostor syndrome. I’m not waiting or hoping to make games in the future, I already have. I’ve designed over a dozen games in my first year at the NYU Game Center. Before that, I worked for Kingdom Death: Monster, a crazy and awesome miniatures game based out of Brooklyn. I worked alongside an excellent team who trusted me to design three expansions (the Dung Beetle Knight, the Manhunter, and Dragon King—if you want to see something nuts, google the Dragon King miniature. It’s huge!).

Even before I chose game design as my career, I was filling notebooks, spreadsheets, .PNGs, and scrap paper with ideas, systems, levels, and games (I still refer back to them for ideas from time to time). Heck, one of teenage Zach’s proudest achievements was creating a (modestly) successful Rockman.Exe/Megaman Battle Network-themed message board RPG called Rockman Battleverse (the name sounded cooler when I was fifteen). I’ve been preparing to be a game designer for as long as I can remember (even though the vast majority of the time I wasn’t planning on designing games). I know that I’m building/chasing my dream job, I just didn’t realize how early I’d started building towards it.

Train of Thought

It’s 8:20pm at home, which means I’ll be landing in San Francisco shortly and my phone will jump back 3 hours. While this past weekend in DC was a huge one for many of friends, including but not limited to Hipsters columnists Carrie, Hunter, Monique, and Hugh (you all deserve the congratulations, cash, and pro points you earned), this week is a big one for me (and my classmates, and game developers in general). I’m here for Game Developers Conference.

I won’t go into the particulars of what GDC is—not only because the name is very descriptive, but also because it is my first time attending. I won’t know what it’s really like until I’ve done it (there’s no substitute for playtesting). Sure, I’ve done my research, I’ve got my volunteering schedule, the events I want to go to, and the people I want to meet or greet (for those I’ve already met), but that can only prepare me so much. I’m looking forward to the unexpected, to seeing with my own eyes and hearing with my own ears the people behind the industry, to witnessing the greater community, and to participate in the hallowed ritual of business card swaps.

Life’s a beautiful metaphor, folks. I believe that I’ve found mine (the metaphor is GAME!) and I hope you all find or have already found yours.

As always, thanks for reading.

—Zachary Barash

Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner, improviser, and game designer (currently going for an MFA in Game Design at NYU). He has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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