He Went To War So He Could Make Video Games

When you're a problem solver like Joe Ricks, nothing stands between you and your dream. For Ricks, the dream was the holy grail of any kid growing up attached to a controller: making video games. So determined was the cash-strapped man, that he risked it all to get the education he needed. Joe Ricks enlisted and went to war so that he could learn how to make video games.

"When I was a kid I played the hell out of Final Fantasy and got sucked into Everquest and Counter-Strike pretty hard in highschool," Joe reminisced to me over instant messenger. The relationships that he developed over playing Counter Strike and participating in a clan in particular seem to be one of the biggest influences in Joe's desire to make games.

He wants to bring people together. Over a decade since the clan's inception, his friends still rock the old clan tag. "That's how tight we are," he explained. Naturally, they're playing Counter Strike: Global Offensive right now.

"I just wanted to make something that was as fun for people as CS was to me. I still represent my old CS clan to this day just because it meant so much to me.

"I still play CS:GO with some of the same people today. But really it was the socialisation of it all. People were able to just drop in and out of our server at will and we could do whatever we wanted in it. I just liked how if you were a regular on many CS servers it felt like coming to a bar where you knew everyone there."

Counter Strike, in a way, taught him that his calling was bringing people together — that's what he wants to do now as a game developer.

But going to school for game development isn't cheap — at least, not if you want to go to a good school. Ricks decided he wanted the best school he could find, regardless of what he had to do to get into it.

"I saw FullSail in an ad and got their information packet and they seriously had the best curriculum I saw for making video games. I just knew I had to go there."

When I asked him why he chose the army to accomplish his dream, he told me that it was a combination of lacking the money, and having a father in the special forces. "My dad was a green beret and I grew up outside and on Ft. Bragg NC, so [the army] ended up being an option to me," he explained. And so it was decided that he would enlist and stick it out for as long as he needed to in order to have his education paid for.

David Goldfarb, developer at Starbreeze Studios and previously of DICE, saw determination in Ricks early on. Joe sought advice from David years ago. "He asked me some questions about how to make games, what would I recommend doing. I told him what I tell most people, which is learn to code, and he nodded virtually and thanked me and went off. He seemed very determined and very motivated even back then," he told me over email.

They've kept in contact over the years, with Goldfarb recently noticing Rick's great progress after their early interactions. "It just makes me happy that he is doing it, and inspired that someone wants to do this shit enough to put themselves in the line of fire," Goldfarb stated.


    Could have always got a job somewhere else, rather than killing people for money... Just saying...

      Yes but he played CS! So thats like pretty much already having real world experience. Killing people is like a fun game right?

      Please get off your high horses....

      There's a world difference between enlisting in the army and "killing people for money" One can be called to defend a country, do engineering projects even humanitarian aide as much as being sent to war. At least one is doing his duty the other is profiteering.

      And oddly enough joining the Armed Defence Forces is actually a very good way to get training and an education. And your *paid* to get the education. There's a reason some people really consider the armed forces for schooling/apprenticeships.

        The government pays you, then they pay you more when you go on duty and that duty requires you to kill people.

        It's kind of like how a mercenary group won't always kill people, as that is not always their job, but that doesn't make them any better.

      Could have read the whole article, and understood where he was coming from and what his options were, rather than judging him for having shot people. Just saying.

      Dragging this into a slightly unrelated tangent, if you've been reading any news recently then some people in some corner of the world are killing other people at the drop of a hat. People kill people, it's why the world is still the way it is.

        From what I read, his options were go to war because he had the option and his father was a Green Beret, knowing that it may at some point require you to kill but he'd get the tuition money fast or, choose another option that is less likely to involve killing but may not pay as well.

        On the unrelated tangent, Just because someone is killing someone else, it doesn't justify choosing to go and kill them in return. It's because people just accept it as the way of the world that things keep escalating.

      I completely agree

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