You have to put the time in. I kept telling myself that. Standing at the tub supervising bath time, waiting in the carpool lane, sitting on a bench at the park; I was squeezing any and all available time. Between my full-time pre-k mom role and my 3/4 time job, I was looking for every available moment. The challenge was massive — it was going to take more than I had, but I had to try. Everything depended on my succeeding here, I had to prove I could do it. I had to shoot down all of the asteroids.

It was a simple tap game, based on frequency, location, speed. The mini-game mined currencies, including one that was nearly impossible to get without an in-app purchase, but if you played the mini-game long enough you were guaranteed to get it. It just took time. With enough of the different currencies, I could go on missions, expand rooms and with newly assign crew I could increase my currency and XP harvesting, allowing me to unlock special characters required for certain missions.

I had to understand the missions and the characters. That was my actual job. I could have asked the team to unlock the currency for me from the backend, but I only ever contacted the team through the game when there was a serious glitch, like the time I lost all my progress and I asked them to restore it for me. Otherwise, I dealt more with the game designers, art team, and client at CBS than with the dev team. Knowing I could never catch up with the team’s game expertise, I opted to lean in on the one thing no one else had — inexperience. I could play the game like a regular player, suffer the pain points, frustrations, and monotony of grinding the game; never purchasing the IAP, saving up for special characters, weighing choices, and calculating how long it would take to get enough for the next upgrade to increase my yield.

The grind paid off. As a super fan of the IP, I knew the characters well enough to sketch out basic stories and fit in their trademark quips. I just needed to adjust it to the form and figure out where the fun was. Immersing myself in the game also allowed me to understand the community that I was responsible for engaging over social media. I created memes, trivia, and teasers for new content, while also dealing with super-fan feedback. I enjoyed writing the stories and scripts the most. I could hardly believe I was getting paid for my dream job — writing for Star Trek. (Star Trek Trexels, a mobile app game.)

I stuck with it until I outgrew it and landed my own game to lead from scratch for a major IP license. No one else in the studio would touch it, it was a girl’s game. Lucky for me, I had one of those at home who was pretty good at shooting asteroids.

Writer, researcher, observer