Name / Twitter handle?
Michael Hicks / @michaelartsxm
What do you do now?
I am currently perusing my dream of being a full time independent developer. I get to do every single thing I’ve ever loved to do…. program, design, make music for it, and even do some video editing work for the trailers. How cool of a job is that?
Where were you born?
Which part of the world are you in nowadays?
What’s your favourite video game of all time?
The Movies… that’s a tough question though!
What was the last game you enjoyed?
Super Hexagon – the most rewarding game I’ve played in a long time!
Tell us about some of the bullying you experienced…
I wasn’t picked on as bad as some kids, but the times that I were are still very vivid in my mind… freshman year of High School was the worst really. I remember one time where a kid told me that I should go kill myself so he could come to my funeral and laugh. It was mostly a lot of verbal stuff I went through… being told I suck at music (I played trumpet in band, and recorded stuff on the side), and so on. I was a super shy kid up until my later years at High School; I didn’t know how to talk to people which made me a bigger target I think.
When did you manage the bullying?
I hid in music and video games when I would come home. I remember listening to In Rainbows by Radiohead every night for a long time… it’s still my favorite album, it gave me a lot of comfort. It was like one social rejection after another and listening to music that was heartfelt and sincere like that made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I also would play games like Oblivion to escape for a bit. I wrote a lot of songs back then, and it more and more became a catharsis type of thing, which I think helped me make better stuff and grow as an artist.
What effect do you think this kind of treatment had on you?
Being picked on taught me two valuable lessons. It made me see how fake a lot of people are and how easily they are persuaded by crowds. I remember a couple of popular “Christian” kids making fun of me early on because others were, but after I started playing in a band and had a few big shows these same kids wanted to associate with me and would always tell me how cool I was etc. Secondly, I learned the true “power of art” and how games/music/film can really be a positive force in people’s lives… this is a big motivating factor in why I publicly release the stuff I make.
How is your life better now?
Senior year of High School was really the best year of my life, everything started to go up hill from there. I made some really good friends and released my first published Xbox 360 game. I’ve released two more games since then and 25,000+ people have played them in the last few years! Considering all I’ve done with my life is make stuff, it’s the best feeling in the world to think about that many people checking out something I’ve made! I was recently interviewed for Official Xbox Magazine, Wired, Ars Technica… and my latest game Sententia was featured on the front page of Xbox Live last week!
Did you think your life was ever going to be this good?
Nope, not in the slightest. Everything that I value in my life “just happened”, which is ironic, since I have a tendency to obsess over a lot of things trying to ensure that they do! Things get better, but it’s likely when you least expect it… if you spend every waking moment trying to force something to happen, it just makes time go by slower.
What would you like to say to a youngster thinking about getting into video games who is experiencing bullying right now?
There are some great online communities (like Newgrounds) that will help you along every step of the way; heck, I met my best friend and current roommate online! Also, be yourself and make games that you would want to play! Don’t be afraid to show the world who you are in the process of making games. Chances are you if you’ve been bullied then you have some unique perspectives on life and people in general; video games desperately need honest things like this expressed in our medium…. we need you! =-)