Name / Twitter
Sam Hulick / @SamHulick
What do you do now and how is your life better today?
Life is about a thousand times better today! I’m a composer working mostly in the video game industry, and have had the pleasure of working on games such as the Mass Effect trilogy, Red Orchestra 2, and Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition. I’m married to a wonderful woman and have the coolest in-laws in the world, I live in the great city of Chicago in a cozy condo, and I get paid to stay home and write music all day. I have a pretty large and enthusiastic fanbase, and have won or been nominated for several awards, been featured in various interviews, a book, and a few major mainstream outlets such as MSNBC, The Guardian, etc. I list these accolades not to boast (many of my brilliant peers share similar successes), but to illustrate to people reading this who are being bullied that you have NO idea what the future holds for you. To go from being a kid who is made fun of and pushed around, to someone who is well-respected in the industry you work in is surreal, and that can be a reality for you. It’s a fantastic feeling, and I want younger generations to realize that anyone can have the life they want. But you have to endure, and you can never let anyone break you.
Where were you born?
Where do you live nowadays?
Currently I live in Chicago, Illinois, with my wife and two cats.
What’s your favourite video game of all time?
I can’t pick just one. There are way too many great ones!
What was the last game you enjoyed and why?
Sleeping Dogs! The open world is really cool, and it reminds me of GTA except my character has some badass martial arts skills. I think anyone who’s ever been bullied can understand the appeal there.
Can you describe some of the bullying you experienced?
Junior high and high school were the worst of it for me. I was the weird kid who didn’t have any friends, save for a couple kindred spirits. I was bullied not just verbally, but also physically. Kids punching me in the arm while the teacher’s back was turned, that sort of thing. I never fought back. I’m not sure whether it was the fear of getting physically hurt that stopped me, or just not stooping to their level. Probably the former. I was a smart kid and realized I would’ve gotten seriously injured and so it wasn’t really worth it. My grades suffered horribly (low Cs and Ds), because I couldn’t focus on classes. I had friends turn on me. I had a “friend” steal something when he was over, and then he got caught red-handed, and after that he would hit me whenever he saw me at school. I realize now, looking back, that he did not have a very happy or healthy life at home, and probably bullied people to get his aggressions out. You don’t think about that stuff when you’re a kid, you just know that it sucks and you want it to stop. As an adult, you gain the insight that tells you that bullies are sometimes miserable themselves, or they’re insecure and feel the need to knock down others to make themselves feel better, or they’re doing it to be accepted in certain circles. Some of them even regret their bullying later in life.
When did you manage the bullying?
It got a little better towards the end of high school. I suppose kids just started maturing a bit more and realized it wasn’t cool to pick on people. Once high school was over and I started college, things got better. I also went through some physical changes: lost weight, got contact lenses, grew long hair (grunge phase, man!) and so I got a bit of a confidence boost. People were more accepting of me, and I was dating a lot more. I realized that it had nothing to do with me, but it was about the environment I was in. I was around the wrong people. When I surrounded myself with the right people, life was so much better. And peaceful.
What effect do you think bullying had on you?
I think bullying has made me a little more socially closed-off than I’d like to be. You develop negative/incorrect thought patterns about yourself that aren’t true. Constant bullying can send a message that something is wrong with us, that we are rejects. Reversing that can take a long time. Even well into my 20s, I was someone who had a hard time saying no, or standing up for myself. Now I have no trouble with either of those things.
Did you ever think life could be as good as it is for you today?
Never. If you had told me all this was going to happen, I would not have believed it. I still have to pinch myself once in a while, actually! Always be grateful for what you have, and to those who have helped you get there.
What would you like to say to those youngsters thinking about a future in video games who might be getting bullied now?
I have a lot to say. This goes directly to those who are dealing with the traumatizing effects of bullying:
I know it’s hard, and sometimes it seems impossible to deal with. It can feel like no one is on your side. Stay strong and do what you can to get through it, because it absolutely does get better. In so many cases, the unique qualities that make you a target when you’re young are the very same traits that are appreciated as an adult: thinking differently than others, dancing to the beat of your own drum. Focus on what’s positive. Focus on your hobbies and interests, and think about how great the future will be. You are not worthless, you are not undeserving of respect, and there ARE people out there in the world who will love you and appreciate you. If you can’t find a strong, supportive group of people or friends in your local area, try Facebook and Twitter, or online games or chat. The possibilities are endless there, and you’re bound to find like-minded people who can help make your day-to-day existence easier. Back in my high school days, we didn’t have social networking, but I spent an extraordinary amount of time on IRC, and I have to say that it was completely instrumental in helping me get through hard times. Stay the course, and do whatever you can to get through it, because this is such a small portion of your life. The best is yet to come, as they say. I hope these words and my personal story provide some level of reassurance and comfort to those who need it. Take care of yourselves.