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Mark Kilborn


Name / Twitter handle:
Mark Kilborn / @markkilborn

What do you do now?
I work for Activision. I’m one of the Audio Directors for the Call of Duty franchise. I get to work on games that are heard by millions of people. I get paid to record weapons and vehicles, to make neat sounds, to work with musicians and voice actors. And I’m surrounded every day by people who are just as passionate about gaming as I am.

Birth place:
Santa Ana, CA

Where in the world are you now?
Madison, WI

What’s your favourite video game of all time?
Metal Gear Solid

What was the last game you enjoyed and why?
Papo & Yo. It dealt with subject matter so rarely touched by our industry. It’s refreshing to play games that deal with real world stories and problems, not just blowing things up.

Describe some of the bullying you experienced.
It manifested in various ways. Teasing due to my weight or being a “nerd” because I played video games (ironically even the so-called “cool” kids play them now). Occasionally there was a bit of physical intimidation. There were girls who pretended to like me, only to embarrass me when I reciprocated for the entertainment of their friends.

When did you manage the bullying?
Sometime around 8th to 10th grade, it’s been a while. The turning point was discovering that I was good at something. That allowed me to build confidence. By learning more about sound, learning an instrument and making music, I had something to value in myself. Bullies are largely effective because your self-worth is tied to the perceptions of others. When you take control of that and define your own self-worth, their taunts became far less effective. And when they’re ineffective, they get bored and move on.

What effect do you think bullying had on you?
It was a major turning point in my life. Had I not found that spark to build a fire of confidence, I can’t imagine where I’d be right now. I know it wouldn’t be good though.

How is your life better now?
It’s better in every way. I get paid to do what I love every day. I met a wonderful woman who also plays games, was a guitarist in a metal band, has tons of tattoos and a hilarious sense of humor. We have kids we love dearly. We collect video games and have almost 2,500 of them. I live in a nice house, drive a nice car… my life now is 100x better than it was in high school.

Some people look back on high school or college as the best years of their lives. For me, those years were just stressful periods on the way to a much happier life. The rest of my life will be the best years of my life.

Did you think your life was ever going to be this good?
Not when I was in the thick of it. I hoped it would be this good, but I didn’t think it was realistic. Looking back, it all seems perfectly realistic. I put in a lot of effort and I ended up with a great reward for it.

What would you like to say to a youngster thinking about getting into video games who is experiencing bullying right now?
I won’t lie to you, getting into the games industry is difficult, but it is realistic. You just have to focus and work hard. Work towards it in some small way every single day. Use whatever talents you have as a source for your confidence, and don’t worry about what others think of you. You determine your self worth, you determine your future. While they’re bullying people and being popular and doing whatever it is that bullies do, you focus on building a better life for yourself.

School is nothing like the outside world. Out here, all that matters is your abilities and your results. So if you invest in yourself and become amazing at what you want to do, you will find success and live the life you want.