What is your favorite childhood memory?
Building things with my family and friends. Pillow forts, tree houses, igloos, etc.
What is the best investment your parents made in you/for you?
My first computer was an old hand-me-down that my mom brought home from work.
It was too slow to use the latest and software and games, so I spent most of my time trying to develop my own applications for it. That's how I started to learn to code.
Did it impact your choice of your line of work that you do today?
Definitely. Once I started to code, I wanted to improve all of the products I was using. Back then, most of the big platforms were closed from outside developers. AOL didn't have an open API, so like some other kids my age, I spent time hacking it to add my own features.
I couldn't afford a $10,000 PlayStation 2 dev kit, so I found other ways to reverse engineer my favorite games. I had fun sharing what I made online with other people. I was always interested in creating new and interesting ways for people to connect and play with each other. That's exactly what Zynga was about from the day we started the company.
What has been the most rewarding part of choosing this path?
Building something hundreds of millions of people use and getting to work with and learn from so many great people along the way. I was lucky enough to work with some of the people who made some of my favorite games from childhood.
What is the one piece of advice you would give a young person today?
Start small, and start now.
If you love minecraft, build a mod for it. Surround yourself with other people you want to learn from. This is the best time ever to be a creative person. If you can find a way to work on something you already enjoy, like your favorite game, you will be more patient when struggling to learn all the hard stuff. Before you know it, you will be an expert.
@jtwald #justinwaldron #HowIGotHere #HIGH
Roy Sirengo illustrations by Maegan Penley