XNA Essentials

Game Programming for Xbox 360, PC + Windows Phone


Microsoft MVP Awarded July 1st

I’m pretty late to be announcing this. I can’t believe it has already been two months since I’ve received the award, but on July 1st, 2009 I received the Microsoft MVP Award in the area of XNA/DirectX.

MVP_Horizontal_FullColorI’m honored to have been awarded this. The main reason why someone is given the MVP award (less than 5,000 world wide currently have this award) is because of the work they do in their community.

Speaking in User Groups and Code Camps are the types of things that help someone get the award. Helping out with the local user group is a big plus. Even doing things like making sure the venue facilities are returned back to the way the group found them can be helpful. Finding a good place to meet monthly is challenging. The last thing the group wants to do is lose their facility. My local .NET User Group currently meets at Advanced Home Care, which is a great location. We meet the first Tuesday of every month. We will be meeting tonight, September 1st at 6:00PM. If you are near Greensboro definitely drop by. The great thing about User Groups and Code Camps is that they are absolutely FREE to attend. Yes, the folks that give their time to run the user groups and organize the code camps find sponsors who pay for the food, swag and everything else that goes into putting on these events.

Besides being active in my local user group and speaking there, I’ve spoken at a few other places including Burton Center for Arts & Technology near my hometown of Roanoke, VA. I gave three lectures one day to some middle schoolers and some high schoolers. It was an enjoyable day and the students seemed to enjoy the fact that games could be written for the Xbox 360 console.

Several years ago, I spent a lot of time in SecondLife. I created a few games in there and used to sell them. There is a .NET User Group in SecondLife where I’ve gave an XNA talk earlier this year.

While the PDC event was taking place last year, Chris Love, Rachel Appel  (who are both MVPs themselves) and a few others started up NotAtPDC. I was able to give an XNA talk using LiveMeeting. Giving talks online is definitely challenging because you can’t see the audience. You have no idea if you are connecting with them or not. Either way, I’ve enjoyed both and will probably do these types of events again.

Since you are on this site, you most likely know I’ve written a book on XNA game programming using XNA Game Studio. This also played a big part in me getting the MVP award I’m sure. There are some that think getting the award because you wrote a book is cheating because you already got compensated for the book. Typically (and my book is no exception) technical books do not bring the authors much money. But it can be argued that any money is still compensation and community work has no monetary rewards. Some don’t see any difference in putting time into a book that helps others, versus time into a website with Ads. Sometimes ads have made more money for folks than royalties from a technical book. Others tend to think that if work was done and you can be awarded for it multiple times then more power to you. That said, having the book alone wouldn’t have been enough. In fact, this was my second book. So having two books alone wouldn’t have been enough to be awarded with the MVP Award. It was the activity with the local user group and code camps and the speaking engagements.

On a side note, I found out last week that a college professor of mine (who taught several of my Computer Science courses including Graphics Programming) is using my Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.0 Unleashed book this year for that class. There are other colleges and universities that use my book in different courses, but to have your old college professor use your book to teach a class he taught you is pretty surreal.

So here is the call to action for you my dear readers – yes both of you – you need to get plugged into some community activity. A great way to become a better developer is to surround yourself with better developers. A good way to do that is to attend user groups and code camps. Of course the other events like PDC, Mix, GDC and GameFest are good too – but there is usually travel costs plus the actual event cost which can make it prohibitive for some. With user groups and code camps which are free for the attendees there is no reason not to get out there and meet other developers and learn new things.

Happy Networking and Learning!