About

David Cannon DrakeI am David Cannon Drake: indie game designer, freelance programmer, contemplative writer, and founder of Golden Drake Studios. I love exploring all the natural and cultural beauty this world and countless fictional worlds have to offer as well as creating my own worlds for others to explore!

This website is a place for me to showcase my indie games and other creative and philosophical works, post my thoughts on a variety of topics, and occasionally share experiences from my personal and professional life.

As a game developer, I focus on roleplaying games (RPGs), open world games, strategy games, and educational games. Realism, variability, and autonomy are the ideals I strive for. As a writer, my interests center around philosophy of mind, anthropology, astrobiology, speculative fiction, and poetry. My other hobbies include biking, hiking, rock climbing, scuba diving, martial arts, guitar, and drawing.

For those interested in my professional background, please refer to my résumé and portfolio. For those curious about my overall life story, read on.

Early Years

I was born along the beautiful California coast and raised among the red rocks of southern Utah. Much of my youth was spent exploring and investigating nature, getting into mischief with my friends, reading a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, writing and illustrating my own fantasy and science fiction stories, playing various board games, card games, tabletop wargames, pen-and-paper RPGs, and video games, and creating games of my own, including a dinosaur-themed board game and a handful of adventure games developed on our trusty Macintosh SE with the help of HyperCard and the HyperTalk programming language.

The HyperCard welcome screen.
Good ol’ HyperCard, whose legacy lives on in LiveCode, JavaScript, and various other languages and systems.

It’s also worth mentioning that, though I am now an atheist, I was raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a., the LDS Church or Mormon Church).

To the Beautiful Island

After graduating with honors from the general associate of science program at Dixie State University, I was called to serve for two years as an LDS missionary on the island of Taiwan. I had assumed I would be called to Japan, having studied three years of Japanese and briefly lived with a host family in Nagoya, but the prospect of living in Taiwan and learning Mandarin Chinese excited me just as much, if not more, so I accepted.

The island of Taiwan.
The island of Taiwan.

Following two months of intensive language training, I found myself among the dense tropical forests and friendly, industrious, freedom-loving people of Ilha Formosa (the “Beautiful Island,” as the Portuguese named her). I gradually attained fluency in Chinese (and learned a bit of Taiwanese) and relished my daily exposure to a cultural and natural environment so different from that of my childhood. It was wonderful and rewarding in many respects, but also extremely trying as I struggled, not only with the general challenges of missionary work and living abroad, but also with my internal conflicts as I attempted, with limited success, to assuage my frequent doubts about LDS teachings and practices.

Happy Valleys

After serving two years with my faith more or less intact, I returned to the US where I began studying computer science, molecular biology, and other subjects at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, an area nicknamed “Happy Valley.” As LDS returned missionaries are wont to do, especially at BYU, I soon rushed headlong into marriage. Unfortunately, mine was of the less successful variety, ending in a mercifully amicable divorce almost two years later.

Brigham Young University Cougars
BYU, home of the Cougars and a nice place in many ways. Not nearly as much of a “Happy Valley” as some would claim, however!

It was at that time I received a brief but welcome respite from Mormon culture as I had been awarded an internship at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania—another place locally known as “Happy Valley”—as part of the Penn State Astrobiology Summer Program. In addition to taking part in fascinating research and associating with many wonderful, like-minded people, I finally found myself drifting more thoroughly away from my religious upbringing. The transformation felt surprisingly natural and liberating, but of course part of me still felt an attachment to the LDS faith, so I continued studying and considering the matter during my last year at BYU.

Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State, another “Happy Valley” and the home of the Nittany Lions, which are cougars, and whose colors are blue and white, just like BYU. The number of commonalities between these two places is remarkable!

For a few months I experienced a resurgence of faith, but in the end I left BYU with a bachelor’s degree in biology and the conviction that the religion of my childhood, and most of religion in general, was not only false, but also intrinsically harmful in many respects. My objections to the LDS belief system could be summarized simply (and charitably) as follows: the picture of reality it paints is inaccurate. For those curious about the specific premises behind that conclusion or the various positive and negative effects my emancipation from religion has had on my life, I will touch on these subjects from time to time on my blog.

A Love of Wisdom

In any case, at that point I returned to Taiwan to teach biology, physics, and English at Ivy Bilingual High School and the Ivy Collegiate Academy in Taichung while contemplating my graduate school options. Having left religion behind, I started delving more deeply into philosophy and decided to spend the next two years pursuing a master’s degree in philosophy at National Chengchi University in Taipei. I then returned to the States, taught Chinese for a year at City Academy in Salt Lake City, and, following a brief holiday in Thailand and Cambodia, embarked on a PhD program in philosophy at the University of Utah.

The School of Athens, by Raphael
The School of Athens, by Raphael, with depictions of Plato, Aristotle, and several other foundational contributors to Western philosophy.

Throughout all this time it was wonderful to be expanding my mind in so many new directions, associating with such a diverse array of intellectuals, and receiving praise for some of my thoughts and essays, but I ultimately decided that a career dedicated entirely to philosophy wasn’t the right path for me. Instead, I turned my attention more heavily toward computer science and one of my more hedonistic interests: video game development!

A Love of World-building

Moving to Redmond, Washington, I fulfilled one of my childhood dreams by attending courses in game design and programming at DigiPen Institute of Technology. I highly recommend DigiPen if you’re interested in any area of game development: the atmosphere is wonderful and the professors and facilities are top-notch!

DigiPen Grand Opening
The grand opening of DigiPen’s new campus on Aug. 27, 2010, just before I started attending.

The only downside is that it is quite expensive. So much so, in fact, that when my finances took a turn for the worse I had to withdraw. Undaunted, I continued studying all aspects of game development and soon found employment as a software test engineer for Volt Information Sciences. I had the pleasure of testing a wide variety of Xbox 360 games, including Magic: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012Insanely Twisted Shadow PlanetCrimson Alliance, and the Kinect title Gunstringer. Later, I spent some more time in Taiwan serving as a translator and editor for the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), then returned to the United States where I’ve once again gravitated to the Seattle area and have established my own indie game development company: Golden Drake Studios.

Looking Forward

The course of my life has been a bit unconventional, but I’ve enjoyed the ride, acquired a unique set of skills and knowledge, and reached a point where my varied talents and interests are coalescing in an exciting and satisfying way. I love all the projects I’m working on and look forward to taking part in many more, both independently and as part of various teams.

If you’d like to get in touch or collaborate on a project, feel free to send an email to david[at]davidcdrake[dot]com or connect with me through LinkedIn, GitHub, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. I look forward to hearing from you!

5 Replies to “About”

  1. Hi David,
    Great to read your life story. And as a big fan of Pebble and wearable and all that this new UX brings, I like what you’re doing with the games. (I have one of the very original BlackBerry connected Pebbles). Now… I’d like your thoughts on the Open Source real time Software, PushPin.org and whether it can play a role in the emerging wrist-based platforms.

    1. Thanks for reaching out to me! Pushpin certainly looks promising. I’m not much of an expert when it comes to web development and web-related technologies, but it does seem to me that Pushpin would have a lot of useful applications in the world of wearable tech. I bet the folks at Pebble would love to chat with you directly!

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