— When did you first discover the world of video games?
— Like many others, I started gaming in elementary school—around 1998, or maybe even earlier. I remember that cigarettes cost 6 rubles at the time, and when the crisis hit they shot up to 30 rubles. Back then, I would smoke cigarettes and play video games. I even had a few games on cassettes. A friend of mine's dad was a pilot, and he brought back a console from one of his trips. You couldn't tear us away from that thing. — What was it about games that you found most fascinating?
— Gaming gave me experiences that I could never have in real life. I lived in Novokuybyshevsk, which was your average industrial city. I still spent time kicking a ball around outside and playing organized sports
, but games were a lot more interesting. This hobby was how I really found myself. But I wouldn't say that I was a gaming addict: at that time, there were no in-app purchases or subscriptions. You only had to buy a game once, and so you would buy them fairly rarely.
As a teen, I never used any reality-altering controlled substances—the most I ever did was smoke cigarettes and drink beer. Games seemed like a much better alternative.
Gaming is the best thing to happen to humanity. Year after year, I keep an eye on the number of people who are in prison, and I can tell you that the number is steadily getting lower—that means society is becoming less aggressive. I want to believe that games play a part in that.
If things are going wrong in a person's life, I'd much prefer they turned to DotA 2 than to the bottle. Virtual worlds can fill the emptiness inside you, and protect your liver, too. It's pretty much the safest way for both children and adults to deal with the difficulties life throws at them.
Sometimes you just have to get away from reality and recharge so that you can face it again. — What made you want to escape from reality?
— I grew up in a place that you wouldn't exactly call paradise. Some of the kids I grew up with have already been to prison a few times, others have died. It was a lot like that crime show Brigada
, only it was happening in real life. That was what childhood was like in the '90s. The older kids were dealing with real life, and the younger ones were trying to be like them.
It goes without saying that everything around me had a profound effect on my worldview. It wasn't that reality was driving me completely crazy, but games
were a way for me to let go for a while. They were the oil that kept the engine from giving out under strain. — When did you first seriously consider starting your own business in the gaming industry?
— It was 2012, and I was running sales training sessions for major corporations like Eldorado, DNS, and LG. Things were going well for me, but suddenly I was hit with the classic crisis that sets in between the ages of 27 and 30: my values were starting to shift. I realized that being an employee was no longer enough for me. I could not continue down the path I was on.
So, in the interest of changing my situation, I tested different pursuits: I started freelancing
as a business coach, and tried my hand at logistics and reselling legal services. One thing that turned out to be a turning point was working in sales at a translation bureau. A year there was enough to see that there was no growth happening. One evening, my colleagues and I sat down to get to the root of the problem. I suggested it was because we did all kinds of translations—medical, legal, technical, etc., and I thought we should focus on one single area. Somewhere along the way, the topic of games came up, and I couldn't get it out of my head after that. My intuition told me that it was a fast-growing field, and my own interest in games made it doubly attractive.
Over the next three months, I tied up loose ends and discontinued all my other pursuits to focus solely on game localization. It was hard because everything I had done before was suddenly irrelevant. Before, I had worked exclusively in offline sales, but there was just no way for me to meet with developers in Moscow in person, as I lived in Samara, so I had no choice but to do everything over the phone or in writing. Eventually, I was able to get myself a few orders, and our team completed some test assignments for several big companies. We had the advantage of good luck
: we got in touch at a time when they were actively looking for translators.