Biography – Gareth Harmer

I’m certain that we live in a world of science fiction made real.

It all started in the early 80s. I was young, impressionable, and grew up surrounded by those new-fangled home computers. My father had the foresight to buy an early ZX Spectrum, complete with “dead flesh” rubber keyboard, and my fascination quickly grew. Before long, I was using the black box for everything from gaming to programming. Heady days indeed.

Since then, I’ve watched as computers have grown to become monstrous boxes, before collapsing in on themselves to become the refined and sculpted kit we known today.  I’ve witnessed the birth of the smartphone, from its humble PDA origins to the indispensable gadgets that have become a cornerstone of our lives. I’ve grown up inside the internet revolution, moving from Bulletin Boards to superfast broadband. I’ve been a spectator and soldier on the frontline of the console wars, buying legends and lemons in equal measure.

I still think that Shenmue was the best video game ever made.

Unsatisfied with simply watching the world change around me, I started to take things apart, and then build things of my own, gaining a degree in Information Systems Engineering for my efforts. I learned to code, cutting my teeth on Pascal and Basic before moving up to C++. I’ve contributed to software in cellphones, business systems and even helicopter radar.

The technological landscape has continued to evolve. As we’ve moved from dial-up modems to ubiquitous wireless access, I’ve moved from programming to designing. Currently, I design large-scale systems that offer new telecommunications products and services to millions of customers. I’ve used a variety of platforms, systems, and interconnect methods. I’ve worked with a mixture of different vendors, supplying everything from pre-built systems to a team of coders.

My gaming life has also evolved. Not content with sitting back and consuming, I started blogging about MMORPGs and how they’re designed, adding a podcast and YouTube channel to the mix later. Then I got my break – hired as a professional writer to talk about this fascinating genre. Since then, I’ve had the chance to meet some incredible people and get an early look at some incredible games.

There’s a definite intersection between the two – both involve providing a service to legions of fans, both strive to meet the needs and expectations of their users, and both look for opportunities to surprise and delight. It means that I have an appreciation for the underlying technology, alongside an understanding of the desires of customers.

Away from work of all kind, I’m doggedly trying to teach myself guitar. I’m an avid reader of science fiction, including authors such as Ian M Banks, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Cory Doctorow. I’m also tolerated by an incredibly patient and forgiving wife.