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Thanks very much to Triforce, and to Walter, for their work over the years to bring people together and to be the authors and creators of wonderful architecture and achievement in the world of gaming. I’m deeply honored to be mentioned amongst the names today. Chris McCandless went on a deeply personal journey, and one of his apparent conclusions was ‘Happiness is only real when shared’. I think I know what he means by that, how connections to other travelers and people matter, and shared experiences grow deeper with understanding.

In 1990 I was a child who had already experienced much of the worst in life, and I didn’t quite understand the world around me yet. But I found a flyer for the NWC and it said something like “Someone has to win, why not you?”. My little family wasn’t in the best shape at the time, and I thought winning that thing could help us get back to our feet. Reality has a way of showing you hard answers to things you haven’t grasped yet, and can’t prepare for until you’ve already been struck by them. For many years I looked back on those early days and felt like it was all for nothing, depression was a constant companion.

A few years ago, Robin Mihara looked me up to start a conversation about the game of Tetris, and the NWC 1990 in general. Over the decades it crystalized into a legend, a truly coast-to-coast nearly year-long epic story. And what I realized was that the games themselves weren’t very important to me after all. It was the people, the friends, the shared experience, the mutual struggle against ourselves and the path of the games themselves that forged those bonds. A quarter century didn’t fade that, it brought it to deeper light. And this is a lesson I will never forget. It’s why we’re here, because we all want to share in these stories together, and games are always at their best when they bring us together.

Thanks for all of your kindness, now with young boys of my own, I am getting to experience the world with new eyes, and I’m grateful for the work of my fellow generation, and optimistic for the future of the next to come. Maybe I’ll see some of you down the road, until then may all of your blocks hit the right spaces