Friday, October 23, 2015

How my Passion for Games became the reason for my Business Success

Today I will tell you how my passion for games became the very reason for my personal and business success, but let me first share with you a little bit more about myself.

I was born in Communist Bulgaria in 1979 and grew up in the Post Communist Economy of the Eastern Block. I moved to the United States right after graduating college at age of 23 and I currently live in the Greater Chicagoland Area. I consider myself a successful businessman as I am the President and CEO of American Limo Naperville and I proudly hold the rank of Road Captain of Marine One Limousine at Operation "Welcome You Home". You can find more information about my personal story and my business success here: American Limo Naperville Concept and History

Before you start thinking that I became a millionaire by starting a limousine company and to avoid any further confusion, we need to define the word "success". To the most part, the idea of success is very relative, because of the fact that every person has a different value system and therefore very different goals. This is why, I believe that Earl Nightingale, the pioneer motivational speaker and father of self-improvement recordings, found the perfect definition of success when he stated that "success is a progressive realization of a worthy ideal" or as he simplifies it "success is the person who is working toward a predetermined goal". I am a success not because I have a lot of money (I make enough to pay the bills), but because I enjoy my work and I have dreams and goals and I constantly work to achieve them through improving myself and my business.

There is a direct correlation between my success and the games I played as a kid, especially the Gamebooks I was exposed to at that time, but more on that in a moment. Let me start from the very beginning...

Pravetz 8M: the communist block Apple II clone
Pravetz 8M: stolen technology from Apple II
I was first introduced to computer games at age 7, long before any of my friends. There were no game consoles in communist Bulgaria at the time. The only reason I had the chance to play a video game back then is that my father was working as an engineer at a local factory and he had a clone of Apple II in his office. Naturally, I got addicted to the computer games and I wanted to spend more and more time at my dad's office :-)

Realizing that I was hooked up, my parents decided to put my computer addiction to good use and for my 9th birthday, they got me a book on game programming for kids. The book was an introduction to the Apple II Basic Programming language. I've always been a curious person ever since I was a little kid. My parents still remind me of a toy I had broken, just to find out how it was made and what forced the toy go back to its initial position every time I tilted it :-) Given my personality trait, I was naturally very excited that I can learn how the computer games worked and how they were made. However, my little 9 year old brain had a lot of trouble comprehending all the information in the book at that time and it wasn't until I tried studying it again at age 11, when everything cleared up and I was able to start thinking in source code language. I wanted to make computer games ever since.

Being bored with the limited games available on the Apple II and the fact that, to the most part I didn't like their arcade jump and run mechanics, I rediscovered my passion when the XT Personal Computers came out in the early 90's. They were still unaffordable to the average citizen, but we were able to enjoy the new games at the Computer Clubs that some entrepreneurs opened in their garages. We had limited access to those computers as they were available for rent at a relatively expensive price per the hour. To entertain myself for free, I was writing my own little games on my Apple II, based on ideas that came from my favorite games at those Computer Clubs. I just have to mention a few big names here: Warlords 2, Dune 2, Warcraft 2, Heroes of Might and Magic 2, Lands of Lore and later on Diablo 2.

As already explained in the text above, my knowledge in programming languages started with Basic for Apple II, but it eventually evolved to Turbo Pascal and then Delphi. I have built many little games throughout the years for my own satisfaction, but the problem of those computer languages was that at a certain point, they were no longer compatible with the lightning fast improving computers systems. I finally discovered Blitz Basic in 2006 that was very close to the languages I had worked on before, and luckily enough it is still compatible with any Windows running machine.

None of the games I had created, ever made it to being released, but the knowledge I had gained in game programming finally became useful when me and my father started American Limo Naperville. Having the computer skills necessary, I built every single aspect of the software system for my company, including the modules for reservations, dispatching, accounting, keeping track of the whereabouts of the drivers and informing the customers through text messages of their limousine status and estimated time of arrival. This innovative and very unique software puts us far ahead of any competition in our service area to this day.

Here and now, I should probably take a moment to tell my mother that all the time spent in front of the computer in my teenage years was not wasted and it is finally paying off ;-)

I know for a fact, my computer programming skills that started with my love for computer games, stand behind the success of the family owned business American Limo Naperville, because the software I developed to run the daily operations makes this company different than all others and puts us so far ahead of anybody else in this industry.

That is not the only aspect of computer games that helped me become a success. Playing mostly Gamebooks, Strategies and RPGs, I had gained a lot of experience in critical thinking, I learned to understand collecting, preserving and investing resources for the best possible gain and last, but not the least, I fell in the habit of always making decisions based on calculated risk.

I believe that I owe my personal and professional success to the various games I played as a kid and to the lessons I learned from them, but more on that I will discuss in the next post: The Psychology Aspect of Games and why they are important for kids and adults alike.

Peter Agapov
Game Designer at
President and Chief Executive Officer of American Limo Naperville
Former Road Captain of Marine One at Operation "Welcome You Home"

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