Five years ago, I was eight years into a job that took me around Alaska via bush plane, working with kids with severe disabilities out in rural communities around the state. I was burning out, hard.
At the same time, I had just co-founded a site called GamesAreEvil (still active today!), a video game news and reviews site. We were starting to see some traction from publishers and PR folks, as they began to send us games to review without us begging them for a copy.
Then July 2008 hit and the App Store happened. We totally ignored it, being the snobbish console and handheld gamers that we were. As games trickled out, we started covering them because, hey, it was super easy for developers to send us their games, and, heck, these guys were pretty nice to boot.
Once 2009 rolled around, I launched The Portable Gamer (now a part of the 148Apps network) and started reviewing iOS and handheld games (Sony PSP, Nintendo DS) exclusively. The App Store continued to grow, as did we. Soon, we were reviewing and reporting on iOS exclusively. There just were that many games.
My day job, in the meantime, was increasingly frustrating. I kept getting raises (yay!) but wasn't really doing much innovative work (boo!); in addition, I wasn't seeing much impact of my work with kids. The burnout continued apace with my paycheck increases, and I felt worse and worse every day. I began to look forward to locking myself in my home office and writing for free every evening (when I wasn't traveling). Looking back, I wish I'd seen the writing on the wall sooner.
As time moved on, I went to my first Game Developers Conference. I met 148Apps founder Jeff Scott there, and it turned out we had a lot in common (beer, old age). We worked together a bit, him helping me with coding things, me fawning all over him and promising to send beer that I never was able to find.
The following year, I said to him (over a beer), "Hey, you need an editor. Why not bring me on part time, see how it works out."
That was in 2010. I've been here ever since.
It's 2013, and I've just quit my day job to devote all of my time to writing. Mostly about the App Store, iOS, and Apple.
Without the App Store, I'd never have had the ability as a tiny site owner to practice and fail at writing, editing, and running a site.
Without the App Store, I'd never have gotten better at doing those things.
Without the App Store, no one would have wanted to hire me, let alone put me in charge of a ton of freelance writers and a crapload of content every day.
Without the App Store, I'd probably still be making a lot of money, and still be incredibly unhappy.
So, thanks Apple. Thanks App Store. Thanks GamesAreEvil and ThePortableGamer. Thanks Jeff and 148Apps. You all have made me a much better person, a much better writer, and--ultimately--a much better human being.