Nate Wooley at E3

Nate Wooley Was My Friend and Mentor

Welcome Time Wasters.

I’m not here today to tell you all about some great indie or browser game to play. Instead, it’s to shine a light on Nate Wooley.

Many of you have probably already seen John Breeden’s amazing obituary about Nate. It’s a wonderful look into his life and showed me things about Nate I didn’t know.

GiN Time Waster Columnist Billy White
GiN Time Waster Columnist Billy White

See, Nate Wooley wasn’t just my friend. I didn’t grow up with him or hang out together with him in college. I’m way too young for that. Instead, he was my mentor.

I met Nate in college when he was teaching a news writing class I was taking. As always, I procrastinated in that class and didn’t come out of it the best. If I remember correctly, I got a D because I failed to do the final project.

After that, I didn’t see Nate for a few months. Not until he was looking to hire someone for some odd jobs. Being poor and in college, I hit him up.

While working for Nate he noticed my PSP and talked to me about gaming. It was around this time that he brought up GiN to me. Even knowing I didn’t perform well in his class, he was willing to give me a shot.

To make it clear, I’m forever glad he did.

Nate bringing me into GiN is something that I will always look at as a major change in my life. It strengthened my writing capabilities and pushed me down my current career path.

Nate continued to look out for me after this. He took an interest in me and encouraged me to work toward the things I love. That’s something only a few teachers do and I believe it’s what makes them mentors.

GiN Founding Publisher Nate Wooley
GiN Founding Publisher Nate Wooley in the early days of GiN, when we were still a targeted newsletter publication for industry.

While working with Nate, his love for comics was clear. While I enjoyed heroes and comics to a degree, I had never fully dived into them. That’s mostly due to growing up in a small town with no comic store.

Nate wasn’t having any of that.

I remember clearly sitting on the steps outside his house talking heroes with him when this came up. He told me that Free Comic Book day was happening and encouraged me to check it out. To add to that, he set me up with a $20 credit at the store to spend on comics.

After getting me into the medium, Nate continued to lend me books from his collection to read. He always listened to what I had to say about them with a huge smile on his face and loved going over the details and meanings of the story and art. It was clear that he just plainly loved seeing people get brought into the culture and enjoy the hobby.

I still have the copies of Watchmen and V for Vendetta that he gifted me back then. They are two of the most important pieces on my shelf, not because of their content, but because of who they came from.

Nate Wooley at E3
Nate Wooley learns about a brand new game at an early E3 Expo Trade Show.

Eventually, Nate moved away from the college town I was living in. Even so, that didn’t stop him from checking in with me and making sure I was doing well.

When I graduated from college, it was Nate who recommended me for my first writing job outside of GiN. Yet again, this was a boon to my life and I’m grateful for it still.

Nate also took an interest in having me continue to work with him after all this.

There was a point in time when he was considering buying a comic shop near his new home. At that time, he reached out to me because he wanted me to move down where he was and run the place for him.

Sadly, nothing ever came of it, but I believe it worked out for the best in the end.

It wasn’t until just writing this up that I realize how much that meant to me. Nate was always looking out for me, and I don’t think that quite clicked until just now.

What I’m trying to say in all of this rambling is that Nate had a profound impact on my life. Without him, I would not be where I am today.

I’ve seen an outpouring of love for him after his passing and I know my experience with him wasn’t just a one-off case. Nate cared about people. He went out of his way to help them and that’s one of the greatest lessons he’s ever taught me.

The only thing I regret is not keeping in contact with him more. It’s easy to let yourself drift away from people. Even in the age of social media. Don’t let that happen.

I’m not good at concluding this kind of thing, so just take care out there, everyone.

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