Aaron Bartholomew

Veteran Web Technology Professional & Software Engineer

About Aaron

“About” pages are the worst. Do you know how many of these I’ve developed over my decade+ long career? So many. Some are colorful. Some have loads of pictures. Most of them really fluff up the thing they’re talking about. The “about” page is the place we put the story we want the world to see. An ego boost. Something sitting in between reality and aspiration. But I think I can do better than that. Let’s make this one real. For the hundreds of about pages I’ve made, I’m gonna make this one for me. The real story, from the beginning. Let’s really get to the core of Aaron.

The first time I touched code, I was 7 years old. I didn’t quite know what I was looking at - but I knew it did something cool. At that time, I was just tinkering with GameShark codes. Trying to get the Mew from under the truck in Viridian City. Know the reference? It’s fine if you don’t. The game was Pokemon Red Version. And my 7 year old brain needed to know how it worked. Armed with a dial up connection, and an insatiable desire for understanding, I got to quick work hacking that game. Learning to find hex values, testing codes, failing, and trying again. Until I managed to finally put a code in that worked. And I got my mew. The hacking never really stopped from there. This phase of my life was all curiosity. It taught me to love the process of learning.

By age 12, Pokemon hacking was childs play. I was putting together basic websites in HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and running forums to give my online gaming clans a place to socialize. School became a side project as my focus and energy was drawn rapidly to solving complex software problems in my bedroom. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 was my online game of choice at this time, and I was modding it like I’d never modded before. Ripping the game onto my computer, changing a few 1’s and 0’s (well, not literally, but you get it) and flashing it back onto a disc. Do you know how much of a flex it was to ride around on a banjo instead of a skateboard online in that game? Or have a username with unused game icons in it? I was a 12 year old god. Every little hack & mod I made, I shared on my personal website at the time for others to do the same. I credit this era of my life with forming my love for open source software, web technology, and community building.

Flash cut to High School. The year is 2006. World of Warcraft, and RuneScape have taken over my gaming life, but the pursuit of software knowledge never stopped. By now, I am what one might consider “advanced”. Those early teen years modding Tony Hawk games had left me with a skillset that was proving to be useful in this new world of online games. During this time, I ran a forum for my RuneScape guild, and was experimenting heavily with Java programming and conventional software engineering. As my interest in the games died down, my interest in the underlying software continued to accelerate. It was in 2006 that I started a RuneScape private server for my friends and I, and paired it with an online account system built in PHP & MySQL. This, at the time, was something not done by other private servers. This era of my learning journey would cement my love for all things web & systems engineering, and would spark in me a desire to work in video games.

During my first years in college, I worked as a GM (Game Master) providing player support for games such as Everquest, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, and Star Wars Galaxies. While doing this, I was also taking on multiple contract jobs on the side as a freelance web developer. My job as a GM was fun, but it was interfering with my desired career trajectory as a software engineer. So I did what any sane hacker would do. I started making tools for my GM team to help everyone do their jobs better. Over the course of my 2 years as a Game Master at Sony, I made at least 10 unique customer service tools that helped the team accelerate our support numbers. This gained me some notice, and the next thing I knew, I was working as an entry level Developer on the platform team at Sony.

I spent quite a lot of time at Sony as a Web Developer, participating in multiple launches for Triple-A games - From DC Universe Online, to PlanetSide 2, H1Z1 Battle Royale, and more. In the decade following, I worked at multiple game companies, and some startups. I had a hand in building some of the first live esports systems to be used at scale. My career evolved from Web Developer, to Application Engineer, and finally settling as a Full Stack / Backend systems engineer.

These days, I am still in search of knowledge. I’m still playing games. I’m still hacking around on the internet. I’ve run my own company. I’ve worked at startups. I’ve run small teams. I’ve led tech teams. I’ve mentored devs. I’ve consulted & developed with some of the biggest names in the industry, such as MrBeast, Mega64, Rooster Teeth, and many more.

And most importantly… I’ve got one more about page I can throw into the pile. ✌️