Just a few years ago, Amanda Dyar was tired, overworked and looking for a better way to make a living.
She became involved in the video game and horror industry and now publishes BioGamer Girl Magazine, which has more than 80,000 subscriptions worldwide.
“It all started in 2009,” Dyar said. “I was a mental health worker. I had wanted to be a writer, but people told me writing wasn’t a real job. So, I became a mental health worker.
“I started having health problems from working too much. I was looking for something else to do. My son and daughter were into video games, so I started a forum that had about 20 members. And, it just grew from there.”
Dyar, who lives in Fyffe, said she didn’t have the opportunity to play video games much as a child, but had always been fascinated by horror films.
“I had an interest in games and horror as a child,” she said. “But, I grew up poor and I had a Nintendo for two days before it broke. I had a tough childhood and I could relate to horror.”
She said as the number of members in her forum grew, she gained more industry contacts and began to branch out more.
“We started doing interviews and writing video game reviews,” Dyar said. “A lot of parents are really misinformed about video games.
“My kids are kind of shy, and video games taught them about creativity and problem solving. My son Seth [Worley] learned about game design and programming. Alissa [Worley] got into cosplay because of video games. Game design, programming and costume making are skills that can be used in the gaming and movie industry.”
She said as she became more and more involved in the video game and horror industry, her list of contacts began to grow.
“We started making short films, games and movies and got hands-on experience,” Dyar said. “In 2010 I made my first short film, ‘Growing Up Zombie.’ I met and interviewed John Russo, who wrote ‘Night of the Living Dead.’ He was my inspiration. They made that movie on a few hundred bucks. After I talked with him, he really inspired me.”
Dyar decided to put her experience to work in BioGamer Girl Magazine.
“I didn’t’ know anything about magazines,” she said. “So I researched magazines and how to do layouts. I researched for months. I found MagCLoud, which is an online publisher that distributes electronic copies of magazines as well as print on demand.
“Once I published the online magazine, it started blooming. We now have 80,000 subscribers and our website is ranked 35th in the United States.”
Dyar said BioGamer Girl magazine focuses on the gaming and horror industry. The family writes reviews and interviews writers, actors and directors. Dyar produces the magazine with some help from her children.
“They do reviews and interviews for me,” she said. “One of the first events we went to was Atlanta Comicon. Alissa got to interview Chandler Riggs [Carl Grimes on AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’]. She became friends with him. I did an interview with Bill West during the final season of Futurama. That was on Alissa’s birthday and he talked with her for a few minutes.
“Some people think you can’t learn anything from video games. But, my children have learned a lot. It’s also given them opportunities most children don’t have.”
Dyar said the whole BioGamer Girl experience had brought her family closer together.
“We love doing this so much,” she said. “We’re always pushing to do more. Four years ago, I wouldn’t have even thought about making costumes and robots or even publishing a magazine. People don’t think you can do this as a job, but you can. My parents pushed me to be a lawyer, but we got into this. It’s brought our family closer together.
“We can work together and it’s also family time. My kids are already talking about taking over BioGamer Girl. It’s great that they love it and that it’s there for them.”