This month we’re getting back into the groove of highlighting the Sandbox crew with another (though freshly named) Meet The Sandboxer. Today’s post comes from Valerie Norton, Senior PR Director at Sandbox Strategies. You can find her on Twitter here!
What do you do/when did you join Sandbox?:
I joined Sandbox in February 2015 as a PR Manager, and over the last eight years, I’ve moved my way up to Senior Director. At Sandbox, I do a little bit of everything, from media relations, client communications, scouting and signing new clients, team mentorship, and maybe my favorite hat: being the Duchess of Fun. I love planning our internal team building events, coming up with fun swag, planning our charity walks, and trying to bring our remote crew a bit closer together.
Favorite experience at Sandbox?
I’m grateful to have so many over the years! On the PR side, placing my first magazine cover and a few IGN Firsts were incredible. Getting to work on incredible game launches, being at trade shows (especially getting to walk through the unbelievable The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild E3 booth, that’ll stay with me forever), and traveling to Europe to visit clients.
Internally at Sandbox, I’m always happiest when our full team comes together in person for our bi-annual offsites. From our Las Vegas post-E3 trip one year where we were all loopy from a long van ride through the desert, to playing cards and board games well into the night, to venturing through Universal Studios during the holiday season, to our now-annual Sandsies Awards…I’m so grateful we have a team that comes together so well. Also, Tony absolutely ROASTING me during a board game is still a quotable moment for me.
And definitely not least, I was enormously proud when our team won the Best Places to Work Awards from GamesIndustry.biz. As a manager, I couldn’t be more proud of how far we’ve come.
First video game console/memory?
I have two older brothers, and while we might have had the original NES, I strongly remember the Super NES. We would sit on the floor in front of our little television and play Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3, Wario’s Woods, and the Star Wars games. I could beat DKC2 blindfolded at this point.
What are you playing now?
I’ve been playing a lot of Disney Dreamlight Valley lately, as it’s been scratching my Animal Crossing itch. It’s a fun one to spend a few minutes with each day and build up my little valley. Shaun and I are also playing the original Final Fantasy VII, as we completed the Crisis Core Reunion remaster earlier this year. We’re also about one month out from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and I’ve already taken that Friday off to lose myself in that game. NO ONE TALK TO ME THAT DAY. Unless it’s about the game, then you can talk to me.
What are some of your hobbies outside of games?
I absolutely love writing novels and am working toward being a published author. My degree is in Film and Cinematic Arts, and I’ve found movies have strongly influenced what I write. Give me lots of adventure! I’m also a big reader.
No surprise, but I also love movies, and we go to the theater pretty often. I love traveling and aim to visit every single state in my lifetime – so far, I’m about halfway there, and I have a keychain from every state and country I’ve visited.
I love baking and cooking, and I enjoy crafting. Recently, I’ve been making tiny decorative daggers and bookmarks.
Bonus Round: Why are cats the best – and please defend weapon degradation in Breath of the Wild/Tears of the Kingdom.
Cats are amazing because they truly are so loving but are still very independent. It’s the best thing in the world when they learn to trust you and know you love them, too. I can’t believe I now have three little gremlins just living in my home. At any point, there might be a cat in the room. How great is that?
I know there’s a lot of hate around weapon degradation in Breath of the Wild, and I’ll admit I found it annoying sometimes. However, it’s way more annoying in the beginning of the game than it is later on when you find or earn more powerful weapons. It also made sense to me from a narrative standpoint: Link has been asleep for a 100 years, and whatever weapons he found that existed during that time have become more brittle and breakable.I get why people dislike it, but I like that it keeps me on my toes with my weapons pack. I’m also a bit of a hoarder in games, so the degradation kept me from doing that.
You can check out our other blog posts here and read our last Sandbox interview with Pickle King Rob Fleischer here!