Psych Profiles

SenseiMost people don’t like getting punched or beaten up – let alone on a regular basis.  John (aka Sensei) made a career out of it for 15 years or so. As the teaching director for a chain of martial arts schools in the Great White North, he was second-in-command (read: personal punching bag/training dummy) for the first-in-command, so he became pretty good at taking a beating.  This particular skill transferred over well when he gave up a life in the dojo for a life in an office cubicle – unfortunately it came with WAY less physical activity (but a lot more much needed cash).

Some 12 years later (and a much more impressive number of pounds), the corporate life ended as the company he worked for slowly went into liquidation.  Instead of jumping into a similar role in another company, John took this unique opportunity (after substantial prodding from Grevnol) and signed on to handle the artwork chores for the newly formed Barbed Arrow.  Schooled in graphic design, and possessing the ability to draw all things weapon-oriented, it seemed like a perfect fit and a good opportunity to learn from the more experienced guys in the outfit (for the record, those guys are all Grond).

John also maintains an obsessive interest in Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror which helps fuel his creativity (for better or worse).

Other points of interest:

  • When he was nine months old, the house he was staying in exploded out from under him and a wall of fire fell on his crib.  While surviving (obviously) with little to no scarring evident, he is still upset he never developed super-powers from the accident.
  • Once, in order to add spice to a public speaking assignment on terrorism, he had his friends “hijack” his secondary school social studies class (complete with fake uzis and firecracker flashbangs). Just try doing that nowadays…
  • His most prized collection is his series of Warren Murphy’s The Destroyer novels.
  • Is patiently waiting for a Marvel/Star Wars cross-over event in order to fulfill his dreams of the ultimate Boba Fett/Deadpool team-up.

GrevnolSimilar to many of us, life sort of grabbed me by the balls and took me where it would.  I went willingly, as it fit at the time, and to be honest I was having a crap load of fun.  I went to University of Waterloo for Honours biology, simply because I enjoyed high school science and had a biology teacher I respected(Mr. Hunking).

While in university, I was working at Kmart, a mass merchant retail store, part time.  I started moving up in the company, from stock boy to assistant manager.  Next logical step was to move to the Home office, which worked out well for me.  I worked in several positions at the office, from import order processor to planning analyst and ending my 18 year career as a category manager.  The company was purchased numerous times in my career, and is currently the Hudson’s Bay Company(HBC).  Unfortunately, in 2011 HBC decided to sell off the Zellers real estate and shut down the chain.  So there I was with the upcoming end of a career in sight, with an end date of June 2012.

It was a great career, giving me the skillsets needed to run a business.  They gave me the opportunity to meet several inspiring people and business leaders.  I wouldn’t be the person I am today, nor have the skill sets needed to start a company without my retail experience.  Life’s funny though, because it was time to go.  My passion for retail was dwindling daily.

One passion that has never left me is my passion for gaming.  I am pretty sure breathing is the only thing in which I have invested more time.  I’ve been there from the beginning, starting with the Atari 2600, moving onto almost every new system that came out.  Was never much of a PC gamer, being more of a console guy, but that doesn’t mean I missed out on the classics.  I Spent many hundreds of hours playing the original civilization, Diablo and World of Warcraft.  I even fancied myself a programmer, hammering away with Basic, Fortran and Cobol.  That certainly ages me.
Most of my gaming time is spent playing strategy games and RPG’s.  My love of fantasy novels is really what directed me towards playing rpg’s.  Once I discovered them, I was hooked for life.  I’d have to say that Breath of Fire was one of my favourite rpg’s of all time.  Early days would have been Alternate reality and Ultima IV.  Most recently Dragon Age really rocked my world.  Love it!

Once HBC announced the inevitable closing of the doors, I had to figure out what the hell I wanted to do with the rest of my life. This was the perfect time to follow my dreams and stop letting life take me where it would.  I had just gotten an iPhone and was getting very frustrated with the games that were out there.  I continued to find mindless repetitive dribble in the app stores.  I was certain I could do a better job, so I emailed Dave and said we needed to talk.  I knew I couldn’t do it without him.  Well, we did talk, and he had the same idea and passion.  I believe it took him about a day to decide to hop on board.  Once decided, Dave and I partnered up to found Barbed Arrow.

I’m sure it will come to you as no surprise, but I met Dave online being a beta tester for one of his games.  My love of Joel Rosenberg’s novels, especially the Guardian of the Flames series, brought me to Joel’s fan site, Slovotsky’s Laws.  Once I joined the Slovotsky community, I found Dave’s game, The Great Games of Pandathaway.  After logging far too many hours in Pandathaway, Dave invited me to be a beta tester.  We never lost touch and here we are.

John and I worked together at HBC.  It was very easy to see John’s talent, as it was strewn upon every document he was handed in every boring meeting.  You just had to question John about what he was doing and you could see his passion for art.  Dave and I have very little art skills, so after a few discussions John agreed to join the team.  Thus completing the final piece in the puzzle.

Oh yeah, my Grevnol handle.  That goes back to the days of Dungeons and Dragons. ‘Nuff Said.


Born in Minnesota, Dave escaped the frozen hell-mecca of the Midwest by migrating to the land of boring weather – Virginia – in 1999. That led to various roles with Kesmai (the grand daddy of online multiplayer gaming. RIP. dammit.) and (the ill-fated Electronic Arts venture of the dotcom boom). His professional “love me” rap sheet includes various design, technical, and community support roles for Multiplayer BattleTech: Solaris, Aliens Online, Jack Nicklaus Online Golf Tour, Airwarrior III, Multiplayer BattleTech: 3025, Godzilla Online, and The Sims Online.

“Grond’s innovative approach to game design conjures up images of a younger, more clever Sid Meier.”
–John Nelson, game connoisseur and Chuck Norris impersonator

One benefit of working for those outfits was the adoption of his gaming handle – “Grond” – being interchangeable with his name. He’ll answer to either, though he’s learned not to sign “Grond” to legal documents any more.

Following his disillusionment with the state of the post-dotcom gaming industry (read: the industry job market sucked back then), he wandered the professional digital world like a Mongolian nomad (sans the raping and pillaging aspects).


During that time, he grew incredibly bored with MMOs and, well, stopped playing games. Everything boiled down to grinding and the sense of accomplishment was about as empty as the calories in a handful of refined sugar. Instead, he started thinking about how to make games not suck. What he would like to see in online multiplayer games: collaboration and real conflict.

“I don’t really pay attention to those silly games he works on, but Dave is a very eloquent, impressive writer and sexy as hell. Fuckin’ awesome.”
–Rose Thorn, existentialist and regional beauty queen

That inspired frenzied development of a game (withheld for trademark compliance) implementing many of those theories. That game hooked James and planted the seed of what would eventually become Barbed Arrow. The game closed in 2006 due to Grond taking a soul-sucking gig with local bureaucracy Too stubborn to accept his fate of being a mindless government IT drone, he jumped at the opportunity to form Barbed Arrow, pretty much before James stopped his sales speech.

“His specious views on gaming are obvious in his unfounded negative review of Elf Bowling 1 & 2.”
–Smitty, professional Twilight slash fiction author, freeganism advocate, and Brony

Now Grond spends a lot of time thinking about personality typing, sex, interpersonal conflict, half-assed sociological theories, and how to incorporate all of them into online games.

His personal heroes are Joel Rosenberg, Nikola Tesla, and Major Dick Winters. He hates bananas.

Smitty's AvatarShawn has spent a lot of time listening to and solving other people’s problems. In his early years, he helped his friends get through the last boss fight in Final Fantasy III. After spending some time in college, he helped people solve their technical problems while being employed by Staples and Best Buy. Whether it was as an Easy Mobile Technician or a Geek Squad Double Agent, when people’s crap broke down, he investigated and fixed it. This ability to figure stuff out and make it happy lends itself well to his current gig with local government. If there’s anywhere that needs stuff fixed, government has to pretty high on the list.

Gaming has been a significant part of Shawn’s life for as long as he can remember. Video gaming, in particular, helped Shawn escape the more mundane aspects of life growing in a bed-and-breakfast community. He’s played pretty much all genres: first person shooter, role-playing, puzzle, fighting, real time strategy, simulation, arcade, and even the current “casual” games. Shawn came by the handle of Smitty through gaming with his friends in middle school. Since there were two Shawn’s in the gaming group, it was either go by Smitty or suffer mass confusion as each Shawn tried to figure out who was being yelled at.

Shawn was drafted into the Barbed Arrow crew because of a chance meeting several years ago. Because of a chance comment he put on his department profile entry that mentioned his love of BattleTech, a slacker named Dave introduced himself to Shawn. This started an incredible friendship, filled with many years of good conversation and hilarity. When Dave left the land of local government to jump back into online game development, Shawn was only too happy to offer his assistance. He now moonlights as a Web Producer for Barbed Arrow, developing and maintaining the their website.

Avatar image for Einarr

Einarr (known more generically as Richard L. Johnson) entered the world of computing and gaming at roughly the same time. During his college years in the late 70s he discovered two joys: carrying around large boxes of punch cards and playing a new game that consisted of three brown books and a few oddly shaped dice in a white box. While his talent with the punched cards was only average (though it did bulk up his arms nicely), his adventures with the wonders of the white box game opened up the world of Dungeons and Dragons. What followed were many enjoyable nights with pizza, Mountain Dew, and being tossed out of dorms in the wee hours for making too much noise…gaming. (Well, he is a nerd, after all.)

Over the years he has worked as a computer support tech, network engineer, office manager, and for the past twenty years as a tech director for a public school in eastern Iowa. While doing all of that he has found time to waste in politics as both a campaign manager and a candidate, built a preaching and wedding ministry, raised two children, successfully impersonated a herald in the SCA, and delved into writing both prose and poetry.

A number of years ago he visited the land of boring weather where he met Ilyenia. They spent many a fun evening cavorting around the worlds of Guild Wars killing red dots and enjoying a specialty confection called “fail cake”. He has since expanded his gaming to include Guild Wars 2 and Minecraft.

When Grevnol recently went looking for someone to assist with the creative writing for the company Ilyenia helped rope Einarr into the job. The programming team quickly learned to keep Einarr away from the code when he asked where all the statement numbers went, tried to order a card punch on the company credit card, and started muttering something about the relative merits of FORTRAN vs PL/1. Needless to say, they didn’t need him to be THAT creative.

Sai's avatar image.Hailing from a distant land across the sea, Saijin was raised in a small Canadian town on the shores of Lake Erie. While the other kids played hockey and developed social skills, Sai surrounded himself with comic books, G.I.Joes, movies and the Atari 2600. All of this and more came together to create a being that fed on all things pop culture. As he grew into his teenage years, he graduated from Batman to The Killing Joke, 80s Joe to 60s Joe, movies to Film Noir and from the Atari, to well, everything that came after. His introduction to the world of RPGs and Fantasy came when he played a twenty-three hour marathon to complete Lunar:The Silver Star on the Sega CD, forever changing the way he saw games and storytelling. The ensuing years saw him absorbing as much knowledge as he could (without actually going to school), and becoming a walking encyclopedia of useless knowledge.

After a brief trek across the world to expand his horizons, Saijin found himself in the city of Kitchener, Ontario, working the early morning shift at K-Mart. It was here that he crossed paths with the man that would become known as Grevnol. In-between days at the big K and nights drinking beer, gaming, and rocking out the local clubs, the pair found themselves in an all-night diner writing fantasy fiction and debating every topic imaginable.

After leaving the retail game, Saijin discovered the joys of selling online and proceeded to spend the next couple years combing garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores, turning a profit selling every manner of collectible, from vintage toys to classic arcade stand-ups. A number of career changes would follow, along with a college education in Network Engineering, something he still can’t properly even define. The world called again and this time he would travel aboard cruise ships, as director of a floating art gallery. After a memorable year of travel and wine and cheese parties, Saijin left the ships, returned home, and returned to the world of retail, this time as a manager.

Still thriving on his love of comics, movies and video games, Saijin would get a chance to strut his stuff when Grevnol recruited him to produce a promotional video for the new game, The Grand Arena of Serndall, finally giving him an outlet for 30 years of mouthing off about how movies and video games should really be made. As Video Producer for Barbed Arrow Games, Saijin gets the distinct privilege of putting his own name in the credits as many times as he wants to, he really knows what it means to be a Producer.

Pixie's avatar image.“She needs no introduction. There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe her accurately. ‘Scary’ is a good one to start with, however.” Anonymous Victim

A nomad by nature, Pixie has lived in four countries and travelled across four continents by the time she reached 25 (not that long ago!), ending up in London with a split Eastern-Western cultural identity. Even so, she is always on the lookout for the next great experience. On her quest, she decided she had too much time on her hands and joined the Barbed Arrow team from across the Atlantic, as the only live-in (living?) representative of the civilised Old World that correctly spells important words like ‘honour’ and ‘jewellery’.

Gaming, specifically role playing gaming, is something that Pixie discovered in her teens courtesy of her first two boyfriends (not dated concurrently). Being the only girl on the team was both super-fun and extremely challenging, especially trying to get the huffing and puffing, women-fearing, rules-obsessed boys to relax a bit and ‘go with the flow’ of the story. Her favourite worlds are (Classic) World of Darkness (invariably as a vampire, long before they became fashionable!) and Cyberpunk 2020, and she revels in post-apocalyptic cinema and literature.

As Technical Producer at Barbed Arrow, she acts as a connecting point between design and implementation, making sure things look good, make sense and are user-friendly. Psychology, marketing and social media are her passions and permeate everything she tries to do, for better or worse. On top of that, she’s also been hammered into the role of Social Media Lead.

“Pixie is the one that holds the Tech Team together – without her unique viewpoints and ability to focus Smitty & Grond on what needs to be done, they’d be utterly lost. In other words, she can translate what they say into human speech.” Grond

Important notes to remember if you want brownie points:

  • Pixie has a slight obsession with personality typing and *will* try to guess your type and then handle you accordingly;
  • if anyone uses ‘education’ and ‘technology’ in one sentence, she is irrevocably hooked on that person;
  • anything involving design, especially where it solves problems and makes useful things beautiful, is her thing.


Chance was born in a small town in the middle of the USA. She grew up playing video from the age of three and as soon as she learned to read, she found a love for books and writing (still holding onto the Pokemon fan-fictions she wrote at eight years old).

Even at a young age, she found herself always writing on the darker side, anything from poetry to short stories, to mental breakdowns and nightmare scenerios and captivated her classmates into wanting to read more of her material. She also found a huge enjoyment in roleplaying online, bother in games and text-based roleplay in chat rooms and virtual worlds. These all fueled a dream to be a professional and published writer.

She is a huge geek and enjoys a multitude of things from making fun of pop culture to comic books, anime, alternative fashion and lifestyles, Korean Pop and Rap, Second Life and anything to do with psychology. There’s very few subjects she doesn’t enjoy talking about.

Currently employed in the mental health field, she is still chasing her dream, writing whenever she can, juggling a home, child and work.