"Growing up in Texas, you can get a bleak view of the world," says Houston native Chris Burke, who escaped to Oregon in 2000, when he finished high school. "I resented the fundamentalist values. I love the culture here, where you can learn about community from an adult perspective." Birke started at the UO as a philosophy major ("I'm a big thinker," he admits) but switched to multi-media to pursue an interest in digital technology that he developed as a kid tinkering with video games. A senior-year internship with video-game company Buzz Monkey Software turned into a job after graduation. "I work really hard," he says. "Games need to be ready for holiday time, so we work 10 to 12 hours a day during crunch time in the summer. It's fulfilling to be surrounded by talented people." As an adjunct to his friend Cindy Ingram's Grrrlz Rock series of concerts last November, Birke organized a panel discussion among women working in divergent fields. "We had a judge, a truck driver, someone from EWEB, a video game artist," he enumerates. "Naomi Zach from the philosophy department was the moderator. Grrrlz Rock is about music, but I think it should be about feminism as well."
photograph and story by Paul Neevel
Eugene Weekly / 19 February 2009