Collecting Stories

2015 Graduate Nathaniel Dalerio’s Passion for Gaming Pays Off


Since he only needs an internet connection to do work, Nathaniel Dalerio has the freedom to travel. Dinolandia was an art exhibit in Portland, where he spent a week working remotely and exploring the city.

Growing up as kids we can all say we all enjoyed at least one thing in your life, in thoughts of pursuing it as a job. Gaming is something that a lot of us as teenagers (or adults) used to or still do. You wouldn’t exactly think gaming would be a career choice some people make, but taking shots in the dark sometimes hits the bullseye.

Nathaniel Dalerio, a class of 2015 Alisal alum, is one of those kids who loved gaming. He enjoyed games similar to Elder Scrolls and open world style games. Everyone who grew up playing video games always had this dream of wanting to do something around it. “Video games for me were always very escapist. They helped me get away from everything,” Dalerio said.

Growing up in Salinas isn’t always easy. He was outgoing and loved doing community activities. His high school years weren’t always shining in his favor, but he had two mentors that helped him throughout it. His English and Journalism teacher, Mick Battaglini pushed Dalerio to strive academically. “Battaglini did a good job of pushing me not to be lazy, because I was,” Dalerio said. Battaglini is not a fan of micro-managing people and was very strict when it came to Dalerio and his school work. 

Dalerio’s other mentor, Jose Julio Garcia, better known as JJ was the wrestling coach at the time and was someone who pushed Dalerio to keep his motivation. “JJ was very important for me because he gave me a bar to reach that wasn’t academic,“ Dalerio said. “Without them I wouldn’t have the foundation I have now in life,” Dalerio said.

 Thanks to this foundation, college was something that came easily to Dalerio. After applying to many different universities, he decided to attend the University of California, Irvine. He decided on UCI because of the generous financial aid. He majored in Psychology and Social Behavior, and Social Ecology, a double major. 

As graduation rounded the corner Dalerio had an idea of what he wanted to do. He started working as a Behavioral Interventionist right after graduation. “Loved the opportunity I had there but I couldn’t see myself doing it long term,” he said. “During that time I was also working at an Amazon center for lots of hours. I knew I wanted to continue community work but didn’t know how yet,” Dalerio said.

After quitting his job, and having no income for 3 months, he sent out applications. At some companies his applications did not meet their qualifications, and there were many times where his applications went to the first and second round of interviews. 

He was most interested in working in video games, renewable energy, and other tech positions that emphasized community development. He had almost been hired as an academic counselor at a trade school, until a call came in about video games.

He got a job at Zam Agency, a company that runs events for different games. A recent event they ran involved a Kpop group, Black Pink, and third person shooter game PUBG Mobile. “There is overlap between fans of the game and fans of the artist,”  Dalerio said. “Amazing to see the turn out one collab could create, so to see those two groups come together was really cool.”

Although something like that seems like a big task to deal with and it may be time consuming to his way of life, it really isn’t. According to Dalerio, there is a process taken every time a new pitch is thrown in. They take feedback and check in with legal teams and such to handle any work needed. They also coordinate with design and video teams on what assets should be made. They monitor event sentiment and report on progress being made, and finally ensure the winners of the contest receive their rewards at the end. Working on a daily basis with shifts ranging anywhere between 10am-7pm, he has the freedom to work wherever he has a wifi connection. 

Working at Zam Agency has its perks. He is given an annual stipend/benefit to use on games of all sorts or anything that revolves around gaming. “Used it to buy a new phone so I can play the mobile games we support AND create better content for my hobby accounts @bobas_bookstore,” Dalerio said.

The office is located in Los Angeles, but it is only used occasionally as a gathering place for a few of them as they celebrate successful events. With their company recently moving online, his schedule is such that he has freedom to travel as he wishes as long as he takes care of work beforehand.  

With the freedom his company provides he has many ways he could spend his free time, and is always looking for new ways to spend it. Since his time in college he has done activities such as rowing on a team, playing Quidditch, competing in Strongman, practicing trapeze work with circus folk, fighting in plates of armor at Renaissance faires, and writing and performing music, to name a few. Dalerio doesn’t let any of those define how he spends his leisure time, but rather describes it as a “find a path but leave it often” sort of vibe. Dalerio said, “We’re all just collections of stories, so start collecting.”

The future holds a lot for him as he is happy where he is now, but there is always room for him to grow. “Staying in video games for sure,” he said. “I love the projects and the sort of folks that seek out a job in this field. As for my position, I’ll keep doing community work, it best fits my skillset and I enjoy it.” He said the next step is moving from “working on X” to “managing the team that is working on X”.