Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series of articles that features accomplished Galt High School and Liberty Ranch High School graduates. If you are interested in being considered as part of this series or you know a GHS or LRHS graduate with notable accomplishments, career or otherwise, please email Faith Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or Bonnie Rodriguez at email@example.com.
As a student at Galt High School, Justin Farren would rather have been just about anywhere other than the classroom. After graduating in 1988, he joined the Air Force and embarked upon a decidedly non-linear career path that threw caution to the wind and, in the end, proved that success comes in many forms. Farren has now visited or lived in more than 75 countries, was a professional wrestler, and has worked on some of the most popular video games to hit shelves in recent years.
“I always felt there was something more interesting waiting for me outside the states,” Farren said. “It still drives me. When people ask me where I want to live, I always say, ‘somewhere else.’”
Though Farren recalls struggling to focus and succeed academically in high school, he still believes his time at GHS instilled in him many of his values and interests. He points to teachers like Tom Veatch who taught him the importance of commitment and the power of words, and Jana Din who cemented his lifelong passion for cooking.
Knowing his future didn’t lie in academics, Farren enlisted in the Air Force when he graduated from GHS in 1988. During the next seven years, Farren worked as a systems analyst and with Air Force Special Operations. He did two tours each during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. His time with the Air Force also gave him the chance to travel extensively for the first time, as it took him to England, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar, Okinawa and the Azores, as well as across the U.S.
“I have gone through five passports now and have over 75 countries stamped,” he said. “I hope that living in Minsk [now] pushes me above 85 in the next two years.”
After leaving the Air Force, Farren worked in IT for a time before turning to a more creative outlet.
“I grew up watching [wrestling] as a kid,” he said. “My dad took my brothers and me to see Wrestlemania 1 on closed-circuit TV at the Sacramento Civic Center. It was transformative and made me fall in love with the sport.”
So when the personal trainer he started working with turned out to be a professional wrestler, he jumped at the opportunity and “The Bug” made his debut in the ring.
“I said, ‘Why not?’ I knew I was good enough from a creative perspective and that I just needed to get my body into shape,” Farren said. “I had my first match in Sanford, Florida and was able to wrestle all over the world as a result.”
And while he had his last regular match in 2007, he promises wrestling hasn’t seen the last of The Bug.
“[Like] every other wrestler who has ever lived, I haven’t had my last match yet. I’ve got the mask ready 24/7,” he said.
That same year, Farren accepted a job with Electronic Arts (EA), an American video game company that is headquartered in California. He worked as a Program Manager and Development Director, helping with annually released games like Madden NFL and other EA games. Since then, he has also worked for Ubisoft, the company behind the popular Assassins Creed series, and now is the Executive Producer at Wargaming Mobile.
“As an Executive Producer here at Wargaming, my job is to direct my teams toward success by creating a vision framework that lets them do what they do best, create worlds,” Farren said. “The job can be like herding cats, but the people I work with are so talented it makes my job much easier. I try to create a team culture and work flow that reflects the team’s strengths and passions.”
His job requires him to set objectives and target audiences for games and generally ensure that the artists, designers, engineers, and play testers are able to work through any roadblocks and make their individual ideas come together.
And after his position with Ubisoft moved him to Singapore, this position has again given him the chance to live abroad – this time in Minsk, Belarus in Eastern Europe.
Farren believes that, whether you’re living abroad or just traveling, the willingness to open yourself up to new experiences changes you for the better.
“I think it’s made me less tied to ‘things’ and material goods. I prefer spending my time, energy and money on creating new experiences,” he said. “I have learned so much from so many people; there is no one right way to live, no economic or political system that is the best, and that life is fleeting.”