Craig Stephen Cooper

Author and Engineer

About Me

I am the youngest of five – though it’s funny to say I’m presently the tallest. My middle initial is the same as my dad’s. My mum’s nurses, who looked after her when she had me, warned my dad that it’d be confusing when mail came. They were right, because now we keep opening each other’s bank statements, which made it difficult in high school to convince my dad that I hadn’t been splurging.

Watching my parents at work on their computers from a young age gave me a very natural feel for computer technology. My grandmother – on my mum’s side – looked after me while my parents were at work, and she’d read to me frequently. This helped my reading and writing immensely, and by the time I was two years old, I could already type documents without much hassle (I just needed to ask how to spell things). Among the pastimes of my formative years, I enjoyed quoting lines from movies I had watched, with a great degree of confidence. But what really set off my desire to study drama was my love of storytelling, which came about in the most counter-intuitive ways imaginable.

Everyone says computer games rot your brain, and for certain genres they’re right. But most definitely not all of them. In addition to writing on the computer, I enjoyed playing a game called Commander Keen. It’s about a boy genius who builds himself a rocket and a laser handgun, and wages war against aliens, intent on destroying Earth. There were six Keen games to my knowledge, but I only had one of them. So I never got to find out how Keen defeated the Vorticons and saved the Shadowlands from destruction. My mum one day suggested, and I immediately agreed, that I should design my own games, with my own stories. So I did exactly that. And thus my love of storytelling was born from video game storyboards on an old Magne-doodle.

During my primary school years, I continued those storyboards and writing my ideas for video games. However, that could only satisfy me so much, and by the time I was in year two, I reached a dead end. Then a friend of my older sister, who we all called Disco, offered to give me his compiler. And I remember thinking, what is this compiler of which you speak? He told me it was something with which I could make my own games. So taught me the C++ programming language. Or at least he tried to teach me, but because I was a little kid I was unable to grasp all the concepts terribly well. He was still a student, and eventually he no longer had the time to teach me. So I started teaching myself. Now I've graduated from University in Computer Engineering. It's interesting how a single childhood passion can catapult you so far.

It should be noted that my programming self-study didn’t detract from my storytelling. At the start of Grade Five, I decided I wanted to write a novel. I got the idea from a story my teacher told me, which was the Chinese creation myth. So I spent a year writing by hand, and came up with a ten page manuscript, which was essentially just an amalgamation of Disney movies and games I had seen or played. My mum still has a copy of that somewhere. Throughout high school I rethought the story dozens of times, but no matter what I did, it still sounded like other stories I had heard. I started comparing myself to writers like Tolkien, which made me doubt myself considerably. In hindsight I realise how stupid it is for a fourteen year old to compare himself to a man who spent fifty years producing his magnum opus. But because I aspired to that, my writing style eventually improved, and my English teachers had nothing but praise for what I could do.

During primary school, I started taking dance lessons. I hated it. But one thing I did get from it is confidence to perform on stage. I stopped dance and did drama instead. I found it was a much more comforting and accepting atmosphere compared to the ear-bursting hoopla of dance. I started learning drama in 2001 from the same teacher from whom my older siblings had learned. I performed in eisteddfods and undertook practical examinations from the AMEB every year. The eisteddfods in 2003, 2004, and 2005 I scored Highly Commended and First Placing. In practical examinations I scored A+ average for Grades Two to Seven.

What I'm Doing Now

I finished high school, and enrolled at the University of Wollongong. Thanks to my programming skill, I did well in Computer Engineering, and graduated with Second Class Honours. That allowed me to enrol in a PhD course. 

During University study, I completed Drama theory examinations for the Certificate and Associate diplomas. I undertook the examinations in order to qualify as a teacher of Speech and Drama. In both I scored well above the cut-off. Finally, in December 2010, I undertook the final practical examination for the Associate and passed. Now I am offering private Drama tuition to anyone interested.

I have not stopped wishing to create my own computer games either. In 2009, as part of a major group project, I created a game called Asteroid3D to be used in conjunction with the Glove. This was a computer control system my group designed and built. Asteroid3D was the first game I showcased as my own work. I recently bought a MacBook Pro, for the purposes of starting iPhone and iPad development.