Correction: The original version of this story had the incorrect first name of the website’s editor-in-chief.
More than a decade has passed since the initial meeting between Mario and Isabel Lucero and not only are the two married, but they have launched a website with followers all over the world that showcases the couple’s talents.
Isabel and Mario Lucero met as teens while attending the same Christian school in Corrales. Their website, Heaven Sent Gaming, features comics, music and short novels. The couple is also developing a video game for the site, which gets more than 15,000 visitors a day.
One of the most popular features, Mario Lucero said, is the New Mexico lexicon. The lexicon contains words and phrases associated with New Mexican culture and provides a definition for them. Some of the entries featured are Al Hurricane Jr., bizcochitos, Blake’s Lotaburger and pueblo.
Isabel Lucero said the couple started the lexicon for fun because they believe there are a lot of misconceptions out there about New Mexico not only from people in other parts of the country and world but within the state itself. They are continuously adding words and phrases to the list.
Although it wasn’t necessarily started for fans in other countries, Mario Lucero said it has proven useful. Visitors to the website from other countries will sometimes email the couple after reading something on the lexicon and remark on how interesting New Mexico sounds.
Isabel Lucero, who is the president of the company, illustrates their comics, while Mario Lucero writes the content. He’s also the author of the site’s short novels.
Before the two had fans across the globe, they became fans of each other. They were students at Sandia View Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist campus, when Isabel was a student teacher’s aide and noticed Mario’s writing.
“It was me that pushed him to take the role as a writer,” she said. “His stuff was always so creative and interesting. I always thought this is the kind of stuff I would want to buy and read.”
At the same time, Mario was admiring her drawings.
“I told her ‘You should do something with that,'” he said. “I really wanted to work with her. It’s why we started Heaven Sent Gaming.”
At first, Heaven Sent Gaming was an informal group the couple formed with their friends in 2006 while attending Collins College in Tempe, Ariz. Collins is a now defunct for-profit college that offered courses in film and video production, graphic design, video games and information technology.
The couple launched the website in 2009 and eventually invited their friend Jason Waggoner, whom they had met in college and was part of the original Heaven Sent Gaming group, to move from his home state of Mississippi to New Mexico to be their editor-in-chief. Waggoner left school before earning a degree and returned to Laurel, Miss., working as a fry cook for seven years. He said he was ready for a change and looking to get back into a field he loves. He writes some of the content on the site and functions as its copy editor. He’s also helping the couple develop their first video, which Isabel said fans are anxiously waiting to see.
“I didn’t have a lot of friends when I was a kid in Mississippi because it was a small town,” he said. “I wanted something I could escape to so (video) games became like a friend to me.”
Waggoner said he jumped at the chance to work with the Luceros again because of their commitment to quality products and because they are “good people.” The couple said they have tried to stay true to their Christian beliefs, hence the name.
Mario said one of the largest fan bases is in Japan. Their Twitter account amassed more than 10,000 followers, many from Japan. They also have fans in Russia, Brazil, South Korea, India and France. They use Twitter to post scripture quotes and promote their website. Isabel’s Twitter account is published in Japanese and she’s trying to learn the language.
“When I was younger, I was exposed to a lot of Japanese anime,” she said. “I started drawing at age 10.”
The website is a continuous work in progress. The couple hopes to some day grow the company to a point where they can make a living at it. Isabel Lucero works as a leasing consultant and Mario runs their website full time, working daily on content.