Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Landing the dream job?

All my young life I had told my parents that I was one day going to make my living playing video games. Little did anyone know, one day would be quite sooner than expected.

My mom befriended a receptionist for a local games developer at a cub scout training camp who invited me to go and have a look at how they made games. I checked out their website to learn about the company before going in, and like many pre-2000 websites, it was a train-wreck with missing images and no recent content to speak of.

Visiting with the developers, artists, and planners to see the magic behind the making fulfilled all my boyhood dreams. At one point the CEO dropped by to see how I liked everything and I flippantly remarked how badly their website sucked. At 16, I had no commercial website experience, but I had made scads of my own sites and those were better than theirs by far. The CEO liked my work and a deal was struck, I came onboard to work under one of the designers building their website and worked on the testing crew playing games in my off website time.

At 16 years old, being a game tester made me a veritable rock star in the circles that I ran in. But after the website had been modernized and updated with current information (the one triple A title we had been testing out the door) there was a total wasteland of great games to test and the shine was off the apple.

Nothing will make you seek greener pastures quicker than spending an 8 hour shift playing a bowling game non-stop to make certain that there aren’t issues with music playback over a marathon gaming session.

The music for the game was under license so the publisher wouldn’t provide us with any permanent audio assets until the final stages of production. A helpful developer dropped in a 20 second loop from the circus classic “Entry of the Gladiators” (look it up) as a placeholder for the music so that we could test playback…

8 HOURS and turning the “music” off was NOT an option. Sufficeth to say, I didn’t stick with testing long, and I hate bowling games to this day. I don’t make my living testing games, but for two years or so in my young life, I lived the dream.