Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Rebel Assault on my childhood…(It’s a trap!)

When I was in grade school, my dad worked in Sales & Marketing for one of the world’s largest software publishers. He worked on promoting a number of titles for a legendary space adventure franchise, and as I was a huge fan of the franchise, he usually got me early releases and beta builds of some great franchise games.

Eventually, someone from the developer got wind of this, and decided they wanted some feedback from my gameplay sessions. Apparently, they hadn’t been able to get actual player feedback from anyone younger than 18 years old.

My dad saw an opportunity to strengthen a business relationship, and I was game for it, so we started doing some recorded feedback sessions on cassette tape after I would play for a few hours. Things intensified as they tried to use more sessions with me as a substitute for having sessions with multiple people. I wasn’t enjoying replaying some of the games, and I could only play the games when he was able to record my feedback afterward.

It got to where my dad could tell I wasn’t having fun anymore, and he told the developer we wouldn’t be able to provide feedback anymore. The “damage” had been done, though.

When these games all came out at retail, all my friends snatched them up, and I found myself stuck watching people play the games I had spent far too much time with already. A few of my friends noticed that I had an almost preternatural understanding of game missions, cheat codes, etc, and they pumped me for as “help” as they could.

In all seriousness, it was years before I was able to play video games with friends again. That’s why you’ll never catch me beta testing anything—ever again.