I didn't even care that these studios weren't looking for CM's - I just wanted in, somewhere. But after hearing back from none of the aforementioned, desperation hit. I started incentivizing studios I had never heard of by offering to work as a pro bono intern. "What do you have to lose?" was the subject of every email I sent. And eventually, one took the bait and hired me. I won't say which one, but with very little effort you could easily find that out on your own.
I finally made it! I was actually an employee within the video game industry. An unpaid employee, but an employee nonetheless. And to make matters even better, the studio gave me complete authority over all our existing community outreach channels. And it certainly didn't hurt that the team consisted entirely of very nice people - real salt of the earth types. But there was one problem that became painfully clear to me almost immediately: we weren't making the games we wanted to make. Instead, we focused our time and energy on what was most financially viable. We didn't make games for gamers, but for potentially untapped demographics with immeasurable revenue streams. We even conceptualized a Kickstarter with a pledge goal in mind before knowing what type of game we were actually going to pitch. And if you're wondering, the desired amount of money for said Kickstarter was ludicrous.
Was I missing something? "Is this how every studio operates?" I asked myself. For months, I assumed this to be the way of the industry. That is, until I went to PAX last weekend.
PAX 2013 was the first dedicated video game convention I ever attended. I've always wanted to go, really! But each year, I assessed the pros and cons of booking a trip, and each year I opted out due to those inescapable lines of people between me and the games I wanted to play.
The irony is, those people soon became the highlight of my trip. Not the games.
In just a matter of hours after my plane touched down in Seattle, I had met some of the most incredible people this industry has to offer. I ran into Greg Miller at Sucker Punch Productions, who admittedly, I've met before. But the man is more synonymous with PlayStation than Shuhei Yoshida, so I'm starstruck every time I see him. I met Mitch Dyer, who I've written to on numerous occasions in an effort to get my studios' games covered on IGN, but to no avail. And I certainly can't say I blame him either. I sat next to Maxwell McGee on the bus, and picked his brain about the WiiU's uphill climb this generation (spoiler alert: he says it's a long and arduous one). I shook the hand of inFAMOUS: Second Son developer Jason Connell, who told me all about the intricacies of creating the most sought after PS4 game at the moment. I followed MaxLevel's Malik around the show floor, who introduced me to all the people who had helped him climb that ever elusive game industry ladder. And his roommate was a fellow cast member on The Tester: Season 3 - Akilleez Might! Such a small world, isn't it? I exchanged Twitter handles with Amie Lynn and had a few run-ins with the Radio PlayStation team. Who, by the way, are awesome additions to any The Last of Us multiplayer team. I yelled "Hey Ash, watcha playin'?!" at Ashly Burch, and insisted that Anthony Burch write Borderlands 3. I saw Shawn Chatfield lurking around the Nintendo booth, looking like a total creep. I told Arne Meyer that he's an inspiration. I reminisced with Shane Bettenhausen about the 1UP Show. And Sid Shuman handed me a Resistance: Fall of Man jacket at the PlayStation Blog panel.
But none of that prepared me for Teshigi Smith.
That name shouldn't be familiar to you. He's not a renowned journalist, nor is he a game developer with celebrity status. He's just an 18 year old kid who was cosplaying as Deslin on the show floor. But he was so thrilled to meet me! How great is that? I was his Greg Miller, if you will. But it wasn't until after we parted ways that it dawned on me. Would Teshigi still be my fan if he knew about the games I was working on? Would I still be someone worth looking up to? I think I knew the answer. And that's why I wrote what would be the last email ever addressed to my boss.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do next, or where I'm going to go. But whatever it is, I'm going to make damn sure that the only motive behind it is to make a great game.