28 July 2010

Pizza, StarCraft, And How You Can Get My Job

Yesterday Vic and I locked ourselves in the production office and attempted to plow through as much StarCraft II as we possibly could in the name of shooting a review sometime in the near future.

Blizzard worked on this damn thing since 2003, and here I was trying to choke the whole thing down in a day or two. It's one of the unfortunate aspects of my otherwise really, really--and I mean really--great job. In the name of being timely, sometimes there's just no time to take your time and savor experiences.

And we're not the only ones who are consuming StarCraft II in huge, unhealthy chunks. As my friend John Teti poetically put it yesterday: "StarCraft II is making game reviewers everywhere completely miserable right now." Imagine going to a great restaurant and ordering a huge steak, and then being told that you have four minutes to eat the whole steak and get the fuck out. That's pretty much what game reviewers are forced to do much of the time.

Around dinner time last night, I thought I'd spin the Canadian Pizza Wheel again. Pizza sounded good to me. I paused my StarCraft II campaign and called up a chain restaurant called Panago. An hour later, a delivery guy arrived. "Are you guys playing StarCraft II?" the delivery guy asked.

"Yes," I said.

He was visibly invigorated by this information. "Oh MAN," he said. "Can I have your jobs? HA HA HAHAAAA."

I was feeling miserable, having just endured a mission-ending base-storming by the Zerg, which meant DO-OVER. I wanted my pizza and I wanted this guy to leave. "We're professionals," I said, handing him his change. "So don't try this at home."

The guy lingered for a few more moments, until I finally had to shoo him away so I could get back to StarCraft. I ate some of my pizza and braced myself for another Zerg onslaught. "How is your pizza?" Vic asked.

"It's terrible," I said. "It tastes like a dog took a shit on some dough."

We laughed. "It smells good," he said.

"It's not good," I said. Even the most terrible pizza in New York was better than this. If you dug an old piece of pizza out of a garbage can in New York, it would taste about a million times better than this. Man, I missed those oily, salty slices the size of shape of Yield signs at Koronet on 110th Street and Broadway.

Fuck! Now those were slices!

I get the how-do-I-get-your-job question line a lot these days. Everyone in this business does. I get emails every day from people--some half-joking, some dead serious--asking for my job, or advice on how to get my job. I don't mind giving out advice. I love helping people more than anything in the world. If you really want advice--practical advice--I'll give it to you. But occasionally, on my worst days--like yesterday--I get cheesed off by these knee-jerk inquiries.

The truth is, you don't just wake up one day and do what I do. I'm sorry, but you don't. I went through a lot of shit to get where I am. I had a lot of lean years. Years when I lived below the poverty line. Years when I cast myself into the abyss of E3. I took chances. Shit, I wrote game reviews for free for years, before anyone took me seriously, before anyone paid me one cent to do any of this.

Anyone in this business who has endured took a huge leap of faith at some point and lived to tell about it. Look at Vic. He was an actor waiting tables. He loved videogames. Sixteen years ago, he invested in a camera and some editing equipment and decided to try to talk about games on TV, not knowing 1. if anyone would even broadcast his show, or 2. if anyone would care about anything he said should his show, by some miracle, get on the air.

Vic told me a story about this one guy who emailed him almost daily. He wanted a job in TV production. Finally, tired of the emails and feeling generous, Vic wrote back. "OK, here's your chance. Show me what you got. Impress me. Send me something cool showing me what you can do."

The guy wrote back immediately. "YOU WON'T BE DISAPPOINTED!" he said.

A couple of days turned into a week. A couple of weeks became a month. Still no word from the guy.

Finally, one day, an email pops up from him in Vic's Inbox. "I'm almost finished! I can't wait to show you what I've got! You're going to love it!"

Vic could have left it at that, and ignored the guy. He didn't. He gave him another chance. "OK, get it to me ASAP," he wrote. The company was hiring editors and production people at the time.

"I definitely will!" the guy wrote back.

More days passed. More weeks. More months. Vic forgot about the guy. Until one day another email showed up in his Inbox. "I am almost there FINALLY! Whew! Look for something in the mail soon!" the guy wrote.

But nothing ever arrived in the mail. And Vic never heard from the guy again.

The fact is, a door was opened, very briefly. Here was Vic, giving this guy what he said he so desperately wanted. And the guy, for reasons we will never know or understand, delivered nothing.

I get emails all the time from one cute girl who believes that she is supposed to be on G4 and hosting a show. "I KNOW I WOULD BE GREAT AT IT!!!!!!!!!" she writes. (Almost everyone I know gets emails from this girl.)

Look, it doesn't matter if you're a cute girl. Or the best gamer in the world. Or a cute girl who happens to be the best gamer in the world. You want my job? Don't spam people in the business with emails telling them that you should be on G4 because you think you would be "GREAT AT IT." Man, do something about it. Prove yourself. Show the world why you should be doing what you want to do. Give the world a fucking reason. Tell yourself that you're going to do this--you're going to work in the videogames business in some capacity--no matter what goes down in your life.

No matter what your parents say. No matter what your guidance counselor tells you. No matter how much shit and trash and terrible shit-ass pizza life throws at you.

Do that, and then maybe we'll talk about you taking my job.

17 comments:

  1. Man

    You are a FAR better writer than tv personality. I would rather see more things like this than see you bumble your way through hosting a tv show.

    More writing less talking!

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  2. Why are you so angry all the time? That's about the only thing that popped into my mind after reading through this post of yours and some others.

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  3. Disregard the first two comments. You,sir, are a gentlemen and a scholar. God bless you and continue on kicking ass in the video game industry. Love the show, keep up the good work!

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  4. Good article, Scott C. Yours is a message that applies to most industries. You don't just "get" a good job.... they take sometimes decades of peripherally-relevant work, while waiting for that slim chance of "discovery".

    You and Victor are excellent hosts, and I enjoy watching even though I don't buy 99.9% of the stuff on your show. You've got great chemistry and have both earned your positions.

    Keep up the great hosting and writing.

    Wayne in Calgary

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  5. That's awfully rude Jeremy. I mean, an honest comment would have simply been the first sentence of your entire comment. ANYWAY...

    I can see Vic's generosity was taken advantage of, and this is unfortunate. However, I have had a similar experience be soured by the "professional" involved. I shall recall this tale for you.

    a few years ago I was very very interested in writing as a profession, and to some extent, I still am. In an effort to put myself out there, and to gain some more experience, I had a friend put me in contact with an editor of MLG.ca. I talked to him, and he agreed to let me write him and article about what makes a multiplayer experience in a video game worth sticking with. Two days after we agreed on the subject of the article, I sent it to him in an email. Two days later, he told me it was excellent, and that he'd like me to do an article on the the multiplayer of the newly released Gears of War 2. 4 days later I sent him the article, and two days after that he sent me an email saying the article would be posted on the front page of MLG.ca.

    3 months, and several ignored emails later, the article was never posted on the website in any form and to this day (as far as I know) has never been published ANYWHERE on the internet. This is an unfortunate example of how the unprofessional conduct of a "professional" soured my image of the industry in which I was so keen to work.

    I'm not posting that story here so you'll ask me to write a review for a game (i'm too busy playing them to write reviews), I'm posting it just to give a counterpoint to your story regarding the rather unprofessional writer Vic had to deal with.

    I do really enjoy this blog post though, keep them up!

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  6. I don't normally post comments to anything, but.. BRILLIANT.

    I have to say, I don't know about Vancouver Panago, but it's pretty good in Winnipeg.

    Please keep on doing an awesome job at "Reviews"!

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  7. you couldn't prove your point more Scott clearly.Basically, it's "Just Shut up and do it." Luckily, the large majority of people are just talk anyway..

    Allows me to make $

    Thnx Scott for telling like it is.

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  8. you should be a motivational speaker...I finally feel like I have received a small piece of invaluable wisdom and for that thank you!

    p.s awesome writting and I hope to meet you at fan expo :D

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  9. "The guy lingered for a few more moments, until I finally had to shoo him away so I could get back to StarCraft."

    that was funny. reminds me of the chinese food delivery guy from Seinfeld.

    i know a handful of people who have lived in NY for a time. Great people. put pizza infront of them that's not from NY, they turn very rude.

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  10. Have you tryed Jim's Pizza?

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  11. That pizza in the picture is an abomination....

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  12. You're an amazing writer, not to mention one of my favorite TV hosts. :D

    Keep up the great work!

    PS: A very well-written article.

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  13. I think you are awesome. I have nothing but respect for you and this may be one of the greatest articles I have ever read! I watch you on 'Reviews on the Run' every single day and I love how you just say exactly what you think, not caring if people agree or not... The weird thing is that I agree with every single word that comes out of your mouth.

    Anyway, keep doing what you're doing and I'll keep watching and reading. Say hi to Victor for me! (He's also awesome)

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  14. Scott your writing always makes me smile but you are absolutely right. Very few jobs are as good as people THINK they are (they always see the good parts, never think about the shitty parts) and I swear some people talk just to hear/see themselves in print. Put your money where your mouth is. Look at me - I said over 20!! years ago I was going to have a computer museum and while it took me a shit-tonne of time to do it, I finally did. Not easy and it didn't happen over night. The good news is that if you ever make it to Brantford, we've got a pizza place here that will make you tear up with joy and I'll even buy it for you. :) Keep up the good work as always.

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  15. Great article! It's sad that that guy never took the chance that Victor Lucas gave him! Sadly a lot of people seem to think that a great job like the one you have will just fall in their lap someday. I am sure you and everyone else you work with probably worked/works super hard to get to where you all are!

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  16. Haha you're wikid awesome! I definitely agree that Victor gives people the chance to prove themselves and anyone to get that lucky should do whatever it takes. While completing my TV internship i contacted him through twitter and he gave me a chance to fly to Vancouver for an interview. I made that trip however didn't get the job (due to my own lack of experience). I don't regret making that trip because even though i didn't get the job he gave me a lot of tips and it was a dream to meet one of my idols that inspired me to get into TV.

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  17. damn straight. This is why ur a blast to watch on tv. No bullshit just truth

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