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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Issue : Games : Old Man



A medium time ago I was a game tester that was pretty sure he had it all figured out. I had gone from writing sad "C" bugs to frequently tossing "A" bugs in the basket, I could tell the difference between a code, design, or text issue, and the crunchtime hours, pressure, physical, and mental harassment of the job no longer had me sneaking into the bathroom to cry while pretending to take a dump.

Most importantly I made friends with all of the major players in the building, smoking with the smokers, shit talking with the shit talkers, geeking with the geeks, bro-ing with the bro's. I quickly built a reputation as "that guy you want on your team."

Having a solid reputation is important because how Leads hire for testing gigs is exactly like how kids in a park choose players for a pick up game of basketball. The best performers get picked up first, next up are the selectors inner circle, last are the least obnoxious or least likely to fuck up. At the end of the development sprint, finally it's anyone with opposable thumbs and a pulse.

I wanted to be all four just to cover my bases, and my plan was working. I was landing the AAA titles, the managers and developers knew me by name, well, they all called me "Black in the Hat," but it was close enough. I figured it only a matter of time before my yellow badge turned purple. After that I would impress the development team with the design prowess I had yet to learn and become a dev, then producer (I would figure out what they did on the job), then creative director (same thing), then my own company.

And I would accomplish these feats by the ripe old age of thirty. I was twenty six at the time. That timeline makes perfect sense for  twenty-something person. I'm sure it still does.

Anyway, one day near the end of a development cycle the leads cart into the bay a bunch of the above mentioned folks with only opposable thumbs and a pulse. The insertion turning the test bay from a zen garden full of quiet, productive, professionals, into an animal house full of boners on vacation from reality.

I knew the drill, no see no speaky. "Those types" will do whatever it takes to make an impression, and if you make the mistake of eye contact it's over. You are now best friends forever and they are calling out skank bugs to you every minute, hollering about their "super hot girlfriend in canada," or forcefully enlisting you in some other fuckery that kicks your productivity in the dumps.

There was an open seat to my left, so I knew it was over for me. I could smell the guy that sat down there before he sat down, smelled like wet leather. Turns out, he was wearing a black Fonzie jacket over a tank top. Turns out, he looked like he was pushing sixty years of hard livin'. Turns out he was covered in water and it wasn't raining outside. I fell in love with my pure, blinding, hatred for this man instantly.

And he made it easy. He could talk and talk. not once did he ask for invitation into a conversation, he just went for it. I never saw him write a bug. Every day he brought in a Game Gear attached to a T.V. tuner that he was immensely proud of, and from time to time he would watch Telemundo at full volume. He admitted he didn't know a lick of Spanish, but loved "Them Mexican skirts."

When he found out there was a VCR in the bay he would bring in tapes of Wanda Sykes comedy routines to pass the time during work. He said he brought in Wanda Sykes because he thought I would like it. He also brought in videos of animals being hunted, and "Woop" whenever a kill was made. The hunting videos also included the skinning, and he would rewind and analyse Sportscenter style every clean cut.

The old man was a smoker, like me, and we both appreciated Jazz and Blues. So we would sit over by the rocks in the parking lot and chat about this or that musician sometimes. I would say a song, and he would sing it at the top of his lungs, and I would laugh.

I would tell him about my plans for world domination, and he would laugh. He told me he was on his tenth career, and fifth lifetime. He said I shouldn't be in such a rush, because it doesn't get easier the faster you do it. I didn't get it then, I thought he was just another goofy old man that failed because he didn't have a plan. But I sure get it now.

Plans and reality rarely fall in line. You are where you end up, and continue from there.

The old man was only on for two weeks before he was let go. The official reason was because we were cutting staff, but that is never really the reason. Turns out one of the leads had seen how pissed off the old man made me and did me a "favor." I still think of him from time to time, weird. The reason I think of him now is because Bobby is gone, I'm guessing. Old man loooved Bobby, and so do I.

I hope information isn't pissed at that extra business. Such is live... whoops, I mean life. Also JERBZ, also "Full contact skydiving?" Really?.

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