Sep 26, 2020
I've been a game writer and interactive narrative guy, in some capacity or another, since 1997. 23 YEARS. Let that sink in for a minute. And even with all of that storytelling experience, heaps of professional accolades, high-level game writer recommendations, and some acclaimed self-created indie projects? I still get asked, more often than not these days, to do a test story or provide an exclusive 'sample' for game writer gigs.
In this age of Covid-19 and the (re)rise of remote work? I've been batting .500 on these 'auditions', which ain't bad. Especially when said gig ends up being fun, creatively challenging, and networking boon, and wallet steroids. But that still means that there were a handful of game writer jobs I applied for and didn't hit the bullseye. Ones where — after the headhunter or studio HR got my CV and reviewed my past work samples and learned of my (modest but fair?) salary expectations — I was asked to spend 1-2 weeks on a game writer 'assessment'. A test that would most certainly be based, at the very least tangentially, on the design parameters for an upcoming title they had in development. And they'd expect it for FREE.
And, like a schmuck, I'd deliver. Buyer's market, and all that. But consider the math for a second; they knew my salary range and industry history, which made them painfully aware of the real-world value of my time. (at least 2K per week, being frank...or...well...Brooke). And yet, even after delivering more than expected and ahead of schedule and always with a thank-you note peppered with gratitude and genuine interest in their project moving forward, whatever their choice..? I'd get a three-line form letter rejection. At best. Which is kinda shitty, especially in these uncertain and heavy-hearted times. For everyone.
But since I tend not to sign NDAs until there's real contract tact, I'm more than comfortable sharing a recent example with you here. Embedded audio, too! I've taken the liberty of omitting some potentially incriminating chunks of design-related stuff; that's probably why I'm not posting from the massive game writer test I sank two weeks of my life into for that now-infamous IP that rhymes with SHMARY SMOTTER). Instead, this is one I whipped up for a AAA Chinese developer back in July.
And after weeks of badgering their headhunter for any post-submission feedback whatsoever?
'Sorry, but you were overqualified.'
Thanks for the ass-smoke, lady...I hope you enjoy the freebie.