Gasp! Shock! Horror! Peter Lands A Job With No Marketable Skills!
(An Exercise in Sloth! Extended Edition!)
Peter Tatara - August 9, 2006
Dear family, friends, and co-workers on my BCC list,
A bit of time has elapsed since I've last written with you. While, for the most part, I've been watching MythBusters on the Discovery Channel and Seven Days on Spike TV, I do, though, have news.
Setting things up, I started working at an anime company in New York City right out of college. The people (even Tim) were great, and, for the most part, the job was, too. Then, come May 2006, due to some financial voodoo, the company restructured/downsized/fired a whole mess of people -- myself included.
I forecasted finding work in two weeks' time. Two weeks later, I had sent out 200 resumes but hadn't exactly progressed beyond that. Two weeks and one day later, though, I was going to my first interview. Pretty soon, I was doing four interviews a week, some of my favorites including a popcorn-scented marketing firm in the Empire State Building, a beachside hippie pharmaceutical company in Coney Island, a real, legitimate publishing company, and a Major League sports team which offered me a posh commission-only position. Every place I interviewed at was an interesting, potentially enjoyable company but each had some fatal flaw, killer quirk, or gigantic health code violation. Or, maybe, I just had my heart set on the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum and wouldn't accept working anyplace else. (Peter really wanted to join the Navy when he was a kid. Working at the Intrepid Museum would kinda be like joining the Navy -- only without the physical fitness requirements or live ammunition, which if you know Peter is, honestly, a good thing.) But while I thought the cover letter I sent to the Intrepid Museum, featuring patriotism, nationalism, jingoism, and the sentence "I like boats," made me a shoo-in for a career there, a few days later, they issued a Press Release stating the museum was closing for a year and moving to New Jersey. They could have just lost my resume in the mail.
Things weren't looking good. But, while all this was going on, a friend at an anime company down in Texas put in a good word for me, something I'm tremendously thankful and indebted to her for. Pretty soon, I was speaking with a number of the company's VPs. Landing a job at the company would be a dream come true; however, the waking world (my girlfriend) had a few things to say about it:
1) She didn't want to move to Texas.
2) They have rattlesnakes in Texas.
I countered by telling her:
1) They have cowboy hats in Texas.
2) She'd look cute in a cowboy hat.
For the next few weeks, I sat in my apartment, sent out more resumes, and mulled over breaking my lease and buying a pair of chaps. But, I tried to be productive during my unemployment, too. Taking advantage of my free time, I launched a website, giantrobotsfightinggod.com, and started writing a Jesus script that began as a joke between myself and legendary bookmonger Ali T. Kokmen that I'm absolutely positive he's completely forgotten about. I should name a character after him.
Eventually, I shot off resumes to two random postings on CraigsList, one a vegetarian lifestyle outreach website and the other a kinda sorta not-clearly-defined video game company. I heard back from both and very quickly met with a number of people, including both companies' presidents. Then came July 24th, an auspicious, fated Monday.
I had tickets to a taping of The Daily Show -- with special guest John McCain -- later in the day, and it was my plan to spend the entire morning thinking up a good question to ask Jon Stewart before the show began. "Who would win in a fight, John McCain or the Loch Ness Monster?" was the question I finally arrived at asking. But come the taping, regrettably, John didn't pick me. (At a previous Daily Show taping, I had asked Jon Stewart the politically solvent "How did Emily Dickinson die?" I guess it shouldn't have come as a surprise Jon didn't take my question this time.)
But, rather than being dejected about not asking Jon Stewart the Loch Ness Monster thing, I was feeling pretty elated. I had a job. While I wanted to spend the day thinking up stuff to ask Jon, I actually spent it at the game company, going through another round of interviews. (If I had spent all the time thinking about a question, it would have been better than "Who would win in a fight, John McCain or the Loch Ness Monster?")
The company offered me a position around noon, and while I was ready to accept as soon as they placed the offer on the table, I played it cool and told them I wanted to think it over. So, I called up my mommy and grandma. Then, I spoke to the game company again.
It's now been close to two weeks since I started there and, forgive me for not saying anything sooner, but I didn't want to send out an announcement prematurely only to be fired seven hours into the job. But, thanks to a $50 donut bouquet I brought into the office on my first day, all the women and fat guys love me. (This isn't to say women can be bought off with sweets. No, they fell for me because of my propensity for dressing like a school boy. As for the fat guys, truth to power.)
So, what's a video game company like? Like most American boys (or nerds), after wanting to be a firefighter and a paleontologist, I wanted to work for a video game company, imagining the industry as some sort of fantastical wonderland turning the high school pecking order on its head, where the geeks get the cheerleaders and the jocks learn the bitter taste of an atomic wedgie. (I thought about this a lot.) Of course, after my view of a utopian anime industry fell apart somewhere between the insomnia and perpetually clenched sphincter brought about by my previous job, I walked into the video game business without expectations. Rather than crossing my fingers for a nerdocracy, I was simply praying I'd be getting a paycheck that wasn't slashed in half "to keep the company profitable." Ahem.
So, again, what's a video game company like? I feel a systematic dissertation of every square inch of the office is in order to truly do it justice, but because Oban Star-Racers is on in nine minutes, let me attempt to illustrate the experience in one, succinct sentence.
It is an Elysium of ping pong tables and pop art crowned by a fridge full of booze.
It's true. It's all true. It's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the freaky Oompa Loompas replaced with an Xbox 360 hooked up to an ostentatious plasma screen. Of course, as soon as Tatara got into the game industry, they went and canceled E3. Video game world, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to ruin it for everyone. E3 could have just lost my invitation in the mail. (For those of you over 40, E3 -- or the Electronic Entertainment Expo -- is an omnibus video game trade show held annually in Los Angeles. Known for its exhibitors' shameless reliance of 64-oz. margaritas and girls in painted-on bikinis to win over the pubescent video game "press," the event's organizers, worried the oneupmanship would result in donkey shows and/or free BJs for all come next year, issued a Press Release stating the trade show would be restructured/downsized from its current den-of-sin format to a "more intimate" gathering in the future. Sadly, not that kind of "intimate.")
Getting back to me, what exactly do I do? I'm a Community Manager. It's a carte blanche marketing position with a pinch of BBS, blog, and buzzwordy viral stuff. Another way to look at it is I'm a video game ombudsman. Yeah, that sounds important.
Putting a name to the face, the company's called Game Trust and is located in Union Square, coincidentally my favorite stretch of Manhattan. If you're curious as to what Game Trust does under the umbrella of the video game industry, the company produces and distributes online games -- everything from 3D wakeboarding sims to virtual versions of gin rummy -- along with chat room and instant messaging software which run seamlessly inside its game architecture. Game Trust has an interesting business model: It makes its titles available for free; however, if you think you've got madskillz at Aquabble Quest or Maui Wowee and you put a small amount of money on the table as an entry fee, you can play in tournaments for cold, hard cash and/or fabulous prizes.
This month, we're giving away a Nintendo DS, PSP, and even some Hawaiian shirts. (Yes, I picked out the prizes.) To see what it's all about, click on over to tournaments.miniclip.com. Personally, my favorite games are Ice Spell -- it's like Scrabble with penguins -- and Munch Madness -- a free-roaming action game about a dog with a gun looking for cookies.
That's about it. Oh, since landing the Game Trust job, my phone's been ringing an average of four times a week with other companies now looking to pick me up. Thanks, but why couldn't you have talked to me when I first sent my resume in a month ago? Eh, I'm happy at Game Trust. In fact, very happy. Don't think it's just about the booze, though. Nope, there's a lot more in the refrigerator, too. And also that I'm trusted to command a staff of 60.
Lastly, the reason for this e-mail, Oban Star-Racers is a good TV show. You should watch it.