I graduated from college in the year 2000. It was an incredibly exciting time. Not only was I about to step out of the safety of the educational system and into the real world for the first time but as everyone back then knew we were only a few months away from getting flying cars and personal robot butlers. It was an exciting time indeed.
Sadly the reality I discovered shortly after graduation was that I would not be getting my flying/driving license any time soon and that finding a job in the theatre industry as a recent graduate can be incredibly difficult if you are not willing to work for very little money or no money at all. I spent a few months working here and there at different theatres as stage crew. I was enjoying the work but I could not ignore that it was not exactly financially viable for a young go getter like myself (even though I was still living with my parents).
I knew I needed to expand my options and find other areas in which I could apply the knowledge I had accumulated at college between trying to struggle through hangovers during lectures and playing Soul Calibur in the student bar.
Luckily I did not have to think very hard because a friend of mine had hit upon the same road block and already given it some thought.
“Computer games.” Jake said with a matter of fact confident nod which might have been made all the more confident by the two pints we had just consumed. “Think about it.”
I did. The blank look of my internal thought process must have shown because he quickly continued.
“It’s just like building stage sets but inside a computer.”
He was absolutely right. I’d suddenly seen the genius of his idea. I’m sure if Shakespeare had still been alive he would have expanded his famous ‘all the world is a stage’ theory to include ‘and all the stage is a computer game.’ The best part of it was I would be able to play computer games as research for my job (an excuse I still use to this day when ever my wife wants me to put down the controller and come to bed).
So I started applying to all the London computer games companies I could find and when I was feeling a bit more adventurous I even applied for a few a little farther north (I was still a young and naive college graduate living with his parents after all). I didn’t hear much back from my applications. I had one interview and then been turned down. I was starting to wonder if Jakes idea had been so hot after all.
But then something happened. I did not know it was something at the time but it was the event that set me on my course. I had picked up a copy of a gaming magazine called Edge and started looking through the jobs section as I had done countless times before. As I looked through the pages I suddenly found it; a rather strange and cryptic job advertisement. It was the kind of thing that made you expect to turn around and see that the shop you had just bought it from had disappeared and where upon asking locals about it they would reply that there had not been a shop there for 20 years, and then shuffle off while giving you strange looks.
I quickly checked. The Bromley branch of WH Smiths was still firmly there. I turned back to the job advertisement in my hands. I was fascinated by it. In big bold letters it read ‘Do you want to create new worlds?’ and I thought YES! I scanned the rest of the page for details. It was a company called Lost Boys games but there did not seem to be any address. My heart sank a little thinking that maybe they had forgotten to add any contact details and some where there was a group of gaming executives sitting around a phone, checking their watches and waiting for people like me to call. Luckily I spotted a email address at the bottom of the page and rushed of home to send them a email (hopefully a few of them were sitting around the computer as well as the phone).
A short while I had sent the email off a thought acureded to me. I had just applied to a job that I knew nothing about. I didn’t even know where in England it was. What if it was even a real games company? What if it was front for the mob or a gang of black market organ dealers? What if I woke up from the interview in a bath of ice with a kidney missing? I don’t think I could handle that kind of job rejection.
It did not take me long to get my answer. A few day later I received a reply. It contained three surprises. (1) At no point in the email did they enquire about the condition of my internal organs. (2) They were very interested in my application and (3) they were willing to pay for my flights to the interview location… in Holland.