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How Games became my Job, Part 1

This is the first blog part about my personal experience how I entered the games industry and how it has changed and developed during the last 7 years. There will be at least 2 more parts following. :)

 

In 2007 I was 25, working as a bartender in an after-hours club in Hamburg, Germany. Spending my whole week playing online poker and computer games. My life wasn't going into any specific direction and I really didn't know what I should do with my life. Bartending was fun but not exactly a career choice that would get me anywhere in life or would be an awesome thing to do once you pass 40.

I was open for something new, let’s say a real job with real opportunities, which at that point I really couldn't picture or see myself in.

 

So one day a friend of mine told me he saw an ad on a local job webpage from a new poker club in town that was looking for poker dealers. Since I knew how to play poker and hey how hard can it be to deal cards to people, I wanted to look it up.

That didn't go so amazing because I could not find that ad anywhere in the job listings. Which in retrospect was the best thing that could have happened to me, because I found a different ad; the ad of my future employer.

 

This ad, compressed to its basics, said the company was looking for someone who is fluent in English and likes computer games. The position was in the translation and support department. Translating, answering emails in English, yeah sounded like something I could do. Then I looked up where that company was located and here came a pleasant surprise, I turned around on my chair, looked out of my window, and I could see the office building the company was in.  So I decided to apply, and I was invited for an interview.

 

I really needed this small chain of luck and opportunity at that exact time to give my life a different direction and to finally leave my post-school nonsense streak. A lot of things could have gone very differently in my life and they would have most likely not been as fun and creative if that friend had not told me to look up that poker dealer position.

 

I had my interview which went.. let’s say meh. I was the core gamer who had never played a free to play game in his life and all my previous references like carpentry or working in a bong factory didn't really help to make me look like I am the perfect guy for the position.

It also was a super hot summer’s day which in combination with my interview anxiety (first real interview of my life) made me sweat so much that the interviewer gave me a kleenex to wipe my face.

 

But apparently at that time in Hamburg it was not easy to find qualified native speakers who knew a little this and that about computer games. So my little lucky streak continued, because a few weeks later I was informed that they wanted to hire me as an intern.

 

They offered me a month of internship for very little money, at least it’s what they thought: it was more than I made bartending. I was more than happy to take the opportunity.

 

I was introduced into a team of two other people who did all the translations and support for all games the company was offering in English at that time. The people were nice and to be honest compared to manual labor like deconstruction work this was a piece of pie. I really enjoyed it and I think that was showing in my work and in the hours I pulled.

After two weeks of internship I was offered a full-time contract with, for my standards, an amazing salary. remember first real job, low standards, more money than I ever made.

 

The next two years pretty much went by in fast-forward. The company had grown by a couple of hundred people and millions in revenue. That also meant that there were thousands of players who required our guidance, communication and support.

At that point it was decided that it would be a pretty smart idea to create a dedicated localization department with licensed translators. This was awesome, yes I speak English but that is something completely different than being super confident in your written English skills. I was always lucky I had a team in which we all cross-checked our translations, and looking back now, none of us had a great career as translators ahead of us. So we became community managers.

 

In the course of the next year one guy left the team for another company and the other guy moved to project management, which left me in charge of managing all the moderator teams, communication to the players and to the dev team for all games the company was running in English(20+).

 

I can't say that I didn't enjoy the situation, I was working at my max capacity and I was really good at it. 60- to 80-hour weeks where my friends and I barely saw anything else than the office. During that time it felt great and I had the feeling I was finally doing something important that involved a lot of responsibility and money.


To be continued

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