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LF Job; preferably videogame QA testing or editorial work

Lucid_SeraphLucid_Seraph TealDeerMarylandRegistered User regular
Okay long story, but...

I was on a 4 month contract at a Maryland based videogame company that I won't name, but you can probably figure out who it is from context cues. Ironically, before I got the job, I wasn't that interested in video game work, and took it because I was desperate and was going on 8 months of looking for writing/publishing work. But then once I started doing it, I LOVED it. I'm super disappointed that my contract ended, and now I can't seem to grab another contract with them at all.

I'm looking for more gigs in Quality Assurance, either in gaming or possibly with other IT / tech companies. My programming skills consist of kind of vague C++ knowledge from high school. My OTHER skills are a huge tolerance for (paid) overtime, great attention to detail, an ability to ask a lot of questions, and a strong ability to follow procedures and get stuff done on time. The thing is... my previous industry was book and magazine publishing and editorial work. I had no luck there at all, though.

I just don't even know where to start looking. I'm very new to the gaming industry, and I'm very, VERY entry level. But I want to keep going. [REDACTED] Maryland company has expressed that they're not interested in re-hiring me, so they're out... which doesn't leave much in the area, unfortunately :(

Suggestions? Thoughts? Help?

Also: NO. I AM NOT INTERESTED IN FREELANCING. I'VE DONE IT BEFORE. I DO NOT WANT TO DO IT AGAIN. THANK YOU BUT NO.

Posts

  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    are you willing or able to move, then?

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  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    Can you get a positive reference from your previous company?

    What is this I don't even.
  • Lucid_SeraphLucid_Seraph TealDeer MarylandRegistered User regular
    edited July 2014
    bsjezz wrote: »
    are you willing or able to move, then?

    Yep! only for full time work though; I wouldn't move for another contract job unless it was AT LEAST a year long contract.
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Can you get a positive reference from your previous company?

    Ehhhh sort of? From my co-workers, absolutely (in fact, one of them has already put in two references for me at other local companies).

    But it's a complicated situation and the short answer is "Not exactly."

    I am being vague because spies are everywhere.

    Lucid_Seraph on
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    I would 100% push on anyone who will give you a positive reference over all other leads you have. It's always the best way to go, if someone says you're hot shit to someone else they worked with, you're way more likely to get an interview.

    What is this I don't even.
  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    I plead ignorance, but how many video game developers or publishers are based in Maryland? Also, there are companies that do third party QA for video games (a lot of big publishers farm out their QA), so you might want to look into that.

    If there aren't that many companies doing business in Maryland, that may be your main problem. Unfortunately, QA work is typically on a contract basis, and testers are held for 3-18 month contracts, which means getting started in QA means bopping around between video game companies/QA companies serially taking contracts. It's not exactly steady work, but you'd have to be in a location that offers that sort of work (like California... the Bay Area has a ton of tech companies who hire QA all the time).

    Again, I don't know what the tech company situation is in Maryland.

    Di87pOF.jpg
    PSN: Hahnsoo | MHGU: Hahnsoo, Switch FC: SW-0085-2679-5212
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    QA isn't much of a career. If you have aptitude for programming, and it sounds like you do, consider working towards a Computer Science degree. Game programmers are always in demand; game QA people are ten-a-penny.

    Wassermelone
  • WassermeloneWassermelone Registered User regular
    edited July 2014
    http://www.gamedevmap.com/

    There might be some devs missing from this, but it could help you. You are not going to get relocation for a normal QA position so either you would have to fly out to interviews (paying yourself) or you would have to move to a city with a bunch of devs and go from there. Also, it is possible to move from QA to the development team, but you have to have the skills already in place.

    On the editor front, the position does exist but it is pretty rare. You would be more likely to find them on MMOs or big RPGs with lots of text/story. On the programming front, I agree with @CelestialBadger‌ . Thats going to be a much better way of getting in, staying in, and having a higher salary than QA.

    Good luck - its a tough industry to get into and just a rough industry overall. Especially QA. If you do get in, I would recommend having a larger than normal emergency fund. From personal experience, layoffs can and will happen and without clear warning signs.


    Hahnsoo1 wrote: »
    I plead ignorance, but how many video game developers or publishers are based in Maryland?

    Two big ones. Zenimax/Bethesda and Firaxis. There was Big Huge Games but they were shut down two years ago.

    Wassermelone on
  • Lucid_SeraphLucid_Seraph TealDeer MarylandRegistered User regular
    QA isn't much of a career. If you have aptitude for programming, and it sounds like you do, consider working towards a Computer Science degree. Game programmers are always in demand; game QA people are ten-a-penny.

    I already have way too much debt to even vaguely consider going in for another degree. I have a Master of Fine Arts in Writing, which is the equivalent of a PHD except literally no one will give you a grant or a scholarship, which I got in two years because I'm insane and didn't sleep. I mean... I might look into it, because my mom works at a local college and I can get free tuition? But they're a liberal arts school, and the only way I'd go for this degree is if they'd let me skip the libarts rigmarole a second time (I did it once! It was fun! I DON'T NEED TO DO IT AGAIN) and just do the Compsci major track as quickly as possible. Like... my student loan debt already takes 100% of my unemployment income every month.
    Good luck - its a tough industry to get into and just a rough industry overall. Especially QA. If you do get in, I would recommend having a larger than normal emergency fund. From personal experience, layoffs can and will happen and without clear warning signs.

    Trust me -- I was in publishing for about three years before I ended up in this industry. Everything you're saying about videogames is true of book publishing, only you get paid half as much. Also, my entire family is in either music or stage acting. We know the score. I have probably the world's largest emergency fund at this point, not that it does much what with my loans.


    but yeah. I'm totally OK with having rotating contract jobs. The issues are these:

    1. My primary former industry, book publishing, is almost 100% based in New York City, and will do things like offer you $10 / hr 3 month contract jobs with no health insurance or benefits in downtown fucking Manhattan. HAHAHAHA hahah ha :|

    2. Gaming offers you hourly contract jobs for 3 months... at $15 / hr at least. While in the Bay Area that's still unlivable, it SEEMS like there's hotspots in Seattle and Austin as well, which seem... slightly more livable? I wish that ZeniMax and Firaxis weren't the literal only games in town in Maryland because Baltimore is SUPER livable but yeah.

    3. I did ask my contacts for some help finding jobs. I'm waiting to hear back from one company that has a branch office in Maryland but I'm not super confidant. I might be able to get a 3 month contract with Bungie, but then I'd be schlepping out to Seattle and praying that I can keep looping in contract jobs.

  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    If you are looking at QA, try looking at just normal software QA positions, not just ones associated with the game industry. In general, non-game related jobs pay better, have better hours, and don't layoff everyone when the software releases.

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    Lucid_SeraphKirbithNightDragonCelestialBadgerbowenPapillonCroakerBCInquisitor77Derrick
  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2014
    If you have an MFA and can demonstrate technical aptitude, you could probably look into doing technical writing for a government contractor or non-gaming tech company.

    The pay will be better with more job security, in exchange for not being remotely satisfying from a creative standpoint. I think there have been a couple threads on that profession in H/A.

    And from everything I've read, Seattle/Puget Sound area isn't notably cheaper than the greater SF Bay area. Cheaper than SF itself, though.

    a5ehren on
    Papillon
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    edited July 2014
    I agree with going govt contractor even for QA. The pay and working conditions are generally better. Also you can parlay that into a security clearance. QA work on projects that require single scope poly pay very well.

    zepherin on
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    QA is pretty much the same as any QA too. Just one you use a controller.

    Ladies.
    CroakerBC
  • CroakerBCCroakerBC YorkRegistered User regular
    bowen wrote: »
    QA is pretty much the same as any QA too. Just one you use a controller.

    This is true. QA is basically a massive transferable skill set. And a lot of those skills are ones that you mention above.

    That said, it depends how important the medium is to you. If you enjoyed working on game QA because, well, video games, then you're in a bit of a niche, in an industry well known for treating testers like disposable parts (because you can always get another 19-year-old happy to be on minimum wage and playing GTA VI).

    Other industries are far more likely to retain staff with domain knowledge. The pay is typically better, the conditions are typically better, and yes, you are unlikely to get thrown out the door after a software release. The drawback: you're going to be testing some of the most tedious software imaginable (for example, I once worked Time & Attendance, which basically meant making sure the clock in/clock out times were right, and that everyone got paid correctly). But if the medium isn't important to you, if what you work on is less important than what you're doing, corporate QA is typically a far better career path.

    bowen
  • Lucid_SeraphLucid_Seraph TealDeer MarylandRegistered User regular
    edited July 2014
    On the one hand, I love doing creative work. That's important to me, and it's one reason I kept trying to get into book publishing... and probably one reason that despite applying for jobs in technical writing, I couldn't land a single goddamn one (they want people with degrees in technical writing; my MFA is in Nonfiction, but it's in trade nonfiction, not technical nonfiction)

    On the other, what I liked about QA wasn't the game itself (In fact, I'd actually say I found the game I was working on kind of tedious and mediocre...) but the attention to small details it required. I have a pretty bad learning disability and being able to have a task that varies on a day to day basis and yet has a LOT of structure to it in that I'm told what I'm supposed to be doing at any given moment helps my brain a LOT. If I do EXACTLY the same task for hours on end, my brain will cut out and I can literally pass out, but if I'm just told "lol do whatever, we want a motivated self starter" (like in so much of publishing / writing...) I get rapidly overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. In fact, one of the reasons I think my contract wasn't renewed was because the self-same disability made doing high volume multiplayer content really difficult -- too much was happening at once, and I completely missed instructions and commands.

    The two tasks I did the most at this place were Platform, which was the login, account setup, and payment systems (so nothing in the game at all) and then checking to make sure that all intractable objects had the correct object definitions (so, for instance, that grapes were not pepper, that a house was not defined as a crate, etc). Which... again, was less "lol play teh gaem" and more "Perform a highly specific task and fill out very large spreadsheets full of what went horribly wrong while you were doing it."

    On the flip side, what I'm doing is ALSO important. If I were doing normal software QA, I'd rather be working for, say, an environmental firm, or a social justice nonprofit, or something in education or the arts, than for... well, as an example, the job I had before THIS one was working for a spam email company editing their generic fake listicle spam articles they sold to corporations to fill their fake spam blogs to make it look like there might be a human writing this plz click on our link & buy product friend we are human. I got fired from that one, because I honest to god could not stand what I was doing and felt like a horrible rotten asshat for doing it. That, and my manager would say shit like "You brought your own lunch today? That's fucking disgusting. Seriously, it looks nasty."

    Me: "... I cooked this myself last night..." (I am also not a bad cook; I am regularly That Guy Who Cooks. The lunch in question? Home made curried chicken over rice.)

    Him: "I don't care, it looks gross and you must be a shitty cook."

    Yeah not a very good place to work. I don't think I could stomach working for ANY sort of marketing or social media agency like that ever, ever again, in any capacity. It just seems to attract the literal worst sorts of human scumbags. So... I'd rather work for a company that was either doing something innocuous, or doing something I believed in.

    *e*
    a5ehren wrote: »
    And from everything I've read, Seattle/Puget Sound area isn't notably cheaper than the greater SF Bay area. Cheaper than SF itself, though.

    The last apartment I looked at in the Bay Area? Way out of the way on BART, at least an hour in to the city. Not in a great part of town. Kind of shabby and run down. Two roommates. 3 / br place.

    $1400 / month for one room. That's $4200 / month for the whole place and that doesn't include utilities.

    The equivalent in Baltimore? $500 / month for one bedroom in a 3/br apt WITH UTILITIES INCLUDED. $1400 for the entire place. Literally 1/3 of the cost.

    Seattle's probably bad, but I'd find it hard to believe it to be THAT bad.

    Lucid_Seraph on
    Geth
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    On the one hand, I love doing creative work. That's important to me, and it's one reason I kept trying to get into book publishing... and probably one reason that despite applying for jobs in technical writing, I couldn't land a single goddamn one (they want people with degrees in technical writing; my MFA is in Nonfiction, but it's in trade nonfiction, not technical nonfiction)

    On the other, what I liked about QA wasn't the game itself (In fact, I'd actually say I found the game I was working on kind of tedious and mediocre...) but the attention to small details it required. I have a pretty bad learning disability and being able to have a task that varies on a day to day basis and yet has a LOT of structure to it in that I'm told what I'm supposed to be doing at any given moment helps my brain a LOT. If I do EXACTLY the same task for hours on end, my brain will cut out and I can literally pass out, but if I'm just told "lol do whatever, we want a motivated self starter" (like in so much of publishing / writing...) I get rapidly overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. In fact, one of the reasons I think my contract wasn't renewed was because the self-same disability made doing high volume multiplayer content really difficult -- too much was happening at once, and I completely missed instructions and commands.

    The two tasks I did the most at this place were Platform, which was the login, account setup, and payment systems (so nothing in the game at all) and then checking to make sure that all intractable objects had the correct object definitions (so, for instance, that grapes were not pepper, that a house was not defined as a crate, etc). Which... again, was less "lol play teh gaem" and more "Perform a highly specific task and fill out very large spreadsheets full of what went horribly wrong while you were doing it."

    On the flip side, what I'm doing is ALSO important. If I were doing normal software QA, I'd rather be working for, say, an environmental firm, or a social justice nonprofit, or something in education or the arts, than for... well, as an example, the job I had before THIS one was working for a spam email company editing their generic fake listicle spam articles they sold to corporations to fill their fake spam blogs to make it look like there might be a human writing this plz click on our link & buy product friend we are human. I got fired from that one, because I honest to god could not stand what I was doing and felt like a horrible rotten asshat for doing it. That, and my manager would say shit like "You brought your own lunch today? That's fucking disgusting. Seriously, it looks nasty."

    Me: "... I cooked this myself last night..." (I am also not a bad cook; I am regularly That Guy Who Cooks. The lunch in question? Home made curried chicken over rice.)

    Him: "I don't care, it looks gross and you must be a shitty cook."

    Yeah not a very good place to work. I don't think I could stomach working for ANY sort of marketing or social media agency like that ever, ever again, in any capacity. It just seems to attract the literal worst sorts of human scumbags. So... I'd rather work for a company that was either doing something innocuous, or doing something I believed in.

    *e*
    a5ehren wrote: »
    And from everything I've read, Seattle/Puget Sound area isn't notably cheaper than the greater SF Bay area. Cheaper than SF itself, though.

    The last apartment I looked at in the Bay Area? Way out of the way on BART, at least an hour in to the city. Not in a great part of town. Kind of shabby and run down. Two roommates. 3 / br place.

    $1400 / month for one room. That's $4200 / month for the whole place and that doesn't include utilities.

    The equivalent in Baltimore? $500 / month for one bedroom in a 3/br apt WITH UTILITIES INCLUDED. $1400 for the entire place. Literally 1/3 of the cost.

    Seattle's probably bad, but I'd find it hard to believe it to be THAT bad.
    Yeah but Baltimore is largely burned out. There are places up there, that are as free as your crowbar makes them. However, if you are comfortable in Baltimore, you could probably be comfortable in Oakland. They are about equally as dangerous.

  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Areas are expensive because there are jobs there. Cheap areas have no jobs. This is why they are cheap.

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