So, yeah, I started writing this story in July 2017 with Part 1 … and intended to finish it a month later. It’s now March 2020 … nearly 3 years have passed … and the world has most definitely moved on from wondering what happened next in my route to the games industry!
So, yeah, let’s pick right up where we left off…
I ended Part 1 having just finished University … my applications for my dream job in accountancy (!) were all being rejected one by one … all these firms with big glossy brochures filled with pictures of happy number crunchers, fancy sports cars and lots of whiteboard bar charts with upwards trends … none of them offered me a job. Hardly any even responded to my application. The fools 😉
Desponded, I looked further afield … and found something of a curve ball.. McDonalds were looking for a General Manager for their massive Leeds restaurant. Perfect.
Would You Like To SuperSize That..?
I’d never worked in a fast food restaurant before… until I’d gone to University, I’d only ever even gone to one once – because my parents always told me they were “a waste of money”. My life growing up was so sheltered from these things that a friend of mine, let’s call him Roy, had had a birthday party at KFC and I came away thinking that it was the most INCREDIBLE place in the world. Different times 😉
One reason it took me so long to write part 2 of this story is that I realised I’d gotten so close to where I actually started work in the industry … I was going to have to really string out this story if it was going to make a Part 2 worthwhile 😉 .. but, still, Part 1 was just left hanging there… so here we go – bear with me.
I went along to the McDonalds, told one of the servers that I was there for “the interview”, was given a free meal with a drink .. and I waited. That’s a top tip for anyone who finds themselves short of change – just pretend that you’re there for an interview, then scarper before the confused Manager arrives 😉
Anyway, as I sat, munching on my chicken sandwich, I watched. This branch was one of the busiest in Yorkshire … possibly the busiest. Loads of servers, chefs, cleaners .. people milling around everywhere. Huge queues. Everyone fighting for seats. Food strewn all over the place. Fries scattered on empty seats. Tables smudged with ketchup. This wasn’t like any McDonalds I’d been to before – it was off the scale. The staff working behind the counter were running around like headless chickens trying to balance everything, keep the customers happy and the queue moving … it was crazy. Thank god I was here for a managerial position and wouldn’t be working on the shop floor serving customers! All I’d need to do would be to find out how to streamline this operation, make it more efficient, more profitable. Perfect.
15 minutes later, the manager comes out … “we can do the interview in the office,” he says. So off we go.
Then I hear about the job:-
- 1-2 months learning how to cook the food, working as a “chef”;
- 3-6 months working on the shop floor serving customers;
- 6 years working as an Assistant Manager… which would basically be a fraction of the Manager’s salary – but with much more actual work involved;
The first year’s salary was low. Really low. And if I worked my ass off, after 7 years, I could be a Store Manager… where the maximum salary was marginally higher than the starting salary for a programmer first entering the games industry. Suddenly, my friend leaving University after a year to go work in a cinema as a Foyer Boy (or whatever the name is) didn’t sound so bad!
The Games Industry Offer
Throughout all of this, my brother had been trying to get me to join the games industry, to go work with him at Reflections. He was just finished up work on Brian the Lion and they were going to be working on their next undisclosed title.
I was resistant at first … not because I didn’t think it would be an interesting and rewarding job … more just because I was stubborn at the time. After 3 years of independence from my family at University, cooking my own Pot Noodles, getting drunk without disapproving parents or elder brothers chastising me.. well, I just wasn’t quite ready to risk that.
I pushed ahead with the McDonalds thing regardless … thinking “I’ll just do this for a year or two, see how it goes..”. But then the unthinkable happened. They rejected me. “We felt that you probably wouldn’t be here for the long haul,” or some such was their reason. The cheek! They could tell that just from my facial reactions during the interview? Damn.
So… Reflections it was, then!
Entering The Games Industry
This is a story for another time … but, yeah, in 1994 I joined the games industry as a Junior Programmer at Reflections. Working on Destruction Derby, a launch title for the upcoming new console, the PlayStation.
Luxury, right? One of the most popular and well known games on the platform (Lara? Never heard of her..). You can imagine the plush office, the gorgeous desks, interior decor, rack of pinball tables and other staff pleasers in the office. Not to mention the huge team we’d have. You need those things to make a game that good .. right?
To Be Continued… eventually.