Monday, October 8, 2007

My Trip to Concrete Games, THQ

Getting into the game industry is no walk in the park, but a guy has to do what a guy has to do. Just two weeks ago I decided to hit up a game development studio nearby as recommended by friends I have in the game industry. Well what is the name of that particular studio? THQ's Concrete Games based here in Carlsbad, CA.

Before I go into depth with this, it started with just driving my car along the highway to see how well it ran after adding transmission fluid to the old girl. I said to myself, "This is the best opportunity to stop by and talk to someone there while I'm out." So I thought. I've been to their website a couple of times. Nothing too fancy about it. Nothing much there either to tell you the truth, but they had their address there and I had it memorized so I knew where I needed to go. Off I went onto I-5S towards Palomar Airport Rd, but once I got there is when I realized that maybe I should have paid a visit to mapquest/google maps.

I'm pretty sure you know where I'm headed with this. I got lost looking for the damn place, which is suppose to be on this road, but for the life of me couldn't find the building. After driving up and down Palomar Airport Rd, I stop by a laptop store to ask for directions. Yes, I actually stopped to ask for directions! They looked up the place, printed the directions for me, and even written down their phone number. I left and a few minutes later I was at Concrete Games. As soon as I walk in, I knew something wasn't quite right. No one in the lobby and not a receptionist in site, but someone finally walked by and ask if they could help me. Like I wasn't suppose to be there or something. After explaining myself, they informed that they moved back in April! "They're still here, just not in this area", they said. Get this... they gave me a different address for them and off I went again. Inspecting the first address that I received from the laptop store I realized that it was different from the one I was just given and from what the website had. I should have known, but from the picture of the studio on the website led me to believe that I was there because they have not changed it. Bastards!

After about 2 hours of driving around looking for this place, I eventually gotten some GOOD directions. Ironically I have been driving past the building for the past 2 hours, but they are located in the back side. I was gone for too long and wasted gas, so I went home and tried again the following week. On the way back from UCSD, I stopped by to give it another shot. This time I drove to the back of the building and on immediately knew I was there. I could tell by the type of cars parked outside. Some very nice ones. The key sign for me was the suite number on one of the doors.

Next step, walking in and finding someone to talk to. Sorry for the detailed trip, but just had to share my experience in finding this damn place. Anyway, so I get inside and on the board is posted the suite numbers and studios that worked there. Incinerator Studios works in the same building as Concrete Games as they are also a subsidiary of THQ. I walked up the stair, to the door, pulled on the handle and was automatically rejected thanks to it being locked. You needed a card key to get in. So I was stuck outside with no way in and I do what anyone else would do. Call to get let in. What really bugged me about them is their directory. No one EVER picks ups and unless you know the party's extension you aren't going to get a hold of anyone. So I selected to listen to my options and entered the first three letters of a person's name (like they asked). I figured I'll enter M-I-C for Michael or Mike. There is always a Michael or Mike! "Dial extension 133 for.. Nick something", Dial extension xxx for someone else". So I had a name and an extension, call back and actually got through. I told him I was trying to get a hold of someone there and that I was actually outside, but he told him that he'll transfer me to their receptionist... only to get the same damn thing I've been getting before, no answer and a by name directory. New plan. Patiently wait for someone to walk out, rush them and beg to be let in! Just kidding, lol. I waited for someone to come out, stop them and ask a few questions. Now this guy was cool. I forgot his name, but he said that he could let me in to talk to someone when he came back from outside.

Two years later... It seemed like forever, but he came back as promised and went to look for someone and that is when the HR Recruiter. I quickly told her exactly why I was there, what I did, what I was looking forward to do, who I knew, the whole nine. I could tell in her voice that she was trying to hurry the conversation, but I kept asking questions and talking about different positions in the game industry that I could apply for. She wasn't very helpful and refused to give me further information as to who was who, allowing me to talk to someone else, not even emails! Believe me, I was trying all sorts of angles and she had an answer for everything it seemed. She was not prepared for someone like me, but I respect her job and took some advice when it came to applying to certain positions and things like that. She even explained to me how the online job listings work and applying to them and that she nor any other recruiter would take a resume, unless it was submitted via the job posting's url. It is a way for recruiters to keep track of potential candidates. What I liked the most is what she said before I left. "Normally we don't have people walk in like you just did, and I don't even know how you got in..." I thank her for her time and left the studio.

I wasn't completely disappointed, but took from it enough to know what I have to do next. I left with no names, email addresses, or anything. "Oh they're too busy right now, they're in the middle of production, etc..." were her excuses. I'll be back though. Earlier she asked if I ever submitted a resume online and I told her that I have in the past, but wasn't sure how long ago it was. So I was going to double check when I got home. This is when it pays to know people in the industry. During my wait, I called up a friend of mine that works at Bungie, explained my situation, but got his answering machine instead. He would later send me an email with a contact at Concrete Games... thanks Chris!

The goal here is to get around Human Resources. If you can do that, you're set. Their job it to match job openings with qualified candidates via resume and not by recommendation from other game industry personnel. So if you know Mr. Miyamoto, having him send in your resume will not improve your chances unless it is sent to the HIRING MANAGER and not through HR.
As soon as I got home, I checked my email and what do I find there? A reply to my application for an AP position from THQ. "Although we are impressed by your skills, we are unable to offer you an interview at this time. This job has been filled by another candidate who more closely meets the position requirements." I think walking in helped because obviously she remembered my name and looked up my resume as soon as I left. I think I'll try again in another week ^_^


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