Full disclosure, I wanted to work in the video game industry. I went through high school dreaming about writing for Electronic Gaming Monthly or landing a job at IGN (when IGN was just video games). It never happened. I was never devoted enough to move back to the west coast where it was almost necessary to live to get a job in the industry during that time period. I do know someone who took those steps and was an intern at Sega of America for awhile and I wanted to share his experiences with you in this Game On Expo series of articles (you can check out the previous article here which coincidentally is Sega related as well). He asked to keep this anonymous for personal reasons but I assure you, this person is legit. Don’t forget to check out Game On Expo which takes place August 11 – 13 at the Phoenix Convention Center!
Legion of Sand: What drew you to becoming an intern for Sega? What were some of your duties as an intern?
Sega Intern: So what drew me to an internship at Sega was pretty easy. I grew-up loving video games, and had a Nintendo at a really young age. I was especially drawn to the Japanese Hardware developers. I didn’t own a Master System, but knew all about them. Eventually when the Genesis came out, I had one and loved it. Honestly I was still a Nintendo guy, and preferred my SNES to the Genesis, but Sega still offered certain games (Such as Sonic, Altered Beast, and other IPs that Nintendo didn’t own.) Plus at that age, I told myself I wanted to get into video games, any young boy would probably tell you the same. At that time, I was living in San Francisco, and knew Sega of America was based in downtown San Francisco. A friend of mine was working for them, and so that was kind of my “in” for Sega.
As for my duties and responsibilities, it was pretty much the same every day. I’d play a certain game, and then at the end of the day/week whatever it was, I had to fill out a long form with everything I discovered along the way. A lot of people would call these bug reports, but it wasn’t always a bug or glitch I’d find. Sometimes I’d discover other issues in games that I knew were not meant to be there. And then there were what people today call “easter eggs.” They’ve been around forever, but were never highly sought-after and as big as they are today.
LoS: Did you ever come across any Easter eggs? Any terrible bugs/glitches?
SI: I came across a few Easter Eggs, but none of which would be exciting to your readers. They were more meant for the creators of the game to show off their own names, kid’s names, or the name of their wives hidden in various parts of a game.
Glitches wise, I was pretty lucky, by the time I tested them, most had been discovered and fixed. The games I tended to play were either in the beta stage, or right before going gold. For your readers, when a game goes “gold,” that means it’s the final product for the consumer. That is the edition that will be sent to the disc manufacturer to be replicated and boxed-up for retail.
LoS: What were some of the titles you enjoyed playing the most as part of your internship?
SI: Honestly, the titles I played during my internship drove me nuts. I can’t stand those games today. LOL. I say that, not because the games were bad, but because I literally spent weeks playing the same titles, the same levels/maps, and it just got to the point where I wanted to rip my hair out. However, there were two titles that I played a ton of during my internship, but they were shockingly not Sega titles.
I played one to see how the online aspect was. The second title I played because it was an amazing shooter game. Anyways, those two titles were Bangai-O (which was a shooter from Treasure. For the Sega fans out there, they know what Treasure means in the world of Sega and shooters. To this day, I still consider them one of the greatest software houses ever. I loved shooters growing-up, so Treasure created games that targeted a passion of mine.) The other game I played a ton of, was Bomberman Online. I think those of us who grew-up with Bomberman know how addictive the gameplay was. Well this version had online, so of course I had to play a bunch of online games, just to see how the connectivity was. Shockingly, it played flawlessly, even over standard dial-up.
LoS: What’s the one thing you’ll never forget about your time at Sega? Were you able to leave with any cool Sega merchandise?
SI: The one thing I’ll never forget is the camaraderie. I know that sounds so cliche, but all of us truly loved Sega, and the games that Sega created. Like I said before, maybe down the line video gamers will realize just how much Sega affected the landscape of games. But until then, Sega and its consoles will stay underrated.
About leaving with cool Sega stuff, I guess it’s okay to admit it now. I pretty much ended-up with a complete Dreamcast setup. I have my original, but then another still sealed and unopened. Along with it, every accessory you could imagine, including the official Maracas, keyboard, and mouse. I also have VMUs in every color, and multiple controller colors, and two light guns as well. And of course, the games. I pretty much have every game they ever released for the Dreamcast in America, a big collection of Japanese released games, and two European games : Shenmue II and Rez.
I don’t like to brag, but I tend to tell people I have a Dreamcast collection second to none.
LoS: What was the dynamic in the offices? Did people see the writing on the wall for the Dreamcast?
SI: Sadly, I think we all saw the writing on the wall. I wasn’t there for the Saturn run, but I’m sure it was probably seen in the same light. To this day, I vigorously defend both consoles, since they’re so under-appreciated. The Saturn had some of the best games that nobody knows about. The Dreamcast, had the best collection of shooters and fighters that a console will ever have. I’m sure a lot of us were fearful for our jobs, but never publicly let it be known. We still had a fun dynamic, obviously you’re working for a video game company. It’s hard not to at least enjoy what you can at that time. I got lucky, I wasn’t there for the true downfall of the Dreamcast, but I probably would have been quite sad. Even if I wasn’t an intern there, I loved Sega and I especially loved the Dreamcast. It introduced so much in the world of video games, that again, are under-appreciated.