Someday, Bungie will emerge from behind this self-imposed curtain of secrecy with wondrous tidings of an impending game. There will be thunderous announcements, introspective discussions about our creative process, and cryptic forecasts about the adventures that await you as the player. When we cross that glorious threshold, we’ll need to be organized enough to not trip all over ourselves. To keep us on our feet, we lured this fresh face into our midst…
Who are you, and what do you do at Bungie?
My name is Drew Smith. I’m a Producer charged with managing Marketing, PR, and the Writing Team. My goal here is to build out a schedule, facilitate communication with developers, manage the workflow for the narrative team, and to wrangle Pete Parsons.
Parsons defies the act of wrangling. He’s like vapor, seemingly everywhere at once - but enough about him. When you’re not attempting to control the weather in our world, what’s happening in yours?
Games, duh. I play lots of Dota 2, although a six-week break did not help my skills. I’ve been practicing Muay Thai for about a year and a half and I’m a pseudo-wine snob. I read books on astrophysics and The Economist on a regular basis, I do math for fun, I write, and I hoard like a dragon. I’m really trying to work on the hoarding part.
Don’t go changing on our account. Your compulsion to hold on to every little detail will only do you credit here. From what I’ve heard (when I eavesdrop on your conversations), you’ve been around the block of the video game industry. Tell us a little bit about the companies you used to hoard for before we invited you to join us at Bungie?
I spent seven years in different roles at Take-Two Interactive. I did everything from Marketing, Business Development, Publishing Production, and Development Production. Take-Two gave me the opportunity to work on some huge games/franchises (Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, BioShock, Borderlands, Civilization, NBA). I also got to see the industry from multiple perspectives. It helped me build a good understanding of the needs, demands, and goals of each discipline.
You’ve climbed some serious mountains, and your resume is a reminder that this industry is not all art, design, and programming. It takes a few suits (that don’t actually wear suits) to put a game in the hands of a gamer. Were your ambitions always so business oriented?
When I was nine, aside from the obvious Astronaut/Scientist dreams, I sent two letters (one to Nintendo and one to Lego) asking for a job. They told me to apply when I got older.
So your adventure began. Of course, getting older is the easiest part of qualifying for a job making games. What else did you do to prepare yourself for this exciting career that led you to us?
I went to undergrad in NYC and majored in Economics. From there I started taking grad school classes in marketing, conflict resolution, storytelling, public speaking, string theory, and physics. Had I not been hired by Take-Two, I would have gone for an advanced degree of some sort. Economics is extremely useful in understanding trade, the market, monetary policy, and a basic understanding of how the world operates.
And string theory is good for understanding, well, everything! Although, that’s the first time anyone has ever mentioned it here. Was it your dabbling in theoretical sciences that enticed us to take a closer look at you?
I like to think it was my awesome list of prior experience, along with a few sprinkles of magical pixie dust.
We don’t believe in pixies, and dust is bad for the machines. It was the experience. Nevertheless, no one just skates into this place. Would you agree? What memories from your interview loop haunt your dreams?
Nine hours in a small room downstairs. Also, Matt Priestley is a hard guy to read.
Like playing poker with a cyborg, that one. I, on the other hand, wear my heart squarely on my sleeve. How would you describe the experience of being my newest and closest neighbor?
Pretty magical. I’ll be working and minding my own business and out of the corner of my eye I’ll see you look over and give a little nod as if to say, “Get back to work. This isn’t happy hour.” Then, I remind you that something on your schedule is overdue.
You mean like this weekly feature? The one that’s usually published two days ago? Fair enough. Aside from keeping me in check, what’s the most rewarding thing about your new home?
I’d say getting to work with an extremely talented team on groundbreaking stuff.
That’s far enough. We’re not in marketing mode yet. We still need to be vague about what’s going on around here, so just describe a day in the life of a Bungie newbie.
It’s chock’full’o’meetings (and potentially nuts as well).
Guilty as charged. There are enough nuts in this place to stock a snack bar. Speaking of which, what’s the best perk you enjoy as a member of our team?
So many good benefits. For me, the best is an instant feeling of camaraderie and appreciation.
Give it time. Someday, we’ll hassle you to tell us what you’ve learned since you showed up here. What will you do between now and then to have a snappy answer at the ready?
Aside from reaching out to my fellow Producers for tips, I’ll learn more about the challenges my teams face so that I can better support them. Learning about the way Bungie makes games has also inspired me to familiarize myself with the tools we use.
Your trek to the desk behind mine is one that many people might not have imagined. There’s a chance that one of our readers has poured over all these interviews looking for a way into this industry, only to lose heart that they aren’t an artist or a scientist. How can they follow your business acumen?
Be persistent and look for openings. Reach out to people you know. If you don’t know anyone, join the IGDA, go to GDC or use LinkedIn (people are willing to offer their advice and you never know what you might learn). There are a lot of jobs in the game industry so don’t be afraid to get outside of your comfort zone. If all else fails make something cool… or consider sending Deej flowers (he loves flowers).
I do not love flowers. In fact, I hate anything that cannot be delivered digitally.
What I love is exploring all of the many ways in which people find work doing something that they love. Drew is just one of the newer recruits that now walk our development floor. His freshman classmates are taking a seat in the Breaking In
archive one by one.