Jon Weisnewski is ready to break out and talk about his own Breaking In experience with Bungie. If you're looking to enter the promised land, get your fill of the fruits of your labor, and snag a role inside the studio, you should devour the interview below to get yourself on the right track. Jon may be a self-described pit boss, but we've convinced him to let you stick around - at least for a little while. Better get reading.
Q. Who are you and what do you do?
A. I am Jon and I am the latest addition to the Bungie full time Test group. There are a lot of incredibly talented people here that are working in unison to create industry leading games, from visionary artists and designers to some of the most brilliant engineers I’ve worked with. My job is to take their beautiful creations and smash them over my knee.
Specifically, I manage a potent group of testers that are responsible for testing the content pipeline: everything from the tools the studio uses to create art, animation and levels, to the fully realized user facing epic experience of Campaign and Multiplayer. I also handle a large portion of the test recruiting, training, and application of our contract work force. I’m kind of a pit boss in that sense, or like a big hairy hoop one must jump through to reach the QA promised land. I break people. Then I turn them into efficient bug killing machines.
Q. When you're not turning the test team into battle-tested exterminators, what hobbies and inspirations do you turn to in order to keep yourself busy?
A. Starship Troopers.
I have always been a huge lover of rock music, particularly the loud, fast, aggressive kind. Punk, metal, sludge, you name it. I’ve played in bands since I was 14 years old, played locally on a regular basis since I was 15 (our drummer’s mom drove us to shows in the family van), toured America more times than I can count, toured Europe four times, and have put out six full length albums and a smattering of 7” vinyl records. It’s nothing “famous” that I’d expect the Bungie community to recognize. Like most artistic pursuits it has always been a labor of love that requires putting in far more energy and money than is reaped in return, and that’s not a complaint.
The only thing I’ve loved as much as music is videogames, and to me the only thing as awesome as playing in a band is working in the industry. Getting a job at Bungie was a lot like scoring a huge record deal in that regard.
Q. Wow, two sweet gigs. Were either of those roles on your radar when you were growing up?
A. Originally I wanted to be a comic book artist, but I sucked at drawing so wisely did not pursue it. Once I hit my teens I decided I wanted to rock and roll all night and party everyday (read: perform in a band and play videogames), so that’s what I did. I am not a complicated man.
Q. Did you take any aptitude tests along the way that attempted to simplify your pursuits for you?
A. I went to this “alternative learning” hippy type high school that supposedly had a holistic, community approach to education so we never did any of those kind of aptitude tests or anything. If I had they probably would have predicted me to fail at life since all I wanted to do was play guitar and/or Super Nintendo, neither of which are traditionally very marketable skills. Little did they know I eat traditions like that for breakfast.
Q. Did you take the traditional route and earn a college degree?
A. That’s a loaded question.
I went to community college right out of high school and got the fastest degree I could. Spending a lot of time in school didn’t fit in too well with my ultimate plan of having as much fun as I possibly could each and every day. However, I remember when I first heard that you could get a job testing video games and figured that would fit quite perfectly, or "snug." I contracted for a bit, and then shortly after getting my degree I was offered a full time Test Lead position at Enix America (before the Square-Enix merger) working on the PlayStation/Gameboy Color era of Dragon Warrior.
Once I realized I had found a job that truly made me happy to be on Earth, and I had achieved it completely through hard work and relevant experience rather than a school degree, I made the choice to remain in the industry rather than continue my education. I have not regretted this decision for a single second.
Q. How did that decision ultimately lead you to Bungie?
A. When Enix and Square merged my entire office was laid off, at which point I got back into contract testing and used the freedom it provided to pursue heavy touring and recording with the band. While contracting I ended up landing a position testing Halo 3 with the Microsoft Test Team on-site at Bungie where I forged a few key alliances and blood oaths. I can easily say that this experience was what got me contemplating moving away from the traveling musician lifestyle and once again focusing on my career in games. I started pursuing full time opportunities, got a job with WB Games/Monolith in 2008 as the Test Lead on F.E.A.R. 2, and eventually found myself in the Bungie interview loop. Now all I do is answer interview questions. And break people.
Q. What did you bring with you to the interview loop to make certain you weren't be the one being broken?
A. Ten years of relevant industry experience and a cup of coffee.
Q. Anything in particular that you remember about the interview loop?
A. First of all, I had no idea what I was in for. It was a solid eight hours of one on one interviews and I was so exhausted afterward that I knew there was no way I could have convinced those people to hire me, and if they did they had to be
, very nice people. The single moment that stands out is when I was interviewing with Associate Producer, Matt “the elf” Richenburg, and he asked me “Who is test for?” I tried to be as vaguely global and non-committal as possible, but his whittling away of all my “if’s” and “but’s” turned it into a great conversation. I’m pretty sure I got the answer right.
Q. In a single sentence, describe what it’s like to work at Bungie.
A. Working at Bungie is like trying to navigate a tsunami through a labyrinth from space, only fun.
Q. Any advice for aspiring applicants looking to take a puzzling space walk in some very bad weather?
A. Every great opportunity I’ve had has been the fruit of a painstakingly crafted “diligence and hard work tree,” both musically and professionally. To all the people out there who are trying hard and maybe starting to lose hope or get fed up, remember that in a way you are always interviewing for that position you want. Take every step of your career seriously and plant a “diligence and hard work tree” of your own. Then, when the fruit starts falling, eat the -blam!- out of it.
Sounds tasty. Thanks to Jon for not being loud, fast, or aggressive with us. (We break easy.) If you've read over his words and found yourself inspired to navigate the tsunami at Bungie, strap on your zero-g gear and head over to our Jobs Page
. It's not labyrinthine, but it is loaded with positions you should check out if you happen to fancy yourself diligent and hard-working.