Recently I had the chance to interview with Blizzard and recently I had to turn down a job with Blizzard. I can say it was one of the toughest choices I’ve had to make in my life, but getting to see behind the veil and meeting the people who make it all happen has me more committed to what I do and what I hope is a possibility down the road. The (long)story after the bump!
This whole story is published with Blizzard’s permission and I thank them for letting me discuss the details.
It all started several months ago with a posting for a D3 game rep position. I didn’t really think I had a chance but I decided to apply anyway, if only to get a rejection letter from Blizzard. Then that was it. For a month or so I heard nothing of it. I had almost forgotten about it until in late April I got an email about a phone interview. I was in the middle of my spring break and decided that would be the best time to do it. I scheduled it for a time my son would be napping and didn’t think much of it. After all, how good could a phone interview go?
The phone rang as I put my son down for a nap and I ran downstairs to take the call in privacy. It was a cold april so I wasn’t sure if I was shaking from the temperature or nerves. I was greeted by Lylirra and several others in a group call. They all introduced themselves but I’m failing at who else was in on it. Lyllirra was the one who did most of the talking. At no point did it really feel like an interview, sure there were questions I needed to respond to, but it was very conversational and I found myself enjoying it. It was cool to talk about Diablo and my passion for it, and I hung up pleased with how it went but not optimistic. They had to have more qualified candidates, candidates who were closer, and people they could actually see in an interview. It’s very hard to convey emotion over the phone and I worried that I didn’t do that.
It was another couple of weeks before I heard anything.At this point I had assumed I didn’t do well and they had hired someone else.Then I received an email asking about availability for another interview, this time in person. I couldn’t contain my excitement and bounced around my house like a toddler on pixie sticks. I wanted to schedule a longer trip but the only time that worked for me was a late flight in and a early flight out so that I could get back to work educating the youth of america ( no praise please). Regardless of how long I was going to be there, I was still going to be there! I had never gone to Blizzcon, or anything Blizz related so this was my chance to see everything I heard about.
It was a long week before I left but I left excited for what was ahead of me. In that excitement I lost my nervousness for the interview itself, which perhaps is a good thing. I don’t get too nervous for interviews in general, and not to brag but I’m pretty good at them. The flight to Irvine was long and by the time I arrived it was midnight my time. I didn’t do much that night. I retired to the hotel, played a little D3 and called it a night. I knew I wasn’t going to sleep much but tried anyway.
I awoke at 5 Pacific or 7 central (my time) and knew I had a lot of time to kill. I took advantage of the California Weather and went for a run. It was 60 at 6am and Wisconsin was still in the freezing range so running outside was a treat. The scenery sucked me in and it was hard to not imagine living there, but I’m getting ahead of myself. After cooling off, showering and shaving I still had time to kill, so I wandered around and packed, and repacked. Finally I was ready to go and called a cab to take me to Blizzard. I had arranged for a tour before my interview so I could soak up all of what Blizzard is.
I arrived predictably early and found myself in the central office. I looked around at the massive art gallery( decorated for Starcraft two: Heart of the Swarm) and found myself on the computers they had set up. They had one for each game franchise and I decided I would bide my time playing D3 on the Blizzard Campus( a dream come true). Though as a hardcore player it was hard not to imagine losing my character there and souring my experience, so I was extra cautious.
After a few act 3 runs Lylirra showed up and we began our tour. It’s weird to meet someone you’ve interacted with on many occasions but never in person, but she didn’t let me down in how I had imagined her to be. She began to walk me across the campus and I set my mouth in a permanent agape position. Here I was in the middle of a place I’d admired for years and for some reason they were interested in me. As we walked we talked about the company,how long she had been there, and how she got to be where she was. She started out not intending to stay but found herself so drawn in by the company that she changed her path, a common theme I heard from many of the employees. I could bore you with every little detail of things I saw but let’s jump to the D3 office.
I had to wait outside as she got clearance for me to go in. Clearly they’re working on things, and my eyes weren’t ready to gaze on them yet. However I was approved to go in and once again had to adjust my jaw so that it wasn’t hanging open. You could see teams meeting, and artists working, and actually see the game you love coming to life. I saw the boards where they had armor sets put up, harking back to years ago when we were teased with one a week. I saw Christian Lichtner working with a team, and was spying around corners looking for Jay Wilson. Most importantly I saw a team that is devoted to this game, a team that has slaved to make it better when the sales would have been enough by itself. Say what you want about the game, you have to admit they’ve grown it by leaps and bounds from where we started. Lylirra alluded to the fact that the game was never meant to be patched like it was. We’ve become so used to these patches that we expect them, even when it’s counter intuitive to what Diablo is. It’s not an MMO it doesn’t need new content every three weeks, but since they’ve listened to feedback they made great strides to improve their product.
We then went to the community area, where the CM’s work and I got to meet everyone behind the avatars. Bashiok was there( I didn’t get to talk to him) as was Vaeflare and Grimiku. I noticed the care they put into their cubicles and how each one was a different expression of who they were. After exchanging pleasantries I was whisked away for the interview.
Wyatt Cheng was supposed to be in on the interview but was sick, which may have made it go better. I was quite nervous to meet him and may have been too tempted to ask him more questions than he may have asked me. The interview itself again felt conversational, talking about the game, why I’d leave my career, how I started writing about Diablo, and why I love this series so much. As quickly as it started it was over and I felt confident but also sad because I knew my time at Blizzard was almost over. There was one part left however, Lunch with the CM team.
Grimiku volunteered to drive and Lylrria, Vaeflare and I jumped in as well. I was given shotgun since I was the interviewee and we set out to lunch. It was cool to connect with them on a different non game level. Sure we talked about the game but we also talked about life. Grimiku is a new father and we shared stories about horrid sleep schedules. Vaelfire was inquisitive about the midwest and I was happy to fill her in about april snowstorms, while Lylirra inquired if I knew any cheese jokes since I am from Wisconsin( I do but they’re not very gouda..Buh-zing!). We ended up at some restaurant that I had never heard of (surprise!) but were seated rather quickly and set about scouring the menu and talking. A large part of me wanted to order a beer, but I decided against it. We ate and talked and at no point was it ever awkward that I had never met them before. As with Lylirra before it was nice to meet the people behind the avatars and see the passion they have for the game and what brought them into this field. You could tell they knew all of the complaints, the issues, and the jokes in the D3 community and had a handle on what the community could dish out. Let’s face it the D3 community is a unruly beast, both vitriolic and passionate, and that takes a special kind of person to tackle and I can say they are those people. As for myself…
Lunch ended far too soon and I was whisked back to finish up some paperwork and to the airport. The flight home was long and The shift in climate had me down. I settled back to life in Wisconsin and bided my time until I heard about the job. The news came quickly and I was invited to another interview, this time over the phone again.Another phone call in my far too cold basement, while my wife gave my son a bath. Each interview brought on memorable questions I could never really prepare for but one that stands out came from this one. If I would be one of Diablo 3’s heroes based on their backstories who would I be and why. I’ll spare you my answer( Demon Hunter..Gasp!) but that’s why this company is great, that they would vet a candidate with that question is just amazing. I hung up again hopeful for the future and optimistic.
Then the day came, a call from HR. Which I missed. So I called them back, which by the way is an amazing experience. If you’ve never called Blizzard you are greeted by Deckard Cain( automated of course) who then directs you where to go. I’d be lying if I haven’t called it since just to geek out to that. Anyways, I was told good news was headed my way and to sit tight. A few days later another call came in and this time I was able to take it.I was offered the Job and relocation and had a week to decide. The 19 year old inside of me wanted to sign away my life there and grab the first flight, the near 30 year old me however knew I needed to talk with my family.
I had a week to decide. It was a long Memorial day weekend, and I thought it over, and talked, and thought, and sadly I knew my choice. I have a home, my wife has a job, we make a decent living, and unfortunately the sacrifice I’d have to make to leave just wasn’t worth it. No I take that back, I’m sure it would be worth it, but it wasn’t enough to gamble my family for. I called the next week to let them know what my choice was. We talked a bit more about it, but sadly for the position it just wasn’t feasible.
So that’s it, and while I may not have decided to take my dream job, It did reaffirm what I have been doing and what I intend to do for a longtime, which of course is keep writing and helping the community in this manner. I also gained an appreciation for what is going on behind the scenes. Blizzard gets a reputation as a huge company, and it seems like they may not care, however this isn’t the case. They staff the place with people who are passionate about their games and about their success. They have worked to improve the franchise we love so much and will continue to do so. While I may not be apart I have faith in those who are.
So what do you think? Was I foolish or rational? What would you have done?
One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly. For all the archived news about Diablo 3 hardcore check our Archives!
Update: The Diablo 3 Podcast #99 features Flux and JrMint speaking to Xanth about his Blizzard Jobs adventure. View the news post for more details and the mp3 link, or check it out via YouTube right here.