One life to live: Turning down the Dream

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.

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37 thoughts on “One life to live: Turning down the Dream

  1. I’m sorry but this is a decision you may come to regret. I don’t think there is anything worse in life than not following your dreams. One day, you look back, and there was all that is and it compares to all that could be.

    Carpe Diem.

    PS: I’m sure you have good reasons in your mind to stay. I won’t say you don’t. But opportunities in life come every so often and that’s the time to reach for them. I say this as a father of 3 and a family man that has finally decided to reach for his dreams. Nothing feels better. You don’t to look back and say what if. Instead you should say, I went out with no regrets.

    • “The phone rang as I put my son down for a nap …”

      safe to assume his son is younger than 5

      “I have a home, my wife has a job, we make a decent living, …”

      He’s almost 30, currently has a job as a teacher, lives in Wisconsin and would have to move his entire family to California.
      His wife would have to quit work and find a new job.
      And I’m sure the cost of living is much higher in Irvine than Wisconsin.

      not only did he make a good decision, he also made the correct decision

      • Not only did he make the correct decision, what I’m surprised is he didn’t make this decision sooner. A couple phone interviews and a great trip out to Blizzard is, yes, awesome… But if he was never going to take the job in the first place, he was kinda wasting their time. They do have to actually hire someone at some point, and not just hang out with interviewees for lunch all the time.

        I don’t mean to besmirch the experience, but I do think this was slightly taking advantage of Blizzard’s hospitality. I doubt it was intentional, it was probably the “stars in the eyes” effect and you didn’t really think it through until the actual offer, but it would probably would have been kinder to decline earlier in the process.

        That said, I’d love to work for Blizzard! lol How did you actually apply in the first place, through the Blizzard jobs website?

        • I can see where it may appear that way. I applied not thinking i’d get it but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want it. Unfortunately when the offer came in it wasn’t what my family needed to get by, had it been different this column would have had a whole new angle.

          As for the the application site. I saw it posted on twitter but I did have to apply through the Blizzard site so start polishing up your resume!

          • Probably the right call and you have an experience to share with others for the rest of your life 🙂

            I would imagine that to an extent it feels good to say thanks but no thanks.

          • CM jobs are slightly different, well they are in Europe office anyway. They are only allowed to work 37 hours. If they work over they’re asked not to as the company can get fined.

          • That is specific to the EU office being located in France and the French labor system, Elly. In the Ireland office it would be completely different ^^

    • I’m assuming his wife and child are part of his dreams now too. A spouse has to consider their dreams too.

      • A lot of the questions you guys are asking are things I asked him on the podcast we recorded a few days ago. (To be posted asap.) I did it more sarcastically since I’m an asshole, but if you want to hear Xanth’s verbal replies to queries like, “Did blizzard offer replacement family options?” you’ll get the chance soon enough.

        • Also, slightly OT but I laughed when he mentioned getting a ride to dinner with the CMs. They made a big deal at the FanSite summit about how none of the fansite people could ride with them for insurance reasons, so we all had to stand around and wait for a bunch of cabs to arrive to drive us 2 miles to the Spectrum, while the CMs carpooled.

          Clearly job applicants are more specialer.

  2. I agree with JDoe. If this is your dream, why not pursue it? More importantly, if your wife knew this was your dream, why would she stop you?

    Maybe it’s one of those things where she would have to quit her job and so you’ll be too financially impacted during the interim. Whatever the case, you had your reasons, and I wish you the best.

  3. You did what you had to. It’s easy to say follow your dreams, but it’s not about just you anymore. You have a wife and a kid. If it worked for her too, great. But I imagine it would be hard for her to find the same level of employment as she enjoys now on such a short notice.

  4. Yes it was a tough call. I never expected to really get the job so my wife and I never really discussed it. Ultimately with her having to leave her job, and us having to move it would have made things very tough for the three of us. The other side of the coin is the fact that I really enjoy the job I have currently and thus wasn’t really in a dire push to leave it.

  5. This was a very well-written story, thank you for sharing it with us.

    I understand you have a settled family, home, and career that’s important to you and your wife.

    If I was in your situation, I would of taken the position working for Blizzard. It’s a dream come true, but if your wife is in her dream job, then I can understand the frustration.

    You made a safe decision, one lacking in risk which you may come to regret at some time in your life.

    It’s important to take risks in life, to be adventurous, something like living in a movie and you’re the main character. You should of continued to the West, started a new chapter in your life in the sunny skies of orange county, palm trees waving hot and heavy in the sun, concrete and asphalt, more concrete, all well-defined horizontal and vertical streets.

    I don’t think Blizzard is the same company we grew up with anymore. They may be trying by listening, communicating, and giving us information here and there, but I genuinely feel a lack of ingenuity, talent, and creativity. Diablo is more then a game, it’s a passion, a hobby, a social hub, sometimes an addiction, and a way for someone to get indulged in a self-created fantasy where you can be someone else. All of that is missing. The passion, the love, it’s all missing. There are so many things missing.

    So after being a member of this site for many years, I know you understand the frustrations as well as I do. I know you and I both remember a Blizzard of old, one that we were so fascinated by that we would devote our lives to it just to make it that much more awesome.

    Maybe you made a good decision. Like when Justin Timberlake decided to go solo, now he has that shirt and tie song that I can’t get out of my head. You could be that guy in something else, man.

    Don’t feel bad about your decision,
    Duke Ellington called Miles Davis into his office one day and asked him if he wanted to be a part of his big band. Miles Davis said no and now look, he’s the baddest motherfucker to ever pick up a horn.

    You can be that bad ass motherfucker.

  6. The right choice. When you get married, and especially when you have children, you are making an implicit commitment to put them first. Putting one’s own needs above the family’s is the absolute wrong thing to do. One must live up to one’s commitments.

  7. Xanth, I’m a first year teacher and i have a six month old daughter. This is my first post. Im only posting because as a teacher, I feel it is our responsibility to inspire young people. Part of that to me is encouraging people to chase their dreams. You only live once… Besides i know how much teachers in three Midwest make, unless you’ve been teaching for over a decade you will probably be getting raise.

  8. Since you called out for opinion, here’s mine. Chasing dreams in never easy, it’s usually the hardest thing to do, while giving the up is the easiest. Nobody ever made their life better by easy decisions. I see your point, understand them perfectly. I know relocation sucks, but I did that twice in my life already, among continents. It is difficult. I guess the ultimate question for me, if I was in your shoes, would be: the duration of the contract and if I can support my family solo for a while, just in case my wife will have a hard time getting a job i CA. I can’t resist the judgment that in life you usually get one shot, one opportunity. If you don’t grab it, that’s it. Good read. Take care dude.

    • @ “Chasing dreams in never easy, it’s usually the hardest thing to do”

      That pretty much sums it up. What I would have done? Convince my family to move to Irvine, and I am sure Blizzard would have done everything they possibly can to make this as smooth as possible. ^^

  9. 1 – I hate you forever
    2 – of course you made the right choice
    3 – you look super cute in that picture 😀

  10. Why did you apply for the job if you weren’t going to take it? I know a lot of people apply for jobs expecting not to get them, which is the smart move, but why would you apply for a job not expecting to take it if it’s offered? You made the right decision in the end, but it sounds like you wasted a lot of people’s time in the process.

    • I had all intentions of taking the job if the offer was right for my family and myself. Sadly it wasn’t.

  11. Thanks for sharing your experience. There is a lot variables that go into that type of decision that caution me against judging yours. In the end, you made a decision and seem happy with it. Things could be a lot worse. Sounds like you have a job you love, and a family you value at least as much as your own desires. As far as wasting Blizz’s time, I don’t agree. Every major company knows that all job offers aren’t accepted. They put a lot of lines in the water, and eventually catch a fish. Cost of doing business. I’ve backed out of several job offers after going through the process. In the end, you have to do what’s best for you (and your loved ones).

  12. Insufficient data in the original post. There are two key points: was your wife willing to move to CA, and could you support yourselves at your current lifestyle on the money Blizzard offered? You don’t give exact details on these points, and I wouldn’t either if it was me, but without knowing these details, it’s hard to give an opinion.

    In the comments, you seem to say the salary offered was not enough to maintain your current lifestyle. That is absolutely a good reason not to move. If Blizzard wants to hire people with families, they have to expect these sorts of economic factors will be important, and that sometimes they will lose their preferred choice as a result. Bottom line, they were asking at least your family, and maybe even you personally, to take a pay cut. I can’t fault you for saying no.

    I don’t think you misled Blizzard, because you didn’t know the amount of their offer until they made it. If the offer had been larger, it sounds like you would have made a different decision.

  13. Thanks for sharing that personal story, Xanth.

    As a teacher myself (preschoolers here), I can totally understand the fact that you love your job and everything it brings with it. We are in a field where we have such a huge saying in modling the next generation of people who are to populate this earth, and thus have a real meaning behind what we do, more so than many other fields of work.

    When it comes to your decision, as a fan of Diablo, of course it makes me want to pull my hair out.
    At the same time, and even though I have already immigrated two times already, I can completely understand that this move had been alot easier to make, had you been single and with no children. If the stress it would put on your family was too big to handle, you made the right choice.

    Either way, my friend.. you have another great story to share with the children when they grow up, and Diablo 4 is finally around the corner, eh? 😉

  14. Wait a sec.

    Teachers are a notoriously underpaid profession. If you’re effectively taking a pay cut to work for them… that seems like a serious problem for all their employees, local or not.

  15. lol being a csr is not my idea of a dream job, far from it, and you wasted their time, shouldn’t you have talked it over with your family first??

  16. QUOTE

    Teachers are a notoriously underpaid profession.
    Opinions vary on that. "Nationwide, non-teachers who move into teaching receive an average raise of around 8 percent, according to SIPP data, while teachers  who leave the profession take an average salary cut of around 3  percent. Similarly, three recent state-level studies (in Florida,  Missouri and Georgia) using administrative records found no average wage  increase for ex-teachers."  This seems to suggest that teachers are overpaid rather than underpaid, as their skill sets and experience generally garner lower wages when they move to the private sector.
    Source:  ... _employee/

  17. tbh, I think it is hard to call. There is so many things to consider, salary, quality of life for your family, career prospects. The thing you need to do is sit down with your spouse and rethink which dream it was you and your wife were going to realize when you got together. If the dream is gone… Make up a new one!

    There will never be only one chance for a life-changer!

  18. I think he made a correct decision. The job at Blizzard is very demanding – people there work crazy hours.

    I still remember a post on the official forums from somebody who claimed to be a wife of a blizzard developer.
    She has indicated that she plays WoW to have at least some contact with her husband, because that way she is able to touch something that he has created, otherwise she never sees him at home.

    Needless to say that post was very quickly deleted.

  19. Thanks for sharing a great story. I think you made the right decision, but it all depends on what you and your spouse decide together. For some people, that would have been the right decision, but it seems like for your family you knew the right decision and made it.

  20. QUOTE

    Opinions vary on that. "Nationwide, non-teachers who move into teaching receive an average raise of around 8 percent, according to SIPP data, while teachers  who leave the profession take an average salary cut of around 3  percent. Similarly, three recent state-level studies (in Florida,  Missouri and Georgia) using administrative records found no average wage  increase for ex-teachers."   
    This seems to suggest that teachers are overpaid rather than underpaid, as their skill sets and experience generally garner lower wages when they move to the private sector.
    Source:  ... _employee/

    Not only this but teachers are in a pool of publicly funded pensions. They contribute some of their own money to it, too. But when considering the benefits package some teachers receive, (some work 9 months of the year, sick days, pensions–some of which are surprising large if you happen to work in the right place) it is no surprise that a publicly traded company in the private sector could not match the current package.

    Source? 3 teachers in my family and another who works in administration at a college.

  21. Thanks for sharing your story Xanth. I thnik you made the right choice, your family should be the most important thing in your life.

    This story also gives me hope that I may be able to get a job at Blizzard one day.

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