I don’t usually take a break from the typical articles to write about specific companies, save for rants about Nintendo now and then, but even when I go ahead and talk about the Big N it’s not exactly pointed at Nintendo, exactly. Today, however, I just want to say a few kind words about a company that I recently learned to respect on a very personal level. This is why I feel that Remedy Entertainment is currently the best video game company.
To get the full grasp of why I’m just now talking about Remedy, we have to zoom back about three months. I am a writer, and one of my goals has been to find a job writing scripts and dialogue for video games some day. I’ve thus far found no real luck, which isn’t surprising as my total professional writing experience is only about 4 years combined together, whereas there are plenty of unemployed writers out there with 10 years of experience, including work on shipped titles. The simple math dictates that given the choice, a game company these days will go with experience over pep as experience usually dictates talent. Why take a risk on a new kid?
Just because the odds are against me though doesn’t mean I’ve accepted my fate and given up. I check around Gamasutra’s job section every day, and make my rounds at career sections of companies I’d love to work at, such as Nintendo of America (no shocker), but one day I found a listing for a writer position at Remedy. The only catch: Remedy Entertainment is located in Finland.
I am not from Finland, nor have I ever been to Finland or know anyone who has been to Finland. The closest I can come is that I studied Norwegian for my foreign language requirement in college. So the prospect of having to move my entire life to another country- granted a country that has a climate I’d enjoy- was pretty scary to me. The application required the usual resume and cover letter, plus writing samples, all before the deadline of February 2nd. I decided to rework a script I’d written years ago to make it suitable, and while that would take the most time, there was another problem of mine: I hadn’t played any of the games Remedy developed.
The obvious choice for me to pick up was Alan Wake, a fairly recent Xbox 360 game (2010). Finding a copy would provide problematic though since while it wasn’t a smashing hit, it was sold out absolutely everywhere I looked. I tried game store after game store before finally having to settle on…ungh…GameStop. I’m not going to get into my feelings of GameStop, but as it was the only store with a copy of Alan Wake, I was left with no other option.
My game in hand, it was time to play. I didn’t know really what to expect as the reviews had been mixed at best. Still, learning that the main character was a writer who fought evil with the power of a flashlight and wanted to get his wife back from the clutches of darkness was intriguing to say the least. I’m not going to do a full review here, but while Alan Wake had its handful of missteps, such as the inclusion of pointless collectibles, I rapidly found myself loving it to death. Even the ending, which a lot of people felt didn’t resolve anything, felt perfectly wonderful. I was sold on the franchise and the idea of working for a development studio built around story first.
After sending off my application, I began the worst process in the world known as the Waiting Game. The Waiting Game is horrid, pure and simple. There is no good to it, and after years of already playing it, you get sick of the routine. Oddly enough, two things happened for the company while I was waiting, both of definite significance.
The first is that they released Alan Wake on the PC, nearly a year and a half after its release on the Xbox. It took hardly any time at all for it to sell enough to break even, which is indeed amazing. This boosted my confidence as it showed that Remedy wasn’t hurting for cash at the moment, making them appear stable. Nothing makes you feel good about applying for a job quite like seeing that company succeed, since it’d mean you’d be joining the company in the good times and the high spirits.
The second thing that happened was the release of American Nightmare, an Xbox Live Arcade follow-up to Alan Wake. Rather than doing a full retail release, Remedy chose to release it as a $15 downloadable game, despite reviews saying that it could easily have been a $60 game. I’m just- I have no words for that. I constantly worry about game companies looking for shortcuts and easy money, and Remedy took the high road here, opting to focus more on the fun of the game and the sheer value of it rather than finding a way to push it to 4 times the cost. The only real complaint reviewers had with the game was that the dialogue didn’t quite pop, which made me jubilant as I was applying for a writer position and dialogue is my strong point. Surely I was a shoe-in!
Well, time passed and after a month of waiting it seemed that I wasn’t going to get a call, until suddenly something wholly unexpected happened: I received an email apologizing for the wait and assuring me that my resume and writing samples were being read. It was just a form letter, but I was amazed by it all the same because I’d never before encountered a company actually taking the time to care even the slightest bit about letting me know they hadn’t forgotten about me and the presumably thousands of others who were vying for the one job.
Eventually, just two days ago in fact, I got the final email letting me know that they selected someone else for the position. Instead of being mad at them, I felt gratitude that they had ended the Waiting Game with a definite resolution. Even a form letter is better than nothing at all. Contrast this with the way Nintendo of America has treated me for the past four years. I went to school to get a bachelor’s in arts explicitly for the chance to work at Nintendo in some capacity, and every single time a writing-based job has opened up I’ve applied instantly. It’s been about three and a half years since I’ve received a “Thanks but we’ve gone with someone else” email, and that’s downright unacceptable.
What this shows is a clear lack of respect toward the applicants. I’m so insignificant that I don’t even warrant a stock “this position has been filled” message, something that shouldn’t be difficult as Nintendo uses Taleo, that awful job search template (which Sony uses as well I should add). I’m not just annoyed at the end of every waiting period, I’m literally hurt. I don’t want to have to call every time and find a way to speak to an HR rep just to be treated like I’m a person. Remedy has done that, and I haven’t had to do anything except show interest in their company, which in turn has got them to show interest in me, at least enough to save me from myself and the endless waiting.
So that, in so many words, is why Remedy Entertainment is currently the best video game company. I like the way they do business, I like the games they’re producing, and I’m slightly less depressed about not getting a job with them as they were kind enough to be respectful right back. If you have a chance to pick up any version of Alan Wake, are able to download American Nightmare, or are curious about any of their upcoming projects, please, give them your support. Who knows, maybe another writing position will open and I’ll finally get a shot again. One can dream I suppose.
But enough from me, I want to know what game company you think is the absolute best right this very second. What does it take to win you over? Leave a comment and let me know! I really want to know/need recommendations for other companies to apply at!