Video Game Writer Details What It’s Like To Apply For A Job At A Major Game Studio: “It’s So Helpful”

A video game writer provides insight into how big companies test the skills of their employees before hiring them.

The telling insight comes from Sam Maggs, a writer who’s worked on comics, graphic novels, and multiple video game franchises, including the Call of Duty and Spider-Man series.

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Maggs, whose pronouns are she/they, posted the information on TikTok, under the username @samwritesalot. In the now-viral video, they showed an example of the type of “test” used by many major game studios.

To do this, Maggs reviewed two actual writing tests from an “AAA” studio. The term AAA refers to some of the biggest and most expensive games in the industry, produced by companies such as Sony, Electronic Arts and Activision-Blizzard.

To avoid revealing which game the test was originally intended for, Maggs changed all identifying details and created a fake game called “Florida Man” instead. However, the test requirements were all the same.

As she showed, major game studios often ask writers to submit an assignment for the game, including a short pitch and a script of six to eight pages of character dialogue.

Then the test may request “open world content”, which may include item descriptions and background conversations between non-player characters (NPCs).

Maggs also showed a test for a senior writer, which involved analyzing and “fixing” a mission in an already existing game.

“They basically want to know what issues I identify with this mission, how could I improve it, where would I change the dialogue,” Maggs said. “It’s a very narrative, design-driven question.”

TikTok users were extremely enthusiastic about the video. Many credited Maggs for providing insight into the industry.

“This is so helpful,” wrote one user.

“That’s why I come to TikTok,” agreed another.

“I never even thought about it,” added another.

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Others, however, have challenged the process. Some commentators were outraged to learn that candidates are not being paid for the tests.

“Sounds like free creative work,” wrote one user.

“So they get a bunch of free work from people and make games by stealing ideas…cool,” added another.

“It’s a LOT OF WORK,” wrote another.

Maggs also mentioned this issue at the end of his video. After explaining that applicants normally have one to two weeks to complete these tests, the TikToker referenced the fact that, while perhaps frustrating, unpaid testing is simply part of the status quo.

“You do this in your spare time, and you may or may not get the job,” they said. “Creative industries are like that.”

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