The Great Designer Search
Continuing the trend of Magic-themed posts....
Over at Wizards of the Coast, the Magic: the Gathering design department decided to add an intern. And to fill this desirable position? Why not an open competition, in the vein of reality programming?
Over one thousand people responded to the first steps, to write ten essays and take a tricky quiz related to Magic design. Then, 136 people received a design challenge, and finally, the viewing public met fifteen candidates. They were slowly winnowed out with additional design challenges. One candidate, Alexis Jansen, distinguished herself and was perceived by many as an early front-runner, though there was nothing like agreement on the Wizards.com discussion forums. Fifteen participants became three, who went to Renton for interviews.
And it ended with a party, and all three finalists were offered different internships. Very cool.
If you followed the discussion carefully, you might have seen a plot twist that would make any reality television programmer swell with pride. (And I wasn't the first to make this point.)
While I would have loved to participate in the competition, and would love the job, participating would have meant lying on the very first question. Being in game design is like being in sports or movies. There are more people who fancy these jobs than there are jobs available, so salaries are pushed down. I simply would not be interested in giving up an actuary's salary (and job stability) for a game designer's salary. It wouldn't surprise me if the typical new FSA/FCAS earns more than vice presidents at WotC.