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People like Matt Lewis are why I like the Bay Area. Totally cool guy…we met for drinks last night at this chill bar with no sign (keeps the unclued out, I guess) and we chatted a bit about games. I was introduced to Matt through my friend Ben, who is friends with Matts roommate (3 degrees). Matt worked as a mid-level QA dude on the publishers side of The Sims a few years back and he told me that EA Redwood Shores is a great place to work.

Matt started at EA doing end-user tech support back in the days before customer support was split off from QA at EA. He worked his way up to doing QA on Alpha Centauri and the The Sims. The whole thing was an amazing experience he said. Will Wright was an accessible, visionary, fun guy to work with. The Sims and the people on it were amazing. But, he left afterwards to patch up a personal life that had been badly neglected during his tour of duty. We agreed that that would need to be the topic of a future discussion, especially since I’m working on the section about burnout in the IGDA QoL whitepaper. Oh, and he mentioned that producer-types work like dogs. Testers and producers pull the longest hours. Good to know.

Between beers we talked about the seminal experiences in our gaming lives. How RPGs and board games are so much fun because they are social in a manner that few computer games even try to imitate. Matt knows a guy that knows the designer behind Alice’and I was reminded I need to pick up a copy. I know the producer, but I haven’t played the thing yet. He also recommended SOCOM which I’ll have to check out.

It’s pretty amazing to me how diverse and cool the people I meet in the industry are. Matt’s got an interest in sales, politics, and film along with experience in Japan (his dad was stationed there) to add to his love of games. He’s even started working on a board game of his own, and why not? He’s even got a friend that makes board games for a living to help show him the ropes!

I’m starting to see a pattern here. As The Tipping Point notes, most people meet new people at 3 to 4 degrees of separation. You share so much overlap with people closer, and you are more likely to already know there interests and share them whereas the further away you go, the larger the group and the more diverse. BUT, at 3-4 away, you are still close enough to have a warm enough connection to say, grab a beer and chat.

Updated on October 4th, 2013

Some of the links were broken. I replaced them with working links to pages with the same or similar content as before.