game, game. repeat.

Lunch With Bing Gordon

Tue 02 December 2003

So the other day I’m in 250… :) After chatting with Tara I headed over to the front desk to let Jenny Turick (Bings exec assistant) know I was here. That is, the front desk of death.

The Front Desk Puzzle ’ 10 points

I’ve noticed, after about 4 visits, that when the front desk calls someone and tells me that they have confirmed that they know I’m in 250 it can actually mean one of a few different things: a) they left a message for someone other than the person I’m supposed to meet with, b) they left a message for the person I’m supposed to meet with, c) they talked to someone who doesnt know who I am, doesnt care, and is not coming down to see me, d) they talked to the right person and they are actually coming right down. It’s like a test to see if you can figure out how to actually be on time to a meeting in that building. ;) On this occasion I started 10 minutes early–at 5 late I asked the front desk to make certain they had called Jenny and she had actually said she was coming down. At 10 minutes late I overhear them pick up the phone and apparently tell Jenny that, yes, there was someone down here named Scott Bonds. Heh heh. The moral of the story is that if you have a meeting in 250, call the person you are meeting yourself. Were all gamers here, think of it as the first puzzle for gaining entry into the main dungeon. ;)

Blurb About Bing

I followed Jenny to one of the meeting rooms and she offered to grab me some lunch since she was picking some up for Bing already. Its one of the perks of meeting with a top EA exec, free sandwich. :) To provide some context here, Bing is a serious badass. Hes one of two of the 7 original founders of EA (back in 1982) who still works at EA. Hes basically a legend…I mean, EA is a $13B public company these days and its the #1 games publisher in the world. And its just getting started. Bing has been here since day 1 and has played a key role in marketing and strategy for the company. So yah, I was a little nervous meeting with the guy. ;)

Down To Business

Bing soon walks in and we start talking about games. We talk about a lot of the standard stuff–I tell him what games I’m playing, what interests me about the industry and EA specifically, and what my favorite games of all time are. I ask him for his advice about how I should go about finding a place at EA and he suggests that I’m doing the right thing–the key is going to be patience. There are certain hiring cycles and timing needs to be right. Right place at the right time. Since I’m doing a reasonable job at getting visibility everywhere in EA and I’m someone with lots of potential its more a matter of time. Bing notes that Neil told him that he thinks EA should definitely hire me, which is why he suggested Bing and I meet. I was like, wow, thats really awesome of Neil! I guess thats basically what he said in his email after we met…I just read it more conservatively.

EA does hire badasses on the spot regardless of cycles, but apparently they dont do that for newbies–a badass must necessarily already have game experience. Though, he did mention that DeMar came from biz software like me, but I dont know if he was on-the-spot hired from there. No, on-the-spots sound like they are reserved for exec producer-types. They are a rarer commodity that justify that risk I suppose! I wondered what youd have to look like as a newbie to actually get hired that way…

Bing quickly understood my challenges so far–since I had experience, but not game experience I was a little harder to match against the traditional entry points for the production path. He said I have the right experience that would make me a great executive producer (I have the business, entrepreneurial, and technical experience) but I was missing the third tier, creative design experience with games. He said EA would love to have more rockstar, early 30s exec producers, but so far only people with 10-15 years of experience in the industry have seemed right for the role and that is creating some problems since they dont have enough exec producers. He says that Neil Young is a rockstar and hes an excellent mentor for the next generation of leaders. And I’m thinking, dude, I’m so there, I just need to figure out how to get started. Neil sounds like hed be awesome to work with if I get the chance.

Next steps

Then Bing started brainstorming people I should meet. Met with Neil, should meet with Glen Scofield, with Chris Plummer, should meet with DeMar who has a similar entry background (and hes kicked some ass with Tiger Woods), should meet with Arcadia who came mid-career from film and who is a rising star on Neils team. Neil used to be LOTR but he groomed a couple people and handed those off–now hes doing high-level big-idea projects–probably looking for people that can execute on some really creative new ideas. That sounds awesome. I’m taking furious notes, making sure I know who I need to talk to next. And then Jose Martin walks in the room and Bing introduces me to the VP of HR for EA Studios. But that story is for another post. :)