The newest winner of The Tester has a new job and an extra $5,000, but he's hoping this is the start of great things in his life.
For Matthew Brown, videogames have always been a regular fixture in his life. They helped him deal with the problems he encountered as a closeted gay teen. He failed his first attempt at driver's license test because he'd stayed up all night playing The Getaway. Now, they're going to fill his daily routine. Brown (better known as "Gaymer") is the winner of The Tester 2, Sony's reality show on the PlayStation Network that wrapped up last night, and he couldn't be more enthusiastic or grateful about what this means for him.
The show's eight-episode season featured twelve contestants jockeying for a single position at Sony (as well as a $5,000 signing bonus). Though each episode featured a different challenge, sometimes physical, sometimes mental, the hardest part about the show for Brown was knowing that the cameras were always present.
"The cameras are on you almost all the time," Brown explained in an interview with The Escapist. "For me especially, representing [both] a community and myself to an entire industry, I was very aware that this was both an interview and a game within a game ... everything that I was bringing to the table had to be shown and I knew that I had to be three-dimensional as a person because people will judge you for one aspect of yourself. I wanted people to know I was more than just one thing ... or just one type."
While many critics of the show have noted that becoming a game tester isn't exactly a glamorous prize, Brown is thrilled at the career opportunities the position will (hopefully) provide him with.
"Testing gives me an opportunity to learn all there is about the gaming industry," he said. "I can now be recognized by future coworkers and (hopefully) [this recognition will] help me move forward in the industry."
As for where he hopes to wind up within Sony, Brown is keeping his options open, though he's currently hoping to find himself working as a part of the company's marketing team: "I love people and I love interacting with the community, so anything that involves PR or working with people, that seems a strong suit of mine and where my strengths would lead. But I would never discount wanting to create games myself ... it would be a dream to one day be a game director."
Brown's hopes seem pretty reasonable. After all, Will Powers (AKA "Cyrus", the winner of the first season of The Tester) also moved into the marketing department at Sony after he first started in the QA division. In a recent episode, Powers recently visited the set of the show and talked about how The Tester had changed his life for the better.
In Brown's case, "this is a huge life change. The last few years, I've been Mr. Activist and this really marks a change for me because I'm letting go of that weight from my shoulders ... this is a chance to pursue everything I've ever wanted."
After graduating from UC Berkeley, Brown moved to Southern California and began working in the marketing department for a defense contractor, while doing volunteer work as a "full-time activist" at night. But, even though he was living in the real world and working in a job that had nothing to do with games, he was still a gamer.
"I'm a part of many communities. As I've grown to be more social, I've met so many people and I've really found a home with gamers. They're wonderful, loving, non-judgmental people who just like to be creative ... [the community] feels like home."
For those of you who don't know, The Tester 2 was the sequel to this Spring's The Tester, the reality show that pitted a number of hopeful gamers against each other as they competed to win a job as a QA tester at Sony's Santa Monica studios. As Sony explained to The Escapist, the second season was going to be even bigger, with more drama, more judges, and the new "Download & Win" feature. The tactic was pretty successful, since Sony revealed, "while final viewership numbers are still being calculated, we have seen outstanding impression numbers."
But for Brown, the reality show victory is the beginning of a life he's always seemed to want. At the moment, it's expected that he will start working for Sony sometime in January, and he's chomping at the bit to start working in the videogame industry: "For [me], this is exciting; to go humbly into the industry and create actually figure out what [I] want to do in Sony."
Congratulations, Matt: here's hoping this is just the start of even greater things to come.