There’s no career path more rewarding than suckling on the teat of the videogame industry.

Think about it. Programmers have to spend months out of the year working 60-hour weeks just to make sure their games ship on schedule. Artists are watching their jobs outsourced to developing countries, and small studios are never more than a phone call away from being swallowed whole by a major publisher.

Not so for us hangers-on. We enjoy the fruits of the industry’s labor without any of the tedium, uncertainty or soul-crushing workloads. While developers are busying trying to lay the next golden egg, we stand around tapping our feet impatiently for the real work to begin. We are the few, the proud. We are paid to play.

Unfortunately, a job on the margins of the game industry is still a job. There are still deadlines to mind, balance sheets to manage and (most vexingly) word counts to maintain. And a career playing games often comes at the expense of the hobby itself; spend your 9-to-5 thinking about gaming and you might be less inclined to fire up your platform of choice when you’re off duty.

This week, we poke around the soft, nipply underbelly of the industry and see who turns up. Alan Au examines the curious life of game testers in “Button-Mashing Monkeys.” In “The Dealer Never Plays,” Will Hindmarch recalls his days running the tables at roleplaying game conventions. Sean Sands catalogues the trials and tribulations of running an online game publication in “A Site to Call My Own.” In “Fragging in the (Un)Lucky Country,” Alex Walker looks at Australia’s stunted professional gaming scene. And Susan Arendt speaks with an artist with a truly unique medium in “Just Another Pretty Face(Plate).”


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