Video game writer details what it’s like to apply for a job at a major game studio

A video game writer is giving an inside look at how major companies test their employees’ skills before hiring them.

The revealing insight comes from Sam Maggs, a writer who’s worked on comics, graphic novels and several video game franchises — including the Call of Duty and Spider-Man series.

Maggs, whose pronouns are she/they, posted the info on TikTok, under the username @samwritesalot. In the now-viral video, they showed an example of the kind of “test” used by many big gaming studios.

To do that, Maggs revised two actual writing tests from a “AAA” studio. The term AAA refers to some of the industry’s biggest, highest-budget games, produced by companies like Sony, Electronic Arts and Activision-Blizzard.


Reply to @trllly Game writing test examples from AAA studios? Comin right up! #gamedev #gamewriting #womeningames #writertok #LaysGoldenDuet

♬ original sound – Sam Maggs

To avoid revealing which game the test was originally for, Maggs changed all identifying details and created a fake game called “Florida Man” instead. However, the test’s requirements were all the same.

As she showed, major game studios often ask writers to submit a mission for the game, featuring a short pitch and a six- to eight-page script of character dialogue.

Then the test may ask for “open-world content,” which could include descriptions of items and background conversations between non-player characters (NPCs).

Maggs also showed a test for a senior writer, which involved analyzing and “fixing” a mission in an already-existing game.

“They basically want to know what problems do I identify with this mission, how would I make it better, where would I change dialogue,” Maggs said. “This is a very narrative design-focused question.”

TikTok users were extremely enthusiastic about the video. Many thanked Maggs for giving an insight into the industry.

“This is so helpful,” one user wrote.

“This is the stuff I come to TikTok for,” another agreed.

“I have never even thought about this,” another added.

Others, however, took issue with the process. Some commenters were outraged to learn that applicants don’t get paid for the tests.

“Sounds like free creative labor,” one user wrote.

“So they get a bunch of free work from people and create games from stealing ideas … cool,” another added.

“This is A LOT OF WORK,” another wrote.

Maggs also mentioned this issue at the end of her video. After explaining that applicants normally get one to two weeks to finish these tests, the TikToker referenced the fact that, while possibly frustrating, the unpaid tests are simply part of the status quo.

“You do this on your own time, and you may or may not get the job,” they said. “Creative industries do be like that.”

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