Mass Effect 2: Diary of the New Guy

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Part 1 of 2, by Jay Watamaniuk

A few things have changed in the last week that have altered my life at BioWare pretty dramatically. I accepted a position as a writer on Mass Effect 2, which meant that after 8 years I no longer helm the stormy seas of community. I leave that to Mr. Priestly, who has far more aptitude and skill in this; proving his value since his days back in QA when he was basically doing his job now but not getting paid for it. I have no fear for community under his direction. He knows his business and he is passionate about doing right by the fans.

For me… I need to learn a completely new job at a company with which I have grown very comfortable. I need to see up close how games are made. In marketing, we work with the development teams to help tell fans about their work; to spread the message and to show off proudly the work the dev teams do. Marketing BioWare games – though complicated, as the games are complicated – is easy from the perspective that the product is of a world class quality; something that sets a standard. As a marketing guy, you need to ask little more than to feel good about the work you do.

But I never got to peek behind the curtain despite a few family connections. All I knew was that the teams worked incredibly hard, under tremendous pressure, to create these games. Pride in their work keeps them at their desks late into the night and pride in the BioWare legacy of games gets them here early in the morning.

I recall my first few days of being a Community Manager- a job that was very vague and ill-defined at the time- and being somewhat lost among sea of paper and books given to me to help clarify what I should be doing. I feel the same way now. I’m here because somebody in this department gave me a stamp of approval and opened the door despite potentially damaging samples of my writing.

I moved up from the second floor where marketing, the hand held group, administration and HR all make their nests to the mysterious third floor where Mass Effect 2 is being created. Apart from work being done in Montreal, everything Mass Effecty happens on this floor here in Edmonton, Alberta.

Last Friday, I arrived to find my desk, computer and box of office bits had already been moved and, in its place down on the second floor, a dark void. I said my good mornings to my old roommates and walked up the stairs still wearing my coat to see how the new office looked.

I think standing there at the threshold of my new office, with new roommates, it finally hit me: I had made a big career change and there was no turning back to the familiar. No turning back to a job that I had grown into, and helped to shape over nearly a decade.

Nope, I was the new guy and had no idea what I was doing.