Bulletstorm Producer to Epic: Please Hire Me

Bulletstorm Producer to Epic: Please Hire Me

Tanya Jessen is making waves as the producer of Epic Game's latest - and perhaps most profane - shooter (See: Dicktits), but she wasn't always at the helm of production. In fact, like a lot of people breaking into the games industry, Jessen got her start in QA.

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"I got my start as like an entry level game play tester in the sports group [at Microsoft], and I worked my way up," says Jessen. Production wasn't even on her radar until after she'd spent some time working with Epic's epic producer, Rod Ferguson.

"I never wanted to be producer," says Jessen. "I had worked with a lot of producers and I just didn't see it as my kind of job until I worked with Rod. Rod showed me how important and how good that role can be when you're really in the thick of it and working with the team that person is kind of like the hinging point for making everything kind of work. After I got to work with him, I knew that that's was what I wanted to do. "

Essen has been a gamer her whole life, heavy in RPGs and "really into MMOs." Her work on Microsoft sports convinced the MS brass to give her a chance in the RPG group, and soon she found herself working on such titles as Jade Empire, Dungeon Siege and Vanguard, before that title moved to SOE.

"At the time," says Jessen, "I had been following Gears of War for a little while, and I knew that [Microsoft] had a relationship with Epic and everything. And I was a huge fan of Unreal from back in the day, and so I was like going to my boss [and saying], 'I don't know if you need anybody for the Gears team, but hey ...'"

As it happened, there was a job available working with Epic - Team QA Lead - but there was a catch: Jessen would have to move from Seattle to North Carolina.

"I had literally the day before put an offer in on a house," she says. "Well, I didn't really think that I would ever be ... I mean I never considered for a moment that I would be going to work for Epic. I'd be like 'OK I'll go out there a few weeks on, a few weeks off and work on Gears,' which I wanted to do so badly and that'll be good. So I thought about it for like a day and then said, 'Alright. Ship me out there.'"

The rest, as they say, is history. Jessen worked for six months at Epic's offices in North Carolina and at the end of her tour walked right up to Ferguson and asked for a job.

"They were like, 'Well, you did kind of just have a 6 month interview.,'" says Jessen. She says they were reluctant to poach from one of their partners, but encouraged her to give them a call if she ever left Microsoft.

"So I interviewed for a bunch of companies," says Jessen, "and then I called Mike Capps [Epic President] and was like, 'I have a bunch of job offers. Wanna hire me?' And so he literally polled the entire company to see if everybody liked me after working with me on Gears."

The good news for Jessen, is that everyone did. She was hired a week later and went on to work at Epic as a producer on Gears PC, Unreal Tournament 3, Gears 2 and now Lead Producer for Bulletstorm, the game that will soon be bringing "dicktits" into mainstream circulation.

Jessen on Bulletstorm: "At the end of the day, Bulletstorm is a combination of a bunch of things we like about other games. We're just gamers, and we really love to play games. Bulletstorm is the game we wanted to play."

Bulletstorm will be released February 22nd for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Read our preview.

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Intresting story but i have my doubts regarding the way job oportunities were described. More specific doubts that something like that will remain possible much longer. Working from the bottom up seams to be kinda common stories in all new forms of media and business. Then things tend to get more standardized and old veterans hog high places. Although gaming being a creative business and not a bank maybe that won't happen.

PS: What a great picture that woman has! (at the risk of starting to abuse of the word) it's just awesome!

PS2: I just wrote that entire paragraf filled with nothing because i wanted to state the above comment without seaming oblivious to the article.

I wondered why BS (snicker) looked like Unreal's and Gears's love child.

At least I know who to blame now. :D

I read this twice, and still all I can think about is how amazingly attractive she is for a woman in the gaming industry. I mean, seriously, is there a law against having hot women that make video games or something?

I say good on her, not only is it a rather cool story but a sign that the gaming industry is beginning to become less male dominated, although she's gonna have to be careful that she doesnt get trivialised as "attractive woman that makes games", which unfortunately I can see happening all too easily.

I saw a full interview with her on techland yesterday. It gave me a real hope. I always though getting into the industry would take a large volume of creative or technical ability.

I'm a QA tester at an investment bank and I am on my way to more organisational and management roles over then ext year. Working in gaming is my dream and until I saw this I thought I would have to quit my job and take a masters in CS to break in. This has given me hope that this could be more than just a pipe dream an I can begin seriously working on the networking and skillset for working as a producer in the industrty. Thank you Tanya for being an inspiration

This story proves the cardinal axiom true:

Network, network, network!

Tanya is direction and CliffyB is pure artistic force.
good team ^^

Great story. From what I've played of Bulletstorm, I'm quite glad she got the job she did.

Sparrow:
I read this twice, and still all I can think about is how amazingly attractive she is for a woman in the gaming industry. I mean, seriously, is there a law against having hot women that make video games or something?

Russ Pitts:
And so he literally polled the entire company to see if everybody liked me after working with me on Gears."

Well? What kind of response did he expect?

In all seriousness though, good for her. You don't really hear a lot about women in the games industry, especially in such an important position, so it's good that she's making her there.

Funny thing though, Bulletstorm is the sort of game that you'd imagine would have been made purely out of testosterone, beer and recycled space marine armour. Interesting that such an outwardly male-orientated title would have a female as a lead producer. Then again, the interests of the target audience is hardly a trade secret now, is it.

Andronicus:

Funny thing though, Bulletstorm is the sort of game that you'd imagine would have been made purely out of testosterone, beer and recycled space marine armour. Interesting that such an outwardly male-orientated title would have a female as a lead producer. Then again, the interests of the target audience is hardly a trade secret now, is it.

From my experiences, most women in the game industry share the interests generally male dominated. Gamers are gamers, no matter their sex: they still play the good games (or those that cater to the core group and have a huge marketing push).

Sadly, the man to woman ratio in the industry is 9 to 1, but for what we lack in quantity, we have in quality. At least half the women I worked with were smart, funny and beautiful. That's a pretty good ratio, more than what I observe anywhere else.

LordSphinx:

Andronicus:

Funny thing though, Bulletstorm is the sort of game that you'd imagine would have been made purely out of testosterone, beer and recycled space marine armour. Interesting that such an outwardly male-orientated title would have a female as a lead producer. Then again, the interests of the target audience is hardly a trade secret now, is it.

From my experiences, most women in the game industry share the interests generally male dominated. Gamers are gamers, no matter their sex: they still play the good games (or those that cater to the core group and have a huge marketing push).

Sadly, the man to woman ratio in the industry is 9 to 1, but for what we lack in quantity, we have in quality. At least half the women I worked with were smart, funny and beautiful. That's a pretty good ratio, more than what I observe anywhere else.

I've never understood the whole "THE RATIO IS OFF" complaint.

If more women want to join the ranks of the game industry, nothing is stopping them, but no one is going to hold a gun to them and demand they make games, either.

RvLeshrac:

LordSphinx:

Andronicus:

Funny thing though, Bulletstorm is the sort of game that you'd imagine would have been made purely out of testosterone, beer and recycled space marine armour. Interesting that such an outwardly male-orientated title would have a female as a lead producer. Then again, the interests of the target audience is hardly a trade secret now, is it.

From my experiences, most women in the game industry share the interests generally male dominated. Gamers are gamers, no matter their sex: they still play the good games (or those that cater to the core group and have a huge marketing push).

Sadly, the man to woman ratio in the industry is 9 to 1, but for what we lack in quantity, we have in quality. At least half the women I worked with were smart, funny and beautiful. That's a pretty good ratio, more than what I observe anywhere else.

I've never understood the whole "THE RATIO IS OFF" complaint.

If more women want to join the ranks of the game industry, nothing is stopping them, but no one is going to hold a gun to them and demand they make games, either.

I think the female perspective would be an added value to our medium. If more women made games, more women would play them, and we could share this hobby with them as much as we share movies or literature. I also want more ethnic groups than Asian or Caucasian making games.

 

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