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CNN Today

'Gameful' Employment

Aired April 21, 2000 - 2:55 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: There is usually one in every crowd, you know, someone who refuses to grow up and get a real job.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Not that that's a bad thing. If that describes you, then CNN's Greg Lefevre has an idea for "gameful" employment.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GREG LEFEVRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ever wish you could do this all day and get paid for it? Clayton Wolfe does.

CLAYTON WOLFE, GAME TESTER: It's just nothing but fun for me.

LEFEVRE: It's also critical to a $7 billion industry. Game testers work up to 14-hour shifts, pushing racers, pilots and cyborgs to their limits, making sure the game is not crashing, or worse, boring.

DAVID MCCORMICK, ELECTRONICS ARTS: All the testers have to have patience, and they have to have endurance.

LEFEVRE: Testers are usually in their 20s, nearly all are men.

SHAWN SHINN, GAME TESTER: He's going to have a knack for picking out flaws and noticing things that just don't seem right.

LEFEVRE: Like this early version of "Whacky Races."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like the way it looks, the cartoon feel of the game.

LEFEVRE: But this version's too hard. The tester always loses.

THOMAS MACDEVITT, INFOGRAMS NORTH AMERICA: People who can score about 100 million points on "Donkey Kong" are usually the kind of people we look for.

LEFEVRE: They even check the simple stuff. Do the cars stay on the track and not fly above the pavement? Do the characters obey the laws of physics?

WOLFE: What do I like to play the most? I think racing games or strategy games. SHINN: My favorite is role-playing games.

MCCORMICK: Check in the manual to see if they have anything listed for scenic tour.

LEFEVRE: Problems are written down, taken to the programming team, which tries to work out the bug, then they are tested again and again.

MACDEVIIT: Twenty, 30, a lot.

LEFEVRE: Shawn Shinn will thrash through "Whacky Races" a dozen times a day for a month or more, thinking, how will customers like this?

DARYL HUMDY, ELECTRONIC ARTS: We have to hit the frustrating part, and make sure that they don't get the frustrating part.

MCCORMICK: All my friends think it's cool.

LEFEVRE: But draining. Turnover is high. Eighty percent leave every year, most to produce their own games for someone else to test.

Greg Lefevre, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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