Inside the Vault: Sam Bernstein

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Today’s Inside the Vault is about Sam Bernstein, QA tester.

What’s your job at Bethesda?
I’m a tester in the Quality Assurance department, currently working on Fallout 3. I try to break stuff.  Basically, I have the dream job of a 12-year-old, and it makes my inner 12-year-old very, very happy.

What other games have you worked on?
Bethesda is my first job in the gaming industry. So far, I’ve worked on Ducati Moto for the DS my first week here, and I’ve been on Fallout 3 since.

What is the best part about working as a tester? The worst part?
Hmm, tough question. I guess the worst part about being a tester is having to replay the same things over and over and over again. It’s not that it stops being fun, it’s that there aren’t any more big surprises. Just a quick word to those who think VATS will get boring after a while, it’s been a little over six months and I still love it. Overall, I think the best part about being a tester is that I can legitimately say that I play videogames for a living, and be proud of it.

How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?
I’m one of the people that got into the industry with a fair bit of luck. I was lucky enough to befriend a couple of people that happened to work at Bethesda. When the day came that Bethesda was looking for testers, they let me know about it I eagerly jumped on the opportunity and submitted my resume right away. And sure enough, I got the job.

Tips for breaking in? I guess one of the most important pieces of info I could offer would be “don’t burn your bridges.” It’s always great to get some awesome letters of recommendations from previous bosses (thanks Triny and Ashley!).

What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
Ooh, I’d have to say Myst would be my personal favorite. It was actually one of the first games I ever played, and despite its age, I can still play it over and over and quite thoroughly enjoy it. I enjoyed the entire series, but Myst really captured my imagination more than all the other ones. Maybe I was more impressionable when I first played it? That’s a possibility. I’m glad they’re bringing URU back (maybe, possibly), I really want to see what they can do with that.

What games are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to a couple of games coming out this fall. Fable II looks promising; I really like what I’ve seen on how they’re handling the multiplayer aspect of being able to pop in and out of a friend’s game. I’m also interested to see how the new Prince of Persia plays out; I love the original and hope the change in style works well with the overall feel of the game (plus, I do love Sigur Ros). I must say I am pleasantly surprised by Dead Space. It looks really good and I can’t wait to try it out. Lastly, I’m really excited for Left 4 Dead, it seems like the perfect game for people at the office; playing as the zombie is always entertaining, especially when you’re after your friends.

What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
That would have to be the auto timelock on the badger cage in my room set to go off at exactly 7AM. Seriously though, I play videogames for a living, why would I not want to go to work?

Worst job you’ve ever had?
Honestly, I don’t think I can answer this one. I’m one of the lucky few that haven’t had a bad job. Sure there were some where the pay wasn’t great and the hours were long, but I still had fun doing them. Now some of that may stem from the fact that pretty much all of my jobs are something I like doing to begin with (playing videogames, rock climbing, world conquest, etc.).

Any other hobbies and interests? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Hrm, besides videogames?  Well I like rock climbing; I’ve been doing that off and on for about 11 years now, although I’ve been slacking off the last couple months.

I’m a big fan of music, always trying to hear new bands. One of the nice things about living near DC is that there’s a good chance a band I want to see is going to come through here. Also, given the option, I like to buy my music on vinyl; it sounds much better than mp3s. My record collection is somewhere between 600 and 700 albums right now and range from opera to classic rock to today’s music (whatever you want to call indie rock).

I love to travel and take the opportunity to do so whenever I can. My most recent trip was over to Israel for my brother’s wedding (Mazel tov again Ben and Effie!) and to travel around a bit. The next big trip I’m thinking about for next year is to go to Iceland. No particular reason, just one of the places I’ve always wanted to go.

I’m also into photography, most notably architectural stuff. Living so close to DC is definitely a boon here. DC at night is one of my favorite things to photograph due to the vast array of awesome architectural scenery, and most tourists clear out after the sun goes down.

Reader Comments

  1. I´m realy excited about this game, it must be awesome to be a game tester, and i´m proud that people actually want to visit my cold and foggy homeland.

  2. nice interview,I wish you good luck in future of gameing,and I hope you find all that bugs in F3,looking forward to play the game it looks so nice and fun… keep up the good work :)

    Kenji

  3. I am jealous of your job. I’m actually interested in getting into the industry after college. I’m taking up programming right now and there’s nothing more that i want, and that is to get into the industry any way i can. If any one can give me some tips on getting into the industry that would be great.

  4. liked your input, also liked Israel myself, and will be going back in 2011. I am a fallout fan and will be getting the game in october. You might want to try a cruise to iceland, that way you could rock climb while at sea!

  5. No relation to the bears, because they are the Berenstain Bears. Trust me, I’ve gotten that question a lot. Although, oddly enough, my brother knew a Berenstain who was related to the bears.

    @Monocran: I’m mainly on 360 and PS3, so my system specs won’t do you any good, sorry.

  6. It’s really nice to read this interview. I’m studying my last year on Game Design and I’m thinking about doing my exams in QA. I like to solve problems, make things work better and I guess QA would be a good way to satisfy this urges of mine. ;)

    Anyway, if you got any more tips for us that like to get into the industry, please do tell =)

    Cheers,
    Joakim Bergman
    Skövde, Sweden

  7. i have played tons of Bethesda produckts and i can realy say i was stuned abaut those games i mostly like oblivion The elder scrolls and morrowind i have played and fallout 2 and i am playing it now because it is unreal game i can’t belive because after so much long waiting time finaly we players going to get fallout 3 it is so cool i will pay any price to get that game

  8. Hey Sam, I’m actually kind of freaked out by how many things we have in common. I was reading the article to find out more about Fallout 3 when you started mentioning Rock Climbing and Photography.

    I’m into both, but I’m still not very established either. I’ve been climbing for about 2 years now, mostly on indoor gyms because of the lack of real rock formations here in Michigan. (I did go to Austin, TX for vacation and had a blast climbing out there.) Also, I’m taking my second photography class in high school right now. I’m a macro addict. I love textures of things!

    Anyways, I would love to game with you sometime if you had the free time. My gamertag is “Godfathur” and I play Rock Band mostly right now (waiting for Fallout 3) but I’ve got COD4, GoW, Halo 3 and some others. Thanks for spending the time to do the interview!

  9. Sam, did F3 have the same athmosphere like the older ones, if you played them – you can answer…and is it addicting like them?

  10. It must be fun playing games all day but doesn’t it put a strain on your eyes and head I play for a couple of hours and my eyes go bloodshot. Though still it must be fun, looking forward to F3. =)

  11. To answer a few more questions that have been posted: I studied some C++ and Java in College, but the best class I feel I took was a class in Game Design, which really helped me understand the ins and outs of how a game is made. If you ever get the oppertunity to take one of those classes, don’t pass it up, it was the best class I’ve ever taken, and it really helped when it came time to apply for a job in the industry (especially when you have no prior experience).

    Another tip? If you get an oppertunity to apply for a position and you think it’s something you want to do, do it. When I applied for my position at Bethesda, I didn’t think I would get the job, but I went into the application and interview process showing what I had to offer and what I could bring to the team. I guess they liked what they saw and that’s how I ended up here.

    Darcy, sorry, I don’t actually have a PS3. It’s not that I have anything against it, what I’m waiting for is a Final Fantasy VII remake, where they change nothing but the graphics. I’m rockin’ out with the Xbox 360, and Stefano, once my ISP decides they want to get over to my apartment and “install” my internet, then I’ll finally be able to get on XBL.