Inside the Vault: Nick Breckon

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With Matt busy doing real work, it was up to me, Nick Breckon — Bethesda’s newest community manager — to interview myself for Inside the Vault. So here I am sitting by myself, uh, talking to myself.

What’s your job at Bethesda?
Good question! Technically I’m a “community manager,” which is one of those strange occupations that defies an easy definition. One has to assume that it’s my job to make sure everyone is entertained and happily chatting about the softworks that we produce; that I mainly get to sit around, play games early, and lay down some brutal forum beatdowns after a long lunch. I’m finding out pretty quickly that there really is much more to this job, though. For instance, sometimes we have Cookie Day.

How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?
I mainly owe my career to Gamasutra’s Chris Remo. Sometime in 2006, I asked Chris — then editor at Shacknews — how he got to be a game journalist. He was nice enough to explain his background, which included a stint at Idle Thumbs, a videogame website that he and his friends created. The current Idle Thumbs writers were still taking submissions at the time, so I wrote a silly article one night and mailed it off the next morning, never assuming a single thing would come of it. It got published, Chris linked it on Shacknews, a few months later I had a job there, and that job eventually lead to this job here. Lots of work was involved, but none of it was possible without that first connection to a cool person.

Getting into the industry is like a frustratingly difficult stealth mission. Most people find a back door, but I’d recommend the ventilation shaft. Perhaps some kind of stealth suit. And even after you find the way in, you’ve got to locate your on-site contact, and sometimes disable a guard or two.

I say, be realistic about your chances. You don’t have to shoot for the moon on your first attempt, so explore and exhaust every option. Don’t sell yourself short, but always remain humble. Don’t be obnoxious, but do make contact with people you admire. You never know if they’ll open the door wide enough for you to slip in unnoticed. Once you’re in, regardless of the door you picked, the checkpoint should hopefully save you from having to repeat the first part.

You recently had a cross country drive from California to DC to start this job. How was that?
I think everyone should drive across our great country once in their lifetime. I just wouldn’t recommend doing it twice in under two years. However, if you’re ever in Amarillo, Texas, I can heartily recommend–though not recommend for your heart–the Big Texan Steak Ranch. I think everyone should gaze upon the wondrous sight of a 72-ounce steak once in their lifetime. I just wouldn’t ever recommend attempting to eat it.

As the new Community Manager, what background do you have in playing Bethesda titles?
I have to imagine this is one of those questions that drives non-industry types crazy. Some people get questions like “what background do you have in shelf-sorting?” I get “what background do you have in playing Bethesda videogames?”

In any case, the answer is: quite a lot. It started with a casual Morrowind addiction that my college roommate shared with me, and eventually grew into an Oblivion obsession. Fallout has been one of my favorites since 1997, and Fallout 3 surpassed my most optimistic expectations for a new sequel in every way. As for platforms, I dabble in all of them, though I have a special place in my heart for PC gaming and mod communities.

What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
My taste runs all over the place, and just like anyone else, I find it impossible to nail down even a short list. So, like everyone else, that means I just spent thirty minutes typing out 243 games that I love—the Fallouts, Elder Scrolls, StarCrafts and Civilizations. The Zeldas and Marios, Total Wars and SimCitys. A little Grim Fandango here, some Freespace 2 there. Tie Fighter. Resident Evil 4. Far Cry 2.

However, I’ve written about a lot of those in articles that still exist on the internet, so in the interest of word management I’ll throw one game out that I think is still under-appreciated: the original Starsiege Tribes. For large-scale multiplayer gaming with a lot of depth, it’s scary to think about how far ahead of its time Tribes was.

What games are you looking forward to?
Let’s start with the sequels: BioShock 2, Mass Effect 2, StarCraft II, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Diablo III, Max Payne 3, DOOM 4, Fallout: New Vegas, Red Dead Redemption and many more.

Really, anything by Valve, BioWare, Blizzard, Runic, Riot–and of course Bethesda, id and Splash Damage–has my attention lately.

What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
The promise of coffee.

Worst job you’ve ever had?
Student. There’s no money in that racket.

Any other hobbies and interests? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I’m into history and literature, so I read a lot, though lately not as much as I’d prefer. Yes, I’ve earned all of my geek merit badges, thank you.

I enjoy a dense television series — Mad Men has been my latest conquest, though The Wire, Deadwood, The Sopranos, Rome and The West Wing are all favorites.

Like Matt, having grown up in Michigan, I have a weakness when it comes to Detroit sports — primarily Red Wings hockey and UM football. It’s been a painful year.

Reader Comments

  1. Wow, this guy’s all over the place, gave me a good laugh. Did anyone at Bethesda get there by hard work? It seems that all of the “Inside the Vault”s go along the lines of “One day I was walking down the street and some guy asked me if I’d like a job at some game studio” :P .

  2. Nick Breckon…I knew I knew that name from somewhere…huh, former Shacknews guy, huh? Well I wish you all the best! Cannot wait for Fallout New Vegas btw.

  3. So, you’re faced with this steak that weighs the same as a house. Why the smeg didn’t you take it with you? Then the meat shield could have a meat shield.

    Winning is 99% inventory management, after all.

  4. [What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
    The promise of coffee.]

    YES! His first goal of the day is grand and glorious! Truly he is COMMUNITY MANAGER GOLD!

    Congratulations Nick Breckton and enjoy :D

  5. I believe that your deer/truck story while driving across Texas was far more interesting than the obscene steak.

    Best of luck in the new job Mr.B

  6. Wow great inside the vault. It’s always inspiring to read these and this has to be one of the best, probably helps that you had such a great interviewer. ;)