Robert Hornbek

Game Development & Exploration

Posts Tagged ‘Defense of the Ancients’

What A Riot, Episode 1

Posted by rHornbek on January 14, 2010

For those of you who do not know me, or who are still getting to know me, at one time I interned at the start-up game company Riot Games.  There I worked on the company’s first title League of Legends, based off the groundbreaking WarCraft III mod Defense of the Ancients better known as DotA.  While at Riot I was fortunate to work with nearly all of the departments at one time or another, and thus I was able to learn a lot.  That’s not to say I didn’t confront any grand challenges, but I should cover most of the highs and lows in this and following articles.

The first time I heard about Riot games was actually from my grandma.  While attending a club gathering she learned from one of her friends that their son was busy developing an original game.  When she explained it to me I was immediately interested and requested that she get me in contact with him.  Not long after talking with Marc, the aforementioned son and president of Riot Games, I had an interview with the company for a production intern role.

Actual front door of actual office off the official website!

When I arrived at the company’s Culver City office I was super jazzed, I even turned up an hour early to make sure I was not late.  Inside the office things were just as I imagined.  The walls were adorned with game paraphernalia from both League of Legends and other popular titles.  Even a cut-out of Mr. T stood in the lounge, which was basically a game room with a massive TV and every modern consol you could by in stores.  To even better set the stage the company only had about 12 or so employees at the time, so from where I sat I could almost see everything that was happening in the office.  However I did not know I was about to have the best and worst interviews.

For my first interview I was warmly greeted by two Riot employees, the production assistant and the office manager.  The interview started off pretty standard covering a list of questions they had planned for me before arrival.  The interview soon turned into a conversation and the three of us began chatting openly about the games we play and would like to play.  To my delight I was given the opportunity to really express myself and feel comfortable doing it, it was overall a pleasure to chat with these individuals.

We will punch you suck'ah!

Just as we finished I was asked to wait in the office for the next interview and they left the room showing their gratification on the way out.  I only sat alone for a few moments enjoying the warmth of the previous conversation before the next interview snowed on my parade.  In came a tall silent man that sat staring at his smart phone for what felt like an eternity before he even greeted me.  This immediately had me unsettled.  He began talking, asking mostly the same questions as the two before him but this time with an absent and unyielding look.  To my relief the interview was over and I was left feeling incredibly awkward.  In all I felt pretty good, I said a quick goodbye and took another quick glance at the office before I was on my way back home.

It was a couple of weeks before I had my answer but when I finally got one I did not get the job.  I learned later that my downfall was when I described to my second interviewer my desire to become a designer, which he did not want for his production interns.  Without any other available positions I had to look elsewhere for industry jobs.

Hang in there kid and never give up!

A few months later my girlfriend sent me a link to a Craig’s List post requesting applicants for a marketing intern position at Riot Games and I jumped on it.  On my return I was interviewed by the marketing manager and I felt the interview went rather well.  In fact it went well enough that a few weeks later I was called an asked to begin working.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of What A Riot where our hero travels through the world of viral marketing!


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