Before I start my reluctant yammering, I thought I should familiarize myself with whoever is reading this. My name is Todd Smith and my obligation was working as a beta game tester for SEGA; but that all changed. Now I'll give you some background as to where this all began. As SEGA drastically made an attempt to push their cash-cow of a character Sonic The Hedgehog to make a new game, they decided it was time to make a completely new enterprise. These changes were so unforeseen; most of the staff was unaware that they were going to get discharged from their duties. It was a normal summer day in Ota, Tokyo Japan. All my peers were excited to finally move on with their lives and obtain the careers they wanted to pursue. My love for video games and tech led me to a degree in game design. But I wanted to feel like a real game developer.
When I was a small child looking at the diamond blue sky, I mused at the idea that one day I would design my own games. I used to draw characters in my notebook, detailing precisely how I wanted them to look. Their physique and attitude; even what they would do, whether it be save humanity or do robust deeds for others. I'd studied up on Shigeru Miyamoto and the process he went through so he could become one of the greatest icons in gaming. I'd always had always had greater interest in SEGA though. Their games fascinated me. I always heard stories about the one they called "The Blue Blur". I had an eagerness to know more about this mystery persona so I went with some friends to the library. I was too poor at the time to afford the now vicennial and widely known "Sega Genesis". My parents were also lacking funds to buy me a personal computer (PC); Go figure. As I dug deeper and deeper into the world of my now childhood hero, Sonic, I felt fondness for the series instantly. My friend, Robert, often reminds me how I was at the brink of tears when I could at last comprehend the world of video games.
So there's a long, monotonous history of my love for SEGA's games and characters. But what I had to go through was not a lighthearted and jovial experience like my discovering of Sonic was. God, how I beg and plead it would have been. I had applied to be a character designer when I first attempted to make a career for myself at SEGA. I got rejected for the position but they said in order to compensate my hard work to even get the interview, they allowed me to become an "evaluator" for their games. I basically squealed with delight when I had heard the news and I thanked Mr. Haruki Satomi for allowing me the position. I could barely keep the steering wheel straight as I drove home to tell my parents the great news; though I knew they would question me. They never did like the idea and love I had for tech and game design. I drove at the speed of light through the dark neighborhood. It was like I was in a trance that didn't let my body acknowledge my surroundings. When I finally arrived, I saw my father and greeted him. I explained everything to him and he hugged me as we murmured "Thank You" and "We finally did it". (My brother, George, dropped out of college and my parents never went to school. So I was the first to graduate and get a career in life). The rest of the night was a mix between enlivened celebration and burning jealousy.
So that leads us to that horrendous day. The day I walked through that god forsaken door, and played that sick and twisted game. I awoke, did my daily morning routine and turned on the television. I nearly suffocated on my cereal when I saw the headline for this morning's news. "Haruki Satomi, John Cheng and Jurgen Post have been Fired for Game Fraud". I felt my spine freeze like an ice cube when I heard this. "Mr. Satomi would never commit game fraud". I repeated this phrase in my mind over and over until I wouldn't forget it. Hell, that's how I can still remember it. Minutes whirred by like hours when suddenly my home phone rang. I answered it as I forced myself to speak. The conversation went like this:
Me: "Hello?" Mr. *********: "Yes; Mr. Smith? This is Mr. ********. I am calling to inform you that Mr. Satomi has been disbanded from our company."
Me: "Yes, I am aware of this."
Mr. *******: "You will come to the SEGA offices immediately for a debriefing and a discussion of our newly designed game. I am aware that you are the "evaluator" for SEGA INC. Games".
Me: "Sure thing boss. I'll be right over."
As I hung up I felt this urge to just call back and quit. I was so insecure about how today might go. But I convinced myself otherwise. As I got in my car, that feeling came back. Fear coursed through my veins; It was like something in my body was telling me to not go. But I ignored it; I wish I hadn't. I observed how the clouds appeared to absorb the sun, since traffic slowed me down a bit. That final puny resistance I managed to overcome came back one more time, but I shook it off. My body was starting to irritate me. I blamed it on my empty stomach since I hadn't finished breakfast. As I walked through the door my old co-worker, Patty, wasn't at the desk. Not wanting to be rude I simply said "Good Morning". "You're late" the mystery woman replied. I apologized and she appointed me to the meeting room. When I arrived the man I had spoken with on the phone shook my hand and respectively, I shook back. I noticed his eyes widen as he looked at me, his hands started to sweat.
I took my seat not wanting this to get worse than it needed to. The basic rundown of what he explained was that he had hired a new company to work on the new project he had assigned to a corporation I had never heard of. He told me the game was ready, but it needed to be tested for both a rating on the ESRB with a detailed report of the intensity it may or may not cause. They also wanted to know of any glitches they needed to patch just in case. My brain was like it had a tornado inside it throwing words in my head and flinging them out of my ear so I just went with it. Though I found it strange for them to want me to test it now. I went into the testing area and the security basically shoved me in there. I was going to ask why they had done it but I let it slip not wanting to mess up on the first day of the gig. So I placed myself in the seat and I have to admit, I was pretty excited. As I had mentioned before, the only times I could where I got to play the classic Sonic games was when I went to Robert’s place. Since I never could stay long periods of time with him (my parents wanted me to focus on school) I couldn’t sit myself through a game to completion. So, this was the closest thing to my “first experience”. I picked up my controller and expected one wild ride. My anticipation grew stronger and stronger, but the game stayed as a black screen for about thirty more seconds. When the game finally did boot up it showed a beautiful cinematic of our little blue friend running through the gorgeous emerald green hills. Soon I could see Tails in his shiny Tornado Plane. He flew near Sonic and greeted him.
The hedgehog replied back with his usual wink and smile as he continued to run. But then Tails did something that was unlike his character. He started following Sonic with his plane’s blades while he continued to give Sonic that plastered on smile. Thankfully, Sonic managed to avoid what would’ve been a brutal scene. What the hell was this doing in a game designated towards the young audience? This was either a sick joke or some insomnia induced mess. My body shivered at the idea that SEGA would even consider doing something like this. I had to take a break from this whole thing. There was no way I could take this shit without having a moment to recollect my thoughts. Soon after, the COO of SEGA came in and asked…
“How do you like the game so far?” I was seething with rage. I wanted to turn right around and pop this guy in the face. But I simply responded,
“Maybe you should consider re-making this. It would be strange to your fans if you released this to your fans and they had to go through this bullshit.”
I felt at that time that I wasn’t thinking straight. I walked out on him; but I now know that was the best choice I had ever made. I was up pretty late, when on the news the reporter said this.
“This is a very depressing day for Tokyo; word of a SEGA lead commanders leading acts of cannibalism. The so called ‘employees’ of the company we’re said to have taken the position of former workers; though when the former President of SEGA, Haruki Satomi, was said to have ‘resigned’, he was never found. Many witnesses say, he never returned home."
My body blocked out the rest of the TV’s sounds. I was in my own blank little space.
“Mr. Haruki would never commit game fraud” I said over and over…