How Counter Strike got me a job as a tech­nol­ogy jour­nal­ist

Hyper - - CONTENTS - by Ben­nett Ring

As a teenager I spent four years do­ing an Ansett avi­a­tion schol­ar­ship, train­ing to be a pi­lot for an air­liner that most of you no longer re­mem­ber. One slight prob­lem though – I’d never flown be­fore, so when the flight train­ing be­gan I dis­cov­ered at the time that I was ter­ri­fied of heights.

This led to my fall back plan – any­thing to do with IT. As a six year old, my step­fa­ther used to bring the first x86 PCs home for work, as he worked in com­put­erised pay­roll soft­ware. This gave me the chance to tinker and play with it as much as I liked, and I was soon in love. This then led to the best Xmas present ever, a Com­modore 64 with match­ing mon­i­tor. I’ll never for­get play­ing Chase HQ all that day.

When I grad­u­ated high school, I fig­ured pro­gram­ming was the way to go, so did a Level IV IT Cer­tifi­cate in com­mer­cial pro­gram­ming at TAFE. This led to a role at an IT com­pany where we pro­grammed the soft­ware to re­motely do the ac­count­ing for ser­vice sta­tions in Malaysia. There I met my first edi­tor, who was start­ing up PC Gamer Aus­tralia – a mir­a­cle in Perth. He gave me a shot as the car game re­viewer, but the jobs were few and far be­tween. Mean­while, I was feed­ing a fiendish CS Beta 0.7 ad­dic­tion with ev­ery spare hour I had.

Next stop on the jour­ney was a Com­puter Sci­ence de­gree at Mur­doch Univer­sity, again spe­cial­is­ing in pro­gram­ming… and Counter Strike. I was part of an East Coast clan called To­tal Con­scious­ness, and by some weird fluke my house was lit­er­ally 100m from the lo­cal ex­change. This gave me pings of 90ms or so to the East Coast, mak­ing me a vi­able player. Over my first two years at uni, I saved up enough cash to buy a new PC, this time with a Duron 600 CPU. I just hap­pened to be chat­ting to some Rus­sians on a mes­sage board about this thing called over­clock­ing, and they showed me how I could used a pen­cil to in­crease the speed from 600MHz to 900MHz, per­fect for a starv­ing student like me. I slowly learned how to over­clock other com­po­nents over the fol­low­ing year, all the while my clan was kick­ing se­ri­ous butt in Aus­tralia, win­ning the pres­ti­gious 700-per­son UWA LAN.

And this is where things get weird. It turns out many of my clan mates were tech jour­nal­ists on PC Tech Au­thor­ity, and they were launch­ing a mag­a­zine fo­cus­ing on over­clock­ing and gam­ing called Atomic. I men­tioned my ex­pe­ri­ence, wrote a trial ar­ti­cle and had a quick chat with the Edi­tor at the time, Ben Man­sill. Two days later I was liv­ing in Syd­ney in­stead of Perth, as the staff writer on my dream job. And it was all thanks to Counter-Strike, as well as a con­nec­tion to the over­clock­ing scene.

So the next time your mum tells you play­ing games isn’t go­ing to get you a job, feel free to dis­cuss my very lucky jour­ney, for which I still pinch my­self ev­ery day.

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