How Counter Strike got me a job as a technology journalist
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.