Lately as I play video game backlog catch up I have been playing multiple first person shooters.  The FPS genre is most commonly associated with rapid gameplay where bullets fly and enemies are mowed down by the dozen.  Still, now and then I halt mid-sprint because a moment in the level's environment convinced me to stop and enjoy the view.  Usually, my environmental perusal also results in my untimely death as enemies take advantage of me standing perfectly still. 

If I had the technical knowhow, the job of level or environment designer appeals to me most in the video game industry.  A clever map or funny jokes hidden amongst the level's flotsam are among my favorite gaming moments.  After all, video games are not accidents.  Games are specifically designed and created by human beings working to make a living.  Even the best of jobs have a long day or a desire to stay abed when the workday's alarm buzzes and the snow outside just won't stop falling.  I imagine that level designers use their "Is it Friday yet?" workdays to insert a jolt of humanity into games.  While games strive for total immersion that allows us gamers to forgot about the outside world and inhabit the fantasy.  Amidst the grenades and the headshots sudden moments that the developer "was here" are a nod to the men and women who made the game.

Oh, the horrors that face us at the end of the world!

The Gears of War franchise is well known as the burliest of the FPS games.  Muscles that are impossible in our reality are coupled with roaring chainsaws attached to guns and soldiers inflict death with the most gruesome finishes in gaming.  But the series' story that is told in-between bloody massacres is actually a heartfelt tale of two brothers and the impact of war on families.  With such a mix of emotions, developers spent their working hours ping ponging between perfecting the animation of a chainsaw ripping the alien menace in half and crafting a heart wrenching  familial tale.  In such a roller coaster of emotions, surely the best coping skill is the above image.  Everyone loves a cute cat and our hearts go out to a missing cat poster hung in a warzone.   I like to think that the end result was a collaboration of minds where one developer pulled at our heart strings with war's collateral damage and the other secretly scrawled a message that only a chainsaw wielding fiend would consider, "We Ate Him!!"    

Surely this individual did not leave home that morning wearing only one shoe. 

Dead bodies in an awkward pose while lying in pools of blood is standard fare in FPS games.  The scenes prompt our curiosity at what battle occurred that resulted in such carnage.  We follow the body trail closer to the enemy who awaits us but we are accustomed to the deathly scenes.  After a while the death toll hardly resonates except to remind us that the world is yet again on the brink of collapse.  Yet, Gears of War 3 includes a small moment that stopped me immediately.  As I gazed at this horrid scene all I could think was, "Why is one shoe missing?"  My mind reeled at what possibly happened in this shoot out that a shoe flew off?  I looked around for the missing shoe wondering if finding the shoe was a mini-game or achievement.  Nope.  Why did the developer not render a shoe?  The mystery of the bloody foot remains.    

I can think of many adjectives for toilet paper but "sweet" did not come readily to mind. 

I only recently began Crysis 2.  I really enjoy the strategy options and how the level designs encourage multiple approaches to the same objective.  For whatever reason, I am struggling with adapting to the control scheme that adds on the suit management with standard FPS gameplay.  So far, Crysis 2 is a very serious game with somber characters that face the coming doom with dour expressions.   The devastated New York is brutally dangerous with enemy humans sporting high powered guns and aliens.  Regardless of my peril at not sprinting to my next objective, I remained curious about the environment and I stopped to explore a nearby convenience store.  My search was rewarded.  The shop was typically ransacked and in general disorder.  However, the "Sweet Paper" toilet paper was in plentiful supply.  Even with the end of civilization, the survivors refused to use a toilet paper named "Sweet Paper" and rightfully so.  After all, we must keep our dignity during the apocalypse.      

I have stared long and hard at that magazine and the cover story is indeed about...a vacuum. 

Call of Duty: Ghosts was eerily ignored last fall while the gaming world was obsessed with new consoles and raised a commotion over the bugs of Battlefield 4.  However, Call of Duty: Ghosts' single player campaign was a fun romp that balanced seriousness with the outrageous well.  Sometimes, even action heroes just have to use the bathroom and require reading material.  No judgment here.  In the Call of Duty: Ghosts single player campaign, I happened upon a cluster of port-a-potties with extra toilet paper and magazines on nearby tree stumps.  Curious at the reading preferences of Call of Duty: Ghosts soldiers I crouched towards a tree trunk wondering whether to expect a literary journal or raunchy magazines.  After staring long and hard I determined that the magazine cover reads, "The Movie Juror...A Man And His Vacuum."  The image is in fact, a man and his vacuum.  Infinity Ward please tell us the story of a man and his vacuum.  Is it the next DLC?  Just let me know that this epic tale will be told.         

A smiling hotdog with grill marks?

Call of Duty: Ghosts never lets up.  Whether rappelling or in tank or in space, the game moves fast to the next action sequence.  During a tense run, I nearly tripped in my sudden stop in front of this hotdog.  Okay, so the level is a baseball stadium and hot dogs are a standby.  But this is a hotdog has arms, legs, and is holding a baseball.  I stood riveted.  I imagined that the developer doodled the hotdog during lunch as a joke unknowing that this snarky hotdog would define the level.  Anyone else die constantly nearby the smiling hot dog while playing Kill Confirmed on the Strikezone (the baseball field) map?  Also, who, human or sentient hotdog, holds a baseball like that?

This hot dog shop should exist in real life. 

Outside of the FPS genre, I unexpectedly started Alan Wake.  Other than the known fact that I scare rather easily (axe murderers scared me before I played this game and now even more so but I feel that this is a healthy fear to have).  Alan Wake makes the mundane terrifying.  The hot dog sign got my attention while I explored the mobile home park.  No collectibles gleamed nearby but I was compelled to approach the hot dog shop.  My curiosity was rewarded with the best menu I have ever read.  The menu insists on spelling hot dog as "hot dawg" and some stand out menu items includes the the taco dawg and the trailer trash dawg both of which sound delicious.  All of the hot dogs cost a few dollars but in the realm of video game logic the Belly Buster costs $15.99.  Why? 

Game developers are real people!  Or maybe game developers are sentient hot dogs with a Twitter account.

I reached out to Remedy Entertainment on Twitter with this burning question.  Luckily, Remedy Entertainment answered!  Whew, my mind can now rest.  Also, salads are listed under Rabbit Food.  I feel assured that the developers at Remedy Entertainment eat like gamers.  

Video games are a fantastic trip out of reality that are at the same time made by people who are just like us.  Working, paying bills, and navigating our personal relationships are the same concerns that we all share.  We also share gaming during our free time.  We don't always intermingle but sometimes we remember each other, the developer and the gamer.  Maybe on a cranky day the developer chucks off the shoe off a dead body, eats missing kittens, or adds legs and arms to a hot dog.  Later, lost deep in the game's world, we players are jolted into a moment of appreciation for the developers who made our games.  After all, we are all gamers who seemingly have a twisted sense of humor in-between paying our bills.  Now about that vacuum Infinity to elaborate?

What game developer would you want to work for?

What video game themed job do you covet?

What is your unanswered video game question?