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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

December 3, 2008 at 12:04 PM

One way to get a gamer’s dream job at Nintendo …

The unmarked Airstream trailer parked across the street from the Space Needle Tuesday belonged to Nintendo and was loaded with the company’s latest games, two Wiis and an armload of DS handhelds.

I spent about an hour in the trailer, which was on its last stop on a two-month road trip demonstrating the games to media outlets around the country.

The games are already on the market — including “Wii Music,” “Animal Crossing:” “City Folk,” “Mario Super Sluggers” and “Wario Land: Shake It!”

Most interesting, frankly, was the story of how the demonstrator, Jamie Ball, ended up with a Nintendo fanboy’s dream job.

ball1.jpg

Ball, 26, grew up in Cheyenne, Wyo., where he spent a big part of his early years playing Nintendo games, especially Mario, which he started playing on an NES system around 1988.

He studied theater performance at Berkeley, worked in a coffee shop for a while, then came to Seattle. Making the most of those years with a controller in his hand, Ball took a temp job at Nintendo providing customer support.

That evolved into a fulltime job providing customer support. If you call Nintendo’s toll-free support line, especially with a question about connecting your Wii to a Wi-Fi network, you may end up talking to Ball.

Nintendo’s communications group taps customer support workers to provide demonstrations, so Ball’s been getting paid to play and show games at conferences like E3 and Pax and on road trips like the holiday Airstream adventure.

Although the trailer has cushy upholstery, a stocked fridge and a nice A/V setup, the employees stayed in hotels on the road.

Ball said he still loves to watch people play games. I didn’t get an exact quote, though, because I couldn’t write with a Wiimote in my hand.

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