We had an open position for quite a long time before we found Jesse, because the person in the producer role can ruin the team if they aren’t a good fit. They’re the connection holding the entire flying circus together. It was worth the wait to find someone with her dedication, her passion for getting it right and getting it done, and her wicked sense of humor. Here’s how Jesse came to be part of the Lab team. — Sanya
by Jesse Dunne
I was ten years old when Great Uncle Jim sent me an SNES for Christmas. I didn’t know anything about video games and, for a kid without cable TV, a console was a miracle. This would be the only console I owned for a long time, but the games are still with me. Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario Kart, Street Fighter II, Super Metroid, A Link to the Past, and Krusty’s Fun House are all games I remember vividly. Mom and I played Super Mario World together and sometimes I would catch her playing in the morning when I woke up for school (she worked the night shift). We were both hooked. 20 years later, I still have my SNES. It still fires up; you just gotta blow out the dust.
I played some games here and there as I was growing up (Sim City, Myst, Pokemon) but it wasn’t until graduating high school that I really went all out. My best friend and Pokemon rival was (and still is — hi Stephen!) seriously into video games. He owned every console and when we and some friends moved in together, my childhood passion for video games was rekindled. We had a TV dedicated 24 hours to Animal Crossing. Four-player Power Stone or TimeSplitters 2 showdowns. DDR. Taking turns at Eternal Darkness, scaring ourselves silly.
It wasn’t until I started working QA at Sega that the realization sunk in that people make these games. But how could I make games?
Stephen’s mom mentioned DigiPen to me, and after some research I knew I *had* to go. My family needed a lot of convincing that a degree in Video Game Programming (BS in RTIS) wasn’t just fun and games.
Seriously, though, DigiPen kicked my butt. It was a hard mix of a huge course load, hard classes and brilliant peers. I realized during that time that guiding, empowering, and facilitating teams was something I enjoyed, and found hugely rewarding. I made it out the other side with a deep understanding of the hard work that goes into making games, a fondness for the people who make up their teams, and a return of free time to play games.
Undead Labs had been on my short list of “dream companies” because of the culture, their drive to make amazing games, and their dedication to fans. When a friend told me the Lab was hiring a producer, I knew it was time. I applied, and after a few interviews, I was sold on the fact that this was a place I needed to work. Luckily, they felt the same way, so excite.
These days, I’m playing: State of Decay, Fallout 4, Rocket League, and Clash of Clans. I can’t wait until we can show you what we’re working on next.