Front Lines, pt. II: A Thousand-Dollar Effort


The team was tired. It was close to three in the morning and the remnants of the night’s crunch food were still festering on the kitchen tables. A quart each of guacamole and sour cream sat untouched, waiting to be discarded.

“It’s a race,” the owner said suddenly, pointing to the condiments. “A thousand bucks to the guy who can finish his first.” Crass entertainment might have been the only goal, or it could have been something a little more sinister— a kind of inadvertent and spontaneous hazing ritual. This was a small group of people who worked hard for little pay but who were part of the proud Dallas first-person shooter lineage. The studio’s employees began gathering into the kitchen to see what the noise was about. Two programmers stepped forward and, on the mark, began to tip the containers of toppings into their mouths.

It was a mess, of course. The man who was gulping down the sour cream finished first, to the hooting and hollering of his co-workers. Then he paused, turned and regurgitated everything back up into a nearby trash can. The audience exploded and collapsed into hysterics. The owner paid him his one thousand dollars.

After something like that, any day is pretty much over. So the laughter died down and the team dispersed into the arid Texas night.

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