We spoke with Alex Seropian recently as we sat down with him to discuss his latest project. For those of you not in the know, Alex is the Lead Programmer for The Sims series from Electronic Arts under Maxis Entertainment. We took the time to discuss with him about one of our favourite games of all time. And he gladly obliged, making our task much easier, or better yet, so enjoyable.
To give you a brief background, Alex started programming at the age of 11, when he got a desktop computer as a present from his grandma for his birthday. They young boy was ecstatic with the surprise gift. He never expected this from his grandma, but then again that’s how she always was-full of surprises.
Being a wide reader, he got around to reading programming books he borrowed from the library in school. He taught himself how to program and by age 13 he was able to make a simple program of a game similar to Jeopardy. He kept on writing program after program, with each new game an improvement of his previous efforts.
What follows is a brief excerpt of the exchange we had with Alex that afternoon.
NA: Hi Alex! Nice to see you again. Is Sims your biggest achievement so far?
AS: Hello. And thank you for inviting me here. I don’t like to take all the credit for the success of Sims. It was a very big project, obviously. And there was a big team behind it. I am fortunate to be part of that team. Being a Lead Programmer also helped in that aspect, so that every time we had a press conference, my team was recognized by our sales and marketing people. So I guess that’s how I got given credit more than I deserve, I’d like to believe.
NA: Working in such a big and complex environment, was it a challenge?
AS: Definitely yes! I mean we’d have developer’s meetings and after that we’d jump into the net room for a meeting with our designers, and then to the next meeting with our Narrative Copywriters, and so on. That’s how our normal days would look like. Meetings after meetings, it didn’t seem to end. But luckily for us, the project progressed along as we had expected it. There were some hitches, but nothing major that set us back in a big way. SO , we’re fortunate in that effect, if I may say so myself.
NA: What is the best part about your job?
AS: The best part of my job is coming to work every day, and facing challenges related to our project. That’s how we found out how resourceful and innovative we are as a group. We learned to depend on each other. We trusted each other. And in the end it all worked perfectly well for us. So, to answer your question, the best part about my job is working with people I consider my friends.
NA: What is the worst part?
AS: Well, sad to say, there are some bad apples in every barrel. Not that we hated people at work No, but instead what we did was weed out those bad apples, pleaded with them to change their ways, and gladly a lot of them obliged. Some are what you would call hopeless cases. Those ones we had to let go. In the end, they wanted to leave more than they wanted to stay. So it was a win-win situation for us. The bottomline is, love where you work and you will never grow tired working there. It’s worked out great for us. So, we’re not complaining.