My first day at a real job — something in my field of study, journalism, and not a retail position — was actually a paid internship at a newspaper. The moment I walked in on my first day also marked my first time seeing an actual newsroom in action. My expectations were shaped by television series, movies, and my personal experience working for the school paper — the latter was simply a university computer lab, trashcans overflowing with crushed Red Bull cans and empty coffee cups. A group of seniors would drop by once a week to scour the room for these precious recyclables in order to earn more beer money.
I had expected a high pressure environment — and later learned exactly when the pressure would come, towards the midnight rush — but was met with a fairly dingy corner in an old building. To this day I don’t know if this particular setting was limited to the sports section, or if the rest of the newsrooms were similar environments because I never saw them. Our windows faced the downtown shopping area, which we could look down upon from three stories up. The same low ceilings and florescent lights that characterized the computer lab were also present in the newsroom, but desks were much closer and piled with files, papers, and various office supplies. A television that was permanently tuned to ESPN was mounted to the wall next to a small, sealed office that had been placed haphazardly in the corner of the room. This is where my boss worked, although it offered little to no privacy as the large glass windows made it easy for us to look in. More often than not, he kept the door open, or would come out and sit on the opposite side of one of our desks.
New Game! might not be the most realistic interpretation of a game company, but it nails the small worries that accompany a first day on the job. Aoba Suzukaze’s first day at Eagle Jump is fraught with misunderstandings, understandable nervousness, and awkward situations that you wish would remain in the high school lunchroom until you realize that certain things don’t automatically become easier with age.
My own first day was full of these things. In lieu of a formal introduction, one of the senior staff writers — M, who also was an adjunct faculty member at my school and a large reason why I received this internship — introduced me before taking me to Boss’s office.
Boss was somehow both stern and lax, a bit like Kou Yagami in New Game! — minus the fanservice, of course. As previously mentioned, we could easily see into his office from the newsroom, and Boss would frequently hang out in the newsroom when unoccupied. I was given a small desk, a computer, and shown how to scan the Associated Press newswire for stories. Next to M’s desk, there was a large office printer/fax machine/copier and small wire basket below. Whenever one of us received an e-mail of a press release or local event, we were to print it out. One of my main tasks as an intern was to sort through these releases and identify which events we would cover, in addition to the usual local news of the minor league baseball team among other things.
“I wouldn’t last if I stayed overnight every night.”
Kou Yagami, New Game!, Episode 1
Unlike my expectation of a newsroom, things were rather slow during most of the official office hours until it came down to the 11 p.m. crunch time. Much of our work was done outside the office, covering events or doing interviews in our “off” time, something that New Game! also touches upon when Kou’s co-workers tease her for not staying late, which she presumably does often. Even as a lowly intern, my work life became my life, for better or for worse. Yet, when I left on that first day, and didn’t get home until around 1 a.m., I felt oddly revitalized.
The first episode of New Game! has its highs and lows. While I love the idea of an all-female game development team, the cynical side of me says that it’s more to sell another series of cute girls doing things — this time around, it’s making video games. However, the less cynical side of me recognizes newbie Aoba Suzukaze’s struggle to introduce herself to her superiors, anxiety about knowing less than others and how to ask for help, and above all, her genuine love of what she does, especially when she learns that she’ll be working on the continuation of a game that inspired her.