In the summers of my school years I delivered flowers, taught karate and once had a lemonade stand. But I never had a video game summer job. If I did, maybe I'd have imitated 14-year-old Giovanni Holmes.
Giovanni is running a video game website this summer. He's trying to turn it into a social network. And his dad is paying him nine Canadian dollars an hour to do it, for five hours a day, Monday through Friday.
Why'd he start this gig? "My dad wanted me to get a summer job."
What are his hours? "From when I wake up until five hours later."
Away from the shine of the sun, Giovanni Holmes has secured himself one terrific summer job.
He's done better than our own Luke Plunkett, who, in 2003 tolerated a single summer selling games at an Electronics Boutique.
He's got a more lucrative summer gaming gig than our own Brian Crecente did as a precocious kid, who spent the summer of '82 running an Atari arcade, charging other kids 10 cents to play a game, just a nickel if they could beat him (that's crafty of you, boss!).
Giovanni's video game summer job is arguably even healthier than that of our Michael McWhertor, who did a few summers working an arcade in Orlando where he says that in the process of repairing pinball machines he occasionally electrocuted himself.
Giovanni has a friend who is delivering newspapers this summer. Terrible! The friend's uncle is in the newspaper business. He's got friends who do babysitting. "I baby-sat once," Giovanni told me during a phone interview. "I don't hate it. If they're good kids it's not so bad."
Newspaper delivery and babysitting may be nice, but they are not the thing Giovanni describes the building of video game websites as: "a growing market." More people are playing games, he reasons, and more of them are reading about games on the Internet. Because of this, when Giovanni's dad was nudging him to think about a summer job way back in April, Giovanni decided to build on dad's own profession as a website designer and craft a site of his own about video games. Giovanni's a gamer, of course, with his very own Xbox 360 that overheats from time to time.
As spring turned to summer, Giovanni launched MoneyGamerz. He writes video game articles on it, based on news he picks up from sites like this one. He does that to keep people visiting, a necessary task to building a social network. The article writing is the hardest part, he told me. "If I get an idea from IGN or your website I won't copy the article word for word. I'll change the sentences around and make sure the article is my own."
The real purpose of the site, however, isn't to inform but to build a community of gamers. That's where the MoneyGamerz points system kicks in. Refer a friend to the site and get them to register. You wind up with points. Comment. You get points. Do this enough and you can cash those points in for free games or even consoles (you have to comment a lot for that.) This is not an easy plan to execute. Giovanni says his site currently has just 36 members and he hasn't thought through the economics of the points system, whether, should MoneyGamerz be a bigger hit than the average lemonade stand, he and his dad could afford to give everyone the consoles their points would earn them. "I'm not really obsessing over the numbers," he said. "I kind of want it to grow on its own."
Giovanni says he likes his video game summer job better than he thought he would and can see a future that has him working in the gaming market when he gets older. He was expecting this summer work stuff to not be much fun. Now he wants to work extra hours. With a pay scale like he's got, it beats mowing lawns.
Have you ever had a video game summer job? Tell us about it below.
PIC: Five year-old girl runs a lemonade stand in Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Bloomsburg Press Enterprise, Bill Hughes)