So, despite appearances, these guys aren't goofing off in front of a computer screen. They're hard at work.

Or maybe not. Taking into account Porter's obsessive enthusiasm for his work, made obvious by the unmade cot in his office, and John Carmack's coding into the night, this is more than a job to these guys. Asking about hobbies or outside interests is pointless. Their job is their hobby; and their hobby is their life. They're like ice-cream gourmets who earn their living creating new flavors.

The booming gun blasts and screams of monsters continue, as the game testers yet again rid earth of alien invaders who want to mate with our women. They're hard at play so others will be less inclined to be hard at work.

Dallas free-lance writer Howard Wen is a frequent contributor to Wired magazine and has written for VideoGames magazine.

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