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Hopefully my question will be suitable for this site.

So, there is this online game I am an active player for a few years (I still play as an adult); I love the game but it has been getting worse and worse with time. There are a few glitches that for some reason they haven't fixed for more than two years. I am a computer programmer with knowledge in that field, and sometimes I imagine how I would love to work for them so I could fix those things.

I am aware that this is real life, and there must be a reason the company didn't fix those glitches (maybe they are short in money? maybe they are prioritizing other areas? sadly they aren't transparent to the users on what they're doing - we [players] don't know if they plan on fixing those glitches anytime soon).

Most of the time I think that this idea of working for them is just a joke and won't really happen, that I should stick with real life and forget about this. But then I decided to ask here, maybe I can get some advice.

The thing is I do believe those glitches can't be that hard to fix; I believe I am capable of doing it.

Sadly there are a lot more struggles as well:

  • The company owns many online games, not just this one.
  • My programming knowledge is self-taught, I don't have any certificates.
  • I live in another country (this is the worst one), hundreds of miles away of their physical address.

I was wondering if I have any chances of doing anything to help (the most part of me says that it's obviously impossible, but I decided it shouldn't hurt to ask). I would like to temporarily work for them, to fix those specific glitches and then leave; shouldn't take more than two months (I think). I would love that so much, that I wouldn't be asking any payment. I would like to volunteer to do that.

How to approach the company being serious? Should I wait until I travel to their country before contacting them? Should I forget about this and do not contact them at all? Is it too much to consider the possibility of working at home, from my country? Does volunteering to such a thing seem too weird and will make them avoid me? How to show them I am being serious?

Extra notes: this is a massive multiplayer game, and fixing those glitches would be good not only to me but to all players. I, and many other players, believe that fixing those glitches could drastically improve the interest in the game and attract more players. Although most people consider it a "kids game", there are many adult players that would love to see an improvement just like me - though the vast majority of them doesn't have any computer programming knowledge.

Thanks for any help, hopefully my question isn't too broad and is suited to Workplace.SE.

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    You could contact them and say you're interested in opportunities for an unpaid internship with them. However, even if they agree, they may have other priorities besides fixing those glitches. Just because you're volunteering doesn't mean you get to chose what they prioritize. – Brandin Jun 6 '15 at 16:33
  • I liked the idea of thinking this as an internship. Thanks! – Pedro A Jun 7 '15 at 13:17
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    If someone contacted me to "work from home" on my profitable MMO, I would hear "Please send me the source code so I can set up my own server." Keep in mind if the code isn't open source already, the company will likely be leery of just giving anyone access. For good reason, too. – thunderblaster Jun 8 '15 at 21:31
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This is unlikely to be about lack of resources. It's probably just an issue of priority. From what you said the company can either:

Take an entire developer two months to fix a bug on a game that is many years old

OR

Use that developer to develop a new game or new features

Given the lifecycle of most online games it's unlikely that fixing that bug will gain them any new customers, whereas building a new game or improving recent games might.

Your proposition essentially assumes they don't have time or money to fix the bug. You can volunteer for them (money) but that will still cost them time. Someone needs to interview you, train you, review your work, etc. That all costs time, which the company has little incentive to spend on this game.

This is all taking at face value your assumptions that the issue CAN be fixed easily. As a developer you should know how opaque situations can be from the outside. Sometimes a seemingly simple bug can lead you down a path that is far away from where you started and deep within the system. Especially for code that is many years old, decisions were made that can have a ripple effect. You don't know the situation at all. It could be easy to fix or it could mean a rewrite of the whole thing. The people who wrote that code may not even be with the company any more. It's really not as simple as taking on a contractor for a couple of months to go looking for trouble spots.

Given all of this what should you do?

There is no harm is reaching out to the company. Contact them, tell them the issue, and what you want to achieve. I would treat it the same as applying for a job. Your location, etc. is entirely company dependent. It's certainly not uncommon to have contractors who are in other countries, but not all companies use them.

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    Let me add this. Just because someone is offering to do something for free doesn't mean that a company will accept them for reasons other than pure code issues. Why? First, national regulations. Second, company policies. Third, middle managers wouldn't trust you with their code. Fourth, all of these 3 things would create an environment where it would be typically difficult to do something as you were wanting to do. – Agamemnus Jun 6 '15 at 22:19
  • Thank you Bowen. Great answer. Thanks @Agamemnus as well, that's why I thought it wouldn't work out, but it seems it won't hurt to try. – Pedro A Jun 7 '15 at 13:16
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    There's the added complexity that you might inadvertently break existing functionality when fixing bugs, which would cost them both time and money to identify and repair. – Eric Jun 8 '15 at 16:29

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