My life hasn’t really turned out the way I thought it would be.
Back when I graduated college, I thought I was going to be a video game journalist. I spent years cultivating the skill, having written hundreds if not thousands of video game news stories, features, reviews for over a dozen independent video game publications.
I even was briefly the editor of the defunct Indie Game Magazine and started my own publication. I covered events run by EA, Activison, and most major video game publishers. I wasn’t a professional in that I wasn’t making a consistent income writing about video games (although I’ve done professional technology journalism), but it always felt pretty close.
I’ve gone through the phases of my career as a video game journalist before on this blog, but I don’t think I ever really talked about how quitting made me feel.
Quitting at trying to be a video game journalist was a pretty shitty feeling. It happened abruptly, when I started another startup publication with some friends. It was kind of a backlash to my partner at Continue Play (the previous publication I had founded). Although we created a successful publication, we were butting heads about the direction it was going. Even successful is an operative word in video game journalism though, as getting traffic didn’t necessarily mean that we were making much money.
So, because of this, I left Continue Play with some friends to start a new publication. My tenure there though was short-lived. I wrote a lengthy article about Mass Effect 3, and was accused of plagiarizing the beginning bit of it. Although the situation was more nuanced than that, my friends promptly kicked me out of the site. It wasn’t really a betrayal as much as an inevitability, friendships based off low-stakes video game journalism was never going to last. But what surprised me was how quickly they were willing to toss me aside; all over video games.
For the most part, I haven’t really written about games since. That’s partly because of this incident, but also because continuing to try to be a video game journalist just wasn’t working for me anymore. It felt futile, and just isn’t a viable way to make a living, especially with the way journalism has gone because of the internet.
Because of this, most of the video game journalism on this blog has been content that I wrote in 2013-2014. Although I enjoy gaming more than I did when I was writing about games, I also travel a lot more and play games a lot less. It’s really unfortunate, because some of my best writing was from when I was a video game journalist.
The truth is that making a living as a video game journalist is hard. You need to compromise yourself somewhat, and just like any form of product journalist, it’s the companies you are covering that control all the access. Those considerations, of course, exist in any job in the digital era, but what bothered me about it was that it wasn’t the reason I wanted to be a video game journalist at all.
What appealed to me about being a video game journalist was using games as a medium to talk about culture and the world we live in. I know that sounds a bit pretentious, but games are a way that many people (myself included) experience the world. Games are where some of my biggest memories are from growing up, and they still often speak to me today.
Although being a video game journalist is obviously not as important to society as covering politics or world affairs, it felt more important to me. Every game, of course, needs a review, and every news piece needs to be reposted and repackaged from a press release. But the meat of what interested me in writing about video games is writing about the way they made me feel, and the way they helped explain the world to me. And conveying that to people felt like the most important thing of all.
I think I’m going to recapture that spirit and write more about games again. That’s not to say that I want to be a video game journalist. That ship has sailed. Besides, my life may not have turned out how I imagined it would, but it’s actually been a lot better. Being a marketing professional who travels the world with his fiancé and while producing comics books has been a better present than I could have possibly imagined.
But that present reality doesn’t really involve writing. I keep up this blog, of course, but I don’t really write anymore. I’d like to change that, and I think writing about games more will be a good start.
It turns out, I don’t actually need to be a video game journalist to write about games. I just need to want to do it.