Before I even begin this post, I'm going to start with a blunt disclaimer: I am an insular person, with a more introverted way of approaching social situations. I tend to only select a close few people as good friends, and as I get older and watch people change with different life situations - I find my social circle becoming smaller and smaller. My partner is of course, my best friend and has been for the past seven years (yeah, I'm getting pretty old but at 31 I still consider myself comparatively young in the modern age of gamers. I worked a stint training people during the 2010 Census and met a guy in his 60's who was obsessed with Assassin's Creed. He was kinda my hero in a way.)
However, when I chose to start writing for Destructoid, I was drawn to the community and I still am. Even though I don't show my face around the forums enough or go out to enough community events, I still consider myself a strong part of the Destructoid community, even among the trolls and haters.
Which is why it feels weird to me that as I spend more time writing (auto correct changed that to "doing rioting"...that works too I guess) for the site, I feel more alienated from the core group, the real personalities of Dtoid.
This doesn't mean I dislike any of Dtoid. I've spent time with Dale, Hamza, Max, Tara, Conrad, Jordan, Niero, and of course many of the interns like myself. They're all incredibly talented and motivated people. Honestly, the alienation may mostly spring from my own struggles with what I want to prioritize in life and how that is perceived by others and how I juggle with my priorities constantly.
If my priorities in life were in a list, they'd go something like this:
1. Family. This includes my partner, my mother and stepfather, my siblings including my twin who I game with from time to time, and my closest friends. I have a lot of family and I spend as much of my time with them as I can, because life is short and often unfair, and the closest people in one's life can easily disappear forever. An example of this is my Aunt Barbara, who retired to Green Valley, Az after years of living near me in Walnut Creek, years that I spent not getting back to her about getting together for some fun. I spent one wonderful week of summer with her in Arizona where she drank me and my partner under the table and showed me that she had kept the whole magic eye 3d hidden images collection I once gave her when I was 8, and the next summer she passed away due to complications from simply falling down the wrong way. After that, family has become the highest priority in my life.
2. Video games. Not just playing them but appreciating them at a deeper level. I used to program my own games with QBasic (yeah, I know, it's the simpleton's version of c++ et al), and I got such a thrill out of creating games with actual objectives, like one I made once where your little dot represented a bank robber and you had to outrun other little dots, who were the cops. I actually created a pretty damn good AI routine for the cops if I do say so myself. My IT military buddy Nathan recently told me that he always considered me the better programmer, and that was a huge compliment coming from him. That was when I was maybe 11 years old though. I haven't touched code beyond simple HTML since then. I'm a total idiot to that stuff now. But the point of all that tangential information is this: I think video games are as important to creatively minded people as art or movies or comic books are. Anyone with even the slightest hint of an imagination needs to feed that constantly, or they might go mad. Video games can provide a form of imaginative escapism to those who play them and a wonderful outlet for amazing bursts of creativity for those who make them.
3. Figuring out what the f**k I'm doing in school. I currently am attending city college with a cumulative 3.8 gpa and at least a couple years worth of credits at this point. I tell everyone I'm going to school to transfer back to state, where I started years ago(long story there, tl;dr drama) and eventually become an elementary school teacher. The more I take classes that have anything to do with teaching, the more discouraged and uninterested in this goal I become. I've taught before in various places including summer camps and the aforementioned Census Bureau job, and I do enjoy teaching... But I'm not sure I want to do this so I'm constantly considering other opportunities...hence why I wanted to write in a more professional manner for Destructoid. But as I continue to write for the site when I have time to do so, I know with everything I'm juggling that my freelancing comes across as a hobby and everything else I'm doing comes across as "real life" even though that couldn't be further from the truth. I know this because Hamza even recently referred to my 'outside of Dtoid' needs as such in an email.
Which brings me to 4. "Real Life" - or my current job, the same slowly soul-draining industry I've worked on and off in for the past decade, the restaurant industry, as a restaurant server. The more I continue to work in this industry, the more I dread the days I actually have to work, even when I have a flexible enough schedule that I can generally take days off when I want to. The monotony of the same shit, different day just tires me out and I find no challenge in it. The money is decent, that's it.
I face a struggle in my life constantly, where one part of me wishes I could commit to "video games jernalizm" whole hog, but because my number 4 priority takes precedence since it pays the rent and my number 1 priority tends to take up a good chunk of my free time, I'm forced to dabble from time to time and then with whatever remaining free time I have, play some video games and appreciate what they bring to my life.
Which brings me around to the whole alienation thing I started this blog post on. Gamers have a stereotype associated with them of being introverts. The core Dtoid group couldn't be further from this old stereotype, at least not what I've know of them. Yet weirdly, I often feel like the "other" around the Dtoid group, and certainly not because of stupid shit like my sexual orientation. My job forces me to be an extrovert, and I can be a social butterfly easily with other restaurant servers. Hell, small talk fuels that particular industry, because we'd all shoot ourselves if we couldn't all joke, vent and unwind.
Yet when I've spent time with Dtoid core members, I know I don't always come across the right way. It's sort of the same thing as when I work directly with developers and PR people of games versus when I'm at a big event like GDC or some big party thrown by PR of a game company.
When it's just me and the devs, it's this professional environment where I feel a connection to the developers and their games. I get what they're driving at, I know on a personal level from an earlier age how it feels to develop something you find truly awe-inspiring, that an audience will appreciate.
When it's a larger crowd or anywhere that small talk is needed and it involves fellow journalists and gamers, I lose that connection somehow. Not because I don't know my shit when it comes to games - hell, I work with servers where half the time we're just wasting the hours by chatting at a side station about how amazing that trailer for Dishonored looked or whether or not steam punk is overdone. In fact, I plan to do a podcast with a fellow restaurant worker soon that should involve a discussion on sci-fi in games.
I've been writing for Destructoid on and off for almost a year now. I've wanted more than anything to feel closer to the core group, but for some reason I feel further and further away. I think the main issue may be with myself, but I wonder sometimes if all gamers are just intrinsically introverted and that I'll never feel a deeper connection with Dtoid or the community at large because of this.
I missed out on E3. There was no room for me to stay in any hotels with the core group. Fine. I'm an intern, there's limited room, I get it. I could have maybe stayed with some friends in LA. Hell, I grew up in Orange County. My friend Christina is an assistant to some producer in Hollywood and she and I go way back...but she was just getting back from New York and I didn't want to impede upon that. Not to mention the fact I promised the next time I made it to LA I'd let her give me a tour of the town. Obviously, E3 craziness would bar me from that.
But you know something? I felt a very real and literal depression that I wasn't working E3. Video games are honestly a huge part of my life and I was bummed that I wasn't being put to task for one of the biggest gaming events of the year. I know it was partly my own fault, but I did feel a sense of alienation from the group, and I knew it partly came from my own actions preceding E3. Namely in that I've been treating Destructoid like a part time hobby, when the truth of the matter is that the whole culture of game is undeniably a huge part of my identity, so much so that I struggle to compromise with everything else I juggle.
So I guess the point is, from this moment forward I'm going to make an honest attempt to include myself more, starting at the very least with more community blog posts that aren't half-baked attempts to ape other much better humor writers like those who write for Cracked, etc.
I love games and yet I don't write on a personal level about them enough. I'm going to try to change that and hope that I can find a way to feel a kinship with the community that doesn't involve trolling fellow gamers and/or journalists.