I'm happy just being a gamer. Let me start by saying that I'm not going to get into a debate about the term "Games Journalist", because that isn't relevant here; you know what I'm talking about. What I seek to do is to describe why being a games journalist is a shit job that I'd never want to undertake. To clarify a second time, I'm not suggesting that games journalists are terrible people or that they need to get "real jobs". On the contrary, I respect these people in a way similar to that which I respect blue-collar workers -- for taking on professions that improve my quality of life a great deal, professions that I could never take on myself. So let me detail to you the reasons why I could never be a games journalist.
It's because I could never be this cool.
I was perusing the front page of Destructoid the other day as I do every day (multiple times a day...) when I came across Jim Sterling's article on the Daily Mail's smear campaign against the new Call of Duty MW3 trailer
. It was just like any other article of its kind, though in this case the first thing that crossed my mind was the question of why this story was being covered. The Daily Mail, from what I have come to understand, is pretty well recognized as a tabloid publication, and so I'd think that this kind of false panic inducing article would be business as usual for the outlet. You may recall that the last time the Daily Mail pulled this kind of stunt it was spreading some pretty dire misinformation, so the criticism was relevant; this case seemed to be average tabloid fuckery by comparison. So why was Jim giving it attention? After pondering it for a while, the answer hit me in the face like an unpleasantly damp sponge: it's the man's job.
Games journalists are expected to cover news about games. Seems obvious, but I don't think that the implications of this fact are fully realized by many people. This means ALL of the news. All of it. Whether you like it or not. Whether it's about games you like, games you hate, or games you simply don't care about. Now I realize that this isn't the only reason why news of this kind is reported; sometimes the journalist simply cares quite a bit about the subject. In Jim's case, I know that he loves video games quite a bit, and I recall him expressing the sentiment that he loves video games so much
that he can't stand to sit on the sidelines when others take a shit on them. This is an attitude I respect and one that I think more journalists in general should have. But, like I said, I don't want to be a journalist. I want to play games.
What she thinks about WoW? Irrelevant!
GAMES FOR REVIEW
I want to play games. More importantly, I want to play games that I
want to play. The second woe of the games journalist, especially those in the lower ranks, is the game for review. When I sit down to play a game, I want to play something that I enjoy. What I enjoy though is very likely not the game that I'd be called on to write a review for. Instead of spending my free time playing the latest Hitman game or the next Super Meat Boy-quality game, I may find myself burning precious brain cells to slog through the latest iCarly title. This is much more relevant to those that get employed at large news outlets for lower ranking review jobs, but there are problems that I would have even in the higher echelons of the business. When reviewing a game, you are expected to play games thoroughly, completely, and sometimes in a very short span of time. I like to play games at my own pace, and to whatever level of completion I see fit, and so this could easily become a pain, especially when dealing with a high profile title that just happens to be total shit
. And god help you if you have a job writing game guides. God. Help. You.
So who wants to do the walkthrough for this one. Guys?
Being a gamer allows the freedom of playing the games that you want, when you want to, and to your liking. Not only that, but the fact that there are
people out there reviewing games gives you a leg up on what's good and what's ass. Just being a gamer is a pretty sweet gig; it saves a lot of work.
WRITING IS HARD
Do you have any idea how long it took me to come up with what I was going to write about here? Honestly, I still don't know what direction this blog is going in, I just know that it's something like this
, whatever this
is. What I'm saying is that I don't just want to do game reviews; that isn't my job and I don't want that job. Writing game reviews is hard. Expressing one's opinions in writing effectively is much more challenging than one would expect, and transforming that opinion into a numbered score that people are going to look at and take somewhat seriously as a metric for the game's value is an intimidating and baffling prospect. I don't even know if I want to talk very much about the industry, or more accurately, I'm not sure how
I want to talk about it. Much of the discussion seems so homogenous that I struggle to find an interesting angle or topic to discuss.
An interesting angle... Yea, whatever. I'd like to see you do better.
Want to know how I came up with this topic? I was scrolling through the C-Blogs, looking for some sort of inspiration I suppose, and it struck me that I didn't want to do game reviews or the standard industry commentary. That I didn't want to be a games journalist. That I very much enjoy being a gamer, and being in my position I find myself here. I am incredibly grateful to those at Destructoid. Without this site, I don't think I'd have retained the same interest in games that i have over such a long time. the people here work tirelessly to make my life that much more convenient, whether I notice it or not. Here are people that seem to spend more time researching and writing about video games than actually playing them (whether that is true or not) and to me that is an enormous sacrifice. I'm not saying that there are no upsides to the profession, let's not be ridiculous. There are certainly worse jobs to have, but those jobs don't often turn your hobby into your paycheck. If you still want to be a games journalist with all of the above to deal with, I salute you; you must be meant for the work and I wish you success.
I'm still not certain of what I will write here, but I think I've gained some clarity. When I first came to this site, one of the first things that I remember seeing was this:
And I couldn't be more glad to do that. Long Live Destructoid.