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Success is a man jumping over a cliff and hopefully not falling to his death while the sun sets.
This might be one of the more ironic blogs the C-Blogs has seen if you don't count the odd "this site sucks and you guys are idiots" post that creeps up every now and again. See, I've been here quite awhile both lurking and writing, and I still check the site every day. This is where I got my footing for a short time as a "games blogger enthusiast" which is the appropriate thing to call yourself when you feel like using the term "journalist" but aren't making a dime. The C-Blogs taught me what it was like to have an audience cling to your every word, and lavish you with praises. Or tear you a new asshole like a psychotic grizzly bear, depending on the quality of your work. But what it also eventually taught me is that writing wasn't really for me; at least not in the way I had always envisioned it.
I was one of those weirdo kids who sat in the back of the room and doodled and wrote dumb little baby stories about space aliens and monsters. The kind of kid whose imagination was bigger than his common sense. And it never really payed off. I was told it was alright to dream big, but when you are in your twenties and not really doing anything except playing video games and smoking weed, you start to question the padded lavishness of your own sheltered existence. You start looking at your strict-ass stepdad who nearly tossed your shoes on the highway one day just for leaving them on the floor mat as being pretty rational. Dreams are great to have, but when they start fucking with your every day life, it becomes a bit of a nightmare.
See what I did there? Trying to be clever.
The first time I ever had an audience for my writing was on internet forums. The first time I ever got praise for my work from anyone besides my mom was on the internet. Faceless people on the internet writing positive things about my work. But it was more than enough to kickstart my ego.
If you look at Lulu, or Amazon, you might find thousands of horribly awful books written by nobodies selling for ten dollars or more. Maybe mom or dad put a few five star reviews under them in an effort to bolster sales, or the ego of their precious loved ones. Can anyone blame them? The answer is yes, but the point is, in the age of the internet, everyone is a star. You can write your fanfiction of Dumbeldore fucking Chewbacca or whatever and someone out there will actually read it. In fact, a lot of the time, it's not even worth going through the traditional channels of publishing in order to have your work be seen because with a bit of buzz and know how, it seems like just about anyone can get their dirty fingers in the Paypal moneypit and sell their magnum opus, "A Hundred Ways to Slice Tomatoes" without any real struggle at all. Maybe just to their friends and loved ones, but at the very least, it's usually enough to inspire the inevitable "Part 2" and encourage them to drone on and on to everyone about how they are now a "published" author.
The blog world is affected similarly. When I first found about Destructoid, it was like finding a goddamn infinity stone. I felt invincible. My long never-read blogs about gaming and the discouraging lack of readership that came along with them were no longer a reality. The first couple of posts I made were mediocre attempts, but even having just one or two "faps" was more interaction than I'd had in a long time regarding my writing.
It was like a taste. But the real dose was in my very near future. And that's what had me hooked.
I posted a thing about some things, and in a day, I had a huge response. Multiple tens of faps. Tons of encouraging comments. More pats on the back than that creepy uncle gave Timmy.
I was unstoppable.
After that, every post was a victory. Even if they fell on deaf ears, I was still not discouraged. Angered maybe, to the point of argument, but it helped teach me what people liked and what they didn't like. So I kept writing.
Sometimes I'd let everything else slip away while I wrote. I would skip laundry, or dishes. I wouldn't get my things done. I was "working," you see. Working to pay the bills. The ego bills, that is.
Eventually I pissed people off and realized that I didn't like confrontation much. I was a bit of a social viper in a way. I would feed off of the praise of others, but would turn around and think of them as "idiots" the second they became maybe too critical of me. It's just about the worst thing you can do because having an audience of any kind is a hard fought thing. But for as hard as I thought I worked to entertain people and enjoy the praise that came along with it, it was really nothing compared to people putting themselves out their to the ire and hatred of thousands. And in this sometimes unfortunate community of gamers in general, even to death threats and insults.
I guess I began to get discouraged because the gaming community at large became my weird, pseudo-life. But at the end of it, I didn't have a friend to hang out with and play Street Fighter. The dozens of people I thought I knew lived in the States, or in Italy, or wherever. They knew me by username alone, and the second I failed to continue writing, the second the "glory train" would end.
So while I was bittered and initially critical of the idea of a quick success story that came as a result of the internet at large, I came to realize that ultimately, you'd get out what you put in. And unlike the people slaving their balls off and trying to really, REALLY be successful as writers, I was just pretty lazy about the whole thing. I'd pound stuff out real quick, not really edit it or be too concerned if it was shit. Just as long as people kept seeing my name, I thought, that was what really mattered. Quantity over quality.
When I figured out that there was no quick solution, that despite my initial feelings, the successful journalists, and authors out there really did have to put in an enormous effort to stay relevant and be successful on a level past "enthusiast", I got discouraged. Because writing was just kind of a thing I did. I had a natural knack for it, though was not talented or dedicated enough to stand out among the thousands of other people doing the exact same thing I was.
But before I get to doom and gloom, here...
It ended up being a revelation that worked to my advantage. I had always said "I want to be a writer, because I'm not good at anything else." But when life threw me lemons, I went out and bought a bunch of tools and became a plumber. Now I'm well into the first year of my apprenticeship and have found something else I enjoy and am comfortable doing. It's also something I will eventually profit off of. So while I still enjoy writing, I have realized my own limitations. I will never be willing to put my face on the net, or sacrifice the wee hours of the night to reach deadlines on a piece. I will never feel compelled to proof read or edit, or redo.
I'm not a writer. I'm just a guy who likes writing.
So for all that, I actually attribute Dtoid as a place that gave me wings to fly. Not as a writer, and not as a kickstart to my career as a journalist. It gave me a taste of the reality of what that requires, and told me, "You aren't good enough for that.
Maybe you could be, someday.
But not today.
Because you aren't willing to sacrifice.
You aren't willing to learn, or change.
And that makes you inadequate."
Rather than killing my self esteem, that thought gave me a bit of relief. It took the pressure off. Because just as important as "following your dreams" is understanding your limits and saying, "do I want to push it? Do I want to overcome the hurdles in my way?"
And saying "no" is okay. Because I may not be a journalist, or an author, but I have found SOMEthing. Even if it took a really long time. I became successful in my own mind, regained my confidence after two years of utter abysmal bullshit, and the seed was planted with the intention of becoming a game journalist. It just mutated somewhere along the way.
Last night I wake up with sleep paralysis. It's midnight but it feels like I've been sleeping all night. And I can't stop thinking about how I flushed, like, 120 bucks down the shitter because I just HAD to choose the RIGHT soccer game for me.
When did I even start liking soccer? I had a neighbour once. I guess that's no surprise to anyone. But I knew he was a soccer fan because he wore a Dropkick Murphys sweater. In Canada there is this weird thing people do where they pretend to be European or whatever. "My great grandfathers uncles cousins dog was a scotty dog, so I guess I'm Scottish." People find pride in weird places.
I found work. The kind of work where you don't have time for anything else. The kind of work that equalizes masturbation time with actual sex, instead of keeping it in an unhealthy 9:1 ratio. I'm writing this and my fucking arm is getting tired because my keyboard muscles, possibly the most useless of all the human muscles, has basically atrophied. The last time I wrote anything was my resume, and it was just lightly edited from a template I have had since I was 14. Probably originally in Word Perfect format.
The last four months I've been coming home, eating, sleeping. And maybe taking a poo. Which is always going to be a little ironic since the time I spend in a bathroom now takes up a significant portion of my day as a plumber. I grew up playing Mario, and now I'm finally living the dream. Except Mario's real enemies should have been small dogs and wary stay at home moms who don't trust you in their homes. And there was nothing cheap about the infrastructure of the Mushroom Kingdom, especially those big copper pipes. Do you know how much that stuff is worth? If I was a smarter man, I'd spend my time breaking into C Cans on construction sites and selling the pilfered scrap metal.
But I'm a coward.
I started to get into sports about the same time I discovered Tecmo Super Bowl on the NES. Video games actually introduced me to sports. If you had asked me what my favorite hockey team was I would have said something like "The New England Handjobs" before proceeding to make an obscene gesture with a half clenched fist. Now I record Darts on my PVR because at the end of the day, my book shelf full of occult philosophy and my collection of David Lynch films are exhausting to even think about. I just don't want to use my brain anymore. It's tired. It's fat. It needs a fucking break.
So I go down to Wal-Mart to pick up the brand new Pro Evolution Soccer because I had the one from a few years ago and remember it being fun. I have Destiny and it's not bad. RPG's are a hassle. My collection of sports games are starting to build. You know, for those nights when just passively watching and raising a half baked fist in victory when goalie in your hockey pool has a shut out just aren't involving enough.
The guy behind the counter is a fraud. His meaty thumbs are poking at a mobile game that looks like Journey had an Angry Birds and Flappy Bird sandwich and shit it out into a mold shaped like Luigi. I've become less socially awkward dealing with construction guys who draw pictures of dicks in port-a-potty walls all day so I look at the one girl there who is bombarded by three rednecks buying a television with the extra warranty and say, "Can this fella help me?" He stands up and rolls his eyes with a little smirk and walks away as she tells me "he's not in this department." But all I hear is my own voice screaming back to me "I HATE THIS PLACE." as I picture him getting knocked over gently by a Mercedes Sprinter into a ditch, his flabby torso folding in two as-
They don't have Pro Evolution Soccer. Actually, they don't have anything. They don't have the Maleficent movie my wife asked me to buy her. They don't have soy sauce. They don't have fucking garbage bags. I've been driving around all week. I'm tired of this shit.
I go to my local EB Games and find out my manager from fourteen years ago who I have seen at least once a year has escaped the clutches of the business. He's replaced by a youngster. I'm getting old. A few years ago, that guy would have been my age. I'm going to be thirty in two short years. My old boss has left for the oil business. He went from games to oil and gas. That's what kind of city Calgary has become.
They have the game. I get it home and start playing it and am immediately bombarded with arcane menus and dozens of confusing button combinations. I am trying the skills challenge and for a half hour wrestling to pull off a single trick before I realize I'm using the wrong joystick. I put a dozen matches in before trying to hop online and it doesn't work.
It just won't connect at all.
Normally this wouldn't bother me. "They'll patch it up soon." But I've become THAT guy. The guy who gets a Saturday off like, once a millenium. And it's just a few short hours without kids. And I spent the first hour eating pulled pork, napping, and masturbating, all in an alternating cycle. And I go to sit down with my new game and relax in an online match and it doesn't even fucking work.
Weekend ruined. It's like being five and being able to rent one game for the weekend, and the game is Ghosts and Goblins on the NES and it's so hard it makes you cry.
So I'm fuming! I go back to the first store that sucked ass, but they have Fifa. Sure it takes twenty minutes to find someone to help me. Sure she fucks up and gives me the game to take up to the front of the store and the guy gives ME shit and says "you aren't supposed to be able to bring this up here." Look, this isn't Minority Report asshole. I only considered stealing it for a second.
But I was too much of a coward.
I look at my collection of games and feel a little like a kid putting his toys in a box. Like, I feel bad because I know I just don't have time for any of them anymore. An hour or two of plot before gameplay begins is like taking a journey through the Tibet to find God. It's exasperating. I'm the guy who sits in his dirty work pants and grunts now. I'm the guy who'd probably be okay with Call of Duty if I wasn't too lazy to go out and buy it. Like a musician leaving the scene and telling fake stories about how he was there with RUSH when they recorded 2112, I'm a gaming fraud. I know what Dwarf Fortress is, but I'd immediately have an aneurism and die if I even attempted to play it.
In conclusion, FIFA 15 and PES 15 both make me a little sad.
But FIFA 15 is way better.