After a little over a year's hiatus I have returned to the Destructoid Blog fold. Despite how thinly-spread my writing efforts have become, I still sometimes feel the need for a canvas in which I can sloppily splash the paint of my thoughts upon in hopes to have something resembling a thing.
So who am I? Right now I'm a writer over at GamersWithJobs, a blogger, a YouTuber and a Podcaster. I specialize in games analysis and criticism, and would like to use the Destructoid blog to share in some of my experiences working on these projects.
Note that I will be linking things I've been working on, but I will do so with the intent of embellishing on thoughts unsaid or detailing some of the work for any interested in also being content providers. Perhaps some of my experiences can help you out along the way.
First, while this is related to things that are part of the game world, it is technically a more personal blog. As such, if I should add "NVGR" to the title, just let me know and I'll do so.
Second, before I get started, I just wanted to give a big thank you to Mr. Andy Dixon for promoting my blog Fat on Games. I checked in on Twitter real quick Thursday morning before heading out to Escapist Expo and @sezonguitar had sent a message complimenting me on my article. I check the front page and lo and behold, there it is. When I got back from the expo I finally had a chance to sit down and go through the comments, and I was stunned. Of the 70 some comments, none of them were an outright insult. None of them were trashing my thoughts or complaining about the sort of content Destructoid promotes (which I've seen in the past). It was overwhelmingly positive.
So I want to thank each and every one of you for that. I don't know how, but it does matter...and will tie in later to this blog, actually.
Now then, to the topic.
I like to be introspective. I like to try and figure out why I behave a certain way, particularly so I can improve on my flaws. I've been a jerk in the past, for example, and I've tried to be much more considerate as a result. It's a work in progress. When my ex-girlfriend and I broke up I discovered (though actually became aware of it all too late) that I am the strong jealous type. It's an awfully hard habit to break oneself of, even after being aware of it.
In truth, though, I can't always explain things. Or if I do, they sound awfully trite. My siblings and I grew up in one of those shitty small towns where sports are the important thing. Well, if you were a boy. My brother and I sucked at sports, but my sister was actually a rather good soccer player. Yet for some reason all three of us were outcast, and because we had young parents thrown into a marriage and parenthood they weren't ready for they "done fucked up", as the Ivory Tower sorts might say. This has left all three of us with a desperate need to be loved.
See? It's the sort of origin you expect to find in the journal of a thirteen year old that really, really likes Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Yet for as long as I can remember I've dreamed of a sort of "off stage" fame. I never wanted to be the actor or anything of that sort. I wanted to be the famous creator. I had dreams of my comics published across the country, or films I wrote becoming major award winning pieces of cinema. Or as I approached high school and early College, I had dreams of standing up on stage at E3, demonstrating my latest game design. In any event, I had always dreamed of standing in front of everyone, saying "Here is my latest creation, I am so excited to share it with you".
These dreams have been dashed, smashed and crashed head first repeatedly, though most often by my own short-sightedness or bad habits. I spent years in elementary, middle and early high school wanting to be a comic artist as an adult, yet I chose to try and be a games programmer instead (and I didn't even want to program; I wanted to design games, but all the advice online at the time said you had to start as a programmer...two years later, all the advice said you could start as anything and later become a designer.).
I gave up on my dream of making games, but simultaneously discovered that I enjoyed writing. In fact, I had been writing about games as a simple hobby for a long time. After taking a Journalism minor in College and spending some time as a writer for Wii60.com (I'll gladly tell that entire story another time), I decided I wanted to be a games critic. Not a reviewer, a critic. I didn't want to merely give consumer advice. I wanted to break down and analyse games as an art form. I wanted to take what I learned in a lot of my human factors and software design classes and apply them to how I viewed and dissected games.
Let me pause a moment to realize just how much more I'm writing than I had originally anticipated. I was supposed to be well into the point by now.
In any case, for almost a year after I graduated College I was unemployed. During that time I tried to get typical white collar work, but I was still dreaming of getting into games writing. I joined game journalist "social networks" that weren't really filled with any major journalists, just other amateur hopefuls such as myself. I did some news writing for GamersHell.com and quickly learned that I hate writing news articles. I joined GamersDailyNews and swiftly learned that I cannot stand writing previews. You cannot dissect a preview. You can't write out thoughts about what is and isn't working because it is an unfinished product. A preview is literally marketing material, and I wanted to provide feedback. Yet a lot of readers don't view it that way. If you give a laundry list of problems, readers remember that, and next thing you know you have an almost different game that sells poorly because of one shitty preview build six months ago.
Where did that leave me? Where everyone else that wants to write about games ends up. Sort of. Whenever I discussed reviews with other wannabe writers, it astounded me how little thought was really put into the process. I had been trying to figure out what works and what doesn't for years, trying to perfect the balance between entertainment and being informative. I felt like an asshole because the work of my peers was boring to me. I just wanted to go in and scratch stuff out, give recommendations for how to spice it up, and to tell them to stop writing as if they're looking past the keyboard to their notes with all the bullet points to hit.
All the while, throughout College, I still tried a side hobby of doing a comic of my own. Simultaneously, I tried really hard to inject some real effort into writing it, making it funny. Sometimes ideas I found hysterical fell flat with the audience, other times I wish I could just tear certain strips off the Internet forever, and then there were the slew of comics that others thought were awesome.
So what's all this come to? Well, basically, I feel like there are two versions of myself, and both of them sat on my shoulders this Escapist Expo.
Let me pause again to count how many paragraphs it took for me to actually get to the point... Unless I miscounted, fourteen paragraphs and one sentence. If you're still around, well, I don't know what's got you so bored, but thanks for reading.
Anyway, I was already feeling good about heading to Escapist Expo. I was a bit worried due to the small size that it would turn into another VGXPO or GameX (both failed gaming shows in the Philadelphia area), but I was so wanting to support a gaming show on the East Coast aside from just PAX East. Two gaming conventions a year? How delightful!
This emotional high was only boosted by @sezonguitar's comments and my article being front-paged here. I was completely stunned. Then I got an e-mail from YouTube notifying me that some random guy thinks some anime music video I made back in high school is the best thing on their website. I don't understand why, but okay! I've been getting compliments on my artwork a lot lately, my writing was front-paged, someone likes my video from ten years ago and I'm going to Escapist Expo! Nothing can go wrong!
Which was true the first two days. Friday and Saturday were an incredible blur of meeting new people, getting to briefly speak with Jim Sterling in the hotel hall while the Carolina D20 Girls danced the Gangnam Style, getting drunk with a slew of expo goers and MovieBob in my room, and various moments of chilling with Cory Rydell and the D&D Sluggers, so on and so forth. It was just an all around fantastic time.
Two things ruined Sunday for me, though. The first was losing my voice. I tell you, screaming your lungs out at a nerd-themed Burlesque show on Friday and then at a concert on Saturday is not the best idea during a convention. Also: tea does NOT help heal a bad throat. I looked it up on Google. Drink lots of water or ingest honey some other way, but tea will hinder, not help.
In any event, the voice loss was just a gateway for that one horrible voice on my shoulder. My insecurities.
Remember that I said my siblings and I all want to desperately be loved by others. Well, this manifests differently in each of us. They tend to be obnoxious or emotionally violent, and their tempers flare when people refuse to accept them at their worst. Me, I am my own worst enemy. Even though my article was promoted and tons of people had told me I had written a good article, and even though there were a slew of people complimenting me on my art at the convention, all my insecurities struck me at once at Escapist Expo.
It hit hardest when everything was closed down and I sat at a collection of tables physically separated (not by rope or anything, just by the shape of the hotel) of the Escapist Content Contributors (Jim Sterling, Yahtzee Croshaw, Gavin Dunne, Graham Stark, MovieBob, etc.). I felt like going over to them, sitting and joining them, or at least joining the much more low key Cory Rydell and other...con goers? Staff? I couldn't tell. I wanted to be a part of them.
I wanted to be a peer.
This is the problem with having big dreams. While I do these things out of the love of doing them (why else would I write so, so many words even if they drive people away?), I also dream of being known for these talents. Yet I'm not, and for the most part I don't know how to get from where I am to where they are. More so, I don't even know if I deserve it. Sometimes I think of myself as one deserving bad ass son of a bitch. Other times I think I'm complete mud.
The worst part is I'm not sure if I'm torn between confidence and self-loathing or conceit and self-loathing.
It didn't matter to me, though. I sat there, looking at all those people gathered together, people that I wanted to stand beside, people that I felt I had something to offer in conversation... yet because they are where I want to be I cannot view them as other people. I must put them on a pedestal, and the over-thinking starts. It's almost like being a nerd trying to talk to a girl. There's this mental idea that women are this mystical thing, and so you try to think of the best combination of topics and words that will please them the most instead of being yourself.
So what I'm basically saying is while I was talking to Jim Sterling (I think I hugged him, it's a blur, I was drunk) I was also trying to figure out how to fuck him.
Okay, not really, but would you blame me? More cushion for the pu-anyway.
I was already feeling down because I couldn't give anyone a proper goodbye on Sunday. I tried speaking but no one could hear or understand me. I opened my mouth and whispers came out. But what really did me in was my crushing insecurities coming in and telling me that I'll never be as good as them.
This is one of the reasons I want to thank you all for your kind words on my promoted blog. It's so easy for me to consider it a fluke, so easy for me to get lost in my own self doubts, and it will happen again. But the more things like that happen, the easier it becomes to convince myself that it's a lie. That I am worth giving a damn about.
It is possible that I will never be a professional comic creator, or a games writer (both of which, I feel, are dreams worth pursuing, though considering the current state of things I'm going to push for comic artist for the time being). But God dammit, I want to try because, no matter what I tell myself, I know I am a talented individual. I may not "deserve" to be up on a panel with all of those other talented individuals, but I can at least try my hardest to earn the right to do so.
Until then, yes, I will be on the outside looking in. I will try not to do so, as it interferes with my ability to relate to these folks (except Cory Rydell, all around cool guy), but I can only change so much.
So thank you, all of you. I wish I could be a much more active member in this community, but unfortunately my job has become more active so I don't have as much time to browse the community blogs. In fact, all of my reading has dwindled. So while I try to make time on occasion, I cannot be as active as I'd like.
But I do think what you guys are trying to do with the Community Blogs is wonderful. I wish you luck in making the Destructoid community one of the best on the Internet.
Thanks for reading! Now go wash your brain out with something productive.