Giving Thanks: Writing about games

Promoted from our Community Blogs

[Dtoid writer, community member and Queens of the Stone Age aficionado Brittany Vincent is thankful for the victories and the struggles that come with developing a career writing about games. Want to see your own stuff appear on the front page? Go write something! –Occams Electric Toothbrush]

A wise man once said “I think, therefore I am.” My philosophy is simple: “I think, therefore I game.”

Boy, do I. I’ve been in a torrid love affair with the digital medium ever since I burst out of my mother’s womb, saved the world three times over, and settled down as an enterprising young woman in Louisville, Kentucky. That’s over 20 years of gaming, with no end in sight.

But not only do I game. I write about it, too. I work hard at it. I work a full-time job that’s completely unrelated to video games and sleep 4 or 5 hours a night to make sure I can still deliver the best content I can. It makes me rude, irritable, and difficult to be friends with. I’m also dealing with depression, as I’ve opened up about on Destructoid previously. It’s just that nothing is more important to me than furthering the career I’ve worked tirelessly to nurture. Not my appearance, not my health, or sometimes (regrettably) my relationships.

So when the time comes that I’m staring at a byline at one of my favorite publications or reading a comment on a review I’ve written thanking me for covering a niche visual novel or even a triple-A title, I can’t help but be thankful. Even if I’m exhausted. Even if I feel like there’s never going to be a permanent space for me within the video game industry. There’s still the fact that, as many of you have pointed out, I’ve carved out a space for myself. No matter how small, it’s a place of my own that I’ve labored to reach.

And I’m so, so thankful to be here.

I don’t say it enough. Really, I don’t think it enough. I surely take it for granted, and I feel terribly guilty for it. I could be stuck working at McDonald’s because I was too scared to take a chance or pester a PR representative four or five times to give me a chance to evaluate one of their games. I could be languishing in a community on a gaming site lashing out at everyone who dared to take the plunge and start writing for better or for worse.

I don’t appreciate what I have enough of the time, really, and and it’s turning me into a much angrier person. I’m quick to complain about not accomplishing everything I want, or what others are doing. I critique editorial practices and lament having to stay awake until 4 AM working on a feature when I’d rather be watching inane YouTube videos instead. I’m pretty rude to some of you in the comments because I’m overworked. I’m on edge. And I’m sorry.

I’m still appreciative, because no matter how frustrating and terrible it is to log in and see a comment calling me a whore because I dared speak positively about a game with sexual references in it, I’m not going anywhere. I wouldn’t trade what I’ve got for the world. 

As I look back on 2014, I can’t help but become overwhelmed and overjoyed by what I’ve been able to do over the past eight years. I joined Destructoid this year, and despite my various complaints and frustrations, I’m still here. I browsed the site back when Colette Bennett was writing about a lot of the stuff I cover today and I coveted her spot. Meagan Marie was still VirtualGirl. Chad and his dolphins frolicked about later on, and I nearly wrote a feature here under his guidance, but we never could quite hammer it out.

Now I have the option to simply write something. It’s a bit surreal to work at the places I grew up fantasizing about writing for. I wanted to infiltrate the mess that was GameGirl.com back when it existed and improve it tenfold, but I never could.  I never got the chance to work with 1UP. But I landed at Destructoid, and that’s been infinitely important to me. I thought I’d never catch anyone’s eye here. I thought I couldn’t hang. Maybe I can’t. But I sure as hell am going to keep trying.

It’s been a weird ride. Nearly ten years ago I found my one true love in video game journalism. Childhood meant thumbing through Dad’s subscriptions to PC Gamer and EGM to pore over the latest releases and editors’ thoughts on what would become viable hits. For the longest time they were just middle-aged men with jobs to me — worlds apart from a little girl in Kentucky with no real connections to the industry. All I had then was a notebook, a Game Boy, and a pink duffel bag full of cords and cartridges…and a dream.

With the advent of ZDTV and later G4, I immersed myself further in gaming media and the writers I adored. These people actually made a living analyzing and reporting on the games I grew up with! It was their livelihood! I knew I could do it too. So I picked up a pen, reviewed Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure, and I never looked back. I never settled for anything less than progress, even when I was forced to review baby games and shovelware.

I’m a head-shotting horror hound glazed with sparkling sugar pixels. I was born gaudy, raucous, and determined. That means I’ll try anything once. That means I’ll never give up. And it means I’m not afraid to go after what I want, even if I do weird things to get there. I rock rainbow-hued hair, a Pokémon tutu, and a “purse” fashioned out of a hollowed-out NES because I’m proud of how my favorite pastime has shaped me. I’m proud to inspire, and I’m always eager to involve others in my colorful world of adventure and intrigue.

But it’s important to remember that none of that makes me special in any way, shape or form. In the end, I’m just a random name on the internet. No one knows who I am. I try to talk to coworkers about games am written off nearly immediately as someone who probably doesn’t know anything about Destiny or Halo or whatever the most buzzworthy topic is at the moment.

Still, I’m fucking grateful. 

In a tumultuous industry where it’s cool to snark and denounce and lord everything right down to your geographical location over readers, there’s still an audience out there I can speak to who are just in it for the games. I’m working during a time where it’s practically required of games media to riff on every single bit of news that comes down the line, but there’s still a space for me to enjoy things and remain positive. I’m overjoyed that I don’t have to write about “videogames” instead of “video games.”

To me, that small space between words is the perfect way to illustrate two different schools of discussion when it comes to the hobby I’ve enjoyed all of my life. I don’t care how lowbrow it is of me to purchase and enjoy a Call of Duty title, no matter how much fun it is to rally against a wildly popular annual franchise. And I’m simply not interested in discussing the “sexist implications” of Bayonetta. No, not even because I’m a woman.

It is and always has been about the games, as I take a very simple black and white approach when it comes to reviewing: Is it good? Should you play it? What do you do in it? Astonishingly, there are still avenues for me to gush endlessly about how much I love Random Japanese RPG #845 or why Rhythm Adventure #4 really is the best out of the series. I don’t have to invent things to hate. I don’t have to tirelessly report on things that are wrong. I can entertain without breaking down. I wish I had known that early on when I began writing. But I’m learning it now. 

In fact, I don’t have to hate at all. I can be positive and look forward to the future of gaming and everything beyond it. And looking back on this blog, I realize that there’s one thing I should be thankful for beyond the fact that I’ve been granted the incredible opportunity to write about and be paid for the things I love most in life: the fact that I have changed and evolved thanks to those who have given me the time of day. 

It could all end at any time. I am not any more important than any one of the rest of you. I reiterate once more: I’m grateful to have written thousands of lines worth of text about games. But I think, as I’m head into my ninth year of freelancing, that I’m even more thankful for the people who read it. 

Thank you. 

LYLAS,

Brittany Stormborn of House Destructoid, Queen of the Weeaboos and the First Otaku, Khaleesi of the Great Plains, Breaker of Bust A Groove 2 Jewel Cases, and Mother of Niche/Rare Games

Brittany Vincent