Yesterday at TGS, I met my ex-colleagues from Kotaku for the first time. Michael "Beardo" McWhertor! Brian "LOL" Ashcraft! Flynn "Fruit Brute" DeMarco! And some pallid kid with a gobbling thorax who looked exactly like a young Carrot Top. Collapsed in a heap in the corner of the press area at the Tokyo Game Show, rivulets of dirty sweat streaking down their brows as they feverishly pounded their words, impressions and LOLs into the keyboard. In their eyes danced that journalist's madness, the insane thirst for the scoop. The very archetypes of the game journalist professional.
I wandered up to them with a dixie cup full of beer in my hand. I introduced myself. "What's the rumpus?" I asked. Gandalf-like, Ashcraft arched his massive eyebrows. I translated it into his own patois. "What's the happy-haps?" I repeated. Ashcraft — god bless him — LOLed.
When I first met them, those bronzed and beautiful olympiads of video game inquiry, they immediately rattled off a lexicon of journalistic accomplishment.Their headlines bubbled off their tongues like an RSS feed. TGS 2007: DOOM 4 TO USE UT3 ENGINE! RUMOR: MGS4 FACIAL HAIR INSPIRED BY HIDEO KOJIMA MOUSTACHE RIDE? BREAKING: PS3 RUMBLE EXACTLY LIKE PS2 RUMBLE! To be honest, they were bragging a little, but if anyone was deserving of promoting themselves as the Original Little Miss Jesuses, it was Kotaku.
Then they started asking me what I was doing. What scoops I'd got. What games I was looking forward to. To be honest, they looked a little bit smug and insinuating.
"Oh, you know me," I said casually. "Nothing. I'm the world's worst gaming journalist." And then, just to make sure they understood, I put sarcastic air quotes around "journalist" while jumping up and down, then loudly announced that I was going to go off and drink a few beers while they had to actually work.
But this was just a self-defense mechanism. I don't mean for it to be this way. From a pecuniary perspective, I am a highly paid professional. My name commands respect. Yet, paradoxically, this respect is based entirely upon a river bed of abject incompetence and apathy in our chosen career. Eliza's the same: it's why we get along so well. But we were sick of the smug patronization of our peers... all people who had been ostracized from all other forms of gainful employment. No, Eliza and I agreed: this was the conference that I decided to put things right, to finally command the respect we deserved... not fueled by my own practically infinite reservoir of idiocy, but by my incredible journalistic prowess. I would do things right. I would rule. And god help me, I'd drag that lazy slut Eliza Gauger down the road of journalistic super excellence with me.
I thinK I need to furnish an explanation about how gaming journalism works. Essentially, while you might think that respected game sites confirm their appointments weeks and months in advance of a game show (or, in short, while you might think that respect game sites actually conduct themselves as professionals). this is actually not the case. Just like me, games journalists are all lazy bums: this is why we have picked a career that largely involves stuffing our party-bowl sized navels with Cheetos and lying prone, on our backs, fiddling with a controller buried into the moist flab of our crotches. All scheduling is done at the absolutely last minute. It is anarchy.
So yesterday, I started sending out emails to my contacts. "Dear Sony -- Remember the time I wrote about how your GC06 booth gave me an erection? That was a fun time, wasn't it? Please schedule me for numerous AAA interviews on Thursday and Friday and we can do it again! Thanks!" Or... "Dear Microsoft -- Remember the time I was locked in a room with Bruce Shelley and my whole interview was about how I hated his games? Can you schedule a follow-up interview?" As far as I know, everyone remembered those adventures fondly, so I was definitely expecting a giddy response. Who could foresee a problem? Who doesn't have time to pander to a drunken Irish-American who doesn't like to play by the lofty ethics of that most objective of trades... the video game journalist?
But imagine my surprise when, one after one, each of my contacts wrote me back and informed me that Destructoid's own Nick Chester had scheduled interviews with them months ago. About topics besides his loathing for their games, the erections he has branded at their demo booths. That they couldn't possibly book two sessions for the same site.
In my defense, I did what I could to remedy the situation: I immediately responded to Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo from a fake GMail account I'd set up under Nick's name, canceling all of his appointments. But Nick Chester's virile masculinity and Adonis-like good looks thwarted me once again. It turns out everyone's a bit gay for Nick. No one would accept his refusal. The replies were united in solidarity: "Dear Nick -- We are gay. For you. And your journalism. Please come hither for your interview. PS: Ditch Dale North."
Eliza also tried her charms: she attempted to jiggle her way in. We were sure we would succeed: after all, Eliza is best described as the torso of a tiny porcelain doll slapped Frankenstein-like on top of a black woman's booty. But this didn't work either. To be fair, it may have something to do with the fact that all the game developers are gay. For Nick Chester.
In short? Thanks to Nick Chester's thoughtless selfishness and the homoerotic allure of his particular brand of ultra-professional gaming journalism, Eliza and I have been exiled to Hall 7 of TGS. It's a sad, lonely hell where local government projects aimed at introducing Down Syndrome Inmates to the fundamental concepts of game design are presented. Where the booth babes have wattles and moustaches. Where salarymen, stinking of sake, desperately hawk their inflatable manga women. An awful limbo of games with titles like Rolling Cabbage, Onion Smash, Dangerous Meat and Road to Myself running on technologically obsolete systems like the Sega Genesis. Being in Hall 7 and hearing, through the door, the wild squeals of excitement and bleeping video game cacophony of the real show? It's like being in hell and condemned, for eternity, to listen to the roller disco orgies of heaven.
But Chester's not going to have the last laugh. Do you hear me, you gorgoeus, adrogynous bastard? We're going to play and review every damn game in Hall 7 and you know what? We're going to find a winner. And then, when you're crying in a heap, holding your pitiful HALO PS3 scoop to your stomach like a miscarried fetus? We will lick the tears off your face.
Florian Eckhardt is the President and Co-Founder of the Chester Hate Society in Tokyo, Japan, along with his collaborator in crime at Ectoplasmosis, Ms. Eliza Gauger. Neither of them are very fond of Dale North, either. Fancy pants, the lot of them.