Its pointless or the most important thing in the world.

Early last year, I decided that merely playing videogames wasn’t enough. I wanted to write about them too.

I flew interstate for a big gaming expo and attended my first gaming press conference. I interviewed one of gaming’s great pioneers, and met a nice freelancer in the hallway. I wrote many articles on the same story – tweeking them slightly for each publication. But then the polite rejection emails started arriving. I got “stuffed around” by an Aussie editor who ran hot ‘n’ cold. Things weren’t looking good.

Just when we reach a predictably low trough in the story, Retro Gamer answered my emails, and something that I wrote appeared in a real magazine! I started a blog, and 2009 was looking up.

I started a meme, and got a bazillion visitors. I scooped the “big boys” on ASCIIPortal, I covered C64 reincarnations, and Sydney’s silverball festivities. I helped people spot classic characters, introduced them to the loveliest little fella in the world and showed people a vision of the future.

So, why have I been doing a sudden “this is your life”?

I was reading RockPaperShotgun’s Sunday Papers today, and read a linked piece by Kieron Gillen which had no title – so I’ll gleefully invent one.

THE JOY OF VIDEOGAMES JOURNALISM

This piece says exactly what I’ve been struggling to explain to people. It’s… well… it’s bloody brilliant. And that’s why I wanted to share it with you.

Here’s an cut-down version of what Kieron wrote:

Let’s go with the first professional review I wrote. I was approached in a nightclub by the DJ, who was also a staff writer for the immortal Amiga Power.

Forward a month, the morning after another nightclub trip, but 200 miles away. Grabbing a copy from the shelves and flicking through and seeing myself immortalised in ink.

I’ve never quite got over that buzz. The moment of creation, the moment of contact, the moment when you realise that stuff you loved – and I loved games journalism like I loved few things – IS NOW BEING DONE BY YOU. You are becoming what you desired, stepping over into the mirror. You know there’s a chance you’re doing to other people’s brains what other people did to yours.

You know it’s pointless. You know it’s the most important thing in the world. It’s all you’ve ever wanted. It’s amazing. I recommend it to anyone who’s functionally insane.

Don’t be satisfied with my Readers Digest butchering of Kieron’s words! Scroll down to number 6 here.

*CC “Lego computer” picture thanks to Repoort.

3 Responses to Its pointless or the most important thing in the world.

  1. Tracey Lien says:

    To be honest, I’m entirely sure why I do it. For starters, I don’t even consider myself a videogame journalist, nor did I have a very clear and defining moment when I decided “Yes, this is my passion, this is what I want to do and this is what I must do”. I kind of fell into writing about games, floundered for a bit, and I think I’m still floundering.

    In exactly 13 days from today, I will have been writing about games for a year. I was (and still am) working at a kids’ magazine at Next Media two days a week and I remember getting my first commission from PC Powerplay and being sent to cover the World Cyber Games Australia because the deputy editor had just broken his rib while trying to close a window, and no one else wanted to go and cover the event. Before this, I had never written about games in my life. I had always played them and I had a squillion back issues of Hyper and Powerplay at home that I’d read (my brother was an avid collector), but I never saw videogames writing/journalism as an option. I’m not sure why.

    So, on the day before my 20th birthday, I went and covered the event, wrote up my article, and was ecstatic to see it in print a month later. It also happened to be the first article I was ever paid for. After showing my editor that I was reliable and could write, I started getting more and more work, not just from Powerplay, but from Hyper as well. During the whole time I was writing for these publications and reviewing games for them, I still didn’t think of myself as a game journalist — I was merely a journalist/journalism student who happened to write about games. I still didn’t see a future for myself in games journalism; I always thought I’d become a news reporter/arts journalist.

    The more I wrote, the more absorbed I became in the games industry and the more I wanted to change it. I’d pick up a games magazine and just feel so darn bored at the mechanical reviews I was reading and the features that either brought nothing new to the discussion about videogames, or lacked any proper research or journalism. I cared and still care so much about videogames and it annoyed me to no end that there was so much uninspiring writing being produced. So, with the encouragement of David Wildgoose, I started a blog to try and get some of my own ideas out there. Mind you, I’m not in any way suggesting that my work is fantastic, inspiring or industry-changing. In fact, I still have a very, very, very long way to go; but just because I’m not great doesn’t mean I can’t expect more from those who are paid to fill the pages of the magazines I buy or the websites that I read.

    So I guess that’s why I’m here, because I’m hoping that at some point, I might be able to make an impact and contribute something meaningful and intelligent to the discourse surrounding videogames. At the very least, I want to be able to produce the kind of writing *I* would be interested in reading.

    Do I think I’ll succeed? I don’t know. I’m not sure if this is just a phase, if I want this to be my career, or how long I want to do this for. There are times when I’ll visit a forum, see the kind of people — so call ‘gamers’ — who read my work and I’ll read the obnoxious things they write and I’ll think to myself “why the fuck do I even bother?”, and I’ll admit I’ve had moments where I’ve just wanted to leave because it just doesn’t seem worth it.

    But it is worth it. I love games, I love writing about them, and I love the feeling I get when I see my by-line above something I’ve just written. Games are so young, fresh and new that I think I’m in with a chance at saying something new and interesting about them. At least, I have a big a chance as the next person.

    So yeah, I’m floundering and I do feel like a fish out of water. But I’m a bit of a masochist, so I say bring it on.

    • justonemoregame says:

      Tracey, thanks for your heartfelt comments & observations. May all your JRPG characters have MAX hitpoints!🙂

  2. battlecityzone says:

    Well I start with videogame journalism a long time ago, but now I dedicate myself to make magazines not to write on them, that’s why I start with online-journalism. I think your blog is very good.

    Regards

    Ben

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