My “so you want to be a games writer” even though I’m not really one post
A certain Jaz McDougall put a link out to a post put out by Michael Walbridge, saying why he was quitting the games journalism business. Craig, from Gaming Daily, called him (Not Jaz. I think) an idiot. I said he wasn’t. Seeing as this discussion was over Twitter, I didn’t have the space to write back a proper response. Even more annoyingly, I couldn’t post anything because I was away. However, lucky for him, that gave me a week of doing very little to write up a big long response. I’m sure both of them are ecstatic at the thought.
I’ve been playing at being a games writer for about 3-4 months now, and I still love writing, even with the odd bumps and rage. I’ve reviewed 3 games, complained about the BBFC, told the world that DRM is evil, and still have plenty of things to write about. Yet I thought long and hard about it, and decided I didn’t want to be a professional writer, for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t think I enjoy writing that much. Secondly, it would kill gaming for me.
By writing this blog, I’ve forced myself to write a post twice a week, under no command other than my own. Not because I wanted to write for a big games magazine, but just to prove to myself (and some others) that I could. If I didn’t put a post up then nobody would really care, and the world would keep spinning (Unless the Mayan calendar ended of course. I’m happily sending the odd copy out to some sites for the sense of self worth that it gives me. Yet if I started to write for a big games magazine, I couldn’t help but think all the fun would go out of it.
The main reason that a suggestion that I should write a blog turned into a blog only came about because I enjoyed writing, and had odd ideas for posts in my head floating about. I get that little tingle every time I write a good post, get annoyed with myself for not writing one that I don’t think is good enough, yet I don’t have to do this, just like I don’t have to game. However, if I started to do it properly, I can’t help but think that maybe I’ll end up with a sense of “Oh great, I have to write a review on that film tie in, because I’m the newbie in the office”. That sounds like hell to me.
One of the things that have always stuck in my mind is what John Walker from RPS said in a podcast once: “Don’t become a games journalist because you love games. The job title of someone who loves games is games purchaser. If you like writing, then you should become a games journalist”. I enjoy writing when I’m doing it for fun. Whether writing x articles a month every month for a living would still be fun? I don’t think I would find it fun. Plus, writing about one subject for a living, meaning I’d need to be surrounded by it almost constantly doesn’t sound particularly appealing.
Writing a negative review is something I really don’t like doing as well. Out of every review I’ve written, I’ve strived to find a positive. Writing the Giants review is something that I don’t ever want repeat. I really enjoyed the game. But writing the review, I realised how much was wrong with it. I haven’t since loaded it up, even though I really enjoyed it. I’ve never gone out of my way to review a game, and only reviewed the game that I’ve just finished or had fun with.
I totally understand why Walbridge decided to stop writing professionally. I never read any of his stuff, but I imagine that since he has done some professional writing it’s probably good stuff. I’ll stick to my unpaid writing here, and send the odd copy off to get paid, but professional writing? That’s for those who can write.