The fine folks at Gamers With Jobs have gone and released a web magazine and it’s well worth your time. I’m proud to have my name in it alongside some of the most talented writers I’ve ever known.
I’ve now been away from GWJ for twice as long as I was an intimate part of that community, and, while I can say that the career that website helped me launch has been fruitful, I can’t say that my time away from the site has been as full of camaraderie, good cheer and acceptance as my time with it. In fact, so much of the internet is the opposite of those things, which makes it all the more extraordinary that GWJ has managed to keep it real and true year after year, no matter what.
When I wrote for GWJ, I wrote about whatever was on my mind, week after week, without fail. More often than not what was on my mind was video games, which worked out fine. I wish I could put into exact words why, when I moved into a career as full time games writer, I let my membership at GWJ lapse. There are a lot of reasons and only some of them are my fault. But at the end of the day, I have to take responsibility for the lapse, and if I had to put one, big, bold categorization at the top line of that it would be: things change.
Case in point: very soon after I left GWJ to take on an editor’s role at The Escapist, I stopped writing about whatever was on my mind, week after week. My writing became, at first, more in line with what was expected of me by my employers. And then it began to take on a life of its own. These days I write much longer, much more heavily reported (and much less personal) pieces, in general. But I’m just as proud of the work I am doing now as I was of those weekly essays at GWJ. Things just changed. And so did I.
So when it came time to write my entry for the GWJ magazine (past time, if I’m being honest) I struggled over what to put in those pages. I wanted to celebrate my time at GWJ, but to also share something with some meaning to the person I have become since.
There were also some constraints. For one thing, I’m employed by a video games website, and so whatever I wrote for GWJ would have to be something I wouldn’t have written for my day job. Which ruled out a lot of game-specific articles I had in mind (and ended up writing for Polygon). I also couldn’t accept payment, but I wouldn’t have anyway. Not from GWJ, which has given me so much already.
My first thought was to write an update to this old chestnut, which I wrote in the depths of a deep depression after too much time off. It was as representative of my experience with video games then as it is not at all representative of anything to do with my life now. So I thought a juxtaposition of the then and now might be fun.
Let me tell you, that was a bad idea.
I spent weeks trying to reconcile these two radically different periods of my life and utterly failed. When I wrote “Monkey Chased the Weasel,” I was truly lost. I had a career that I hated and I felt adrift. It would not be far off to consider that time in my life a low point for me, captured in prose and stored forever on the internet.
On the other side of that spectrum is the now, in which I am happily married, happy in general, successful and having reached a position in the career I hadn’t even really started back then that I can only call “exactly where I want to be.” I’m not even going to share with you the draft of the piece I ended up with, starting along those lines. It’s insipid. Reading it, I have to refrain from punching myself. You would probably follow through.
And so I tried another tack. I decided to try and offer an accounting of what my life is like now, as a gamer who also travels the world talking to people who make games. Unfortunately this, too, was terrible. It bored me to tears. I realized that all the interesting parts of those stories already go into my work for Polygon, and so what I’d be writing for you at GWJ would be leftovers, warmed over, perhaps with added spice. Blech.
Thought the Third was to relate to you my current relationship with games, which, I also have to admit, is pretty damn dull. I play a game or two a month, usually on weekends. And then I get drunk. I see more of video games during my time with video game developers than in my own home. I am that statistic that suggests those who work full time in a games-related industry eventually become non-gamers. I cherish the few private moments I have free to actually play something, but games are not the center of my universe that they once were. I’m older, I have more responsibilities and less time. Things have changed.
In the end, I decided that the most fitting tribute to GWJ would be to share with the community the modern version of what I used to share: what was on my mind. In this case, an excerpt from a larger piece (that may become a book) about my time spent with the American roadways.
Throughout my life, the Interstates have been the scenes of some of my most challenging and rewarding times. Perhaps because driving on a roadway with no stoplights and few interruptions allows for such lengthy periods of uninterrupted introspection. Perhaps because, as a child of the Southwest and frequent traveler, so much of my life has been spent on them. Or, perhaps because I just really enjoy driving, and there’s no end to the shit that can happen once you start that motor and merge to the left.
I hope people enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it and being a part, once again, of GWJ.
You can download the magazine here: http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/115916