It feels strange to say it, but here goes: Today is my last day writing about video games.
I’ve spent my entire adult life going down this career path, so this is “a big thing” for me. Granted, I’m only 28 so that’s not exactly forever, but it’s still a quarter of my life that I’ve dedicated to the cause — and when I look back at how I got started, writing PC reviews for a Dutch website because I was a student and too poor to buy games myself, it feels like maybe I took this joke a bit too far.
I’ve worked with some genuinely incredible people over the last eight years, and got really rather lucky multiple times over — but I also worked my arse off too. At one point, circa 2010, I was writing three game reviews a day, getting paid around $15 for each one, and barely scraping by. When I was given the UK editor job at Gamasutra at the start of 2011, and simultaneously asked to be Handheld Editor at Pocket Gamer, the sigh of relief I let out must have been felt all around Manchester.
Ever since I started writing about games, one of my main goals has been to help amazing up-and-coming devs get noticed — that feeling of watching a game spread thanks to coverage you gave it is simply unbeatable. I still get emails and messages now from developers who I covered on IndieGames.com back in 2009, 2010, thanking me for giving them the confidence to properly forge a career in making video games.
To this day, I still regularly hunt for new games to talk up, and that thrill of finding exciting experiences that no-one else has spotted yet is still such a rush. I’ve also been doing the conference circuit over the last couple of years, giving devs tips on the best ways to get their games noticed, and that’s just been so much fun.
I have no plans to stop doing any of this, which is why my next job (which I’ll be talking about on Monday) is essentially the obvious next step for me. I’m so pumped to tell you what I have lined up — it’s going to give me far more potential to help new devs out than writing silly ol’ words ever did (I’m just kidding words, I still love you.)
And who knows, maybe I’ll be back again someday. I’m sure the itch will get to me at some point, and I’ll do some little personal writing bits and bobs — I’ve actually been writing a novel for a couple of years now, and have been meaning to finish that up at some point, so maybe this is the right time.
But for now, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say a big thanks to the people who put me where I am today. People like Erin Bell, formerly of Gamezebo, and Jim Squires of Gamezebo who took a chance on me; Jamie Davey and Joe Robinson of Strategy Informer who, again, were nice enough to host my words; People at places like Play.tm, Resolution Magazine, DIYGamer et al who gave me money and helped me survive, simply for playing video games.
Large-scale thank yous go to the people at Pocket Gamer who helped push me up several rungs — Jon Jordan is a wonderful man and owner of the best fingernails in the games industry, Rob Hearn is also a true champion, as is Chris James, Mark Brown, the whole damn PG team.
The biggest, most [EXCLUSIVE] thank yous are reserved, of course, for my Gamasutra peeps. Honestly, I feel like a crazy person leaving my job at Gama, because I genuinely believe that it is the best possible job that writing about video games has to offer. For realz, I just can’t believe how lucky I got to land my Gama job.
Simon Carless picked me up at the end of 2008, based on just a month’s worth of posts to a crappy blog I’d started (this crappy blog, in fact!), and plopped me in my IndieGames.com role alongside the legendary Tim W. From there, he coached me in The Arts, and eventually gave me the Gamasutra job. I literally wouldn’t have the life I have now if it wasn’t for him, so I kinda owe him. Still trying to work out how to pay him back!
Kris Graft! That beautiful man. That man who molded me, made my words not shit anymore, and trusted me to look after the Gama fort while America was sleeping. The worst thing about leaving Gamasutra is knowing that I’m not going to get to talk to Kris every day. I made proper friends in this job, and I’m pretty torn up about leaving them behind.
Working alongside Leigh Alexander and knowing my words would never be as good as hers was exactly what I needed, because it always forced me to push myself – I can’t thank her enough for that. Christian Nutt always kept me on my toes and challenged what I thought was good work, only to discover that I still had plenty to learn. I only worked with Alex Wawro for a year, but Christ, I think he might be the nicest man in video games. I hope the coming years are amazing for each and every person I worked with.
OK I’m done now. Sorry that was a bit long, I probably could have written loads more, but I will curb myself. I will leave you with links to some of my favourite work over the years. Looking forward to talking about my new stuff on Monday!
Chasing the Whale: Examining the ethics of free-to-play games
Video games and gun violence: A year after Sandy Hook
Lords of War: The gunrunners of Counter Strike: Global Offensive
Dwarf Fortress in 2013
Ridiculous Fishing: The Game that Nearly Ended Vlambeer
Using SimCity to diagnose my home town’s traffic problem
Is YouTube killing the traditional games press?
Pay for Play: The ethics of paying for YouTuber coverage
The Sun vs Nintendo 3DS experiment