Why I Write: A Look At How Videogames Have Shaped Me
I have played videogames as far back as I can remember. In fact, one of my earliest memories is opening up the original Nintendo Entertainment System one Christmas morning and being elated at being able to play Super Mario Bros. and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles . It was also funny because Santa had also rented me quite a few games including Chip N' Dale Rescue Rangers and I wondered how he was able to rent games without being bombarded with inquiries. Being an adult, I realize it was my parents who had done that so I would have a greater enjoyment out of my new NES home system. Man, they had no idea what they were getting themselves into with that one.
The NES was the first console I owned, but it was far from the last. I would play games throughout the entirety of my life and they would always be a background fixture. Whether it be playing Sonic & Knuckles on my Sega Genesis to WWF Attitude on my original PlayStation, I was always playing games as a means of entertainment and enjoyment. Never did I think I would be trying to write about them or think of them as a medium of expression, art, or something else entirely. When I was younger, I didn't really care what Sony's financial situation was or if Peter Molyneux's next game would be breaking the mold. The thing that turned me into something more than just another kid playing games was the original Xbox and a man by the name of John 117, more commonly known as Master Chief. That was when I went from just another boy in the throes of being entertained to being consumed by a medium. That was a transition I would nor could come back from.
Halo: Combat Evolved was one of the first stepping stones in making me care about videogames in a new way. It was a different and compelling experience for me. It was also the game that turned videogames into more of a social experience for me. During high school, there would be four of us after school playing Halo system link and it was a blast. This was pre-Xbox Live mind you, so you actually had to have friends to get the proper enjoyment out of some Halo. The same time I started my obsession with Halo I also started to read Official Xbox Magazine (OXM) and I read that magazine for a long time. I would also read it cover to cover and I would just consume everything it had to offer. I was that kid who knew what games were coming out and what review scores they got. This led me to trying out new or different games in various genres. It helped lead me to one of my favorite games of all time, and one that helped cement a love for great storytelling. This is what introduced, or reintroduced as I played a little bit of Baldur's Gate on PC with some friends, Bioware into my mind as a driving force for telling great stories. I think you might know where I'm going with this one, and that's to say that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic blew my mind. I was a Star Wars fan as a kid growing up, as I'm sure most of us were, but I had never delved into the expanded universe. Bioware did an excellent job of making you the Jedi, and going through all the ups and downs of being a Jedi Master or a Sith Lord. This was just the beginning of my obsession with videogames, and it gave me my escape from everyday life. An escape that would get me out of the house and also land me my dream job, so I thought.
Confession time guys, I hung out at EB Games a lot during my first year of Community College. When I say a lot, I mean every day. I was there constantly, because I had nothing better to do with my time. A friend of mine worked there at the time, so I would go to hang out and chat with him while he was working. It then turned into me going there to hang out when he wasn't there and I got to know the other guys that worked there. It came to a head one day when a customer was asking about Doom 3 and I told the guy all about it. That's when the manager at the time said the magic words, "Trevor, do you want a job?" and my response was a resounding "Yes!" and that is how I ended up at EB Games turned GameStop for 6 years of my life. It wasn't all bad. I met a lot of great people while working for that company, and most of the people at store level are good people. I've made a lot of friends through GameStop and I am grateful for that. I even moved to Maryland for a little while on a whim, and always had a great time with the various people I met. One thing that I slowly, but surely learned was that I was always the best when it came to product knowledge and knowing the games. I still consumed game knowledge like it was oxygen, and I started to also become a games journalism nerd. I knew who the writers were, which ones I liked, and who I followed when they jumped from place to place. In the GameStop realm, this translated into having the most product knowledge and I was always the go to guy when it came to knowing about most things. This, unfortunately, is one of those skills that through the years is dying off at a place like GameStop where it has become all about the numbers and how many things you can sell to the customer. That is ultimately what led to the end of my time there, because I was from a different era of that company when knowledge was paramount. There are still a lot of good employees there who know their stuff, but the company doesn't care about that anymore and it's a shame. I know I've personally sold thousands of games based on what I thought about it. That is what's missing. They don't need someone to be able to list off all the cool features that are on the back of the box, but they do need people who are genuinely excited about the games and want to tell you about them because they are excited about them. That's ultimately, in a nutshell, what led me to here and where I am now.
Remember that part when I said I was a huge games journalism nerd? Yeah, I still am, and I felt like I was on the front lines back when Gamespot ousted Jeff Gerstmann. What is now known as Gerstmann-gate was a big deal back in 2007. I had actually been a huge fan of Jeff, Ryan Davis, Brad Shoemaker, Rich Gallup, Alex Navarro, and Vinny Caravella back in the On The Spot and Hotspot days. So, it was a natural thing for me to jump to Giant Bomb when it was formed and they had risen like a phoenix from the ashes. It's still one of my favorite places to check out on a weekly basis, but it's not the only place that I would go to. I pretty early on got drawn into podcasts as they were starting to blow up. I became and am still a big fan of Joystiq. I would listen to the Joystiq podcast with Chris Grant, Ludwig Kietzmann, and Justin McElroy where they would talk about games on a weekly basis. I also have to throw in a shout out to the Xbox 360 Fancast, which I also listened to, featuring Alexander Sliwinski, Richard Mitchell, and Dave Hinkle. These are the guys who helped me make informed opinions about games, and opinions I respected. Did I always agree? No, but games journalism is subjective. It's an opinion. Those opinions can help shape you, but ultimately it's up to you to decide if you enjoy a game or not. However, these are some of the journalists that led me to want to do exactly this, write. I was never much for writing back during my school years, probably because I was lazy and high school is kind of a joke. It always seems you look back on that time, and regret not doing better than you did. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and I think that is true for a lot of people especially in this day and age. However, I now know what I want to do. At almost 27 years old, I want to try to become a videogame journalist.
What have I gotten myself into? A lot of hard work. Trying to get a foothold in the door isn't easy. Games journalism is a very small community, and it's not easy for someone to break out. It's going to take a lot of hard work, but I want to put that hard work in. I've been fortunate enough to have a lot of people around me that support everything I do. I'm grateful for that, and for everyone who has helped me along the way. I can't always promise that you'll agree with my opinions, and you shouldn't because who the hell am I? I'm just a dude with a passion for something and wants to write about it. I'm just like you, and I'm nothing special. I just want to talk about games, tell you about games, and help get you excited about games so that you can go out and support the developers if you feel it's worth it. I also want to help show those games that maybe no one has heard of, and hopefully support some great people in this industry. There are a lot of good people in this industry, and hopefully with the interviews that we are doing on the site it shows. These aren't just people typing numbers and letters into a screen to make money. A lot of these people have a passion for this just like us and want to give you an enjoyable experience. I want to help showcase these people, so if you ever see a game that excites you by all means bring it to our attention. What a lot of people forget when playing these games is that there are people behind them, and we're here to help them. Videogames are so much more than entertainment now. Some of them are just that, but some are artistic, some tell a great story, some give you a compelling experience, and some transport you into brand new worlds. So, let's talk about them and the people behind them, because I feel their story is just as interesting as the one in their game. I'm going to end this by posing some questions to whoever may be reading.
Why do you read? What made you passionate about the games industry? What games are you looking forward to? Is there a game that you feel may have fallen through the cracks and you'd like us to cover it? Thank you for reading!