How SOE Live (and GameSkinny) Changed My Life
One of my first clear memories is the night my brother and my dad came home with our first console: a brand new SNES.
My brother and I generally fought like rabid wildabeasts, but when we played Super Nintendo we were like real brothers, you know - like the ones on T.V. We would compete for points in Super Mario World and take turns playing the Aladdin game (when games based on movies didn’t make me cry). I think this is when my interest in video games was piqued. Still though, at such a young age, they were just a hobby. True, a hobby I loved, but a childhood hobby nonetheless.
**My brother and I when not playing games... I'm wearing the green shirt, guys.**
My brother gets an N64 for his birthday. My parents, in their infinite wisdom got us Goldeneye and StarFox 64; arguably two of the greatest games of all time that kindled many a child’s obsession in gaming and undoubtedly caused some college undergrads to fail out of school and move home. Again, the system was my brother’s, but as he grew his interest in games slid as his passion for music evolved and blossomed. You see where this is going, right? The N64 unofficially became mine over time, cementing my sometimes unhealthy obsession with games.
Fast Forward (Again)
My brother was and is a very talented musician (hi Zach). We used to have little family concerts where my brother would bust out his flute and play some amazing tune that no 13-year-old should be able to handle. I was always simultaneously impressed and jealous. It was his thing. My mother would tell me, “Everyone has their Thing, and you just have to find yours.” So I would tell myself that my Thing would come to me when I least expected it as I retreated to my room to play whatever game my friends and I were nerding out about at the time (probably Morrowind or the most recent Metal Gear).
Little did I know I had already found my thing; I just wouldn’t realize it for more than ten years.
The Dumb-Dumb College Years
I began writing about games in college. I used the opportunity of being an English Major that concentrated on many theoretical (and largely useless) texts to shoehorn my interest in games into my otherwise boring papers the form of sources and topics. Funny thing: I never got lower than an A when writing about games and it still didn’t occur to me that maybe this is what I should be doing with my life. I know guys, I’m thicker than Charlie Sheen at his worst. I'm not proud of it.
**Yup - pretty much accurate and super depressing.**
Graduation is Awesome, But Real Life Sucks
I got my first real job as a freelancer at a local news website about a year after graduation. I had spent that year mostly being miserable and playing games given that the economic climate was not at all conducive to being a recent graduate. At this point you may have realized the thick smear of irony in that I still didn’t recognize the fact that I should be writing about games when all I did was write news and play games. For almost a year my life consisted of playing games, writing news and hanging out with my friends and girlfriend. As if out of nowhere I saw a job opening at a gaming news outlet based out of New York City ; for the first time since college I wanted something real – I wanted that job.
Long story short, I didn’t get that job. Yet even so it was a victory; I finally found my coveted Thing: Not only should I be playing games, but also I should be writing about them. I should be delivering news unto the thirsty masses! Interviewing developers, sitting in panels, being snarky and ambitious and amazing. I realized I wasn’t just a gamer; I was, and will continue to be, a video game journalist.
I wrote my first article on GameSkinny during E3 2013 Microsoft Press Conference. The long awaited Xbox One had been revealed, and I was ready to deliver the goods to the amazing readers of this very site.
It took me a little while to find my rhythm, but I composed a fairly well organized document, pasted it into the little GameSkinny box, and hit publish – expecting nothing to come of it other than the satisfaction of finally doing something that didn’t depress the crap out of me. A few minutes later my story was featured and Amy had left a kind and encouraging comment on the article. She graciously welcomed me to the community and recommended that I enter the Dragon’s Prophet Correspondent Contest. Amy, thanks for that, I probably wouldn’t have done it without your kind words.
I entered, again expecting nothing to come of it and a couple of months later, after an interview and a couple of stressful days I found out that I was selected to cover SOE Live – my first foray into in-the-field game journalism. I was excited and nervous, but when the gamery dust from the convention had cleared, I brought home something other than news and experience. I brought home confirmation of my Thing.
**Get it? The Thing? GET IT?!**
As I mentioned in my application post, MMOs aren’t really my thing. Leading up to the event I sat down with as many of the SOE branded games as I could, with a focus on Dragon’s Prophet since it was meant to be my main focus. Now, I’d love to say I came home loving MMOs and being totally ready to trade in my consoles for a PC, but I don’t love them, and I’ll be a console man forever (sorry guys).
What I can, with utmost confidence say, is that SOE Live was amazing. I have never seen such a varied swab of people: from children playing EverQuest II with their parents, to couples that met in EverQuest 14 years ago, to elderly people in wheelchairs cosplaying as their character. It was absolutely, heart wrenchingly unbelievable. So no, I don’t love MMOs – I do, however, love the fans, the community and gaming.
You may be wondering why I so loved covering games that I don’t really dig. Let me explain: the games are legitimately good, not my jam, but they have their place firmly cemented in the gaming world. But I’ll always love a Metal Gear or a BioShock way more than an EverQuest or a DCUO. Honestly, the rush for me came from learning about this amazing facet of the gaming community, and delivering the news to those that could not be there but so desperately wanted to.
I sat in panel after panel, furiously tapping away at my laptop taking notes for the story I would soon be locked away in my room writing. I held up my DSLR for about 15 minutes, with no tripod or shoulder brace to capture the amazing sand art intro for the EverQuest Next panel (it doesn’t sound hard, I know, but my shoulders still hurt – also I’m out of shape). I did it because I want to do this forever. I want to go to every event, every convention – big and small – and write for you.
**My new hat.**
Some people will love what I write – thanking me for the words I have painstakingly weaved like a digital tapestry. Others will hate what I say – firing word-bullets from their mouth-guns in the comments and on twitter. I welcome it all. Tell me you love me, call me a moron, I don’t care; as long as you read and it in some way informs or effects you.
So yes, this long diatribe essentially boils down to me figuring out who I am supposed to be and what I am meant to be doing. But for those of you who have read this far, and for those of you who have clicked out by now (for which I don’t blame you) I wouldn’t be able to do this without you. Furthermore, I wouldn’t be able to do this without the seriously amazing staff at GameSkinny (seriously, you guys are awesome). So everyone, every single editor, every single reader, every single troll and every single fan: Thank you for being the greatest community in the world, and allowing me to do what I need to do.
With any luck I’ll one day become the next Geoff Keighley, Adam Sessler or Greg Miller. But know that when I am there (fingers crossed) I’ll forever owe it to GameSkinny and the vast, beautiful, fault accepting, flame war starting, flawed, perfect video game community.
Thank you all, and wish me luck.