I wonder how many readers realize I borrowed the title of this and the previous post from an issue of “Transmetropolitan,” where Spider Jerusalem does a travelogue of The City and all the crazy hobos who lives there (actually issue 41, February 2001, if you want to look it up.) There is a reason, he concludes, for their bizarre perception of the world around them and the conclusions they draw.
I often wonder how crazy I sound, to readers as well as to myself, including my past and future selves. I get over it pretty quick, though, as I’d much rather sound crazy than boring.
I said there was another reason I don’t write so much here anymore. I may as well say what it is.
Right now I’m sitting in a conference room at Microsoft’s offices in Austin, in a place called Stonebridge Plaza. When I finish this post, I might be somewhere else. For now, I’m waiting on a meeting to start, organized by something called Austin SPIN. There’s going to be a talk, one that I thought would begin at this moment, but will actually begin half an hour from now.
Only one other person is in the room with me now. When he explained most people don’t come in so early, I excused myself, saying, “I’m an old reporter. I’m used to coming in early.” Better to be too early than too late. Too late and you miss the start of the speech, and everyone already seated would look at you funny, so you miss your chance to become just another observer. Meanwhile, it’s been more than five hours since I’ve eaten much besides a cookie and a Jolly Rancher, and it’ll be at least another hour and a half before I can find anything else.
This is what my life is like now. Happier than I’ve been in a decade, unlikely to be all that more interesting than I ever was. Just a product of my experiences, past and future desires and interests, a lot more comfortable yet at the same time more aware of just how uncertain everything is for me.
I might just be closer to a midlife crisis than I want to admit, but I’m getting to a point, here.
Two years ago, I knew very little other than I knew my career was going nowhere and I wanted out. Other than game-related side projects, some on contract and some unpaid, there was no indication (that I was aware of) that I’d be doing anything but newspaper editorial work for the rest of my life. Any ship that would have carried me in a different direction had sailed, and it would be flourescent lighting, 30-year-old desks and computer software not much younger, random management and the nagging suspicion that nothing I did mattered, until I got too old to read a monitor or grip a mouse.
I still write every day. In fact, my current job involves writing e-mails to customers at the online subscription-based video game publisher I work for. But it’s writing that no one gets to read, except for me, my co-workers, and the customer who needs help.
The point might be apparent to some of you at this point.
Every day at work is a reminder to me of how distant I was from entertainment production and the services thereof, and how most entertainment consumers still are — gamers (probably) moreso than any other sort of entertainment consumer. I’d come to the conclusion well in advance of this job (my piece for GameCareerGuide was at least partly about this) that people who play games are not encouraged by their love of the craft to learn real information about its production, and it turns out I could not have been more right.
And that in turn makes me think about all the writing I did when all I knew how to do was write, writing about friendships I was making with actual game development and publishing professionals, and how easy that seemed despite having no claim to being easy to like or being able to relate to others. Most of that time was spent holding the door shut on the lingering desire to one day do what everyone calls, “go work in the industry.” What I really wanted to do was bear witness and learn, in a way most people on the outside looking in were not doing.
And again, as it turned out, I was doing the right things.
I’ve probably veered too far off the point now. One more detour and I’ll steer back.
Recently I attended a group presentation among 3D production professionals and enthusiasts that included a request for pros to come to local schools and talk about their work. Great, I thought, immediately correcting myself before finishing the thought, that would be so inappropriate for me to even assume anyone would want to hear about my professional growth — finish college, fart around in a chosen profession and be generally annoyed with just about everything for 10 freaking years* before getting the first bottom-rung customer service job at an office where there isn’t any actual game development going on anymore.
* 1998/9-2008/9, so actual truth.
So what I’m calling the other reason is the following:
Writing about games for a general audience, while it has been rewarding for me, reminds me too much of the past decade spent being generally unsatisfied and mopey.
I’m lots happier doing work that includes writing, but that most people will never read, and is too wrapped up in the scope of the particular game I work on that it reads like code to anyone not already familiar with the game.
This is the writing I ought to be doing, which as has been pointed out lately, is the kind of writing that makes this kind of entertainment happen.
All that writing I was doing before, on this blog and other Internet sites, including the ones that paid me to write about games? That writing didn’t get any games made.
That writing’s still important. Other people can do that writing now, and as I said in the previous post, some are more motivated and are at the proper stage of their lives to make it work for them.
It still sounds selfish when I put it that way, which is probably why I won’t bring it up again.
Now you know why I don’t post that much here anymore. We’ll see when I find something else to write about.
Some other time.