I’ve noticed that whenever I post about the frustrating, toilsome, degrading, or downright insulting problems that arise in the course of my day job, someone inevitably has to tell me how I’m a stupid whiner who doesn’t appreciate his awesome luck in being able to write about video games. Because clearly all I do all day is just play video games. Delivered to me daily on a gilt, quilted pillow by sexually willing harem girls in the employ of fabulously wealthy video game publishers. Accompanied by free swag and lobster tails.
This is a job, just like any other. I write and manage content during the day, so most of the time I spend playing the games I review comes after my 10-hour day at the office and late into the night. This is time that people in healthier careers regard as “personal time.” But not me! I rarely have time to do anything interesting on weekends, because, well, I’m working. This is something of a strain on my relationship, since my girlfriend doesn’t particularly appreciate the hours I’m expected to keep — especially on the salary I’m offered. And then there are the “relationships” at work, the political interactions which constantly remind you of two things. (One:) That as a person who puts a rating on a product, developers see you as worthless scum picking apart their hard work. But that’s better than (Two:) the way you’re regarded by publishers; they see you as a target of opportunity, a number waiting to happen that will either help or hinder their sales (and the corporately-mandated Metacritic quotas they’re expected to maintain on the individual products they’re assigned). They keep alarmingly detailed files on reviewers’ tastes, interests and lives in an effort to sway their opinions. And when said reviewers spoil their efforts to sway an opinion, the publisher often reverts to naked hostility, throwing figurative (or literal!) tantrums and sulking that you’ll never be privy to inside info ever again.
In other words, it’s a great career choice if you’re young enough to regard early access to cool games with wide-eyed reverence, and who cares about anything else. Or if you’re naive enough to think that you’re Making A Difference. Or if you’ve abandoned all personal dignity and integrity and will happily spin away as another cogwheel in the machine. If you don’t quite fit any of the above categories, though, welcome! You now understand why I don’t regard myself as the luckiest boy on earth.