Sometimes it takes an old friend to remind you of why you are where you are in life. Last night, an old college roommate of mine who I hadn’t seen in 4 years crashed at my place on his way to Pittsburgh. Neither of us even realized it’d been that long until about 1AM when we were sitting in a 24-hour fast-food joint eating a late-night breakfast. When we got back to my place I started showing him some of the random junk I’d been accumulating in the few years since I’d seen him. There were a few pictures of my nephew, a set of forks he’d stolen from the university dining hall almost 8 years ago that I still use, and some random video game paraphernalia. A lot of video game paraphernalia. Nintendo kitchen magnets, an I <3 NY sweatshirt with Mario’s head in place of the heart, and my increasingly space-limited game collection. With only about 1/3 of my collection here with me in Erie, it still takes up an entire bedroom.
Joe’s first reaction was actually exactly what I expected him to say. He told me that I missed my calling, that I wasn’t nearly as passionate about medicine as I was about video games, and that I should try to make it out to San Francisco with him and get into the industry that I’ve been obsessing over for 20 years now. It was a typical response from Joe. He’ll come up with a random idea one day on an impulse that no one expects him to be able to pull off, and he’ll see it through till the end – even if it takes years. He’s got more freedom, motivation, and resourcefulness than anyone I’ve known.
And if I really thought going into gaming journalism or editorial was a viable career option for me, I probably would have done it years ago. But it’s not a career. It’s a job. Whether it’s layoffs, moving on to different positions in development, or integrity scandals, not one member of GameSpot’s editorial staff is the same since I joined the site six years ago. Nearly every viable opportunity in video games is in California – a 6 hour flight from any family and friends.
When I was growing up, I never even considered the option of getting a job in the video game industry. But it wasn’t because of any of the reasons I mentioned above. The only job I ever considered for myself was as a physician. There wasn’t anything I else I wanted to do, because, as disgustingly cheesy as it sounds, I like helping people. I like knowing what’s going on when people are sick and knowing how to fix them. It’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do with my life. Video games are just what I want to do with the parts in between.