Some time back I attended a retro gaming convention, meeting with a fellow contributor on a website I was writing for. We hadn’t ever met in the flesh prior to the event, but we had discussed things at length on message boards and by email for months. We had decided that it was the ideal location to meet, and in many ways it was perfect. What it did throw up, however was the fact that we were now in a real world example of gaming websites. Everywhere you looked was someone with an opinion, someone who could better your knowledge and someone who would probably trounce your efforts on Manic Miner. What I wasn’t prepared for was a question from one of the guests, namely “Why write for free?”
I guess the simple answer to this would be ‘Because I’d never get paid for some of the drivel I write down” but in reality I think that it has more to do with my personal situation. I have similar commitments to many people out there, I have a job, I have a family and I have daily essentials. Gaming is a huge part of that life, but not one that I could ever put forward as priority. I don’t do deadlines, and as such being part of what is commonly regarded as the ‘blogging community’ or the ‘enthusiast writer’. I don’t mind this. I have opinions the same as legends of the gaming world, and the Internet gives me the chance to put them out there for all to see, and without and pressure from publishers or time constraints from deadlines.
I first started writing formally on-line over a decade ago, and now more than ever I feel that I have a voice as well as this on-line persona. I have seen an increase in confidence that led up to the last year, whereby I attended conventions, trade shows and started to actually look at press releases with a mind to actually ramp up The Lolocaust into a fully-fledged gaming blog. But what would be our key focus? What could we do that would stand out? The answer is, nothing.
See I write for myself, in the first sense, and you – dear reader – in the second. I write when I can, and when I feel the inspiration to do so, and generally I find that obsessively checking over visitor stats can be an incredibly elating time, when people visit, and crucially despair-filling when it doesn’t go the right way. Sure I might put a few hours into a long article, but it may never be read. If I were working on a large site I could almost guarantee that readers would take notice of my work, in droves, which would be a great inspiration to keep writing. But I’m not in the position – despite having it offered on a platter a couple of years ago – and instead I have this smaller site, ran with friends and coming off of a decade of other sites and contributions.
I keep writing because I have the spark in my mind that if one person reads one article and enjoys it, then I’ve achieved something. We have more success than that, but if site visits ever dropped down to a snail’s pace and ended up less than ten hits a day, it would still be ten hits to me.
I have a great job that gives me early access to games, and yet I barely write about this experience, but why? I’d usually say laziness, but I genuinely think it’s due to a lack of confidence in my writing, so in an attempt to change that I will endure to resurrect our One Hour Playtests, starting tonight with The Darkness II (which while already out, I just finished, so it felt right to start there). I can’t guarantee that they will be popular, but I hope that you understand that I write for the fun, I write to put something out there for others to read and to enjoy, and mostly I write for those people who already have subscribed, those who knew me on the Consoles and Conkers blog and have followed my exploits with Destructoid’s Jim Sterling and our ever-changing staff roster.
I write because I can, I write because I should. We all have a voice, and we should endeavour to use it in any way that we can.
It doesn’t need to be profitably, I don’t want to be famous. I just want to tell you about the things that I have done, and look forward to reading about the things that you have done in return. This site has seen promotion in national magazines, has had vocal support from great writers on-line and we’ve never sought to emblazen the front page with ads to bring in some revenue. We write on this site as a portal into our world, which is also a bit like your world, only with more/or less bacon in it. Changes are coming to the site – I know I say that a lot, but they *really* are – but we will never shift from doing this for the giggles, doing it for the lulz and indeed doing it because we have nothing better to do while Dancing on Ice is on.