For the love of gaming – re-igniting the spark of passion
Something happened to me between starting up my own games website and now – something changed which made me lose something very special to me. I can’t pinpoint when exactly it happened, but somewhere along the line, I stopped enjoying playing video games. I stopped being excited about gaming. I had, in what took me completely by surprise, lost my passion for gaming.
It’s a curious thing, being the creator, editor-in-chief and owner of a video games website. It was my love of video gaming that led me to establish Save Game, and yet, after only a few years I found myself in a troublesome position – I wasn’t enjoying the games I was playing and covering anymore. Sure, there were still games that I absolutely loved playing, but these games were the exception, rather than the rule. And more times than not, I’d pick up a game and put it down within an hour because the act of gaming simply didn’t appeal to me any longer.
There is a belief amongst gamers that being a games journalist or critic is one of the best things you can do, and in some instances it is. You receive press copies of games to review; you are invited to industry events and attend special closed door functions that aren’t available to the wider public. A new world opens up to you, a world filled, for the most part, with people just as passionate and enthused about gaming as you are.
However, with these perks also come responsibilities – you have to play and review games you may have absolutely no interest in; your attendance at industry events requires a write-up and coverage of the event; you, more times than not, no longer play games to enjoy them or escape from your 9 to 5 job – you play games to critique and review them, because now they are your job. In so doing, your focus when gaming changes, and with every game you play, little by little, the magic inherent in gaming slowly ebbs away.
It was a gradual process that happened without me realising until it hit me one day when I was reviewing a game – I’m not enjoying this anymore. More than that – I’d lost the interest in gaming I had when I started Save Game. Video gaming had turned from magical to meh.
This isn’t an unusual or uncommon situation – many people who begin working in an area they feel passionately about can quickly suffer the effects of burnout. After time spent in a job or industry, an individual can feel exhausted by their job, they can feel empty and spent; they can lose their motivation an interest in what they are doing. This was exactly where I found myself at the beginning of June this year. Three years of running my own gaming website and I was done. And then, two things happened that brought the magic back to gaming for me.
The first was E3 2014. This E3 marked the first year that I attended this industry only event. After years of watching the event online, devouring every new piece of information from the comfort of my home, I was finally able to experience it first hand and participate. To say that the Australian games industry has nothing remotely close to the scale of E3 is an understatement. E3 is the premiere games industry event, and this is highlighted in every element of the three day show. The mood on the show floor is electric; everyone within the two halls can’t help but feel energised by it. And whilst I admit to an element of ‘first time E3 attendee wonder’, being part of that three day show kick-started by enthusiasm for gaming.
It was an interesting dichotomy. On the one hand, I had set foot on the show floor having lost my passion for gaming. I was covering the event for the site I founded, but I’d lost my motivation for playing the games that were on show. Walking through those doors, however, seeing the over-the-top Vegas-like flashy displays of games; talking with developers and directors; surrounding myself with others in the industry – my enthusiasm for gaming suddenly returned. I wanted to talk video games again. I started to remember exactly why I created Save Game. Video games were shiny again.
It wasn’t until the second thing happened, however, that I truly found my passion for video games again. After E3 2014 came to a close, I was very blessed to have the opportunity to visit a development studio which has, over their long history, created several of my favourite video game series, including the series that made me fall in love with gaming as a whole. As part of a studio tour that was organised for me by two very special and amazing people, I was given the honoured experience of seeing developers and producers, writers and editors, creating the content that I had fallen in love with so many years before. What I experienced that day, what I was a part of, will be a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life. To describe what it was like to see first hand the creativity and the passion and the love that combines to form part of the development process of a game is incredibly difficult for me to elucidate -but the metaphor of watching a child experience their first birthday comes close.
After spending time with these artists in their fields, I felt energised and re-invigorated. My passion for gaming had returned an all I wanted to do was sequester myself away and double down on a mountain of games. That feeling I’d had when I initially established Save Game had returned with a vengeance and I couldn’t wait to dive back into gaming and re-ignite the magic of a passion I thought was lost.
My return to my love of gaming, however, was tempered with an awareness that there is a lot of negativity within the games industry. Bad news or controversial news stories result in more clicks to a website and see greater coverage than general ‘business as usual’ stories. This too is not an unusual or unique situation faced only by the games industry – in any industry it is the controversial or explosive stories that create the ripples that keep that industry turning. With all this polarising coverage, sometimes it can be difficult to see the good stories; to focus on what’s magical in the industry. But to continue to be a part of this industry without burning out means to focus on the good.
Being a part of E3 2014 and speaking with professionals in the field re-ignited the magic of gaming for me, and allowed me to see the good. I am grateful to have been afforded the chance to re-establish my passion for gaming. I cannot thank those who shared with me their own enthusiasm and fervour enough. Whilst it is true the games industry can, at times, be a brutal and unforgiving industry, I start July with a love of gaming rekindled, and a focus to see the wonder of the industry, rather than its disappointments or defects.
Thank you to those who have made the last few weeks so special. You know who you are.