If You Choose To Accept It

"438," said the young man.

Phillip's eyes snapped open. He sucked in a short, sharp breath and shook his head with a quick jerk. He looked up from his notepad to the young man and said, "I'm sorry what?"

"438," the young man, Jim, repeated. Phillip just stared at him blankly. "Hours. That's how many hours I've been playing WoW."

"Right!" Phillip smiled and nodded. "That's right, and you said this has been virtually non-stop since you purchased the game?"

"That's correct," said Jim.

"Describe 'virtually' non-stop for me," Phillip said. He looked down at his notepad and read his notes: Jim Stanfield, 26, unemployed, Mother's house, World of Warcraft, hours? The list continued with a few renderings of cubes and swirls. There was the beginning of a sketch of the new receptionist at the office. He'd finish that later.

"Well," Jim started, puffing his chest up, "by virtually non-stop I mean I play as often as I can and still live. I take 4 hours a night for sleep and 1 hour a day, combined, for meals and a few minutes in change for the bathroom, depending."

Phillip stopped jotting down the figures and looked up, "Depending? Depending on what?"

"Depending on if my wireless keyboard is charged and what, exactly, I'm going in there for. If it's a big one I take the keyboard into the bathroom with me." Jim motioned to the open door in his room. It had a direct line of site to the computer screen. "If it's just a little bit I use the bucket." Jim motioned to the bucket next to Phillip's feet.

Phillip followed Jim's finger down to the covered bucket and jumped back nearly knocking it over. A wet sloshing noise came from inside. Phillip closed his notebook.


"Hey, there Phil, how did that WoW guy do?" Phillip's editor, Carl, said into his Bluetooth headpiece.

Phillip held up his notebook in front of him with his cell phone pressed against his ear. "He's almost 30, has no job, no girl, pees in a bucket, and since his bed looks like an old glazed donut I'm not even sure that this hourly break down of his nights is completely accurate."

Carl whistled with a smile. "Damn," he said, "a bucket huh? Did you get a picture of that?"

"Look Carl," Phillip huffed, "this is not what I signed up for. Interviewing troglodytes that crap in portable containers is not my idea of gaming journalism."

"Come on Phillip we've been through this before," sighed Carl.

Phillip looked around Jim's Mom's kitchen and then leaned into the phone. "No, Carl! No! You've been through this! I never get to finish. Why can't I go interview that guy in Washington? You know the guy that pumps gas that helped make that game we play in the office? I'm sure I could get more than a thousand words out of him."

"And who the hell is going to read your thousand words Phillip?" Carl barked. "Gamers? You think they are going to take 5 minutes out of their busy schedule of WoW and Battlefield 2142 and Texas Hold'em to sit down and actually read your little expose?"

Phillip ducked outside as Jim stomped down the stairs. "Come on," he said. "You aren't giving these people enough credit. Not everyone is like Jim."

Carl chuckled as he said, "you mean they haven't quite reached that point yet?"

"I mean they aren't goddamned mutants!" Phillip shouted. "Regular people, Carl, they are regular people. Blue collar and white collar, middle class men and women. That's who we should be writing for. We need to get off this shock value crap and get back to reporting."

Now it was Carl shouting, "No, you need to get back to reporting! What the hell are you doing talking to me on the clock anyway? We can talk about this when you get back. Now go back in there and finish up your interview. I need this slob's pathetic life story on my desktop by Friday."

Phillip gave out a defeated sigh. "Sure thing, Boss, while I'm at it I could interview the Mom. Maybe get a nice little piece on a mother's opinion of supporting a deadbeat gamer."

"Don't tempt me, Phil. Just get your story and get out of there. I need you in Vermont tomorrow. Kid died yesterday when he and his friend were playing Mortal Kombat in the back yard." There was a pause before Carl gleefully added, "Fatality!'

"You're disgusting Carl," Phil mumbled.

"What was that? Sorry Phil the phone cut out," Carl said.

"Nothing," Phillip sighed again. "I'll be out there tomorrow."

"Cheer up pal. Hey, after the dead kid why don't you take some time off? You've been working pretty hard and I'm sure a little break will make things clearer for you," Carl said.

"Things are pretty clear right now, I think," Phillip said. "I signed up to write about gaming. Now all I do is fly around and interview these head cases that have no way of telling the difference between fantasy and reality, and when I'm in the office I just write up some wild conjectures about upcoming releases. That is, whenever I can get enough page space after the ads and 'sponsored' reviews have moved in. We don't publish anything to represent the gaming public at large, just the bad and the made up."

"Yeah," Carl growled, "and what are they going to read instead? Huh? What's the alternative for these yahoos? I'll tell you what it is: nothing. We're all they got baby!"

"You think they won't choose nothing over crap? I don't read our site, Carl. I don't think you do either. Not anymore." Phillip said.

"Just do your job, Phillip, and pray that you never run out of head cases. While your at it, pray that you never stop hearing about GTA rampages and dead guys in coffee shops. Pray that Rockstar keeps getting sued and that Jack Thompson keeps running his mouth. Most of all, pray that you are always there, right there in the front, with the exclusive. You might hate what this site is but we report what the people demand. The 'everyman' you keep talking about? Blue collar and white collar alike? They crave this crap, and if we stop reporting the bad and the bizarre then they stop reading, we stop getting sponsorship and we die. Then you might actually have to get a real job. You wanted to be a gaming journalist? You wanted to be in the thick of it and report what is important to these people? Well guess what, sweetheart, you made it. So stop crying about it not being what you thought and get your head on straight. You're idea of what this site should be is a dream, Phillip, it doesn't exist, anywhere."

Phillip was breathing hard; choking back his stomach as he shakily answered his editor. "You're wrong Carl. You're wrong. There is a better way."

"Prove it," Carl shot back.

"I will." With that Phillip closed his phone and tossed it side hand into the open garbage can next to him. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He walked inside and found Jim's mom making cookies. "Mrs. Stanfield? What's the best way into Washington from here?"


After six and half years, I am quitting my journalist job. Although I am not a game journalist (working for economy and business weekly), this article resonates with my current feelings on so many levels. Nice read!


Solid piece. I have to say though, I disagree with the editor (which is, to some extent, the point of your piece). I'm not sure I consider myself a "journalist." I do consider myself an expository writer. I'm not an author. I write from life, and when fiction comes out, it's almost always illustrative of a point and in the context of a larger issue. (Not like your stories. Can't wait to read your novel bro.)

So I'm faced, more than weekly, with a blank screen. Yes, conflict is easier to write about than peace. Peace - or even the continuation of a bad status quo - hardly ever involves change. That's kind of the point, and why folks like Ghandi and Thoreau we're so unique. They we're active pacifists. They made better stories, because they threw themselves onto an altar of change.

Writing about games is fundamentally no different than writing about any other part of human culture. A writer makes choices, and conflict is the easy choice. The challenge is to find 'action' to write about that's representative, not just easy. The recent thread here about 'negativity' brought about some interesting discussion. My sense, after reading and thinking for a day, is that there are two issues at the moment:

1: The baseline status quo is really good. There's a lot of good stuff going on if you're a gamer. But there's not a lot of ACTION because, as we all know, it's a transition year.

2: There has been a string of high-profile stupidity. It might go unnoticed if we had launched the PS3 two months ago. But in the absence of big positive stories, the strategic flubs, technical problems, landgrabs, EULA obscenities and legislative inannity takes center stage by default.

Anyway, good piece.

You make my job seem far more glamorous than it really is, Chig. I've had to interview some pretty strange characters, sure, but never have I been forced by an editor to interview a guy who craps in a bucket.

Of course, maybe I'm just working for the wrong editors.

I pee in a bucket! Someone interview me!


Okay, not really.


It's more of a small washtub.

I peed in a Gatorade bottle while driving once. Pick me!

KaterinLHC wrote:

Of course, maybe I'm just working for the wrong editors.

And what is THAT supposed to mean, Miss "still has open queries on my desk"?

Fletcher wrote:
KaterinLHC wrote:

Of course, maybe I'm just working for the wrong editors.

And what is THAT supposed to mean, Miss "still has open queries on my desk"?

That means you've never asked me to interview players with creative interpretations of the words "bathroom facilities". And I hope you never, ever do. Ew.

KaterinLHC wrote:
Fletcher wrote:
KaterinLHC wrote:

Of course, maybe I'm just working for the wrong editors.

And what is THAT supposed to mean, Miss "still has open queries on my desk"?

That means you've never asked me to interview players with creative interpretations of the words "bathroom facilities". And I hope you never, ever do. Ew.

Two words, Crigger: poop sock.

Fletcher wrote:
KaterinLHC wrote:
Fletcher wrote:
KaterinLHC wrote:

Of course, maybe I'm just working for the wrong editors.

And what is THAT supposed to mean, Miss "still has open queries on my desk"?

That means you've never asked me to interview players with creative interpretations of the words "bathroom facilities". And I hope you never, ever do. Ew.

Two words, Crigger: poop sock.

*sigh* I'll go get my camera.

I always wondered how those things worked.... i mean, how wide is this sock and how do you "aim" where the poop goes?

Luckily i'm not a reporter or really a writer - though i do enjoy "writing" a blog every now and again. My girlfriend is published though and it always amazes me how some people can just string together words to make a sentance that not only makes sense but conveys underlying passions, conflicts etc. It's a skill i wish i had.

Duoae wrote:

... it always amazes me how some people can just string together words to make a sentance that not only makes sense but conveys underlying passions, conflicts ...

This is in response to "Poop Sock"?

Wow, I guess I gotta work on my 1337 5K1lZ

rabbit wrote:

I have to say though, I disagree with the editor.

rabbit, I'd worry about you if you didn't. This was just my romanticized idea of how something like GWJ gets started. A defiant action fueled by passion and love for the past time.

Apparently, it's closer to defecating into a foot covering and photographing it.

Duoae wrote:

it always amazes me how some people can just string together words to make a sentence that not only makes sense but conveys underlying passions, conflicts etc. It's a skill i wish i had.

You wish you could write, and now I know that. You conveyed that passion pretty well. Looks like you've got a good start.

Dang, I was hoping this article was a teaser for a Dwarf Fortress interview. I'd dig that.

This article made me cry. I don't work for a shock-jock asshat like that. But that is what I'm up against.

It's Carl Monday the library pr0n king and that twit who wrote that article about the DS claiming it could be used by child predators - even after being told exactly how it really worked. Everyone's bitching about whether or not the ESRB could really play every game; no one's talking about the fact that if Brownback's bill goes through and they really can't the government would take over not only rating videogames, but movies and TV. And damned skippy sure no one wants to hear about the fact that the problem the ESRB has isn't so much their assessment process, but their ratings system has Deep Impact-sized holes in it when it comes to certain things parents really want to know and that's what keeps biting them in the arse.

It's not just as a game writer. I get the same crap as a mainstream writer and a technical writer. I write a piece about the election at the behest of a local online newsrag. Because it advocates that maybe we should do something about what might actually be causing a problem in the election system rather than just shouting "someone stol'd it!" or "we did not! nyah nyah nyah!" I either a) get a bunch of crap from the people hugging the white lines on both sides of the road or b) ignored for a piece about Hillary Clinton's underwear or something equally rivetting c) it gets bought and scheduled but when the executive editor saw it he pulled down because someone has decided that they don't want to upset their local election board and it never sees the light of day. (don't worry - I slapped it up on my blog and a whole bunch of other places)

It's hard to see something you've been shouting into a windtunnel about for what seems like forever suddenly be all over the place. Now that's is popular to talk about parents and games, everyone's got to talk about Parental Controls. Where the hell were you when I was trying to get people to use them on their original Xbox back in 2001!? Oh, wait, I know. You didn't want to frighten off the little kids from begging their parents until they bought your system with the concept that their parents could actually stop them from playing Super Blood-soaked Smashum behind their back if they wanted to take a few minutes of time and trouble.

It's not just mainstreamers, either. How many gamers are out there who still think Oblivion was re-rated because of that nudie mod?

You keep at it, I guess. But sometimes it's awful tiring.

Mom, bathroom!

Sorry about that guys. I'm not having much luck in any realm these days. I'm going to go breathe into a paper bag for about a week or so.

Anyone want to talk about the chicken vs. egg issue here? Like how mainstream news tells you what to think, and then repeats that ideology for great ratings? (*cough Fox News*)

Fact is, journalism, as much as it's an industry that seeks to cater to consumers, is also a frequent, repetitive provider of information and opinion that shapes the minds of the audience. If the journalistic community writes filth, filth will become what's expected from journalism. Then when filth is not delivered by journalism, people will react negatively because they didn't get what they expected.

(Hooray for vicious cycles! I'm going to go drink and pass out on the couch! I love quittin' time!)

What I'm driving at there is that even when the audience is treated like idiots, that point of view probably even reinforces the ethical/moral obligations of the writers and editors to not just shovel dung. If people aren't going to think, at least don't make them dumber by reading.

Then again, I chose IT over following journalism, so I guess I might have my own biases here.

Rat Boy wrote:

Mom, bathroom!

That is exactly what I thought of.

Momgamer, I feel your pain. I've been a professional writer for more than two decades. While I don't really spend a lot of time on gamer writing, the stories I've been asked to cover or debunk have been absurd at times. (Don't even get me started on the whole outsourcing mess which was a story I covered for years and only now that we're looking at 3.3 million jobs a year going overseas is anyone paying attention...)

Anyway, I think I'll grab a bag and join you.

This article made me cry.

Aw, that wasn't the intention. The intention was to show you all how we can rise above all that and that there is still at least one avenue of honest and expressive game writing (this site).

But, hey, I want to make it up to you anyway. I mean, I made the asshat up. Watch what I can do with the power of writing.


"What the hell are you doing, Phillip?" Carl shouted as he looked up from his keyboard. There was Phillip, drenched from the heavy rain, with a look of desperation and sadness. He already had his arm raised, pointing at Carl's chest. The barrel of a 38 special was protruding from the sleeve of Phillip's coat.

"I'm here to make sure you don't make anyone else cry, Carl, ever again." Phillip said in a haggard voice. There was the slightest touch of satisfaction in his raspy vocalization.

"Jesus, Phillip. Are you drunk? I'm your boss! I'm your friend! We started this together!" Carl pleaded. "We can work this out!"

"Don't worry, Carl," croaked Phillip. "I'll make sure they post your obituary." The end of Phillip's coat sleeve shredded as the revolver popped. Carl's shirt snapped like a rubber band and his leather chair shuddered as the bullet passed through it into the wall. Carl gripped the widening copper circle on his shirt and stumbled sideways. He tumbled through the thin glass of his office window and went down, a screaming meteor returning to Earth's hard surface.

There was a sound like a thunderclap as Carl's body collided with the steel making up the inside of an open garbage truck.

"Ooops," exclaimed Casey Jones as he pulled the level to start the truck's powerful hydraulic press, crushing Carl into the same thick pulp that he once published on a daily basis.


There, all dead. Does everyone feel a little better, now?

Don't use your powers for evil, Chiggie.

Duoae wrote:

I always wondered how those things worked.... i mean, how wide is this sock and how do you "aim" where the poop goes?

This is one of my favorites in the category of "sentences I never thought I'd read".

As a scientist there's only one way to find out! I say we experiment. Now, i need some volunteers..... i'll buy socks of various lengths and widths then i'll need the volunteers to eat a regimented diet of oatmeal for breakfast, just one shake at lunch and then a hot curry every night. That should guarantee good results!

Chiggie wrote:

You wish you could write, and now I know that. You conveyed that passion pretty well. Looks like you've got a good start.

Well, it's not really a passion as such. I have tried to write in the past but i've been told i confuse present 1st and 3rd person tenses in my writing. Plus i find that when i read over what i've written it seems overly simplistic and childish. Writing conversationally as you do on the internet is pretty easy though

Rabbit wrote:

This is in response to "Poop Sock"?

Wow, I guess I gotta work on my 1337 5K1lZ

LOL, yeah i guess. Though it's more of a realisation that i'm not anywhere near the level of a professional writer. It came to me the other day when i read some of my gf's stuff (she doesn't let me read it normally). Some people are prosaic, others (like myself) just like to play games I guess it's just one more stupid "dream" i can discount - like being an RAF pilot.

My Dad was in the RAF for a little while. He just went and signed up. They had some sort of special circumstances where you could sign up for a year or maybe two and then you could opt out. So he got free flying lessons.

Anyway, the point is to just go for it. Dreams are like a living thing inside your mind. If you nurture them then they stay healthy, but if you ignore them they don't go away they just rot in place. You won't forget that you wanted to be a writer or a pilot or whatever else you might want to be. You'll just get slowly poisoned by regret and bitterness that you never tried to pursue it. Even if you don't think you'll succeed you have to try because that's the only way to put your dreams to rest.

When I started writing a few "article-like" threads in the forums it wasn't because I thought someone would take notice. I did it to prove to myself that I wasn't capable of doing it. I figured once I saw the negative response so plain before me I could forget my silly writing dream and move on.

Well, the first one didn't get a negative response. Neither did the second or the third. Eventually, they got such a positive response that now I get to write for all of you wonderful folk on almost a weekly basis. My dream is alive and well, renewed with new hope and I'm writing more than I have in years.

So, why not just give whatever your dream is a try? I'm not telling you to go join the Air force, especially in this day, but I bet it's more about the flying than the military. You could check out pilot classes for a private license. No harm in just checking it out right?

/overly long cliché' "Dreams" speech

G. I. Joooooooooooooooe!!!

Thanks for the pep talk. The pilot thing was a childhood dream. I wanted to be a fighter pilot and "do" dogfights. Of course i grew up, realised that pilots don't really dogfight anymore as usually it's all long-range lock-on technology crap*. I also discovered that 6'2" is a little over the limit to be a fighter pilot. I could have been ground staff, but by this time i had realised that my dream wasn't to be.

*IMO the old pilots were like modern era knights - sure the tech wasn't always on par and they didn't always fight fair, but then neither did knights but at least most of the combat was about skill.

So you just started writing posts (like the front page ones) in this forum here? I don't actually read the forum i only browse the front page posts. It's funny because my girlfriend has the mentality you talk about. She'll pretty much try anything once - just so she can say she did it but was crap or didn't like it. Me? Not so much. I'm a scaredy-cat, afraid of change recluse. But i still have fun.
To be honest i don't think i could write pieces like you guys do. I have written stuff before ranging from stories to opinion and information pieces. I don't think i can write the last two with the same skill and verbal dexterity as you guys do. I'm the kind of writer who is decent, not terrible, but readable. The person who has the same sentence ending a couple of lines apart (and i didn't just do that to prove a point ) who gets encouraged in English classes but is never the one who hears:

"This is really good. You should be a writer!"

One of my main issues is a lack of inspiration. I'm great at ranting, playing the fool and depressive diatribes (such as this one). But i don't think i've ever written anything that makes people stop and think, really think about the subject at hand. For example, the above piece draws the reader through a story but the point and purpose of the plot evolution isn't initially apparent. I think it takes real skill to do those things and i'm the kind of person who believes that everyone can do anything but are limited by a certain natural skill level.

The black angel stepped around the desk and approached the gaping maw of the broken window pane. Before he reached the edge he could already smell the hot, wet air wafting in from the hole.

As he peered over the edge at the roiling chaos of the street below, Phillip grimly surveyed his work and whispered to himself with a bit of determined sadness, "I'm sorry to have to do this to you, old friend, but for what it's worth, you just weren't yourself anymore. I'm going to start this over. I'm going to make it work. I'm going to make this a site for real gamers, and I'm going to do it for you, or what you had been before. I'm doing this for me, and I'm doing this for you."

The glass crunched under foot as he turned to walk away, and the velvet lining of his coat pocket was smooth as silk as he brought his tool of termination to rest at the bottom. His work was done for today. It was time to grab himself a Dannon Light 'n Fit Smoothie.

As he walked off to the elevators, he considered his current situation. "I think I'll have to change my name, after this. I've always liked Shawn. It's a good name. Or maybe Sean. Who knows."

I'll be fine, though I like the death scene. I would have used something a little more emphatic than a .38, but well done. We should start a cooperative story in here or something.

I'm doing better. I was thinking about changing my screenname to "Job" there for a bit but I decided against it because I'd have to explain it all the time and that would get really annoying really really quickly.

Duoae, I read somewhere that you have to write a million words before you're ready to really write. I can't remember off the top of my head who said it (Stephen King?). Forums are a great way to get that million words in without the hassle of trying to figure out what to write about. You get handed the topic - you just fill in your response. And it's natural because you're motivated. Then when you do find your topic you've already got your tools sharpened and you know exactly how they fit your hand. I did an estimate once and found out I throw out on average over 5,000 words a day between the various forums/blogs and stuff places I contribute (not counting Gamerdad, Zaydoe, or Work here). But I'm a freak and you don't have to do that much. But I think you'd be shocked if you did a count.

Reading through these comments the idea surfaced that we should have some sort of organization for writers who cut their writing teeth on forum posting.

I think you just started a blog entry.

Hehe, i'm no writer.... just divine intervention or a little slice of muse

Thanks for the comments momgamer. If that million words thing is correct i should be nearing that soonish - if not, then when i write my thesis i should be around a hundred thousand nearer to it though after finishing that i may never want to write again!

I write inconsistantly in a forum i visit and some other random places i frequent (such as GWJ). Unfortunately i don't so much as write as argue. The communities i used to belong to have long since changed hands with the next generation or been lost to the void of null-net (that terrifying place behind the delete key).

One thing i think you need to be able to write is to be able to read. Not in the literal sense (though of course this applies) but that hungry yearning for page after page of material to devour. I used to read a lot but have recently (the last two/three years) have stopped reading as much. Of course i still buy books, i'm currently in the middle of about 4-5 different books though i don't see any signs of myself finishing them anytime soon.

I think that idea you had is quite interesting, though there are many writing courses i'm not sure how many writing blogs or forums there are (myriad by the looks of the googlescape). As a prelude to writing, maybe general forum posting would be more applicable to non-fiction articles and such. I can imagine it would be an interesting project to initiate, though tracking the results could be difficult.

Thanks for the ideas

Incidentally, it takes me forever to finish a book, even if I love it.

Now, whether you think I pass as a writer or not, you can apply that little nugget to your idea about reading. Honestly, I don't think it plays a big a part in the process as people think.

Perhaps you're right then. ^_^