I started writing for GameSpew on February 24th of 2016 – and I was absolute crap.
I didn’t have any journalism experience. No reporting experience. I had a very narrow view of video games and, to be quite honest, I’d barely written anything decent in my entire life.
I started writing when I was pretty young. My first big project was a book titled “Lake Truth Seeker.” I based all of its characters on people that I knew, and in researching my “book”, I occasionally had those people act out scenes so that I could visualise my brilliance come to life. Around the same time I wrote short stories and essays for a few competitions, winning third place once (I know, impressive right?) which awarded me with $50. I’m pretty sure it was spent on candy or something equally irresponsible.
I went on to take creative writing in high school and then in college. The best and worst criticism/advice given to me by my writing professor after he’d read one of my short stories was, “you’re funny, but not funny enough.” This pretty much still haunts me to this day.
Point being, I wasn’t a very confident writer despite friends and family giving me praise. But when you get to a point in your life when you really hate your job and wish you could be doing something you love, you just… start looking.
First, I started my own personal blog about video games that got upwards of ten whole views (!!!) a week. It was inconsistent and I rarely posted anything on an actual schedule. When I came across an advertisement for a new gaming website looking for writers to join their team on a volunteer basis, I figured it was worth it to take a shot, considering my personal blog for some crazy reason didn’t immediately grow into unfathomable popularity within the first month.
I honestly didn’t care about money; I spent half of my free time playing video games anyway and I figured it would be good to write something other than (what I considered to be) half-assed stories and video game reviews that weren’t “funny enough”. I got a response to my email, and after my heart started beating again, I got to work.
I vividly remember the day that I received an email back after I’d written my first review. It was from one of my favourite people on this planet, GameSpew’s own Kim, that started with something along the lines of, “I’ve just read your piece and… well honestly Becca it’s not very good.” There was panic, crying I’m sure, more panic and then finally a deep breath and a retry. Kim was patient. She taught, she didn’t order, and gave me some of the best advice and feedback I’ve probably ever received on my writing.
Fast forward to today. About four years since I started writing and I’m still excited to get up every day and work on something new. Coming up on my 1,000th article for the site, all I’m doing is looking forward to 1,000 more. And so to celebrate, and to say thank you to everyone who has ever helped me along the way, I wanted to write a short, cheesy list of what I’ve learned from GameSpew in that time. Or, at least a few of the things. Four to be exact. One for each year. Because the list would be really, really long otherwise and I’m sure it would stop being cute by that point.
1. Video games are incredibly diverse, just like people. When you meet someone on the street and you hear they like video games, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that they’ve never played Skyrim. There are millions of video games on the market. Shooters, puzzlers, platformers, adventure games, dating games, simulators, rhythm games – you name it. Everyone likes something different. It’s our responsibility as gamers to share our favourite games with our fellow gamers because if there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s that we can all see how awesome video games are.
2. A game can be entertaining, or a game can be a work of art. Often both. A lot of game developers use video games to express themselves, and they might not find as much joy in creating something like Uncharted that’s an action/adventure with a long-running storyline. Some may prefer simplicity, no dialogue, absence of colour etc. It isn’t always the game itself that matters; it’s the work and the passion that went into it.
3. Games can look really really terrible and still be an absolute joy. You never know. In my first year at GameSpew I played a game called There’s Poop in My Soup. It’s garbage. Absolute garbage, but I have about five hours of playtime in it. Sometimes, like books, it’s better to judge a game by its content or how fun it is rather than how it looks.
4. I am funny enough. Even when you think that what you love to do isn’t the thing that you’re good at, you shouldn’t give up on it. If you practice something enough, you’ll get better; then, before you know it, it will become second nature to you. And if you do enjoy it, then who even cares? Just because one person gives you a bad piece of advice doesn’t mean you have to take it. Especially because one brilliantly-delivered pun could be enough to make someone smile and, in that moment, you’re funny enough to them.
Cheers everyone, and here’s to many more years!