The day after I finished college, I launched Hit Self-Destruct. It wasn't until last Friday, seven months later, that I actually graduated. Having now experienced both, I'd have to say Hit Self-Destruct has proven to be the more rewarding and satisfying epilogue to my college experience. And between the blog and the piece of paper, it's the former that's had the most influence on my career path. That's the thing that breaks my heart.
Graduation has its special charms, sort of. Those ten seconds on stage; kind of a thrill. There's seeing all the people you didn't want to and not seeing the ones that you did. And even though everyone was wearing the same thing, I still think it was a pretty embarrassing outfit. Also, the hood was pink. I looked like a girl. A girl on the Supreme Court.
And then there was the weak graduation address delivered by an MA in Creative Writing, and me, with all my unchecked arrogance, dismissing it and writing something clearly superior in my head. (Seriously, it included a Powerpoint reference. Come on. You can't come at me with Powerpoint jokes, of all things.)
I had a lot of time to think. I thought about everything I was feeling and about how rarely those emotions or anything similar are represented in videogames. ("Videogames", just this once.) They're neither compelled in the player or evinced by the game's characters. Games have an emotionally-stunted vocabulary.
I thought about how discouraging that ought to be, and how I might form an incendiary manifesto to the industry in response. Grow up. Do better. Graduate. There's this entire emotional spectrum still uncharted and massive potential that remains unlocked.
Only I don't care.
I play games and so of course I am eager for games to improve and mature. I'm all for playing better games. I'm not a developer, though, and so I join the ranks of a thousand other amateur commentators whose influence is limited to lecturing and shouting. In some ways, that's a very enviable position, with little accountability and the possibility of breaking big in my favour: no one ever went broke criticising the immaturity of the game industry.
A lot of people seem to be perfectly happy doing this but I don't like it very much. This, right here, is a dead end. It can be as fun for as long as it is but it can never be what I do. I don't want to make a living telling other people what they're doing wrong, or as the guy who tells the other guy to be the change he wants to see in the world. It's too many degrees removed from anything of substance. I need to do more than that. But in this field it's the only skill I have, and, I suppose, I don't care enough about the industry to embrace it. I really can't pretend to be passionate about advancing the social and emotional complexity of virtual worlds when I can barely handle the real one.
Each time I get concerned about the future of video games, to some extent, it's disingenuous. If I didn't have a blog to write, I wouldn't care as much. I'm not committed to following through on any of the manufactured issues I raise. My investment begins and ends right here.
It can take a while to realise you're not in something for life.