Over at Gamers With Jobs, Julian Murdoch looks at the craft of writing about games — and how being a gaming journalist has improved his relationship with games. While I've found writing about games has significantly cut into my time I can spend playing games — and there's a difference between playing for pleasure and playing for pay — I'll agree with many of Murdoch's thoughts in regards to going into situations with a new perspective, one that is frequently quite positive:
This self-conscious focus on both the game and the gamer is an unadulterated good. Playing games now brings a joy of personal intellectual exploration, in addition to the joys of escapism, mastery and conquest. There is no doubt in my mind that my enjoyment of BioShock was substantially magnified because I went into the game thinking, not just passively waiting to experience. How it was made? Who made it? Where the threads were that I could pull on, and discover how much fabric was really there?
Writing about games has taken me from the role of dreamer into the world of the lucid dreamer. Where once I woke from moments of seeming glory, grasping at the fading fragrance of what was right there just a moment ago, now I emerge from a game startled and awake, reaching for the pad of paper, struggling to synthesize the experience in a new form – a form hardened by an edge of language.
I have the problem that I find that intellectual, questioning part of me off — I approach all media with a certain critical eye, and it's hard to ever just sit and enjoy something just for what it is. Still, being able to approach games with a certain lucidity is a good thing, as are the overlaps between my 'academic' life and my 'gaming' life. My relationship with games has certainly changed since I started writing about them, but it's not always doom and gloom — making a living (or partial living) off of something doesn't have to kill the joy of it.