I think I might be starting to earn the picky part of my name, but it’s not because I don’t like a lot of the games I play. In fact, I very rarely play any games that I end up disliking. I’ve very recently been discovering that this isn’t a good thing for someone who writes about video games.
As a kid, I learned about video games through exposure. I might see a friend playing a new Pokemon game on the playground, and later beg my mom to buy it for me. Or I’d see an advertisement on TV or on a poster for a game that I thought looked cool. Or, of course, the aforementioned blind purchase. I also often played games based on established IPs such as movies, since I already knew I liked them. Thank God we’re 90% out of the era of terrible movie-adaptations into games.
That all changed with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
Skyward Sword was the first game I played from start to end, but it wasn’t the first game that exposed me to Zelda. I’d seen my babysitter’s son playing Twilight Princess during Arbiter’s Grounds. I had no context for anything that was going on in the game, but I remember being completely blown away by the design of the game, both graphically and through the actual game design. It had me hooked. I asked to play just “Zelda” because that’s all I remembered from the game’s title. Instead of playing Twilight Princess, I ended up playing Ocarina of Time on an actual N64. The game was already beaten, so I just ran around the world doing nothing in particular, but I was fascinated by it all the same.
This eventually led to me begging my parents to go into a GameStop to get a game from The Legend of Zelda, with no particular title in mind. I was given a choice between Skyward Sword and Phantom Hourglass, and wisely chose the former. Plenty of people hate on Skyward Sword, but Phantom Hourglass is just not a good game at all. I played it over the course of a few months, and loved it more than any other game I’d ever played. It’s funny in retrospect, but back then I felt like I’d had a revelation as to how powerful and amazing video games could be. It was truly a fantastic moment that I’ll think back on fondly years from now.
From that moment onward, I knew that I couldn’t keep on picking games at random. There were masterpieces out there, and I had to find them! At first, I just looked up wikis of different Zeldas, Marios, the usual suspects. I don’t think I’ll ever truly exhaust the seemingly infinite library of fantastic retro games, but I’d gotten to the point where I wanted to try out the newer stuff, too. I wanted to be able to play the new games the day they came out, specifically Zelda, so I read everything from zeldadungeon.net back when they were still writing news and editorials and not just guides. Then, I subscribed to MyNintendoNews via email so I would get any and all news about Nintendo minutes, even seconds, after the press found out about it. I was in the know.
Unfortunately, this pivotal point in my middle childhood had some negative consequences that I wouldn’t be able to recognize until fairly recently. By setting up specialized news outlets that only covered specific types of games, (Nintendo) I was limiting the types of games that I played. Nintendo publish all sorts of games, from platformers to JRPGs to even online shooters, but at the end of the day, they’re just one platform among many. Sony and Microsoft provide experiences that I might enjoy more or less than what Nintendo provides, but I won’t know that until I play them.
Now, this isn’t really a problem for your average Joe. It is perfectly fine and acceptable to only play even one game in your entire life if that’s your hobby and you’re content with that one game. But it does become a problem when you want to write about video games. I started writing on this site in January, and at first I had plenty to write about because I was writing the obvious articles that I’d thought about writing possibly for months. But once I started trying to publish something on a daily basis, (I’m currently at 21 consecutive days, more than one third of my goal of 60!) things seemed to start to be a little too similar. Whenever a big AAA game would come out that wasn’t on a Nintendo platform, I’d feel like I had nothing to add to the conversation. I’m not saying that I should be in on every hot topic, but in today’s world of video games, Nintendo is too narrow of a topic for me to write a captivating article about on a daily basis. And then there are the smaller indie games that I might have a monopoly on coverage if I were to actually cover them and not stick to the Nintendo AAA titles that only come out every month or two!
Despite all I’ve said, I’m not saying that you can’t write exclusively about Nintendo (or PlayStation or Xbox) and have good, quality content. Some of you from TAY have proven that wrong! This isn’t a blanket statement, because there are plenty of very successful video game journalists who specialize on exclusive platforms, genres, or series. But for me personally, I’m not at a point where I can do that. I have to have variety, or I will quickly become stale.
At this point, it’s not about the views. I’m very lucky to have found a platform where such an amateur writer can get up to ten thousand views, but they don’t really mean anything. I’m not a YouTuber who goes hungry every time I don’t get enough ad revenue from a video. I’m writing because I enjoy it, and if you aren’t enjoying reading my articles, chances are I’m not enjoying writing them. I write what I want to read. I’m not yet as articulate as the writers of Kotaku or as insightful as the crew at GameXplain, but that’s what I’m aiming for. And in order to expand my breadth of experience with video games, I bought a PS4.
It also has cool games.