I used to review games for a living 🎮
I started my first company on my eighteenth birthday with the brilliant business plan of “not getting up early in the morning”. Money would have to come later, I figured, and they did. This was 1998 and I had a somewhat substantial web presence with a growing network of sites focusing on role-playing games, entertainment, and the like.
My site, TVspel.nu (which translates to “video games now” in Swedish), started to get traction, and soon I pulled decent money through online ad sales. TVspel.nu was a pretty typical video game site of the time, with news and previews, reviews and feature articles. We got sent just about every game published for all platforms in Sweden, and reviewed most of them. There was an editorial staff of, at most, fourteen people, all doing it for fun.
Writing about, and reviewing, games soon became my job. I grew up with Commodore 64, and later NES and Super NES, and enjoyed playing games as a kid. That stayed with me, so making my hobby my job seemed like a good idea. A lot of people in today’s creator economy do that, with newsletters and ebooks.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? Do what you love, and get paid while doing it. A dream come true, right?
I think you know where this is going. The flip-side of writing about video games is that not all games are fun to play. There are deadlines to meet, so you need to rush through the games at times. An equal amount of time need to be spent on a poor game, as one you enjoy. When done, there’s rarely time to return to any but the absolute best games, if even, because there’s always another game to review, another deadline. Then, at night, you're fed up with gaming.
Doing what you love for work isn’t necessarily a good thing. You should obviously enjoy your work, but a hobby, such as playing video games, will change when you’re tacking business to it.
I don’t review games for a living anymore, that stopped in 2008. A decade was enough, I was so fed up with gaming that it took years and years until I enjoyed video games again. The hobby is tarnished, that’s the fact of it. I still play games occasionally, but I take my time, and drop most of them when I get bored. Which happens more often than not with video games these days. That could be an age thing, I guess, but I do think that every one of those game reviews chipped away at the joy of gaming. Who knew it was a finite source?
📚 I’m on to the second Amber book by Roger Zelazny, The Guns of Avalon. It’s better than I remember, but I did read a Swedish translation when I was fifteen or so, which probably says something or other about the experience I had.
🎵 I’m on a Warren Zevon trip, revisiting his older works. The Wind still hits me hard.
📺 Watching Fauda on Netflix. Not blow away, but it’s fine, I guess.
🎮 Still Playing Breath of the Wild, although playing might be overstating things because there hasn’t been much time for any of that this week. I intend to play it, at least – that counts, right?
I've been exploring ways to expand and further develop this newsletter. Rebooting the website would be a natural first step, but I also want to create additional value. I'm not going paid subscriptions or anything like that though, but I do feel that there could be something more than the weekly essay. If you have thoughts, I'd love to hear them. Just hit reply and let me know what you think.
And with that, I'm off to a working Sunday. I'm getting ready to reveal the cover for my upcoming fantasy novel, Automatonen. It's in Swedish which means that most of you won't understand much, but I'll put a link to the reveal in a future issue nonetheless.
Until next week, take care.
— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡
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