Blizzard worked on this damn thing since 2003, and here I was trying to choke the whole thing down in a day or two. It's one of the unfortunate aspects of my otherwise really, really--and I mean really--great job. In the name of being timely, sometimes there's just no time to take your time and savor experiences.
And we're not the only ones who are consuming StarCraft II in huge, unhealthy chunks. As my friend John Teti poetically put it yesterday: "StarCraft II is making game reviewers everywhere completely miserable right now." Imagine going to a great restaurant and ordering a huge steak, and then being told that you have four minutes to eat the whole steak and get the fuck out. That's pretty much what game reviewers are forced to do much of the time.
Around dinner time last night, I thought I'd spin the Canadian Pizza Wheel again. Pizza sounded good to me. I paused my StarCraft II campaign and called up a chain restaurant called Panago. An hour later, a delivery guy arrived. "Are you guys playing StarCraft II?" the delivery guy asked.
"Yes," I said.
He was visibly invigorated by this information. "Oh MAN," he said. "Can I have your jobs? HA HA HAHAAAA."
I was feeling miserable, having just endured a mission-ending base-storming by the Zerg, which meant DO-OVER. I wanted my pizza and I wanted this guy to leave. "We're professionals," I said, handing him his change. "So don't try this at home."
The guy lingered for a few more moments, until I finally had to shoo him away so I could get back to StarCraft. I ate some of my pizza and braced myself for another Zerg onslaught. "How is your pizza?" Vic asked.
"It's terrible," I said. "It tastes like a dog took a shit on some dough."
We laughed. "It smells good," he said.
"It's not good," I said. Even the most terrible pizza in New York was better than this. If you dug an old piece of pizza out of a garbage can in New York, it would taste about a million times better than this. Man, I missed those oily, salty slices the size of shape of Yield signs at Koronet on 110th Street and Broadway.
Fuck! Now those were slices!
I get the how-do-I-get-your-job question line a lot these days. Everyone in this business does. I get emails every day from people--some half-joking, some dead serious--asking for my job, or advice on how to get my job. I don't mind giving out advice. I love helping people more than anything in the world. If you really want advice--practical advice--I'll give it to you. But occasionally, on my worst days--like yesterday--I get cheesed off by these knee-jerk inquiries.
The truth is, you don't just wake up one day and do what I do. I'm sorry, but you don't. I went through a lot of shit to get where I am. I had a lot of lean years. Years when I lived below the poverty line. Years when I cast myself into the abyss of E3. I took chances. Shit, I wrote game reviews for free for years, before anyone took me seriously, before anyone paid me one cent to do any of this.
Anyone in this business who has endured took a huge leap of faith at some point and lived to tell about it. Look at Vic. He was an actor waiting tables. He loved videogames. Sixteen years ago, he invested in a camera and some editing equipment and decided to try to talk about games on TV, not knowing 1. if anyone would even broadcast his show, or 2. if anyone would care about anything he said should his show, by some miracle, get on the air.
Vic told me a story about this one guy who emailed him almost daily. He wanted a job in TV production. Finally, tired of the emails and feeling generous, Vic wrote back. "OK, here's your chance. Show me what you got. Impress me. Send me something cool showing me what you can do."
The guy wrote back immediately. "YOU WON'T BE DISAPPOINTED!" he said.
A couple of days turned into a week. A couple of weeks became a month. Still no word from the guy.
Finally, one day, an email pops up from him in Vic's Inbox. "I'm almost finished! I can't wait to show you what I've got! You're going to love it!"
Vic could have left it at that, and ignored the guy. He didn't. He gave him another chance. "OK, get it to me ASAP," he wrote. The company was hiring editors and production people at the time.
"I definitely will!" the guy wrote back.
More days passed. More weeks. More months. Vic forgot about the guy. Until one day another email showed up in his Inbox. "I am almost there FINALLY! Whew! Look for something in the mail soon!" the guy wrote.
But nothing ever arrived in the mail. And Vic never heard from the guy again.
The fact is, a door was opened, very briefly. Here was Vic, giving this guy what he said he so desperately wanted. And the guy, for reasons we will never know or understand, delivered nothing.
I get emails all the time from one cute girl who believes that she is supposed to be on G4 and hosting a show. "I KNOW I WOULD BE GREAT AT IT!!!!!!!!!" she writes. (Almost everyone I know gets emails from this girl.)
Look, it doesn't matter if you're a cute girl. Or the best gamer in the world. Or a cute girl who happens to be the best gamer in the world. You want my job? Don't spam people in the business with emails telling them that you should be on G4 because you think you would be "GREAT AT IT." Man, do something about it. Prove yourself. Show the world why you should be doing what you want to do. Give the world a fucking reason. Tell yourself that you're going to do this--you're going to work in the videogames business in some capacity--no matter what goes down in your life.
No matter what your parents say. No matter what your guidance counselor tells you. No matter how much shit and trash and terrible shit-ass pizza life throws at you.
Do that, and then maybe we'll talk about you taking my job.