Paid to Play

Paid to Play
A Site To Call My Own

Sean Sands | 22 Jul 2008 13:02
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When Slashdot picked up the story, professionally attributing it to us with links that trampled our tender bandwidth in minutes, they suddenly and, I presume, inadvertently became the source to which all future stories referred. The next day, everywhere I looked I saw "Slashdot Reveals Half-Life 2 Source Code Stolen." "Bullshit!" I could be heard shouting for miles around in impotent rage, but such is the circle of life in the world of digital reportage. In the end, the result of our scoop was an unusually steep hosting bill and virtually no recognition for our accomplishment.

My point is this: There is no glory in being the little guy and trying to make a name for yourself in this online space. In fact, looking back, it's not hard to understand why people make such short runs of this gaming life. There's very little money, very little room to stand out and very little recognition.

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad ...
There are days when the life I imagined for myself writing a gaming website comes tantalizingly close to reality. These moments are fleeting things, rare specimens of hope that briefly surface from the murky soup of failure and disappointment before unceremoniously re-submerging seconds later. They are the occasional infusions of addictive endorphins upon which I rely to carry me through the other 364 days of the year.

Moments like:

  • Getting in on an exclusive sneak peek at E3 because some guy from GameSpot didn't show.
  • Being interviewed by Time Magazine about being an adult gamer.
  • Finding out that some big-shot developer reads your site every-damn-day.
  • Seeing one of my writers find success at least in part because of his time with the site.
  • Playing Team Fortress 2 with people who would never have come together had without the site.
  • Having one of my favorite game developers playfully rebuke me for playing his game wrong at a demonstration.
  • Having something I wrote force a major publisher to budge, even if just for a moment.

Most days aren't like that. Most days involve banning some clown because his social skills are limited to racial epithets and spurts of righteous indignation, followed by an aching brain-throb from trying to come up with a clever topic for my weekly article. Like any other job, there's very little glamour in responding to emails about lost account passwords and whether we'd like to swap links with a site selling foot massagers. Unlike most other jobs, however, this one doesn't really pay me anything.

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