RIP GamingLives (Stray Thoughts From A Depressed/Anxious Ex-Writer)

uggghh this one is going to be hard to write

but i have felt shitty all day and i think it might help so here we go

GamingLives, a gaming website that primarily featured opinion pieces by a small crew of regular writers, is officially ceasing operations on Friday. And this makes me really quite sad.

But, then, I kind of have no reason to feel sad.

My involvement with GamingLives started… five years ago, I think? I was 17 and bored and looking for writing opportunities. I was semi-regularly uploading reviews of game demos to a website called Swearing At Video Games, primarily an achievement guide site that was looking to diversify. I was promised a share of the ad money. I received nothing and the site quietly shut down one day without my knowledge.

Back in those days, the Xbox 360 occasionally saw community-focused posts by AceyBongos, who would highlight cool shit or advertise things, all in textual form. One time he was bigging up a 24 hour marathon of a Halo game that someone had done, written an article about, and raised a bit of cash for charity for her trouble.

The article was on GamingLives. I had a look around, liked the stuff on there, saw a “write for us!” button, and thought, fuck it, why not. I bashed out a dumb article about playing games with your girlfriend (I was newly in a relationship at the time) and sent it off. They accepted it. I was ecstatic.

I was told that if I wrote three articles I’d be considered a writer, and then I could apply to write reviews, and I could get access to games, early, for free, to review. I was over the fucking moon. I scrounged for inspiration and got more articles out. I was a writer. For real.

I applied to be a reviewer and was knocked back. Lorna outright hated the opening paragraph of the one I submitted, and said it wasn’t anywhere close to the style they wanted. It was… well it was brutal. But it was incredibly helpful. I read some more reviews on the site, worked out their house style, regrouped, and wrote a new review within 24 hours of being rejected. I got accepted.

My first game was on PS3, a console that I didn’t own. I borrowed my brother-in-law’s. It was Red Johnson’s Chronicles, or something. It wasn’t great. I got another review. And another. I wrote opinions. I finished my A-Levels and went to uni.

One day, in summer, a fellow writer private messaged me on the forums out of the blue asking if I wanted to share a hotel room in Cologne with him for Gamescom. I wasn’t even going to Gamescom at the time. And then I was. And I saw a ton of new games, and I developed a long-standing hatred for YogsCast, and I met lots of nice people, and I felt like a goddamn king.

I went to a BBQ with all these people, all these writers for the site. I was absolutely fucking terrified of going. I got off the train and very nearly got straight back on. I wanted to cry. But I walked in and hugged everyone and said hello and introduced myself. It was a ton of fun. I’ve gone back nearly every year.

I stopped writing.

I stopped writing several times. I think the first time was because I’d gone through a break-up, and I felt like shit for months, and couldn’t bring myself to do anything but focus on my exams, which I scraped through.

I stopped writing because I got a “proper” job and couldn’t find the time to write anything anymore, despite the fact I’d be up for hours at night doing nothing.

I stopped writing because my depression and anxiety all got worse and worse and I didn’t do anything to make it better, lol.

In 2016 I wrote one article, and it was just retelling a story that happened. I like it, but it’s not one of my best. It’s not a great article. But it was something.

By that point, I had a full-time job writing, and I was done with writing for fun. I was stressed all the time, living in a town where I had almost no friends and nothing to do, ate like shit, got into (relative) debt. I stopped writing songs, writing blogs, writing about music or trains in games or anything.

GamingLives is shutting down largely because most of the core staff moved on to other things and couldn’t find the time to write anymore, or simply grew bored. It happens. People move on. It’s sad.

GamingLives, in some way, is shutting down because I couldn’t write anymore, because the very thought of writing made me want to throw up and punch myself and drive my car into a wall. So that’s fun.

I’m not blaming myself entirely for its closure. That would be stupid. It was a collaborative effort that slowly lost its collaborators, and I just happened to be one of them.

So it’s sad that it’s going, but hey, I didn’t pull my weight. I moved on, I guess. After I got my shit together, even. Christ, I didn’t even play video games for the longest time. I fucking hated video games.

i am doing better now, by the way, like a lot better, like hey look, i can even write a blog better

So I guess what I’m saying is: sorry Mark and Lorna, and everyone else at GamingLives, that I didn’t do my best, and that I flat-out stopped writing, but took up that space on the writer’s page. I’m sorry I didn’t promote your work harder. I’m sorry I don’t talk much in real life. I’m sorry I didn’t post more in the forum. I’m just, sorry, I guess.

Let’s end on a postitive note though: I want to thank Mark Reid one last time for a moment that has helped me stay positive through the years.

So I don’t recall the whole event, but I posted something on Facebook flippant about being a bad writer maybe? And my mother jumped into the comments to confirm that I was indeed a shit writer. That’s her humour, and I knew she was joking.

Mark didn’t know, and also jumped in to defend me. He wrote paragraphs of words about how I was a fantastic writer, that I needed very little editing before I was published, that I was one of the writers who joined at a high level and stayed that way. And, well, I nearly cried. Because it’s very rare that people so vehemently defend my work to others, in public, particularly when it’s my own mother.

Mark and Lorna both have given me great advice, critiques, and praise throughout the years, as have many others at GL, and I cannot thank you all enough.

I literally would not be where I am today without GamingLives, and I’m sure there are a few others from GL who would say the same. So thank you, thank you, thank you, and I’m sorry.

Ok. I’m done. I think. Don’t fucking @ me.

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