How 'Assassin’s Creed' Gave Me A Career In Gaming
Welcome to Everything is Gaming, a weekly column where I take a look at the intersection of gaming and life. Today I’m telling the true tale of how I turned gaming from my favorite pastime into a kickass full time.
It's been a long time since I was a wee gamer, kneeling with my binder of shinies on the sidewalk in front of my middle school trading Pokemon cards with other kids. Two of the most popular jock guys sauntered up to tease me for playing what I thought at the time was the coolest game in the world. Obeying the protective instincts that have protected nerds for millenia, I quickly snapped my binder shut and hurried away. I stopped being public about my love for Pokemon and generally tried to keep quiet about nerd stuff in general after that. Oh, if I could go back in time and give them a smack (I wouldn’t because they were also children) but still, it’s fun to think about. Cut to years later, I’ve made a career out of playing and writing about games. I still get bullied occasionally, shout out to the trolls in the comments, but at least those trolls know what the heck I’m talking about.
I had taken a break from gaming in my early 20’s to
drink work on my career. I made some webseries, did some drugs plays, and generally was a young person in NYC. But my relationships kept failing (which you can read all about here) and my day job as a housekeeper and nanny was wearing me down. Then I met someone new, and as providence would have it, they were a gamer. I began playing Skyrim on their PS4, sometimes coming over to their spot more for the game than their company. They finally surprised me with a PS of my own and gave me a copy of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. It was, as they say, game on.
I was getting in some good numbers, respectable numbers like 12, 14 hours of gaming a day on days when I didn’t have work. I branched out, playing different open world games, trying some FPSs, MMOs, narrative indies, the works. By the following year, I was a well versed gamer and had quit my day job to write about nerdy TV for an online publication. Black Flag had opened my adult eyes to the incredible artform that is video games. With every new game I marveled at the innovative physics, combat systems, and UI so thoughtfully (or shoddily) crafted by a team of developers.
When Red Dead Redemption 2 came out, I played that sucker until I wore out the joystick rubber on my controller. I was desperately trying to finish the game before the Thanksgiving holiday where I would be forced to spend console-less hours with family. (This was before I decided video games would be my parents.) Before I left for vacation, a friend I’d made through the film festival circuit hit me up on Facebook and told me about a job offer as a gaming host for a media site. I’d apparently impressed them with my knowledge and passion about gaming. Knowledge that had come from hours and hours of gaming, all starting with Black Flag.
Ignoring my family over the holiday break, I feverishly worked on my application. Writing an essay and pitching ideas for video content around games. Pitching gaming content was a new skill, but a pasttime I would come to know very well. It’s putting in hours of work on something which might never come to fruition. Like farming runes in Elden Ring only to fall off a cliff like a real Elden Idiot. Still though, I had to try.
My hard work paid off and I got hired into my first office job. I thought I would hate going into an office. Instead, I reveled in the free snacks and camaraderie. Even though no one commented on my Assassin’s Creed Origins shirt that I wore the first day in the office, it felt good to be somewhere that felt like a safe space to talk about my passion for gaming.
Being around people who understood what I liked felt incredible. My friends in NY were mostly theatre people and drug dealers. At the office, for the first time in a large social setting, I wasn’t the odd one out. I could sling around jargon like AAA and FPS and AoE and draw people closer instead of seeing their eyes glaze over. I made friends, even introduced some hard core console and PC players to the simple, expensive joy that is Magic: The Gathering. Which I had been told as a kid was like Pokemon but better. I scoffed then, but for me, it proved to be true.
I’ve worked in gaming media for years now. Finding a community that shares your passion is incredible. Finding a community that will pay you to write about and engage with that passion is the dream. Working in the gaming industry is far from secure, there are company closures and sexism and gatekeeping. But there’s also joy and incredible art and good friends. I’m not sure where those bullies are now or if they remember teasing me for doing something they saw as lame. But today, I’m surrounded by people who ‘get me’ and every game I buy is a tax write off. So I’ll consider that a win.