A note from the Features Editor of Polygon, Russ Pitts:
The first time I wrote about video games for profit was pure luck.
It was 2003. I was unemployed. I'd quit a job working in television and was supposedly writing a book, but really I was downloading torrents of video games off the internet and playing when I should have been writing.
Eventually my conscience got the better of me and I decided to buckle down and actually do some writing. Not on the book I was working on, of course. I can't actually even remember what it was supposed to have been about. Something about highways and growing older. Boring. No, I wrote about video games.
A website I followed held a story contest. I entered. The prize was a copy of Tropico 2. The assignment: Write about a good gaming memory. I wrote about the time, years ago, I'd spent a weekend playing Myst and had been so absorbed I'd declined the charges when a friend traveling in the Middle East attempted to call me collect. I submitted my story, then spent a week sweating the results.
When I found out I'd won, I could hardly believe it. A single copy of Tropico 2 wasn't quite the lottery jackpot, but for a guy who couldn't actually afford to buy a game, it was a pretty swell deal.
When the game arrived in the mail, it hit me that maybe this thing I had been doing my whole life (writing) could be permanently paired up with that other thing I'd been doing my whole life (playing games) and the result might be more glamorous than eating cold noodles in a barely heated apartment while pretending to write a book. Luckily that thought lasted longer than my interest in Tropico 2.
Once I'd finished the game, I wanted more. Not just more free games (although that really is a pretty sweet deal), but more of the feeling of accomplishment that comes from posting a story, getting feedback, and hearing from people that your words have meant something to them. More than that, though, I just wanted to be a productive member of this community of which I was a part.
In the nine years since I earned my first "payment" as a working game journalist, I've written hundreds of thousands of my own words and worked with hundreds of writers on their stories. I've traveled the world, seeing things and meeting people I would never have imagined before I got into this business. And I've played all the games.
But that isn't why I do this. I do it because I can't imagine doing anything else. I do it because if I can touch just one person — and share with them, through my words, the joy I feel when I play video games — then that, to me, is as great a gift as that first free game.
- Russ Pitts, Features Editor, Polygon
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