For those of you that know me, or know of me, you’ll be no doubt aware that I hate my job. It’s an unfulfilling position in a faceless office that has no redeeming qualities. But that’s fine, I’m used to it. I’ve performed years of menial and pointless tasks for the purpose of securing money. On some level, they’ve all been the same. A grey, uneventful concoction of staring at a computer screen, looking at databases and helping customers with various things I couldn’t care less about. I’m not joking when I say that above my desk there is a flickering fluorescent bulb that has yet to be fixed.
In this endless slipstream of boring roles, I’ve come to realise that anyone performing a job that they actually love doing is something that is quite alien to me. It’s next to impossible to imagine any reaction when waking in the morning other than cursing under my breath. Someone who loves what they do and gets paid for it is as amazing a concept to me as that supermassive black hole at the centre of the universe or the fact that According To Jim ran for eight long years. It must be a truly wonderful feeling.
Which brings me to video games, which I love above any other art form or indeed most people. I’ve only ever managed to squeeze video games into my spare time, and writing about them even less so. Because I have to leave my house and perform a job I don’t care about for eight hours a day. Just like millions of other folks.
Last year, I wrote this article. It appeared on Kotaku Australia and received some very positive responses. Basically, it’s about not being able to admit my love for video games to people who don’t care about them. Have a read if you have a few minutes.
*sips cup of tea*
Oh, you’re back. Anyway, not long after I wrote that article a job opportunity arose. It was for yet another office position I didn’t really care for but the pay rate was agreeable. I clenched my teeth in the interview and lied with every fibre of my being to tell them that why yes, marketing is important to me and your company is someone who I would want to work for. Whatever the hell you seem to be doing appeals to me and blah, blah, blah. They were lucky I didn’t just start gnawing the furniture and rage-crying. It was then that a strange thing happened to me. One of the people interviewing me asked what I did for recreation. I said I wrote. They asked what kind of writing.
My brain froze. What do I write about? Video games. Do these people care? What if they hate video games? Games are nothing more than children’s toys, not something a grown man of thirty-five should be playing. Especially not one applying for a job in a grown-up-important-and-financially-viable-and-strong-oh-jesus-somebody-put-a-fucking-gun-in-my-mouth-if-I-have-to-endure-this-interview-any-longer marketing firm. No sir, not video games. I had no evidence to suggest they had this viewpoint but I’ve seen it my whole life. In the mainstream media, relatives, friends, pretty much anywhere outside of my own head. Why should they be any different?
I couldn’t do it. Based on what I believed to be their prejudices and my own apprehension (otherwise known as cowardice), I couldn’t say I wrote about video games. For the reasons I wrote about in the above article. Ironic, no? I ended up telling them I wrote about music (which I hadn’t done in years) and ‘technology’. Believe me when I say I couldn’t be more ashamed of myself.
Strangely enough, the interviewer asked to see some of my writing. They said they were a creative firm, constantly relying on new ideas and people who were willing to bring new ideas to the table. It didn’t matter what I wrote about, just that I was a good writer. I got the distinct feeling that were sincere and passionate about creative and artistic people, whatever the medium may be. We shook hands and said our goodbyes and I went home. They said they would send me an email so I could reply with a sample of my writing. I agonised over what to send. I was proud of most of what I had written over the years but getting this job was important to me. Only from a financial standpoint, mind you.
After waves of nerves coursing through my veins like a frenzy for a couple of hours, I decided there was only one thing I could do: send them the above article. The more I thought about my regret at not being truthful and what I felt as a betrayal to video games as a whole, I couldn’t actually do anything else. If there is such a thing as fate, I felt it. Right there in the room with me. As if it had manifested itself, pulled me aside and said “You know you must do this”. Indeed I did. It would be some kind of twisted atonement for what I couldn’t admit. On top of that, it would act as a postscript of sorts to the point I was making in the article in the first place. I wrote a short introductory email that possessed a kindly but firm, ‘You wanted it, here it is’ vibe, attached the article and sent it.
I never heard from them again.
In the end, I didn’t give it much thought. It could have been for a number of reasons I didn’t so much as get a return email, let alone a position at their firm. I was utterly qualified, presentable and well-liked during the interview. There is a possibility that a stunningly better candidate came along after me and they had no choice but to hire them lest their company go bankrupt within a week. But come on, I knew the real reason.
Thinking about it now, it is fitting that such a series of events occurred. I don’t think something else could have happened that would have been more apt and proven the point in my article even further. I feel now that it was weirdly necessary for them to read the article and back away slowly, somewhat afraid. It was meant to happen.
Fortunately, this doesn’t make me huddle in my fear of people’s ignorance even further. In fact, it has done the opposite. I felt liberated to have the courage to send that article to a potential employer and lay it all out for them to see, regardless of the consequences. I didn’t care about the job that I didn’t get, much like I don’t care about the job I have now. But for one brief, punch-the-air moment, I felt on top of the world and my confidence returned to me like a long lost friend.
All of this happened because of video games. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and play some.