The statistics stand so tall now that even the mainstream media sees them. Adults make up the majority of video gamers in the modern day, leaving the notion of video gaming as a children’s past time in the distant past.
Many of these gaming adults grew up with video gaming as a constant part of their lives, much as previous generations did with television, film and radio. Some of them, such as New York’s Paige Six, have taken that lifelong love of video gaming into a career, writing for numerous outlets about all things gaming.
“I played a lot of hand-me-down games growing up, and as I got older played lots of games on friends and family systems. My father has a Genesis on his house and I would play Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on it, as well as Sonic,” Six recalled. “I’d always lift my hands up with the controller when going through loops and continued with it until I was an embarrassing age. I also would be taken to a local arcade on special occasions, which was in my town but unfortunately no longer stands. After my family saw that I was continuing to be interested in gaming my father started to bring me to the arcade more often, and then on Christmas when I was 7 or 8-years-old my mother bought me a PlayStation.”
Continuing her love of video gaming through titles such as Spyro, Tetris, Yoshi’s Story, Mario 64 and more, Six was introduced to a whole new world by one of her childhood teachers.
“Thanks to my amazing high school art teacher, Mr. Rosenberg, I was exposed to and even worked a bit with Big Apple Con, a bi-monthly comic convention in Manhattan,” Paige said. “I was also a founding member of my high school’s Comic Book Club, now the Illustration Club. We would host an annual comic convention in the school to fund the art department, and it still goes on till this day! It is a tradition I am proud to have been a part of. My relationship to comic books is deep, but that’s how I ended up in that industry and with many professional connections in the field.”
Six, who now works with sites and organizations such as Ladies of the Round Table and Another Castle, the latter of which she serves as the Chief Operating Officer, originally kept her transition into video game writing a relative secret.
“I started a blog, which I didn’t tell anyone about, because I wanted a place to vent and curse about the industry that wasn’t an anonymous forum or social networking site,” she added. “I had always toyed with the idea of becoming a writer, and figured a small blog would be a great place to get my sea-legs and learn some of the ropes, like SEO and experiment with marketing myself. It turned out, however, that people found me before I was ever ready. The realization that there were people online who liked what I wrote at an unpolished face value was exhilarating.”
Six notes that she didn’t wait long to expand after she learned of her audience.
“I ran with it from there, I started to look into places that take writers with no experience, and a few sites I just dreamed to be associated with,” she said. “I was nervous, so I psyched myself up as high as I could, and wrote a scrambled email at the height of my nerves to the first email address I could find for a big publication. They forwarded the email to a hiring editor who told me exactly what they look for in an application and wished me luck. From there I was on fire, I thought I had the secret. I was picked up by blogs at first, and then bigger more established sites began to reach out to me.”
While continuing to develop her skills and expand her goals, Paige also states that she would like to see video game media continue to evolve as well.
“Overall, in its evolution I hope to see gaming journalism be matched to other entertainment outlets in respect and coverage,” she stated. “We’re seeing a backlash as the subculture of hardcore gaming gets brought to the surface and emerges quite popularly with casual crowds. I think that this is great, in a way, for gaming and our culture. But it’s definitely hard for those of us who have been following video games all along on much more open forums with virtually no organized censorship. I think that what was once a place for in depth discussions and camaraderie has turned into a large harshly polarized landscape. Perhaps that was always the way commercially, but from where I was it felt close knit the way brothers who punch and kick each other all the time act and feel.”
She also notes that she feels some of the polarizing opinions first-hand, but says that it doesn’t change her opinion on how it should be rather than how it presently is.
“Now that I’m in the spotlight I feel that backlash. It in some ways makes me feel alienated from my previous communities, yet it’s a worthy swap,” she added. “I’m still active, but my work and personal life give me too much to live for to be consumed by negativity and the shedding of old skin. The icing on the ‘journalism’ cake is how too many articles are geared to be clicked and passed along rather than nourishing the reader. It’s stifling as a writer to produce that kind of material, but if a writer wants money in this field that’s most likely where they’ll find it.”
Six feels she knows the way to change the standard.
“The way to fix this, in my opinion, is for journalists to take video games and comic books as seriously as we would a piece of traditional literature, not to look at this profession as a way to get free stuff and a cool name tag,” she said. “These mediums deserve more respect and a higher caliber of reporting. Also, a distinction between editorial and quick news reporting would be fantastic. This happens in any other field, it should also apply to gaming.”
Paige Six can be found on Twitter @Paige_Six and on her blog at coiledrose.wordpress.com.