Pay Up – You are What You’re Worth

I’ve come to enjoy the scene of fog rolling down the hills. Where I’m from, fog is ephemeral; it rises from the dewy grass in the morning and floats off by noon. Walking to the market here feels like I’m on a movie set and zombies will shamble out at any moment. There’s a bounce in my step because shopping for food is one of my favorite things to do. I got swept up in the food-conscious mania that glorified organic products and watched The Food Network instead of X-Tube. So predictably, I made a face when passing by the McDonalds, watching the students and families cramming fries into their faces. But then it hit me as I noticed the change in races populating the fast food restaurant to Trader Joe’s: I was being racist again.

For the better part of two years, I’ve been actively battling internalized racism. I thought I was fine because it wasn’t like I was Uncle Ruckus from The Boondocks or anything. But what I started to realize was that he ranted in the back of my mind about things I thought were legitimately true, and it revealed to me I had biases for monied culture. Wealth and class are highly organized by racism, as anything resembling white culture has to do with a disposable income. I came to understand many of my actions tried to avoid seeming hispanic or black, because I didn’t want to be associated with the poor.

My best friend inadvertently pointed it out to me when we lived together. I had recently grew zealous in the ‘advocate with your money’ ideology and picked up the Human Rights Campaign’s buying guide, which shows you how bigger companies stack up against each other with their stances on equal rights issues. For groceries, I remember Whole Foods being at the top, which was fine for me. Looking at the guide, my friend asked, “Mattie, you work at Starbucks and go to school. How can you afford all of this?” The truth was I couldn’t. It seemed more important to me to embody my ideologies, and through that, it meant I was represented by the amount of money I spent. It wasn’t long until I had to stop shopping at the places on the top of HRC’s buying guide, and I felt like a bad person. I turned around and left Trader Joe’s today because I only had double digits in my bank account until student loans came in. The cost of a meal at one place was the same price as the cheapest pound of meat at the other. I went back to McDonalds, ordered a cheeseburger, and cried.

This is analogous to my experience with my work in video games. The worth of my writing and advocacy is constantly augmented by my relationship to money. In order to keep up with critical conversation, I must constantly buy games. And not the cheaper ones, but the sixty dollar hits that many of my peers get for free. I feel compelled to constantly add to the sprawling Steam library and Kickstarter backing lists. Despite the growing debt, I have to get a new TV for my consoles, buy a gaming rig, and consider obtaining one of the latest handhelds. And for what? Gaming criticism, the one bastion for minority writers in games media, isn’t seen as valuable enough writing to pay. The only time publications want to talk about discrimination with any regularity are the ample gaffes developers give them. The paying stuff has little to do with the experiences and skills you yourself don’t invest in monetarily. Your self-worth is constantly measured by how much you make, or, if editors feel like you’re worth paying. Covering events is something you back yourself and hope you see return on, reviews mainly interrogate ‘should you buy this?’ The amount of white people in the higher paying brackets of the media isn’t coincidental.

Money also frames my activities with social justice activism here. Don’t click on Kotaku. Fund GaymerCon. Don’t go to PAX. While I believe in a plurality of methods to challenge oppressive systems, valuing activism by money makes someone of my socio-economic background powerless. Giving weight to financial power over other methods is problematic, because it often excises the contributions of people who care by their wallet. Making this the battle of the dollars gives disproportional agency to white people against other white people. If I only have twenty bucks on me, how can I significantly factor into that fight? This doesn’t invalidate the very real influence of money, but it challenges us to change the battlefield to where more can participate. We are constantly looking for more diversity in activism, but continue to use resources linked to finances as our main plan of attack. Choosing where your money goes seems like an effective tool because it’s easy; you continue living your life, but instead of going to Dunkin’ Doughnuts you go to Starbucks. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford coffee, especially the ones making your drinks.

The structure of games media and activism only leaves me the path of martyrdom, of sacrificing things I shouldn’t really give up. Why is it that we require a section of people to give up their well-being to be a significant force in things they care about? We wonder why writing and social justice is so white-washed; it’s because many can’t afford to pay the dues of these clubs.

My body is rejecting the McDonalds I ate, used to years of organic and specialty foods I shouldn’t have bought. The only method of eating three meals a day that factors in walking everywhere I go, arranging plans to network, and readying myself for school makes me want to throw up. I feel terrible, unable to write the pieces I won’t be paid for anyway. The fog outside hangs from the power lines like drapes of cotton, and I can’t tell where the sun is. None of my iPad games are entertaining me and I wish for the tech to play my PC games again. I want to do anything that makes me feel like I’m contributing to society, though I can’t help but make a face seeing its price tag.

About Mattie Brice

Mattie Brice is a game critic, designer, social justice activist, and student at San Francisco State University. She focuses her writing on diversity initiatives in the video game community, often bringing in the perspective of marginalized voices like transgender and multi-racial women to publications like Paste, Kotaku, The Border House, and Pop Matters. Mattie also consults and speaks at gaming related conferences like the Game Developers Conference and IndieCade. Her studies have led her to explore narrative design and plans to push the borders of how we think of the medium. Tweets at @xMattieBrice.
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64 Responses to Pay Up – You are What You’re Worth

  1. Rakaziel says:

    You do have a very good point. Going as close to bankrupcy as you do to support your activism seems unreasonable, but I understand you very well. I can only wish you luck, and that you find a well-paying job. The only alternative to buying food is growing it or bartering it, and only growing it is independent from your disposable income. Problem is that it requires large amounts time, space and disposable income to start. I also see no solution, and can only wish you luck.

  2. Mark says:

    Very interesting piece, Mattie! How much do you think it’s classism vs. racism?

    Also, academia is pretty bad, too. One of the most important things is to network, and, despite all our online networking, the most effective way to meet others and share ideas is still with conferences that cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars to attend. (But I guess you know this about conferences… :) )

    • prezzey says:

      Not to mention the price of articles, which is a HUGE barrier in academia. Even many academic institutions not in the First World cannot pay the subscription fees, let alone individuals. Been there done that. Sure, there are many people who will gladly download and send you the articles you need, but it can be really time-consuming (not to mention demoralizing) just to obtain the research that’s already out there. Yay for open access gaining ground!

  3. Rachel Helps says:

    It’s really discouraging how money culture works… I think there are cheaper alternative ways of living that often aren’t advertised because they don’t make anyone lots of money? And it also sucks that capitalism favors the monied voices. I wish there were a good way to combat this.

    As journalists we’re often hard on ourselves if we don’t get paid for something, as you said. But our words are read! They impact other people. I think that’s valuable in itself, although yes, it would sure be nice to get paid for some of it.

  4. prezzey says:

    I agree. I review recent SF related to underrepresented groups (ethnic, sexual minorities, disabled people etc.) and this is why I only review short stories which appear in paid venues and only post calls for paid venues – I do not want to contribute to the trend that not paying writers is OK. I am especially infuriated by calls for submissions which specifically angle for submissions by minority authors and yet do not pay.

    I write an amount of stuff for free, but it’s stuff for my own website, or the occasional guest post (which will eventually end up on my website anyway).

    I’ve been paid for articles focusing on minorities in media, and I even have a regular column in a Hungarian magazine about this exact topic, but it’s hard to sell articles specifically focusing on minorities in gaming. General-audience venues are not particularly interested in gaming (as you’ve said, unless there is a high-profile scandal) and gaming venues are often unpaid… and have no interest in minorities, feminism, etc. or are even actively opposed to discussing these topics.

    I regularly get reviewer copies of books – even though I primarily review short stories -, but I don’t think I’ve ever received a reviewer copy of a game (and I used to run a reasonably popular gaming blog in Hungarian, but that was a long time ago). Not even a small indie game or anything.

    We wonder why writing and social justice is so white-washed; it’s because many can’t afford to pay the dues of these clubs.

    This is extremely true and I regularly see a lot of classism (often race-based) in SF-related activism online, in addition to gaming-related activism online. Also, people assuming 1. everyone is a white American 2. everyone can afford to go to an American con 3. everyone can TOTALLY VOLUNTEER FOR FREE. Um. Not. My local currency can best be described as toy money and I live on a whole different continent. I primarily review free stuff because 1. this is what I can afford and obtain 2. this is what a sizable portion of my readership can afford and obtain!

    Unfortunately free games are, um… in contrast to short stories where professional-quality content is available for free, many free games are not even worth reviewing. And I have to battle not only price but also availability. I just spent $25 on an indie game – Resonance – because they offered to ship the limited edition boxed set to Hungary free of charge and I wanted to salivate on it, which doesn’t really work with a Steam key. (It arrived today. I was totally worried this was a fake offer. Thank G-d it wasn’t… it also came with a Steam key in e-mail!) It sold out fast, but it cost $25 everywhere in the world and not only in the US. That’s just awesome. $25 is a lot for me, so I want to get the most of it.

    I love digital downloads because availability is not a factor unless publishers deliberately try to hinder availability (it’s really sad when even the Steam summer sale shows me a gray block of nothing with “Game not available in your country” – I don’t even know which game!), and there is a huge price war which results in great sales, so people can buy more games with their hard-earned money. But sometimes I just WANT that boxed set with all kinds of knickknacks and stuff. Dear American Megacorps – I want to buy your stuff. Sell me stuff.

    OK, rant over… sorry I’m so verbose, this is a set of issues that never fail to drive me up the wall. I’m totally with you (also re racism, and eating healthy on a budget, but I should save those for later, I still have work to do…).

  5. Kimiko says:

    Uhm, Mattie? I’m probably missing something / misunderstanding, but it sounds to me like you’re complaining about having to choose between two kinds of luxury, an expensive gaming hobby, and going out for expensive meals and drinks (yes, McDonalds and StarBucks are expensive). What gives you the idea that you are entitled to either kind of luxury? I think most people have too little money to afford all that they want.

    • skoosc says:

      I think this is decrying a society that will force someone into having to choose between living comfortably and being able to advocate social justice. Rather than complaining about not being able to have all the luxuries they want.

      • Matt says:

        Exactly this.

        On a personal level, I remember a while back feeling real proud of myself for taking part in so many boycotts against bad companies… then I realized that I didn’t have any money and wasn’t going to buy that stuff to begin with. So yeah, not even a theoretical difference was made. :|

    • Olivia says:

      Not sure what it’s like in your country but, in the United States, McDonalds is an incredibly cheap meal compared to healthier alternatives, especially if you live in an urban area. McDonalds and Starbucks are not really comparable in terms of class or cost here.

      • Deviija says:

        Absolutely. In the US, if you want to eat healthy, organic, fresh and nutritious, you *NEED* to pay an incredibly premium price tag. So yes, it basically equates to healthy food/healthy living/healthy body = higher price than quick, unhealthy, sickly foods. Many fast food joints around my area can do 1.99 or even 99 cent unhealthy meals (even the supposed ‘healthy’ choices at fast food places are not healthy when it comes to freshness, toppings, and so forth; it’s like eating a salad and dumping high fat, high calorie, unhealthy dressing over it). But to purchase non-GMO, organic, healthier foods, you’d be hard-pressed to find a few carrots for 1.99.

        • littleboat says:

          And it gets even harder to find healthy, fresh food as you get into more densely populated urban areas. So much of how we conflate race, class, wealth, nutrition, size, and so on revolves around fast food.

          • Deviija says:

            *Exactly*. Absolutely, that is the other angle/related angle to it as well. I didn’t want to get too off-topic by going into the huge issue of race/class/wealth/nutrition/cost vs. earnings etc etc, as it is a huge topic in and of itself. But very true (and sad).

        • Kimiko says:

          I don’t know how much McDonalds meals cost over here (Netherlands), because I’ve eaten there only once in my life, way back. But for 1.99 you can get some good alternatives. A whole loaf of bread costs €0.99, 300g of mixed lettuce and stuff costs €0.99 too, 1L of yoghurt costs €0.55. These are probably not the elite bio/organic/whatever variety, but only rich people can afford that sort of thing really. Are basic foodstuffs that much more expensive where you live?

          • Olivia says:

            Depends. *If* you can get to a large grocery store you can generally find food that cheap, but access to those types of stores when you live in cities can be very difficult without a car. The kind of grocery stores that you find in cities, that are easily accessible by public transportation, raise the prices on everything and basic foodstuffs are much more expensive than the prices you listed. McDonalds or some other fast food chain, on the other hand, can be found on most city blocks and can provide filling meals for a few US dollars, less if you order from their dollar menus. There is all sorts of literature out there on the intersection between food, poverty, race and urban living in the United States and what Mattie has written here is pretty much consistent with it. Not sure why you would make assumptions about the cost of food in another country based on the cost of food where you live – these things vary widely depending on what part of the world you are from and the environment you live in.

            • Kimiko says:

              My apologies :( I didn’t realize regular (i.e. slow) food is so expensive in the USA. I was expecting it to be not much different from Europe.

          • Denis Farr says:

            Yeah, while I was living in Germany, I was surprised at the much, much lower cost of food than when I lived in Chicago. Living in Berlin, from a grocery bill standpoint, was much, much cheaper than I ever experienced in Chicago. Almost shockingly so. This does mean that fast food is often the cheaper or only alternative if you happen to live in a food desert.

          • Some basic foodstuffs, weirdly enough, do seem far more expensive in the US. Even at the big grocery stores. $2.50 at Safeway will buy me a loaf of bread that’s a lot smaller than the loaf of bread I could get for 55p at Tesco.

            Frozen food seems cheaper in the US though. And soda is a lot cheaper. Skip the bread, drink the Coke! Er.

            • Beau Hindman says:

              Well, we need to be very clear when we talk about the food issues that the US has. Eating out or “fast food” *can* be cheaper than cooking at home. But just barely.

              I’ll put it this way: we spend 75-115 or so dollars on food each week. We cook at home typically at least 5 or 6 times per week. If we do eat out, it’s usually higher quality food. Around 6-12 per person. Even if we say it’s around 1 dollar per family of 2 or 3, and they ate out every day and for every meal, that would still be at least 40-60 bucks per week for those faster meals. It’s been shown that most families, even poorer ones, cannot eat out that much because it would pretty much put you in the hospital. lol Soda is probably one of the absolute worst things to consume…you’re essentially pay 60 cents to 2.00 for about 5 to 10 cents of water, syrup and coloring. Yet I often see people who are food “aware” and still drink soda. Around this house we drink nothing but water and some tea.

              The problem is not only that Americans can eat out cheaper than they can cook. The problem is that many Americans cannot or will not budget, plan and take the time to cook. It does take time. :) But, as someone who has Ulcerative Colitis and has been forced to rethink how I eat, I can promise that cooking and eating healthy and more environmentally-aware CAN be done on a tight budget. The foods the OP is talking about are way, way more expensive simply because she is deciding to buy the stuff that comes from farms or sellers that are probably not using as many chemicals (although every one of them does use some) or is practicing farming that is better for the environment. Sure, it’s better for the environment but yields less food.

              Anyway, sorry for the long post, but America’s food problems have just as much to do with a lack of education about food as much as they have to do with cost.

              Beau

            • glitchy says:

              In response to Beau – yes, cooking meals at home can often (though not always) be cheaper than eating out – but as you say, it does take time, and not everyone has the time, or the ability.

              And having a health condition that restricts your diet makes it even harder to eat cheaply. I’m glad that you’ve found a way to do so, but not everyone has the knowledge, experience, resources, or (as I said above) time to manage that. I know that my recently-developed insensitivity to very common ingredient seems to have cut me off from most of the cheaper options that I used to rely on. Even for foods in which it isn’t an ingredient, many cheaper brands seem to be contaminated with it. Sometimes it feels like the choice is either spend more money, or eat the cheap stuff and risk the health consequences. I’m lucky enough that I can usually take the former option, but not everyone is…

  6. Ike says:

    Mattie, thanks for writing this piece. This reminded me of an incident at the grocery store when Llama was accidentally in the organic vegetables aisle, so I said something to the effect of, “Those are organic, let’s get the regular ones.” And then a random white lady chimed in to tell us that organic vegetables were healthier. I had half a mind to shoot back, “Not for my wallet”, but we just pretended not to hear her as we picked out some cheaper, non-organic produce. Anyway, we frequently skip out on games because we can’t afford to get them all, so I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to be required to purchase new games for writing material and then not be paid for what you’ve written.

  7. Doug S. says:

    How do you even find the time to play all the games? My backlog goes all the way back to the PS1.

    • Maverynthia says:

      Pfft PS1, mine goes all the way back to the Atari/C64. Only I didn’t add them because well… I’d get hand cramps typing all that stuff in! (Though to be fair, most of the NES stuff has been beaten.)

  8. Maverynthia says:

    It always made me wonder all these people claiming to be poor, yet somehow they either lived in California or moved to California. The most expensive state in the US. Not that being in CA to begin with is bad, but then they would talk about hanging out at expensive places just to chat with friends. Buying $60 games at the drop of a hat, even expensive Apple devices when there was a lower cost alternative, heading off to tons of conventions which involved traveling fees and $60~$80 admission. It reeked to me of “Trying to fit in with the rich crowd”. Of denying being poor. Trying to fit into the rich crowd because looking poor in a rich state was the most horrible thing to be. It felt like class warfare. Like, I am terrible because I’m not trying to be rich and on the West coast (Did I mention I’m on the East coast? No? Yeah everytime I seem to mention it I get dismissed/ignored because I’m not a West Coaster.) and “screw you poor people because I can somehow afford to seem rich and live in California.” All I could do is sit back and say “If you can buy new $60 games and Apple devices you aren’t poor! Get back to me when you are lamenting not being able to buy toilet paper on your food stamps.” Even though I new I was denying those people that are on supplemental income that can budget for those things and are still poor.

    While here I am, still looking for a job, on food stamps, really debating on if I need that cheap non-apple tablet/phone because my phone is so old nothing new would run on it and support for it had been cut off so I better not drop it and I could probably use the money to pay for keeping up my phone bill, living with my parents because nobody else would take me in and HUD/Section 8 housing was so backed up in my home state that it’d be 3 years before I heard something. Unemployment cut off with both credit card debt and student loan debt threatening to sue me for every penny I owned. Yet still trying to be relevant in gaming culture. Having a computer degree, but not in Comp. Sci. AND not being on the West Coast where a Computer Animation degree might be marginally useful. Putting myself more into debt to TRY for Masters, only to find out that the course was so new they didn’t teach me the meat and potatoes of game design and programming. ._.

    “Have you played the latest game?” No I can’t afford it.
    Reviewers that screamed “YOU NEED TO BUY THIS GAME NOW!” Can’t afford it.
    “BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY!” No.. but if you want me to play it FINE I’ll pirate the damn thing! “PIRATING IS EVIL AND HURTS THE DEVELOPER!” It’s like damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    It does seem advocacy in in the terms of dollars and cents. Kickstarter/IndieGoGo is an example. FUND the games you want to see! All with the guilt trip that if YOU don’t fund them, then you’re a horrible terrible person that made them fail. Yet the games that I want to see I can’t fund because I’m poor and the reason they are on IndieGoGo in the first place is the person making the game can’t afford to do it solo either.
    Boycotting is easy if you don’t have any money, support seems harder.
    Though perhaps we can support the games we like by writing about them on our own blogs to encourage the people with money to buy those games. Though that being said, if your not a somebody blog, no one will read your stuff because your a nobody blog >_<
    It sucks being poor.

    • I don’t see how that’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t… “Buy this game!” “Thanks, I’ll just rip it off instead.” “Uh, that’s not what I asked…”

      In games especially, there are so many free games out there (even really-free games along with the ‘freemium’s) that so long as you have the computer and the net connection to reach them, which obviously are not givens, you really shouldn’t be unable to find legal free entertainment. They may not be as shiny as the commercial ones, but they aren’t actively harmful to you in the way that unhealthy cheap food might be.

      That’s as a player, though. As a journalist or developer trying to stay relevant in the field, it’s a lot harder. However, that can to some extent be turned into an asset: focusing on the weird indie free/cheap games that most people don’t review instead of chasing the same tiny group of high-budget titles that every gaming site is talking about.

      That’s not an EASY answer obviously because it can be harder to get your words carried when you talk about such things. But it is an option. And because those games get less coverage, they will be far more grateful for your work and really will appreciate it as support, even if you can’t provide them with financial support.

      • Leala says:

        This is a slight derailment (sorry) but still sort of on topic. Which is why I have asked “well what about free games?” It’s not about saying that concerns about the price of games is invalid.

        It’s this situation:

        In one corner we have lots of people who want but aren’t getting press access and review copies of the big budget popular games for whatever reason. They are the “relevant” titles that everyone wants to talk about.

        In the other corner you have indie and F2P game devs going “please somebody play and talk about my game” because they need and want some media coverage.

        It’s like, “I want to talk about games, and review them or critique them but not THOSE games.”

        It can be a frustrating cycle for everyone.

        If indeed this discussion is about press access to games, which it both is and isn’t. I understand that.

        • Deirdra says:

          I second this frustration.

        • Matt says:

          And then there are those of us who are (but for a few modding activities here and there) pure consumers who specifically look for the free and indie stuff not only because of the $$$ issue but partly because we’re sick of everyone talking about the “relevant” games and want to learn about something new…

  9. Doone says:

    Another great article. You have made a huge fan of me over time :) It’s funny that this was the article published this week. My wife and I are having to cut back our lifestyles dramatically right now. The economy is rough on everyone right now and it’s possible employed people have it somewhat worse (underpaid, under valued, over-worked, huge time commitments, etc).

    I just wanted to offer my pidley encouragement. I definitely appreciate what you do even in our small little gamer community. Don’t stop. I, and many others here, believe it’s worth it and that you’re very good at it.

  10. Marina says:

    I don’t think it’s internalized racism to think that quality is something to aspire to. Point of purchase activism is an upper class hobby, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only activism available. You’re probably not going to find a lot of yuppies on the streets doing face to face activism, they’re too busy making the money it takes to maintain their organic food lifestyles. If you have no money, but you have time, there are great activist things that sorely need to be done, even though they aren’t as easy or glamorous as spending $15 a pound on organic, grass fed beef. Volunteer at your local LGBT center, be a clinic escort at your women’s clinic, work a call center, collect signatures or get pledges for your favorite charity.

    As a gaming journalist myself, the sub-cultures obsession with things is a given (after all, the entire culture is based on consumerism), but that doesn’t stop me from being a little appalled, even as I fuel this culture by encouraging people to buy games and accessories, and invest in kickstarters, and whatever else. Thankfully, the legitimacy of my game review job is that I at least get the games for free. I wouldn’t be a game reviewer if I didn’t. It’s just not in my budget.

    The fact that you’re crying into your iPad because you had to eat a McDonalds burger seems a little silly to me. Just because you exist, doesn’t mean you are automatically entitled to everything you want, or even everything your peers have. I know the feeling of being desperately poor in comparison to my friends. My solution was to work hard and make money, but also to make good money decisions when I got money (which took time to get, believe me, and I still don’t have that much). You can work your way into having money, but if you don’t appreciate what you have now, it’s never going to seem like it’s enough. There are more important things in life than being on top of gaming, or eating like a rich person.

    • prezzey says:

      I’m not the OP, but I personally used to do an amount of F2F activism and volunteering, and it can be very demanding healthwise. So it’s not an option for everyone.

      “Thankfully, the legitimacy of my game review job is that I at least get the games for free. I wouldn’t be a game reviewer if I didn’t. It’s just not in my budget. ”

      Isn’t that what the post is about, once you see past the McDonald’s and iPad thing? You can only get a job as a gaming reviewer if you demonstrate expertise, and how can you demonstrate expertise? By reviewing games. So you need an initial investment (buy games) to get free games. Some people might not be able to afford the initial investment, and that becomes increasingly likely if they belong to minorities.

      Here in Hungary, even print games magazines routinely get people to write whole articles for them for free, about games they bought with their own money, so that maybe they would get an actual paying gig later. That’s not true for other kinds of magazines, or at least much less so (I’m a sci/tech journalist who only occasionally writes about games). The assumption is that there are a lot of young people with no experience of conventional journalism who can be safely exploited and will not protest. This assumption is, sadly, for the most part correct. IDK about the situation in the US.

  11. Danielle says:

    Mattie, this was wonderful, thanks for writing.

    I’ve been thinking a great deal about my own privilege lately, especially since I moved to SF from the much, much whiter world of Boston. And for some reason, I’ve felt that economic disparity wasn’t as immediately obvious in Boston as well.

    I’m insanely, disgustingly lucky, in terms of the lot I drew in life. I’m queer, but I totally have passing privilege. I’m not swimming in money, by any means (my $1500/month student loans see to that), but I have a stable salary and benefits in my job. And I get to work full time in an activist organization, and make a little extra by writing about games and teaching game design. I may work a lot, but I get to enjoy what I do.

    Yes, I work very hard, but 90% of how I got where I am is down to luck. Being born to healthy, hard-working, nurturing parents who were emotionally and financially stable enough to have me and my sister and more importantly – actually wanted us. Being told I should go to college (and grad school) every day of my life by those parents. Being given academic and emotional support for those endeavors, etc. Being lucky enough to get a foot in the door in my field and be chosen for a job. The luck list goes on and on and on and on.

    As for grad school, I was fortunate enough to be able to support myself on my freelance earnings (and yup, plenty of loan money), and odd jobs at school — does your school have a grad student job board? As dumb as that sounds, I actually found it somewhat helpful (yes, its min. wage, usually, but unlike at a Starbucks, if you work in say, a library, it allows you to get plenty of school stuff done in the down time, while at least earning something). My groceries from 2007-2009 were pretty much paid for by working in the Avid editing lab at good old Emerson.

    Also? Take advantage of friends who will make you dinner. That is a wonderful resource to have, for sure.

  12. Beau Hindman says:

    As someone who writes about games for a living (I write for Massively.com and DroidGamers.com as well as have been blogging for 10 years) I can only give some helpful advice.

    (Mod note: I deleted a comment here that was backhandedly dismissive of the author of this post, which is not something we tolerate here. This was a warning. ~Cuppy)

    There are more free games out there now than there has ever been in the history or gaming. I cover indie, free-to-play and “odd” games that no one else wants to touch. Sure, I can get a free account (in MMORPGs most of them are free now, but an account can sometimes — but rarely — cost you a sub) and some free items when I need them as a subject for a work, but other than that I don’t NEED free items — the world of gaming is cheaper and freer than anything before it.

    That iPad packs more gaming in 10 inches than any console. There are plenty of games that could be examined with your same insightful eye…but you DO have to step outside of your circle of comfort. I can literally list you 200 titles right now that you would cost you absolutely zero. Many of them have issues that you should examine, trust me.

    In other words, open your mind a bit and try something new.

    As far as the food, if it helps I don’t eat McDonalds either. But I don’t look at buying food from Wal Mart — and sometimes Whole Foods — as anything else but something that I am very lucky to do. After all, in my very neighborhood (and yours I am sure) there are people starving right now. Anyway, the grease just messed you up…it more than likely has nothin to do with your system being used to anything else. Grease will screw up anyone much of the time. :)

    Beau

  13. Alex says:

    Thank you for writing this, Mattie.

    I keep seeing the world “entitled” pop up in the comments. Let’s talk about that for a moment.

    Entitlement isn’t an inherently bad thing. People are not entitled to have video game developers cater to their every whim. They’re not entitled to control what other adult humans do with their own bodies. They’re not entitled to sex with someone else just for being nice to them. When someone acts or speaks as if they are entitled to these things, that’s bad.

    But a certain amount of entitlement is a good thing. People ARE entitled to bodily autonomy. They’re entitled to reject sexual offers for any or no reason. And people are entitled to participate in culture.

    Culture is what makes us different from animals, and I firmly believe that every person has a right to participate in it. Every person is entitled to access to books, to movies, and yes, to games. Games are an increasingly important part of our culture and everyone should be able to participate, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, or yes, even CLASS. That this part of the mission statement of this very blog.

    We should be questioning the class-based barriers that keep people out of not only video games but games writing, including the writing and activism done in the name of inclusivity, not telling Mattie to quit her whining because other people have it worse.

    • prezzey says:

      Yes this, also, this reminds me of the “first world problems” argument. Maybe it’s only me. Teju Cole had some important things to say about it.

    • Jonathan says:

      It’s nice to see someone else stating that games are an important part of our culture and that our culture should be available to everyone. I’ve recently brought this up in a very different context and it worries me how many people dismiss the point with accusations of entitlement or just hand-waving by saying that they’re “only games.”

    • Leala says:

      Yes absolutely of course people are entitled to things like bodily autonomy. Even books, I can understand. Libraries are important.

      But you lose me where you lump sum in access to $60 video games with that sort of entitlement. In what context is anyone entitled access to that? No one is. Video games are a luxury item. Especially console games that cost a bunch of money. I can’t even afford those things and I’d never think I’m somehow entitled to them.

      And if you think that people are entitled access to games, and therefore this is an issue, are you ignoring the hundreds (as Beau points out) of literally FREE games that exist? Free trials and demos? The hundreds of games that cost under $10? Facebook games and browser-based games (most of which are free and can be played on the computer-equivalent of a toaster, so no need for an expensive computer)? There are so many out there. So if you think people are entitled to access to games, then apparently so do the developers of those games. Which is great. Play them maybe? Write about them? I’m not on board with the idea that the only games that apparently “count” and are worth talking about are the expensive console games. (This is an assumption I’m making based off of the idea that Mattie cannot participate in social justice in games writing because she cannot afford console games.)

      I understand the stress and struggles that come with being broke in college. It’s stressful and affects every part of your life. I sympathize there, don’t get me wrong. I also know what it means to grow up in poverty. And a big part of that was knowing that my friends around me had things like video games and I never did, because that was rich kid stuff. And the types of foods you live off of when you grow up on food stamps? I know about that too. But that’s probably best left for my personal blog rather than your comments section. ;)

      • prezzey says:

        Even books, I can understand. Libraries are important.

        But you lose me where you lump sum in access to $60 video games with that sort of entitlement. In what context is anyone entitled access to that? No one is. Video games are a luxury item. Especially console games that cost a bunch of money.

        When I lived in Austria, games – yes, even recent console games – were available at the central branch at the Vienna public library. There was quite a waiting list for the popular titles though, and you had to pay… IIRC 2€. Not a large sum especially when a new game costs 60€.

        So apparently Austrians think that yes, people are entitled to play video games.

        Free trials and demos?

        Do you seriously suggest that people review and critique games based on free demos? o.O;;;

        • Leala says:

          Maybe not a full on review or critique but you can certainly write about your impressions of something based off a demo. I’m not asking anyone to lie about how long they played a game.

          “I only played the demo but this is what I thought” is a better contribution to discussion than no contribution at all if you have a desire to do so.

        • Leala says:

          (Sorry for the double post.)

          And if you can get access to games in a library, fabulous! I’d just never seen or heard of anything like that myself.

        • Alex says:

          Yep. I’m in the US, and my local library has games.

      • Alex says:

        Video games are art, and therefore no more a luxury than books or movies.

        I’m not the one ignoring free games, and I’m not the one saying only $60 console games “count.” Neither is Mattie. What some folks here are taking as whining is her criticizing those very ideas and how it is (negatively) impacting her career. She is calling out a SYSTEMIC problem.

        I really can’t explain it better than Quinnae, so might as well read her comment below.

        • Leala says:

          Ok. That’s fine. I’ll put aside basically being told I’m “not getting it,” for whatever reason. This is why I don’t ever comment here despite really liking the writers and wanting desperately to be a part of the discussion and help if I can.

          I see an article with someone who I think is pretty cool talking about how she’s struggling with something. I do NOT have the answer to how to fix systematic issues. All I DO have is my experiences with similar situations and maybe some advice that could help to the somewhat more practical issues laid out before me. How can someone like Mattie get some more games to play and write about? Maybe it isn’t wanted or needed advice. Maybe you don’t care, that’s fine.

          And I guess the video games as art so therefore everyone is entitled to access thing is a way of looking at it.

          Maybe I just don’t get it at all. I dunno. I’ll just bow out and go back to being quiet.

          • Mattie Brice says:

            I’m sorry that you’re feeling discouraged. I think it comes from us talking about separate things. This topic is about systemic issues, and it’s made for us to get thinking; no one has the answers yet. I understand that giving advice seems like the right thing to do with this problem, since maybe the system can’t change in a day, but overall, they are band aids over a wound that needs antiseptic.

            I think you do get it. What you may be missing is that I’ve been trying many methods already, and I didn’t write this piece for advice. I don’t want to adapt to a broken system, I want to change it.

            This is a hot topic we don’t get to talk about often here, so I’m not surprised things got heated. Just know what disagreement is always welcome, and can sometimes change minds. We all have a lot to do when it comes to dealing with our entrenched attitudes of dealing with monied culture. And it’s definitely fine to be frustrated and not know what to do yet, because we’re all on the same page.

            Hopefully with more awareness, this subject can be brought up more and we all can get more used to taking about it.

          • Alex says:

            Something to keep in mind when commenting here is that when it comes to systemic issues, practical advice is often the LAST thing the author wants or needs to hear. When we discuss these issues here it’s to raise awareness and strategize how to *change* the way things are, not how to merely deal with them. For example, commenting on a post about harassment on XBL to tell the author to mute the harassers; the author likely knows all about the mute function and uses it, but that doesn’t help change the overall issue of online harassment (whereas writing to Microsoft to ask them to enforce their policies better *would*). Comments like this are often frustrating for the author and are seen as derailing, whether they are meant that way or not (and it’s obvious you are posting in good faith).

            I hope that helps explain why I and some of the other folks here have reacted to your comments the way we have. I do hope you stick around and keep commenting, if you’re comfortable doing so.

            • Leala says:

              No, I’m not comfortable here. I try to contribute and then am told that my contributions are incorrect even though they are given with the best of intentions and are coming from an honest place. Like I should have known better or something. I don’t feel welcome and never really have. It’s not a new thing or anything and it’s not anything personal. Just is what it is, I guess.

        • Ms. Sunlight says:

          Art is arguably a luxury, though. Video games, movies, even fiction books can be considered luxuries. They’re several steps up your pyramid of needs. If video games are art (and I’m inclined to say they are) then they’re going to have the same issues as other art media when it comes to affordability, accessibility and inclusivity.

  14. littleboat says:

    I love this post. A lot. Money is just so tied up with class in this country, and it pulls in race, size, health, and everything else for which we create norms and privilege them. It needs to be examined or else we take it for granted. Same for games, which are just as influenced by cultural and material capital.

    While I believe in a plurality of methods to challenge oppressive systems, valuing activism by money makes someone of my socio-economic background powerless. Giving weight to financial power over other methods is problematic, because it often excises the contributions of people who care by their wallet. Making this the battle of the dollars gives disproportional agency to white people against other white people. If I only have twenty bucks on me, how can I significantly factor into that fight?

    You write good words.

  15. Jonathan says:

    Moving to London was really an eye-opening experience for me when it came to food. I previously lived in well-planned, mid-20th century-built suburban areas with easy access to large supermarkets. Fast food places tended to be fairly spread out and usually the big-name chains. I’ve always been poor (I grew up in a single-parent family and the only time I’ve personally not been in an entry level, minimum wage job, I was supporting a disabled wife and a child) but going to the supermarket and cooking at home has always been the cheapest way to eat.

    Now I’m in London, single (divorce really isn’t pleasant) and still poor. It’s really hard not to eat takeaway food every night. The nearest supermarket of any reasonable size is a couple of miles away, yet there are at least a dozen fast food places within five minutes’ walk. The only places to buy groceries within that distance are glorified convenience stores, with comparable high prices and poor selections. I can buy a hot, filling meal for less than it costs to get to nearest supermarket and back on public transport (and I’m a big, active guy with a large appetite. A filling meal for me from McDonald’s is likely to cost £7.)

    Add to that the effort required to shop and cook (no mean feat when you suffer from depression) and eating well is big challenge.

  16. Mattie Brice says:

    Okay, so, I appreciate the advice and discussion, but for those who have commented and people just reading now, I should make clearer why I wrote this piece:

    I wrote it because it’s wrong for money to be involved with your success in writing for games and your validity as an activist. I did not write this because I need sympathy for my financial situation. I did write it because I got to a point where my emotions couldn’t handle it any longer, but that doesn’t leave aside the argument.

    If I may, I challenge people to not lament my poverty because ‘that’s how things go.’ I am super aware that there are those even poorer than I, and everyone goes through being stressed for cash. I definitely do not think I’m unique in this manner.

    What is the problem is that this matters for my professional aspirations. Ideologically, pursing my masters, being a game critic, becoming an activist should not be so impacted by the fact I’m poor. This isn’t about how I can play so many free and cheap games, it’s about how all those free and cheap games get me NO WORK. This isn’t about how I can volunteer my time if I don’t have money, because putting aside the erroneous idea that I have time to spare for in-person volunteer work, my activism here shouldn’t be valued by my wallet.

    Reread my article. Yes, listening to someone talk about how they are poor is uncomfortable, and sympathy may override everything else. But I don’t need sympathy. I want culture to change so we don’t need to measure our self-worth by money. Yes, this is possible. Yes, we can do it.

    It is too easy to tell the poor to pull themselves up from their bootstraps. It assumes they haven’t done enough already. This was a 1,000 word glimpse into one very particular moment of my life that doesn’t include many of my struggles, and especially its intersection with being transgender and a woman.

    So I urge this discussion to instead hypothesize how to change things. How can we make game activism not rely on money? How can we make game criticism relevant if no one is going to pay for it? People don’t realize how much money is a part of being in the gaming community, and many don’t understand why there’s little diversity. Explode and explore that, not what you assume are my personal flaws.

    • Amanda Lange says:

      “How can we make game criticism relevant if no one is going to pay for it?”

      I think this is the important question.
      People say, “there is no games criticism,” but, A) there is, they just aren’t looking in the right places (it’s not as easy to find as reviews with scores attached), and B) it is not often valued as a thing, in a way that creates money. Sometimes it can be; this works out for a few writers or video creators, and good for them. But a critique is not quite a “review,” a thing that is tied to advertising and can generate large sales. A critique can certainly generate buzz (I’ve seen a lot of buzz about Spec Ops for example which is mostly critique rather than reviews) but possibly to a smaller audience. That means it’s less commodified, less likely to generate free copies of games, thus, expensive to keep up with the discourse if you want to play what people are talking about. (Plus there’s also the time factor.)

      I’m glad you wrote a clarifying comment though, because I think it’s easy to lose this point in other points about fast food etc.

    • Leala says:

      So is the crux here that you aren’t getting the access to free games from the companies because you aren’t considered to be press? What sorts of efforts have been made by you and the sites you write for to gain press access? (This is not a sarcastic question, it is a genuine one. I don’t pay close enough attention to know.) Game companies don’t generally come to you to give you stuff unless your site is huge. I don’t necessarily blame them considering anybody with an internet connection can fire up a free blog and call themselves a “game journalist.”

      And the second part of this being that no one wants to pay you to write about games? I think that’s probably a problem that 99% of people interested in writing about games have. Even people with much less interesting things to say about them than everyone here at the border house. I personally did the “talking about games on the internet” thing for about 4 years and only ever got maybe a couple free games. I didn’t really want or expect them either, so I didn’t try to get them. Personally, I liked only talking about stuff I had purchased because that meant I only had to talk about things I liked, rather than being expected to review something for someone. Only other money I got was from donations directly from people who liked my work and a couple small sponsorships from companies who I liked and would advertise for on my websites/podcasts. Even then it was just enough to offset a portion of my web hosting costs. (Personal story, btw, not telling you this is how you should do it.)

      On the other hand, obviously some people out there in the world are interested in paying someone to talk critically about issues in games or Feminist Frequency would not have made $100-sumthin thousand dollars on kickstarter.

      As to your questions, everything to do with games will rely on money to some extent. I’m not interested in trying to restructure the capitalist entertainment industry. I’ve always felt like it was more “what can I do with the resources that I have?”

      With relation to the “poor people” thing, I don’t think I have (or Beau either, at least) said anything along the lines of you need to pull yourself up by the bootstraps. I know what that phrase really means and I dislike it as much as anyone. I think the thing is more acknowledging that “poor” is a relative term. When I went to college and bought my first computer with financial aid and went out to eat fast food on that money, I was ecstatic. That was amazing to me. It was the most money I’d seen in my whole life. So I can relate to your story, but from a very different perspective (from what I can tell anyway.)

  17. Cara says:

    Mattie is right: there are two things at play. The first is that to write about games you need to purchase games. A good number of games, in fact, to contextualise what you are saying. In order to be good, you need to be privileged from the start – if I hadn’t been in a middle class family growing up, for example, I’d have never seen a NES, which has been invaluable to my games education.

    Secondly, and more importantly, in order to have good game journalism, particularly investigative game journalism which we get exceedingly little of – and of which we badly need – we have to be able to pay a journalist a good amount of money for it. Simon Parkin at Eurogamer does some ecstatically good work – but he has a second job in development, and nowhere else seems to be paying for that kind of work, certainly not at the rate it is due.

    Until outlets are willing to pay for important content, we won’t be seeing much of it, as journalists have to work second, sometimes third jobs just to be able to support their writing habit. You can’t expect to have people write their heart and soul for you unless you enable them to eat to keep that heart alive.

    • Beau Hindman says:

      Well, what you are saying is not true most of the time. I have been covering games for years before I was paid to do it. I played a lot of free games, mobile games or whatever I could get my hands on. Having money is by no means a requirement for writing about games unless you are specifically targeting 60 dollar console titles.

      Even with that, the OP is going to PAX and GDC Online. I’ll be there, as well. Those trips can easily equal enough contacts to come out with free games.

      So, yes, if you want to cover the games that do cost a lot of cash, expect to pay for them until you reach the point of getting them for free. What some of us are trying to suggest (just trying to be helpful although I fear I will be deleted because it seems I am arguing) is that there are TONS of free titles or really, really cheap ones. They have just as much depth, story and character development as any AAA title.

      Anyway for the record, I cover free or cheap games. I have made it my mission to talk about games that anyone can afford. So, like me, you can make a living if you stick to your guns, write as much as possible and make your message very clear. Remember, not everyone keeps up with the finer points that are often brought up on this blog. That’s a perfect chance to work your way into the typical gaming circles and then let them know how you feel. Until then, you might have to play some games that are not normally on your radar. But, all of us who write about games have to do that frequently. That’s just having a job for ya! :)

      Beau

      • Beau Hindman says:

        Oops, I need to clarify that I am attending GDC Online but not PAX. We have writers covering that one, but I will go nowhere it. I can’t stand those two people or their site. Just to be clear.

        Beau

  18. Quinnae says:

    Thank you so much for writing this, Mattie.

    I don’t comment on articles as much as I should as a co-editor, perhaps, but I do need to speak out on this one to ensure that certain ideas do not get lost in the shuffle.

    Alex and others have tried to course-correct a bit, but there is still a very significant issue that people are not treating with here. This isn’t about being broke in college, nor is it just about trendy activism, or the activism you buy in a store; it’s about all of those things, but it is also about the pressures that specifically accrue to people of colour and people from poorer backgrounds, and how the modality of activism that is now popular among gamers can sometimes be exclusionary to people from those groups.

    When someone paraphrases and mocks Mattie by saying she was “crying into her iPad because she ate McDonald’s” they’re butchering the spirit of the article and missing the point.

    One of the ways that educated women of colour often have their stories dismissed is by people arguing that they’re essentially overprivileged and unlike ‘actual’ oppressed people any longer. That, in other words, we’re iPad toting, latee sipping grads and post-docs who are too clever by half and need to stop feeling guilty/complaining and accept that we’re as privileged as our fellows.

    What this does is effectively silence the complex message that women (and men, frankly) from those backgrounds, in those positions, can bring to discussions about activism. It also has a way of antagonising those historically marginalised people who *do* try to use their education and knowledge (and the breathing space contained in both) to make the world a better place.

    To make this more concrete: I was recently at the American Sociological Association annual meeting in Denver and I was attending courtesy of a hard-won scholarship from my college. But I was still on a food budget. Most of the eateries near the convention centre were lovely, if somewhat pricey. I felt the urge to, yes, look for a McDonald’s because it *was* cheaper by half. Unhealthy, corporate, abusive, etc. But cheaper. And yet you know what the first thing that popped into my mind was? “If someone from the conference sees me eating here, I’d better be prepared for a lecture. They’re gonna hate me.”

    That mattered not out of a perverse sense of pride, but because I’m a young Puerto Rican trans girl just beginning her academic career who still lives in the Bronx. The consequences of appearing to meet a certain stereotype are very high, and potentially detrimental to me doing what I want to do with my life. My success as a social scientist depends not just on my knowledge and mastery of my discipline, but also on *looking like* someone who knows and has mastered the discipline. That image has racial and class components.

    It would be nice if activism could be judged less performatively (i.e. by mere appearance) and more by actual action. If perhaps we could recognise that in conditions of inequality, peoples’ lives are complicated and “living your activism” is not always viable for people, regardless of their sincerity of belief.

    That feeling is not meant to exclude, erase, or minimise the real experiences of extreme poverty that have come to define our age. It is not meant to substitute for it or draw false equivalences. It is, rather, part of how I and others tell a story: we’re women of colour from working class or poor backgrounds, and these are the psychological gymnastics that inhere to us *doing what is socially-approved* (i.e. “working hard, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, getting a degree, etc.”). It is an experience and a story that should be told, one that ran through the famous anthology This Bridge Called My Back like a bright red thread.

    We should not be shamed for the fact that we occupy a position of relative privilege, any more than an upper middle class woman working in a law firm should be shamed for identifying sexism in her workplace as such.

    Is it stupid that I should fear being judged for eating Mickey D’s? Yes! Yes it is! But it comes from an accurate perception of the consequences of “appearing poor” or fitting stereotypes for POC– issues I’d not have to worry about if I didn’t come from where I came from. It’s not because of me whinging and feeling entitled to shop at places I’m too poor to afford. I don’t give a toss about Whole Foods, Trader Joes, et cetera. What I do give a toss about is that I will be judged by people in my social circle if I shop at certain places I can afford to buy things, including chain stores with bad reps.

    And that judgement, (and this is Mattie’s point) has a racial/classed component to it.

    Now to tie this back into video games. Beau and others are right– there are lots of free games out there. This, however, is also part of the point. The bright lights of the gaming world do not yet think of free/indie/low-cost games as constituting the epicentre of the industry. Many of us still, for all our justified criticisms, see the producers of 60 dollar titles as the important players who set the tone of our hobby and industry, as the people who make or break the video gaming world. We still divide our video gaming lives into the epochs created by popular genre titles and sequels, and set our clocks by release dates advertised in glossy mags and huge billboards.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying those games– I’ve enjoyed many myself lately (insert Skyrim meme #537 here… it would’ve been #538, but then it took an arrow to the knee). Several games I reviewed for TBH fit into that category. The problem, however, is that reifying that expensive part of the industry as “what counts” is what allows privileged game journalists to make a living covering the EA beat, while the rest of us have to essentially donate our time and labour to raise awareness about smaller presses, titles, publishers, developers/writers and so on. Or even to just write about and critique the big guys.

    This *is* changing, but it’s changing in part because people like Mattie speak up. Anna Anthropy’s new book, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, makes a similar point about how important it is that people be able to make and distribute video games at low to no cost and then distribute them. Part of her point is that these games not only *count*, but that they are redefining the whole medium and deserve more love and attention.

    My reading of Mattie’s argument was not that it was wrong to support an indie project through Kickstarter, but that we have to keep being imaginative about ways that all people– regardless of income or background– can feel secure in contributing to the gaming community somehow, and that it is important that we consider and critique access-related issues that stem from class.

    Thanks for being corageous, sis. *hugs Mattie*

    • Kimiko says:

      Ooh. That was much clearer. Thanks, Quinnae, and apologies to Mattie for my not getting it before.

    • Deviija says:

      I’m glad you posted that. Quinnae always comes into a discussion to lens-focus it with great clarity. :)

    • Laurentius says:

      Only it sometimes it feels like a cop out, I mean, yes there is a lot of silencing and derailing tactics employed, especially on the Internet. Except if author’s is sharing her story I would expect maybe some more mutual ground because on personal level one’s is not always dealing with privileged douches. What I want to say that I don’t think that Mattie Brice position presented here is above challenge because she is self-aware and skilled enough on examining her own privilege. Maybe instead shuffling with “people miss the point” it would be better to employ that “this is not a venue to challenge her position in comments section, that if someone feel that there is something not right in what she’s written, one can do it on own venue: blog, etc…

  19. glitchy says:

    Despite gaming being my main hobby, I often feel like I don’t have much place in the gaming community because I usually can’t afford to play whatever latest and greatest thing everyone is talking about. Almost everything I play is several years out of date. In my case, I don’t see it as a big deal – I just ignore most gaming communities and spend my time elsewhere. But it does suggest that those who can’t afford to play all the most recent games are less likely to have much of a voice in the gaming community, whether as journalists or just regular community members.

  20. Morality, quality and money seem to have this inextricable positive linkage in our culture – and it’s a lie, of course; it’s a bunch of forces aligned to make something look like a prestigious must-have, for a short cycle in history, after which it’s quietly forgotten. A pump and dump, if you will. There are opportunities that appear by being first to the party, but it’s based on speculation – on being the beneficary of the gold rush.

    But in the long view, there’s a filter that’s consistently used by creators, curators, and critics alike, and in all mediums – age. Worthy, tried-and-true material has a way of becoming the preferred investment, and the source for later creativity, especially after it gets a bit forgotten and boring, and becomes cheap and widely available. Newness is spit and polish in so many forms (whether it’s “activism”, “high tech”, or anything else), and it’s that premium that you’re feeling, more so than anything else – even the most illusioned, pampered social climbers will feel it, from time to time.

    But if you reuse the old, you can make the new…and then people may build the gold rush around you.

  21. Laurentius says:

    I don’t really know, I mean there are definitely class and economic issues as entry levels to gaming in general and to game journalism. There is even quite possible that in order to avoid privileged judgment author’s like Mattie Brice would have to remove those economic issues from their writing. Even with this discussion it looks that author’s stating being poor change the attitude of readers and not in a positive way. That’s not personal faults but that society imprint us on how we treat what economically struggling people or financially successful people say, nevertheless we should be aware of that. And yet this connection of buying new and expensive games and staying on the level of games journalism doesn’t seem clear to me. Sure to write an honest review from player perspective yes, one have to play a game and without free press copy it most often means to buy it with personal money but to write a critical piece I don’t really think that’s necessary.

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