scoring a full-time position writing about games and the industry. (Or even
getting involved with game development itself, after all, story tellers are
useful and Iím full of stories. Or "lies" as my wife often calls them.)
The first part of my plan almost came true a couple of years ago when I was
contacted by Gamefly. They were interested in buying up The Armchair Empire.
We got as far as a few phone calls and some confidential emails then I went
to Florida where my cell phone was promptly drowned by a sudden torrential
downpour as I
set up a tent.
A planned telephone meeting never happened thanks to that and the entire
thing fell apart. (This was before Gamefly purchased Shacknews.) I was
marginally pissed off.
That would have been my ďout,Ē an escape (of sorts) from a job that I hated
and all the bitterness associated with going through the motions of being at
a place I didnít want to be, doing things Iíd rather not be doing. Whereís
the fulfillment in living that kind of professional life?
The problem was that I settled for writing in my spare moments, when the
demands of work and family werenít there. That was a mistake. I should have
been much more aggressive in pursuing the goal of writing and creating full
It sounds pompous but I know I could do a better job than a lot of full-time
and freelance writers in the enthusiast press.
What evidence can I produce that can out-write those hacks? Well, dammit,
not much. Ignoring the last 10 years of articles on The Armchair Empire, I
donít have much other than a few articles in the local paper (about being a
new parent) and a memorable line on 1UPís GFW Radio back in 2008 about a
cosplay midget dressed as Yaddle, my published articles are close to
I wasnít aggressive enough. For a little while I had myself fooled into
thinking that it was because I put more emphasis on my family, which now
includes 4 kids, three more than when I started The Armchair Empire, and my
ďSome editor out there will read my stuff and be absolutely shocked that
they havenít hired me yet!Ē
Is that how anyone in the games industry -- press or dev side -- was
discovered? I canít believe for a second that anyone got into the industry
without forcing their way in with cleverly crafted cover letters and
schmoozing with anyone tangentially
connected to the industry. Yet being "discovered" was exactly what I thought
Iím proud of The Armchair Empire and everything weíve accomplished over the
last 10 years but thatís not enough for my dream to be made reality. If it
were enough, Iíd be out of my day job and writing and creating full time.
Getting paid for something I love to do. Who doesnít want a career like
So, the 10-year milestone for The Armchair Empire brings me really mixed
feelings. On the one hand itís a monument to the fact Iíve failed to snag a
full-time writing gig. But on the other side of that monument, thereís a
reminder of how much fun Iíve had building the site.
Iíve written reams of reviews (some, under the worst kind of writing
conditions), conducted many interviews and Q&As, scratched out too many
features to remember, cultivated relationships in the industry, gone to
industry events I didnít even know existed, and, well, just met a lot of
interesting people that I otherwise never would have come across. I will not
brush any of those experiences under the rug as failures in any way, shape
or form. I may have failed to capitalize on those experiences properly to
either launch the site into the money-making stratosphere or get a dream job
but I canít say that I havenít learned a lot in these last 10 years. Itís a
long way from being a waste of time but it has failed to fulfil my original
- Aaron Simmer
(September 16, 2010)