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Letter from the editor: What happens when you fall out of love with games?

Spark unlimited.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was shared over the scream of a high-revving V10 engine. The summer before I headed into my GCSEs, my work experience took me to the British GP in 1996 where I was lucky enough to shadow the brilliant motorsport journalist David Tremayne who at the time was The Independent's F1 correspondent.

We were standing at the back of a garage watching Martin Brundle's car being fired up, the Jordan liveried in the same thin gold of the B&H cartons I'd started sneakily smoking on the walk back from school. The engine note - a shrill, banshee scream that got louder and louder as it bounced off the concrete walls - was what we games journalists might call visceral, an all-encompassing thing that visibly moved me.

My mentor saw that wide-eyed excitement, the same look that's struck me whenever I go to a race track and first hear an engine striking a note of fury, and recognised it; it was pretty much the same one he had on his face as we were being blasted by a V10, some years into his career and having heard that same note over countless race weekends. 'Hold onto that', he said. 'When it's gone you might as well walk away'.

I didn't end up writing about racing cars for a living, even if I take every excuse I can to do so in the line of work I ended up in, but the advice has proved invaluable all the same. I've since discovered there are plenty of analogues between the pair of professions, too. They both ask writers to toe the line somewhere between holding their subjects accountable while also sharing their passion. Some lean one way more than another; I've always tried to find a balance, but am not ashamed to admit I'm an enthusiast more often than not.

They both offer positions of extreme privilege, especially if you're an enthusiast. It is a lot of fun getting to meet and talk to the brilliant minds behind games you know and love, even if it's also important to not shy away from difficult conversations. It is hugely exciting to play hotly anticipated games before their release, even if it's important to maintain a critical eye. I can't believe I've been lucky enough to do it for over ten years now.

It's a dream, but of course that's not the whole tale. I was reminded recently of the realities behind some of these dream jobs when hearing about a motorsport journalist's schedule that involved half a year on the road and endless weekends away from the family. Looking around the warmth of my home office, where it's only a two-step walk from the TV that's hooked up to all the consoles and a dozen steps away from my partner and daughter, I remembered it's really not such a bad set-up at all.

It's still often relentless, though, and if anything after the rush of the past two months I'm longing to be able to escape the endless bouncing between two screens and breathe some fresh air. Enforced time with a video game isn't always particularly pleasant, when you're anxiously watching the clock and mentally ticking off whether it's really feasible to hit often infeasible embargoes; sometimes, heaven forbid, the game's not something anyone would want to spend more than a couple of hours polite company with. And just as often it can be hard to find the spark amidst some of the cynicism of the industry and the toxicity of some of its fans, just as it can be hard to square taking such frivolous things so seriously against a global backdrop that's become increasingly bleak. It's something I've struggled with myself in what's been an incredibly challenging start to the year, aside from the challenges of a crammed release schedule. It's sometimes been easy to wonder what exactly is the point of it all.

I fell out of love with video games briefly earlier this year, when they'd been shuffled down my priority list by far more important things. As has happened before, though, just as I turned my back on them they seem to have rallied around me; in what's been a truly awful 2022 so far, the evenings lost in the depths of Elden Ring or watching the headlights of a trailing car dance over the dashboard as I cruise around Gran Turismo 7's Tokyo Expressway have offered essential respite. They've given me some of that wide-eyed wonder back. Perhaps most importantly, they've reminded me why I'll always be such a big video game fan.

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About the Author
Martin Robinson avatar

Martin Robinson


Martin worked at Eurogamer from 2011 to 2023. He has a Gradius 2 arcade board and likes to play racing games with special boots and gloves on.

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