Glamorous as it may seem, the life of a game journalist is not always pleasurable. Among the many tradeshows and events we grudgingly attend, there are few more distasteful than the human catastrophe descending upon Southern California this July 21-24: the San Diego Comic Con. As my colleagues and contemporaries will testify safely under their breath, SDCC is the most unfortunate of all industry gatherings. This is because it combines two wholly countervailing elements: the industry and the masses. Unlike the fortified sanctum of E3 with its lavishly erected accoutrements and ample supply of complimentary alcohol, SDCC is a veritable feedlot for the most rabid breed of consumer livestock. How videogames became assimilated into this corporate merchandising unicomplex, one dare not consider. Indeed, resistance is futile: receiving the assignment to cover SDCC is akin to plummeting into the tarry abyss of journalism’s Rankor pit. Sampling the event’s many festivities – standing in various sorts of lines, mostly – is enough to break even the most hardened tradeshow survivor. This is precisely why the corporate afterparty, with its sub-Lunchables-quality hors d’oeuvres upon which we games journalists subsist, was created. But such oases of sanity are absent here, lest they be overrun by our arch nemesis: John Q. Public and his insatiable appetite for all manner of consumption. He is not alone. Jane Q. Public will make her presence known just as loudly, usually by way of a spandex superheroine costume displaying equal parts cleavage and emotional problems. What is there for a serious professional to do here? If all else fails, he can purchase myriad limited edition action figures with which to clutter his office cubicle in some quaint attempt at self-expression. But never before has an actual games journalist been immortalized in hardened petroleum byproduct. Until now. Not to toot my own horn, but beep-beep.
Can you ever truly go home?
I aimed to answer this question as I set out from the fortified comfort of my mixed use urban dwelling and took to the wide open interstate tarmac like an eagle to the wind. Just as the Freedom Riders who came fifty years before me, my journey is one of great peril and even greater faith. I’m headed straight for the Bay Area’s deep south, the true heartland of Olde Silicon Valley. This is not the friendly faced home of Apple, Google, or other such enlightened tech companies that sit on civilized soil mere miles to the north. Rather, this is the rough and ready turf of San Jose, CA, the Bay Area’s final frontier. What could possibly bring me to this desolate and hostile outpost of an economy languishing in obsolescence? The former offices of SNK Corporation of America.