Since reading my first video game reviews in what was then our weekly TV guide, young me wanted to become a video game reviewer. I grew up idolizing professional game critics; admiring their vast knowledge of games and gaming history, as well as their ability to analyze games on a deeper level. As much as I wanted to be like them, I was frequently confronted with a warning: “if you become a critic, you’ll never enjoy your hobby again.”
After all, if you make it your work to talk about games, or anime, or any other kind of medium, it seems only logical that engaging with them as a hobby ceases to be an option. Everything you do with it is now work; every anime you watch obligates you to write about it, every game you touch requires further analysis. Even if you try to do it “for fun”, in the back of your mind you’ll be thinking about how to turn it into content. Fun doesn’t pay the bills…
I became a “””games journalist””” back in 2011, during which I steadily developed into the publication’s resident expert on indie and anime-themed games. I left in 2016 under friendly conditions, after which I started Reasons to Anime in 2017. I hadn’t even considered that last year was my 10th anniversary of being a snobby, elitist critic!
So has the warning held true? Quite the opposite really.
While there is certainly a pressure to write about as much as possible, that’s kind of why I came here. I started writing about games and anime because I love them. I wanted to express that love and become better at understanding why I felt about media the way I do. Maybe it’s a different story if you rely on criticism to pay your bills, but even then I can’t imagine all journalists being as passionless as they are made out to be.
Contrary to the warning, I have actually found that my enjoyment of anime and games has increased on average. Not only do I get the added fun of writing about anime that I enjoyed, I also get to turn those I didn’t like into valuable experiences. Rather than being bored or annoyed with a “bad” anime, I get to analyze what I didn’t like and why some would feel different about it. For example, I did not like Aim for the Ace! but I enjoyed watching it. Analyzing such a historical anime and criticizing it felt like a privilege, in a weird way. I walked away from it feeling enriched.
Sure, you don’t have to write about anime to begrudgingly appreciate the historic value of a bad series. It’s just a lot more bearable if you get to talk shit about it to your audience afterwards.