I haphazardly fell into writing as a profession back in 2009. It all started in February of that year when I entered a contest for Slide to Play, a mobile gaming website. The concept– write a review for a game they hadn’t covered and the best few get published– was an obvious ploy by the site to eek out extra content, but 15-year-old me was just in it for the $10 iTunes gift card.
I lost that contest. But I won the next one… by default.
When Slide to Play held the contest for the second (and final) time, I was the only applicant. As you can see below, the review I wrote wasn’t exactly a masterpiece even if I find it a bit charming in its naïveté. The site gave me the gift card, published the review and said no more. However, having seen the winner of the previous contest get picked up to write more content for the site, I stepped forward and asked if I could continue as well. For some reason well outside my grasp, they took a chance on me and made me an unpaid intern.
Over the next year, I rose in the ranks to paid intern, then contributor, then editor. I stayed with the site three years, helping it grow to prominence before leaving to put my focus on college (a decision I still regret… I’ll let this Animal Collective song explain why). I spent a lot of that time neglecting my teenage years and schoolwork to focus on the job. It was my point of pride. Through Slide to Play I became a better writer and a better professional, but most importantly it ignited a passion that gave me guidance for my future aspirations.
A couple memories: the first was early on in which I responded to a PR person promising to review their game and otherwise acting cozy. My editor understandably reprimanded me and introduced a code of ethics that I abide by to this day. Then there was the release week for the original iPad in which I skipped classes to pump out content about games for the new tablet (and no, I don’t regret this). And I can’t not mention one of my last memories at the site in which I panned a Mass Effect game for iOS and dealt with unholy hellfire in the form of fan blowback. I was right, though; the game was shit.
The website sadly fell into decline around the point when I left, mostly due to a shift in the mobile gaming landscape toward homogenized free-to-play money makers aimed at an increasingly mainstream audience. These days, Slide to Play hardly recognizable and more or less defunct. Author pages are completely broken so I no longer have a directory of the well over one hundred reviews–maybe even closing in on two hundred– I wrote for them.
That’s enough self-serving nostalgia for now. I hope this was at least a little insightful as to my background. Without those three years there’s a great likelihood I wouldn’t have become a writer at all.