I got into this review racket to get free games. In the last 15 years, I have written more than a thousand reviews, for everything from actual, printed magazines to dark-corner-of-the-Internet fan sites. Most of those reviews were right here, at Drake’s Flames. I’ve enjoyed it, too. I loved writing rants that got people riled up. I got a kick out of making whiny game designers show their asses to the public when my review didn’t say what they wanted to hear. But most of all, I absolutely loved connecting with people who were actually taking the time to read my dick jokes and wildly uninhibited opinions.
With all those reviews, I also got a whole hell of a lot of games. Sure, there are more coming out all the time, and yeah, I want to play lots of those. I would love to get a review copy of Imperial Assault or the Krosmaster Arena expansions. I think it would be awesome to actually get the copy of Galaxy Defenders that the assholes at Ares Games promised me when I reviewed their Kickstarter, because that game was fun but those people can run up to my house and lick my balls because they never gave me the game (like it’s my fault ‘GD’ means something else to Americans).
But what I’m saying here is that I have enough games. Hundreds and hundreds of them. I’ve donated games to charities, given them to the local church for game nights with the kids, and handed out enormous stacks of games to my friends, and I’ve still got more than a hundred, even after a thorough culling.
Not only that, but I recently got a magnificent promotion. I’m no longer a graphic designer. Well, not exactly. Now I’m an art director, which means I’m the boss of the graphic designers. And that bump came with a whole lot of paycheck. I don’t need to get free games any more. I can just buy the ones I want. Considering how many absolutely worthless games I’ve reviewed in the last 15 years, I don’t have a whole lot I want to buy. I do want Imperial Assault, but I’ll just buy it like normal people. I don’t want shitty prototypes of games that are about to go on Kickstarter and tell you the exciting story of cooking snacks for the high school booster club, or the self-published crap from Serbia with rulebooks that were translated by the mice from Cinderella.
The other thing is, with that kick-ass paycheck comes a whole lot of busy. I don’t get home early like I used to, when I could come home and play a game and still have time to write a review. I absolutely love my day job, but it doesn’t leave me the kind of time I used to have, and that means I don’t have time to pursue the stuff I really want to do. I’m writing a novel, and haven’t done anything on it in six months. I’m designing a castle out of paper, and right now it’s just a bunch of sketches. My bitchin’ cowboy game I’m designing is just a handful of notes on my iPad. And Drake’s Flames is more distracting than enjoyable.
And really, all that crap I just said? It’s an excuse. When you get right down to it, I don’t want to do this any more. I’m tired of trying to wedge jokes about prostitutes into reviews of children’s games. I’m tired of trying to get my friends to play games that should only be played by eight-year-olds with Down’s Syndrome. I don’t want to get more bad games in the mail, and even if I did get good games in the mail, I don’t want to write about them any more.
So we’re done here. I’m not taking down the site, but I’m also not going to write any more reviews. I’ll still be meeting with my friends every Saturday to play games, but I’m not going to tell you about them any more. You’ll have to find some other mysanthropic sociopath to make insecure game designers cry into their lacy panties when I don’t tell them they’re demi-gods.
Happily, this is the Internet, and there are lots of places to find offensive people. I’ll bet you don’t have to go very far to find someone who would be willing to say that silly things are gay, or that strippers are awesome, or that Reiner Knizia is overrated. You can find plenty of irreverent reviewers these days, although you still may have to hunt a little to find a reviewer that won’t bullshit you so that publishers will love him. They are out there, though – Shut Up & Sit Down, most of the guys at Fortress AT, and my boy Pete at Superfly Circus can all provide good reviews of bad games and occasionally roll in some offensive humor.
I know for some people, this is actually good news. People who go into a dead faint when they think they see the slightest bit of political incorrectness can all rejoice – another bastion of eviltude has fallen and will no longer spew the language that normal people use when they’re not trying to suck up to fringe groups. The entire nation of Germany can rest easy, knowing I will no longer make sport of their fondness for games about delivering the mail. And all those rabid fans of the Trailer Park Boys can quit showing up every six weeks to misspell ‘idiot’ and tell me I don’t understand Canadian culture (of course I don’t understand Canadian culture, you fucksticks. I’ve never even been to Canada. And your TV show sucks).
I’m not going to miss writing reviews, but I’ll miss the readers. I have appreciated you guys. I loved getting your fan mail and knowing that someone gave a crap about what I was doing. I won’t miss playing bad games, but I’ll miss meeting up with people at conventions and shaking hands with people who said, ‘I bought a game because you said it was awesome and you were RIGHT IT WAS AWESOME.’ And I’ll miss the comments, even the bad ones, because they were often so hilariously stupid.
I wish I had a good sign-off here, some last line that people would talk about for the next ten years, but nothing is coming to me. So I will crib a line from a comedian friend – I’ve been Matt Drake, and you guys have been awesome.