- ['Chewing Pixels' is a new GameSetWatch column written by British games journalist and producer, Simon Parkin in which he explains what you should think about video games - or in this case, game journalism - and why.]

Charlie was a gamer who decided he would write
(not fair: Charlie was a writer who chose games for his insight)
Calloused thumbs
Filled with twitch
Muscle memory
Now to earn a living from his (2nd) favourite teenage hobby.
A critic,
A reviewer
This is how he'd spend his days;
Ten hours, then a judgment, then the promo to ebay.
First came his blog,
Then their website,
Then his words in national print.
Then reactions, reader comments
Critic critics?! Narcissist.

Charlie was quite brilliant
His prose tight and rare
His words perspicacious
His final judgments fair.

But Charlie was a drop in a tidal wave of choices
His commentary discarded
For more forgiving voices.
Still, he reasoned in his head, with marked maturity:
“I'll reduce game writing’s volume but raise its fidelity”

He learned the PR names and faces
And they flew him to exotic places
And when it came to score their games
He softened words and heightened praise
(Not beyond reasonability,
And not so much to kill integrity
But just enough to keep them sweet
And secure the next first class Boeing seat).

- For by this time Charlie knew
The scores were mostly useless
And the readers mostly clueless
Drunk
On the half-truths of marketing
Whose debunking
They absolutely didn’t want to read.
For games are dreams of better places
(Doubly so when they've familiar faces)
And expectations must be met:
To play the game, game writers learn
The scores are quite preset.

For a while
It worked out
Till he married and chose to breed:
Ten pence a word a family will not feed.

So he worked
Ten times harder,
So he aged
Ten times faster
And sooner or later the games bored him:
Ten a week, not one would floor or awe him

Every one seemed quite the same
Shades of principles arcane:

For every one that mattered some
A hundred thousand mattered none

And Charlie learned the final lesson
In his hackery descension
The more you cover and the less you play,
The more you earn and the less you pay

So it was that Charlie joined
Ever growing company;
Those whose seeds of talent and ability
Were choked by cloying weeds
Of Grim,
Necessity.

[DISCLAIMER: This piece was written by a still youngish games writer who would like it made known that it absolutely doesn't take one to know one. Suitably foreboding illustrations thumbnailed from Arthur Rackham.]