As I mentioned before (briefly), my first paid writing gig was for Hardcore Gamer Magazine, a monthly publication that rose from the ashes of Diehard GameFan, an infamous gaming magazine from the 1990s. Hardcore Gamer was launched by several members of GameFan’s former staff, and sought to recreate GameFan’s fun tone and focus on niche gaming…preferably, without the ethnic slurs and LSD-inspired Atari Jaguar reviews.
In its second year of publication, Hardcore Gamer teamed up with viral marketing company FanPimp and began promoting itself through a community-driven website called Luv2Game. Luv2Game awarded users with prizes (mostly free gifts and promo items we collected from publisher PR) for completing site activities, making forum posts, and otherwise showing interest in the magazine.
Sounds like a winner, right? Who doesn’t like free stuff?
In reality, the setup fostered the kind of meaningful interaction that resulted in forum topics like “Mexicans: What do you think of them?”
Every day, I sat at the sidelines, watching the site circle the drain. People abused the system, cheated for points, and didn’t care about HGM in the least. User interaction was so shallow and self-serving that it was insulting to the work I’d put into the magazine.
Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore. I registered at Luv2Game’s forums and began a campaign of terror, ridiculing anyone who deserved it and ruining threads with pointless nonsense. I received warnings from the site’s moderators for my behavior, until they discovered that I was an editor for the magazine, after which my shenanigans were met with an awkward silence.
This continued on for several weeks, until it became obvious that Luv2Game needed new leadership. Seeing that I showed greater interest in the site than any other HGM editor (even if it was just to call people idiots), my boss made me the community manager of Luv2Game.
I wasn’t paid for the position, but I was promised a fat monthly paycheck if I was hired on full-time after an initial evaluation period. The “evaluation period” dragged on for six soul-crushing months, after which I relieved of my duties. The site shut down soon afterward. I was never paid.
During my time as Luv2Game’s administrator, I judged contests, quelled forum uprisings, and pored over pages and pages of inane gaming discussion to make sure that nobody was talking about Mexicans. Years later, I remember very little of it in particular, recalling only a vague sense of unease and nausea.
One thing I do remember — and will never forget — is 222222222.
“222222222” (that’s exactly nine number twos) was the name of a Luv2Game user who was determined to win every contest on the site. Each time I uploaded a new challenge, 222222222 would immediately enter it. This person answered every poll, responded to every survey, and made exactly the minimum number of forum posts required to earn points each month.
222222222’s specialty was fanart. Though I never chose him or her as the winner of a single contest, 222222222’s unwavering resolve was inspiring, and of the hundreds of drawings, screenshots, and poems I judged at Luv2Game, 222222222’s entries were the only ones I saved. Here they are, along with all of 222222222’s original commentary.
“Zelda is surrounded by darkness drawn inpending enemy in the mountains ,but show he was secure in inpending victory”
“The Video game Legend of Zelda a fine articulate game ,find the Elf in a forest in joyeous overshock and ready to do battle with crossbow in hand .”
“Dragon Quest The Princess the globe the sword in 3d”