I’m Playing Spider-Man: Miles Morales for Fun and Not for Work and I Can’t Process That Concept
Is engaging in entertainment for fun when you're an entertainment writer even allowed?
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales was recently released and it’s now been added to my video game rotation of “trying to breed blue roses in Animal Crossing WHY IS THIS SO HARD” and “as if Tetris wasn’t stressful enough now there’s Mario Battle Royale.”
Before Miles Morales shipped, I’d already made mental notes on what I could potentially talk about in regards to the game. Representation, of course, is always the first thing that comes to mind with me, and the early videos I’d seen reveled in an extremely diverse Harlem. That might sound like a duh moment, but certain other creators have proven that location and time period means nothing when it comes to representation so I get excited when a diverse city looks, well, diverse.
I got the game. I started playing. I fell in love with the universe and its characters. I appreciated representation being treated as a norm because, yeah, there’s gonna be rainbow flags at a couple of food stands in this modern-day NYC setting. I waited for my muses to start whispering their thoughts, give me some kind of direction in a piece that celebrated the vast amount of melanated folks in the game.
Instead? They told me to just … play the game.
And this is a concept I struggle with as an entertainment writer, as someone who prides herself in taking deep dives into pop culture, and as an outspoken Black queer woman. How am I supposed to just… play a game without churning out 1000 words or less after the credits roll? Isn’t that my job?! I could get PAID to give my thoughts on SPIDER-MAN how cool is that?
Yes, it is cool, if that’s where your head is. But like every other job out there, writers need something that gets them off the clock. The problem is it’s very hard to do that because of how writing, and creative fields in general, are treated. Even after all these years and all the writing I’ve done I still remember the “writing isn’t a real job” takes that echoed around me back in college and after graduation. I remember the people who told me how lucky I was to “sit at home all day and write about (insert cool new entertainment thing).” So, like, why would I ever need a break?
What finally got me to see how untrue that way of thinking is was COVID, of all things. That’s because there were people saying, with their entire chest, “folks who work from home are gonna be fine.” You know. Because we’ve been home the whole time? It’s not like some of us lost our gigs, got pay cuts, or just, I dunno, had a hard time coping with a GLOBAL PANDEMIC?
Now I’d felt that gnawing feeling of “everything you consume must be for the job” in my attempts to come up with relevant content as a freelance writer, but now, during the pandemic, there was a mix of “how dare you enjoy ANYTHING when you need to figure out how to survive!” Did I buy Animal Crossing for fun? Yes. Did I spend an obscene amount of time trying to figure out some kind of pitch that hadn’t been talked about since I got the game about a month after its release? Also yes.
I never did come up with a pitch. Probably because this was meant to be an “enjoy it” game the way this new Miles game is shaping up to be.
I can’t speak for all writers, of course, but I feel like this is a universal feeling. We think to ourselves, “Why just enjoy something when you could, and should, turn it into an opportunity?” Yes, I champion self-care, always, but part of me didn’t think I deserved it because my “fun” job should be self-care enough. What’s the Mark Twain quote? “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Yeah, no, even if you like what you’re doing it’s still work, you still get tired, and you still need something that doesn’t have a deadline. Burnout is real, y’all, and the best way to combat it is to give yourself a break.
So yeah, in the end, the most glowing review I can give Miles Morales is “it’s so fun that I’m not gonna dissect it for a piece right now, I’m just gonna play it.”
(Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment)
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