But it’s time for me to go now
You know, I can’t keep doing this. I can’t keep lying to you.
Kratzen has been going on for sixteen months. I hazard only five of those months was where I produced anything substantial: April, June, July, November, and December. Five months, one hundred and eleven articles produced, and a lot of dead space inbetween. Each time I left I said it would be only a break, and half the time I returned, I barely did any work to compensate. Breaks turned to sabbaticals to unwarranted vacations, and those months where I told you — I told you — I would be writing more crap, I didn’t. The past four months of Kratzen has been marked by shame and sloth, all because I couldn’t shoulder the responsibility of writing whatever came to my mind, and failing that, writing about something, anything, at all.
Kratzen was created for the express purpose of reviewing independent video games and visual novels, with some days devoted to fun interludes inbetween. This is its purpose. Pragmatically it is designed to host articles of any subject regardless of the length; it is the culmination of my two years of Web design experience, and it is, in my humble opinion, as good as a website can reasonably get. I had the capability to discuss any topic, any at all, given the design of this website. But its purpose was not for me to write about anything I wanted — that was for Froghand, that ancient, rambunctious boy. It was for games and the discussion thereof. I could have turned it into anything, but the instant a project loses its focus, it must be assassinated and replaced with a new one.
I love this bitch. I love games, I love Kratzen, and I love everything I created. I made some mistakes, made some stuff that I look back on and feel a little bit of shame for having made it, but nothing that I unambiguously regret having put my name on. Everything I have written made me a bit of a better person every time I saw it made, and I am undeniably a more reasonable, skilled, insightful, and engaging character than when I started all that time ago. I like to say I created more in a few months than most people do in their entire lives. That’s still true, I think. You can’t make that happen unless you care, even a little bit, about what you’re doing.
But I’m sick of him, too. I’m sick of looking at him and having to face the hard truth that I’ve neglected him. I look at Kratzen and I see a reflection of flaws I did not have before, where my flaws of workaholism and obnoxiousness were replaced by the flaws of laziness and lack of trust in my work. I had stopped being a mulish son – of – a – bitch who produced mountains of questionably – readable topics of interest, and became a turtley bastard who wrote much less, better – read, and forced interest out of otherwise unknown topics. I was born one man and ended up reborn into quite another. It’s funny, I find, how often my personality changes, sometimes better, sometimes worse, yet always for a crossroads I had not travelled before.
And I love that, too. I love the changes that come to me, for though they might not be strictly better, they are still good to me, and I would be remiss if I rejected being honest with myself and stubbornly maintained an arbitrary idea of who I am. Shit happens, we become different, and looking at each point in our paths makes us wonder how we got from Point A to Point B in such a smooth manner, or even how we got there at all. As acquaintances turn to friends and those friends turn into memories, we find there is very little, if any in this world, that is designed to remain static throughout the whole of its existence. Mine is a short existence, and I don’t have time to be stubborn.
Even in entropy we find some constants. You have the same body you gotta take care of, the same brain you gotta treat right, and the same vital organs — the heart and soul and spirit and salvation and whatever other cosmological crap you want to categorise — that you have to listen to, lest you become a worse human being for it. And even as personalities change, you are still you. The same fundamental interests, the same muscle memory to remember those interests by, the same memories that you distort over time, and the same desire, the fundamental human desire, to see to it that you make something of yourself before you find yourself lying in a warm bed, your skin clammy and cold, waiting to take your last breath.
We all die. It’s life that matters more.
I love this bitch. I love the way he looks, the way he feels. I love what I’ve written for him, and I love all the great things I’ve found because of it. Not just the games; there will always be the good ones in this Augean Stable of a medium. But something more. Something less tangible. Something like being a kid with the maturity of an adult and putting them to use to doing what you want to do even barring the consequences. Something like encouraging you to do the same, to be that stupid dreamer who idealistically thinks that they can change hearts to inhabit a better body. Something like making art because it’s the only thing you really do love in this world.
Everything I’ve ever written was designed, I idealistically think, to make you a better person than before you found it. Even the stupid stuff had a point, if the point was to stop taking yourself so seriously. I never criticised to fill some void inside me; I’m happy with my life, and happiness needs no justification. I did it so that you, by example, could become what I loved and avoid being what I didn’t. I always hurt to helped, offering the truth as I saw it, even if I have the capacity to be wrong. Nothing I wrote should ever be seen as malicious or hurtful or whatever lesser people write with their worthless lives. Even those I murdered with words, I naïvely thought they were mature enough to accept one man’s criticism need not affect their lives if they choose not to accept it.
Maybe this is part of the shame I feel. Have I failed at my job? To make you greater? Have my words lost their impact? Have they turned into ramblings instead? And would there be such a great loss if I chose to never do anything again? I think about every developer who stumbled across my work, often shilled, and found such vicious attacks against their creations. I can justify it, saying how I do it so you may work better, or how I do it to make my audience more grateful of good work, or even just saying it’s my damn right to say it. But I can’t lie to myself. It’s a cruel art I’ve discovered, criticism. And some part of me always feels bad for being so cruel, for saying that someone’s baby really is ugly after all. The truth, as I see it, hurts. Truth need not be palatable, yet I wonder how often I force – fed it too forcefully and made my victims throw up at the taste of it.
I’m a socialist at heart, and I always felt in my work the rights of the majority is greater than the privileges of the minority, no matter who that minority is. I hate copyright because it gives the minority the power to systemically censor and oppress the majority; this is why I’ve abolished it in my own work, and why I’m happy to see it die. I don’t like artists who believe that, by virtue of having created a work, they have unlimited control over it for all eternity, damn their legions of fans; arrogance is one thing I’ve come to hate, and I have tried to remove it from my work in recent months. And I have felt that I, by virtue of all that I know and have done, have the privilege to instruct you, the majority, how best to live your lives. I have tried not to abuse this immense privilege I have. If I did, I am sorry.
For such an ultimately small project I felt so much pressure to make it something worthwhile, so much concern about updating it, and so much trepidation about publish anything to it lest it be worthless, that I felt revolt every time I thought of writing something for Kratzen. And, these past eight months, I have barely written anything at all. Do I have a moral obligation to do so? I think so. I think it’s selfish to have the capacity to help others and choose not to. But I’m tired of Kratzen. And it’s time for me to go.
I’m at a point in my life where I need to find myself smack in the middle of it enjoying each and every bit of variety that it offers to me. I have written about games for too long, I think, and though they continue to fascinate me, the passion is waning. I’ve felt too often I’ve used the games I’ve reviewed as mere proxies for my already – existing ideas, executing them in the public gallows so that I can infuse some knowledge into you. You can only write so often on one subject before you get bored, and though I still have much to say, it would only be the type of speech you’d find in the back pages of industry magazines and textbooks, with technical descriptions of design and the psychology of our players that are too specific to interest a general audience as I have. I have the capability to write that kind of work… but, to the point, I don’t want to.
I have not written any great treatises on criticism; only scattered ideas and speculation alluding to the truth as I see it, uncurated and inserted into reviews at random. I have not written anything grand on games either; there is no single work I can point to and say that this, yes this is so brilliant, so authoritative that everyone who reads it — and they must read it — will end up a very learned person indeed… even the Tao of Mario was ultimately a collection of nicely – presented thoughts. Perhaps I one day will, and perhaps Kratzen gave me the opportunity sometime in all these months. But I doubt I can do so without taking a break and finding my brain pining for gaming again.
I don’t know what I’ll do next. I can’t keep dancing this dance, writing a lot the first week of each month then dropping it the next three. Maybe I’ll finally fuck off and make a real game as I always wanted. Maybe I’ll be a great composer of eclectic house music. Should I go back to writing fanfiction about pretty pastel ponies? How about poetry about the malaise of modern living? Hell, I can bend over, bite the bullet and shill some of my ideas to publishers and be their bitch forever. Or maybe I’ll find true love. Doubt it, and I don’t want it, but who the hell knows in this straight – dude world?
I could bend over at my half – metre computer desk and give myself a hernia learning to draw again. I could be ten years old again and make shitty print comics — heck, a lot of adults do it, if you replace “print” with “web”. I could take one of those online university courses and become a mathematician or whatever the fuck. I could also go to a real university and get fucked over by debt; not a good look for someone who just likes learning. I could find a use for that bit of Python I picked up. It turns out that learning to code is useless in day – to – day life, and I’m too practical to enjoy arguing with the computer over some pedantic syntax formality that should have been fixed somewhere along the 60 – year timeline of this dismal hobby. No, Python, I didn’t explicitly declare that all – text non – variable word to be a string. I didn’t know you cared about that, but thanks for wasting my time anyway.
I could do a lot of things. I’m a man with a lot of options, a lot of time, and the ability to learn a lot about anything I want. But for all that I want, I don’t think I’ll find it here anymore. Not on Kratzen.
I believe what I will do is take a nice, long break. Live my life without worrying about what the kind people online think of it. Not have to make a big show of presenting myself and my ideas to the masses every time I think of something cool. Stop living as an online character and start living as a human being for once. I have a social life now, shocking I know, and I’m a more fulfilled, more satisfied person than ever before. Isn’t that funny, though? I made The Degenerates to become more content. Now I’m stepping away from it to avoid discontent. The beginning of this story starts the same way it ends, waiting for the sequel to come make amends.
I suppose this calls for some theme music — a little going – away melody to set the mood. I always was partial to Black Eyed Peas — Gone Going; the Froghand big ups and all. What can I say? A man has his pleasures. And though, across all I have written, I have changed my style and my tone dramatically, I can honestly say that nothing I ever created was meant to be cynical, meant to be capitalist, or meant to be anything more than one humble frog’s opinions on the world as he knows it to be. There’s something special in that type of work — that anti – materialist, anti – industrial art. I can be proud of that.
Will you see me again? Do you even need to ask? You can’t keep me down, you know. And when I do return, with some strange new project, I’ll announce it on Kratzen and put a link on Degenerates on the first day of some month, I don’t bloody know which. It won’t be the next month, and it might not be the next one either. It’ll be a long break — no bullshit, no bones about it. Of course I might sling some projects on the side, but it won’t be published, much like all my other assorted work that never had a chance to see the light of day.
Talk is cheap, but I think after 700,000 words across The Degenerates, I think there’s something of value in it. I could go on, but, you know.
Thanks for spending your time with me. I’ll see you in a bit.
⸻ with ♥, from Froge.