I became an editor at Computer Gaming World in my 30s. At this point, I had already had many years under my belt as an editor for technical books and magazines--jobs that offered only mild satisfaction at best. I was also already a father.
My CGW job--which of course bled in and continued through 1UP, GFW, etc--was the job that made me feel like I'd "made it." It was the first job I was truly happy in, and not coincidentally, was the most successful at. There was not one day, ever, when I wasn't happy to be going to work, when I didn't know how lucky I was. Yes, it was not all good times every day, there were lots of politics and headaches, I frequently got angry and frustrated as in every job---but I knew, always, that it just felt right to be there. It did not ever feel like "work" to me. It felt like I had just gotten extremely lucky to be doing what made me happy and actually getting paid for it besides. The paycheck almost felt beside the point. That job allowed me to fulfill a lifelong dream - having a humor column - but also helped me discover skills I had no idea that I had, and, most important of all, gave me a sense of self-confidence I had lost, for a variety of reasons, around age 13 and until then had never regained.
I left 1up.com only reluctantly. Only because I could see the writing on the wall (I escaped the notorious "1upacolapyse" by just a few months) and knew I would be laid off. In addition, my magazine, the laughable and unfortunately renamed Games For Windows: The Official Magazine, had closed down for good, and while I was adapting well to life online - and was having the time of my life with the GFW Radio podcast - my day-to-day responsibilities were changing to a point where I just felt like maybe my time had come. So I left. And that, so far at least, has turned out to be the end of that Act of my life - the act in which I had found my proper place in the world and was happy and thriving and fulfilling my dreams.
This Act, the act I am currently in, is...well, I don't know exactly what it is yet. I sort of half-jokingly called it the "epilogue" the other day to my daughter, and she was swift to scold me. At 51, I still have many things I hope to accomplish, many goals still unfulfilled, and much, I hope, to offer. But I freely admit that these last four years, from the time I left 1UP until now, have not been the easiest, however else it may appear to anyone who for whatever reason has any interest in me and my career. Not being able to find a job in the press, unadvisedly trying my hand at being a game producer, and now muddling along in whatever the hell "social media" is, has not done wonders for my sense of accomplishment or self-worth. I don't actually know what "success" in these positions means, or whether it matters, or whether what I'm doing is of any remote consequence. I'm not complaining or feeling sorry for myself or issuing a cry for help. I'm just saying that it's hard not to feel at times like I'm "the guy who used to be Jeff Green," that the past four years have been some kind of glorified early retirement home for me, even though I sure as hell am not ready for that yet.
In the end, it's all on me. Whether it's at PopCap or somewhere else, whether it's in videogames or something else, it is my personal responsibility to actually take my life in the direction I want it to go, rather than let life happen to me - which is something I've been all too guilty of in the past.
Do I want to write more? Do I want to podcast again? Do I want to walk away from all of it and go sell bongs on the beach in Kauai? Yes, yes, and of course not because that would be wrong and not legal and please don't worry mom it was just a joke. The point is that I am in a heavy duty period of self-reflection right now, trying to figure out how best to spend this part of my life, how best to turn this Act into one as vital as the previous one, one that does not in fact feel like an "epilogue" even when I'm pretending I'm joking about it.
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans," according to a quote often attributed to John Lennon. Sometimes, however, those "other plans" need to take center stage. They need to get shoved out from the corner of the closet they're hiding in and assert themselves. So that's kinda what I'm doing right now. I'm trying to take those plans out of the closet, see if they actually still fit, and then put 'em on and see if there's any swagger (as you kids say) left in this middle-aged doofus.