Moving on from Gwent
In 2016, I was a senior supervisor at advertising agency that was launching a new insurance company in Canada. These companies have a lot of money, and I had just finished planning a multi-million dollar national campaign, including one of the biggest outdoor buys in my agency’s history. Ads that you would see in a mall, airport, or bus shelter. I was able to make myself find enough excitement in these things not only to do good work, but also present that work with enthusiasm and pride.You don’t really get used to handling millions of dollars for other people. Mistakes in this industry are expensive, and careers are stressful.
This job, like many others, is not for everyone. In time, I found it was not for me. While I had my strengths, I was still left wanting. I sought more creative expression. I also felt the weight of the real world in my bones.
Big business. Hollow smiles. Meaningless money and the great waste of it all.
Perhaps I could thrive in a different world.
I quit my job in August 2016 with the intention of writing fiction. I attended a convention for people looking to publish and a number of writing workshops before leaving Toronto years later. My free time would not produce any books, though. It would instead produce four years of Gwent content, including 128 episodes of the Commander’s Horn Podcast (starting my friendship with Greyboxer) and over 500 videos covering new cards, decks, and news. I ended up landing a job broadcasting Gwent with MegaM0gwai, and in May 2016, I joined him, Joshua Grey, ESL, and CD Projekt Red to put on a legendary 11-hour live tournament for Gwent Challenger 1. I’d go on to broadcast 24 events for Gwent, which included 12 Opens, 5 Challengers, 4 GwentSlams, 2 Wild Hunt Philadelphias, and 1 World Masters.
I’m in my 30s at this point, and for a long time, playing games was my escape from the real world. I now have a different relationship with gaming - I count on it. I depend on it. More importantly, my ability to play and have fun is now directly related to my life. It never meant much to me to stop playing a game before. I played 3 years of Hearthstone, 3 years of League of Legends, close to 5-6 years of World of Warcraft. Tastes change, people grow, and time pushes everything to attrition eventually. Gaming can actually be hard, and streaming makes the difficult moments flammable.
Gwent is more than a game to me. Gwent is friendship, love, purpose, and a world of unbelievable opportunities. This game has given me a view of the world that has changed me as a person.
Before 2017 was out, I would travel to Austria to cast a number of legendary LAN events and work closely with one of my Hearthstone heroes, Lifecoach. As one of the few people travelling from the Americas, I had to figure out how I was going to be present. The Koys were extremely generous hosts but no one was expecting to have my flight paid for. Thankfully, I had the ability to travel standby due to family perks within Air Canada… but this can lead to being stranded when flights are full. To swing a super-cheap flight, I would fly in and out of Prague and take a long, wonderful train ride to Vienna. On my way home, there were no empty seats out of Prague. Only one flight to Toronto every two days meant I had to figure out how to book a new flight, and that I was stranded in the Czech Republic. There wasn’t a soft surface anywhere, but I tried to sleep.
Delirious and tired, I was convinced that I had died.
“So let me get this straight. You quit your job and now you’re in Vienna at Lifecoach’s house playing cards? Yeah fucking right. This airport is the afterlife, and you’re waiting for a plane that isn’t coming for another 500 years.”
Two mornings later, I would board a flight to Ireland, frantically run thorough the dilapidated shack that is Dublin airport, and arrive home with swollen feet and a head swimming with ambition.
Perhaps I COULD thrive in a different world.
Four years have passed, and for the year, I’ve been frozen in time. The guy who travelled the world playing games and meeting people… that’s ME! I never want to let that go. My twitch banners, my go-live announcements, my profile pictures stayed locked in place.
My dad hated that I played video games, and most of my partners have thought gaming was a waste of time, or just stupid. I grew up loving something others resented, and so I’m no stranger to holding on to it dearly, and fighting for my right to spend time doing what I want to do, even if others don’t understand it. When it became my job, I figured, this is it. I’ve broken through. When people ask “so what do you do” I’d proudly say that I’m “in gaming” before feverishly explaining my job until they lost interest. Advertising was hard, gaming is easy. I won’t ever feel frustrated, stressed out, or uninspired again, right?
Gwent is an excellent game, and something I think all card game players should experience. It has a unique take on card games that will never be duplicated. I don’t think any game has taken as many risks as Gwent has in it’s tumultuous history, and I applaud that bravery. Unfortunately, the game has lost its appeal on me. The game is in a great state on many levels, and has passionate people at the helm… but for me, the excitement is no longer there. Without that, I can’t really do what I am really good at: Presenting work with enthusiasm and pride.
I have been terrified to change, frozen. Commander’s Horn podcast never had a “last” episode. I rarely update my YouTube on my absences because . I can’t bring myself to change, and so I don’t. I drag my feet. I don’t think highly of myself, but the statistics are raw: I have an audience. My audience deserves an update - in this respect I have not been a good creator. I need to be honest with myself and you.
With a lack of a 2021 roadmap, it’s difficult to understand the direction of the Gwent’s future. The hard truths are: There will not be another expansion for another 4 months, there will not be 3 expansions this year, and due to that, maybe no more than 140 cards added. During S2 Open #4, the declaration of “no more roadmaps” really hurt. Gwent’s biggest competitors, Hearthstone, Magic: The Gathering, and Legends of Runteterra all have detailed roadmaps through 2020 and into 2021. I’ve had gripes with broken patches, card balance, and decisions to outright remove cards from the collection, but this was different. This would only burn more as time passed. New expansions keep card games alive, but we are asked to wait another Homecoming’s amount of time to have one.
I know gaming has a hype problem, but I could use a little hype right now.
I am grateful for everything Gwent has brought into my life, but I am moving on. This is a tough one, but much like my decision to leave advertising, I gave it far too much thought to not understand how I feel about it.
I will be making new daily content for Genshin Impact, the open world RPG from Mihiyo. Many friends of mine are already playing, and I’ve built a small base over the last few months. It’s a game full of things I look forward to sharing with you.
If you missed it, check out my update video here, where I speak from the heart about what Gwent has meant to me. https://youtu.be/mYtb-hVYLYk
Best of luck on the path!