Granted, this question doesn’t really matter, because a gig is a gig and you grin and bear it when there’s a paycheck at the very end. I know I’ve done it with a fair number of my freelancing projects (the Angel episode summary project comes to mind first), but it made it harder for me to open the laptop and write each time, even when deadlines were on the line.
However, when a guide writer dislikes a game, it’s more than a matter of just writing about it. They have to play the game they dislike for hours at a time for consecutive days, endure the bad gameplay, suffer through the poorly written dialogue and story, cringe at the sub-par graphics. At least when game reviewers suffer through a terrible game, they only have to spend an hour or two at most cranking out a review that reflects their utter (and tactful) disgust. Guide writers, though, have to spend several more hours constructing maps, writing every last detail of it, and basically relive it for another week or so. They have more to do each day than a journalist who is handed a crappy story that will fill 60 seconds of TV time or a small scrap of space on the sixth page of the Metro section.
As much as I love to write, play games and try to combine the two, I’m not sure I could be a cheerful participant on such a project. I grumble when I have to play and review PSP Minis I don’t like, and I can beat most PSP Minis within minutes. I can’t imagine giving that much time on playing and writing about a game. I suppose the paycheck at the end is worth it (it was with the Angel project), but I guess it depends on how much you really want to stay in the business. Take a few bad games and hope that the next one is a game you like.
Although when I asked Dan Birlew how he felt about writing guides for games he disliked, he said, “It’s all equally hard.” And no, he didn’t say and I didn’t ask which games he disliked, but I bet I could guess. 🙂