Ugh, video game websites.
Back in the day I offered up my (terrible) writing services to a few different websites which featured content videogame-related content. It was the dream of every middle school geek who ever took part in an AOL forum conversation regarding Aeris’ death, the amazing graphics in Flashback, or how Geno was the most useful character in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
So despite my complete disregard for proper grammar and and penchant for editorializing everything I wrote (news included) I managed to sit on a few different online staffs during my youth: AllRPG.com, TheRPGN.com, GameForms.com, and a few others that I forget. Most are gone (actually, I think pretty much all are gone), and with them the embarrassing texts that I submitted for online consumption. But it’s only in retrospect that I can read my old writings and know that they were pretty goddamned terrible — at the time I was riding a a wave of sprites, polygons, and lots of commas (because I didn’t know how to use them properly). But hey, I was like 12 at the time, so I’m not too hard on myself.
But now, at the ripe old age of 28, I am getting the itch to re-join a videogame website staff. The last site I wrote for was Thunderboltgames.com, which is still running very strong — I stopped providing content as I was working two jobs and attending school at the time, and I don’t really have the desire to return to that particular web of code and media.
I really don’t know WHAT I want to do, but I want to write. Many of you may have found that my blog has become entrenched in movie reviews and long text posts regarding other forms of entertainment that I recently consumed. Not to say that this is radically different than my past posts, but definitely there has been a stronger emphasis on opinion and editorial pieces focused on things I’ve watched/played/eaten (??). I don’t see this changing really. I see it getting worse (or better, if you like that sort of thing, but let us be honest most people on Tumblr hate reading blocks of text unless they can turn it into an issue which they care to voice their slanted views on).
While working at the newspaper I did copy editing and writing/design for 4+ years in the sports department. Did I know anything about sports? No, not really, but I worked around that and eventually became comfortable enough with the subject that I was able to perform my job quite decently (although I was a better worker than a reliable source of sports information). During this time I tried to maintain my own video game blog, Definite Dork — it featured some reviews that were somewhat pared down, as well as other sorts of featured content like music, movies, and little bits of nostalgia. It was fun to work on, but it didn’t have any real traffic and I didn’t know what I was trying to do with it, and sadly it has not been updated in over seven months.
Part of the issue I had while working on the blog was that my desire to write, to really sit down and put together my thoughts and write something which adhered to a structure and didn’t just sound like an overly-opinionated blog post, had basically all but disappeared. I spent eight hours a day writing and editing the blandest copy on the face of the planet (hyperbole), and another four hours bullshitting my own essays and reading the drivel cobbled together by classmates at school. My relationship with the written word, the sort that I used to spend hours throughout the night frantically typing out, was on the rocks. And it’s just recently that I’ve come to the notion that it’s a fire that I want to rekindle.
So I’ve searched across the web to see what sorts of videogame websites are getting the big hits, and holy hell these are all terrible.
Back in the 90s videogame websites were bad as a rule, but they were easy to navigate and were easily distinguishable from one another. TheGIA, RPGFan, GameSpot: All of these were so different in design and color scheme/content that you went to them all on a daily basis for different reasons. TheGIA had interesting news, RPGFan had Japanese and local role playing content, and GameSpot had professional reviews and lots of media. Over the past few weeks I’ve visited a small handful of videogame-based sites that I got a bead on via GameJournalismJobs.com, and aside from a possible name I can’t remember a damned thing about any of them. There seems to be some sort of WordPress theme that all of these outlets are using, and it is very obvious, but while the designs are bland and generic the content is just…too much.
I understand why every website feels the need to do EVERYTHING. With blog designs being the big thing now (Gawker) the need to create a 24/7 stream of every possible news bit is almost desperate, a hope of maintaining a steady stream of traffic in an age where people don’t sleep. We have 24-hour news coverage, and we have 24-hour videogame updates. But it means watered down content, poor writing, and the writers and editors spreading themselves too thin and, in the end, providing content that isn’t nearly as impactful as it should be.
I miss videogame magazine. I mean, some still exist, but they’re eventually going the way of the dinosaurs (extinct, or evolve into adaptive creatures that can survive the onslaught of meteors and extreme weather) — but the stories and features that those writers provided for their readers was always COMPLETE. The production value that went into a feature story about an upcoming game, or a “History of…” article in preparation for a big release was just a joy to read each month in the pages of EGM, GameFan, or PSM. That sort of planning is gone now, because most of the readers have no attention span — it’s OUR fault.
Wow, I don’t know where this post went, I sort of lost focus and now I’m just ranting. OH WELL.
Anyway, the point is that most videogame websites I come across are pretty weak in terms of content and their writers have the same sense of structure/grammar/spelling that I did at the age of 14. Which is to say, not very good. The thing is, after spending nearly 5 years working for a publication that follows a very specific set of rules and guidelines for its content, I find it difficult to get into the “blog” age of news reporting and reviews — most are sloppy and follow no specific set of instructions aside from “don’t curse, but it’s okay to use words like damn and crap.” Most opinions aren’t fully formulated or backed by any sort of reasoning, and opinion pieces are just rant pieces — reviews a chance for the writer to express their anger.
Anyway, there isn’t any point to this post. I’m going to continue sending some writing samples to a few of these sites, and maybe one will eventually show interest in someone who has a shit ton of experience but doesn’t own a Wii.
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