July 30th, 2009

"One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure" 002/365 By HPUPhotogStudentThe range of my writing has been a recent source of concern for me. I have looked at what others write about video games; I’ve looked at what is popular. I’ve considered writing news, reviews, and even analysis and predictions, but I have no affinity for any of it.

I don’t want to write about news. If news is to be a site’s bread and butter, its writers must obsess over and write about every minor occurrence: every collector’s edition, every screenshot, every rumor — anything tangentially related. Inevitably, the news writer is forced to betray their passions. I can’t let an information trickle dictate the direction of my writing.

I don’t want to write reviews; traditional text reviews are outliving their usefulness. People still consider expert opinions on games to be valuable, but podcasts are becoming a preferable source for these; all that people want from a text review is a number to dwell on. Text reviews and their numbers may increase forum traffic and start discussions (however inane), but I see no other merit in writing them.

Even if I had a penchant for analysis — poring over sales numbers and trends, then making predictions — it’s pointless for a hobbyist writer. Video game philosophy, however attractive, is also pointless. There’s no good that can come from pretending to answer unanswerable questions such as, “are games art?” and, “graphics or gameplay?” Although these topics may be novel pastimes in forums, in conversation with friends, or in solitary contemplation, I can derive no satisfaction from writing on them — even as a hobbyist.

What I do enjoy is telling people about good games. Writing recommendations instead of reviews means that I am free from numbers. If a person comments on or links one of my posts — whatever their opinion of it — it’s because something that they read moved them to; there’s no number from which to infer my opinion. Editorial articles such as this and my Bearly Noteworthy posts are also quite fulfilling; sometimes I just need to rant, to make an observation, or, as is the case here, to write introspectively. All of these are cathartic, and it’s to that end which I write in the first place.

  1. I really feel you here. I tried running a review site years ago and didn’t last more than six months. I often find that I skip the actual review content and skim the numbers, looking for some abysmally low score — anything else means the game may or may not be good and I need to check it out for myself.

    Post about the games you’re really in to and/or getting hyped about. You and PK tend to have good taste, IMO. I do a mini-write up on this Demon Blade (Wii) and WET (PS3/X360). That’s what I’m currently looking at right now. Aside from dreaming of Shenmue 3 and a new Jet Set Radio.

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