Editor's note: Chris takes the reins of Bitmob Writing Challenge this month to ask you all to write about the act of playing games. It's a fantastic concept, and I'd like to see more of these kinds of personal essays in games writing. Look for my own entry before the month is out. -Brett
The Bitmob Writing Challenge series has given writers a chance to improve their skills through inventive prompts like cutting a review down to a single sentence and arguing both sides of an issue. Michael Rousseau, the man behind the challenges, has chosen not to post a prompt this month, so I'm going to try my hand at it with a prompt I've named "First-Person Writer."
As I went though writing and journalism courses in college, I realized that video game writing danced around the point of the medium. You can write a review about a video game. You can write a news story or commentary on video games. You can interview someone about video games. However, writers rarely explore one facet unique to video games: the act of playing video games.
The disconnect between what you do on screen and what you do in real life is vast. This is the only medium where you can simultaneously slay chimeras in a futuristic city and sit on a couch mashing buttons and sipping Dr. Pepper — not exactly the stuff of thrillers. How do you make playing a video game an engaging reading experience?
A lot of presidential memoirs, they say, are dull and self-serving. I hope mine is interesting and self-serving.
Like the world of presidential memoirs, the world of video game nonfiction needs a jump start. Write about a gaming experience and make it a gripping read. Try to juggle between the narrative on screen and your own reactions to it. Finally, write it for a mass audience.
While this prompt is more a creative writing challenge than a journalism challenge, the skills still intersect. Electronic Gaming Monthly and other magazines have used this technique to pull people into a preview or feature story, and great descriptive text can turn a by-the-numbers article into an acclaimed piece.
1. Write an article 500-800 words long on an experience playing a video game. It could be about your formative gaming years, a challenging boss fight, a multiplayer match, or anything else you can think of.
2. Avoid using community lingo and other jargon. If you feel like you need to use it, explain it.
3. Post the article as "First-Person Writer – (Your Game)" by March 31 at 12 p.m. PST. Include "First-Person Writer" in your tags so that I can find it.
If you're having trouble, remember that whether the subject is a first love or a first power-up, writing should speak to a universal truth everyone can relate to. If you need further help, I'll post an example soon.
I'm interested to see what the community comes up with. I've tried to incorporate this into my own writing, but I've never been able to do it in a satisfying way.