December's writing challenge saw Bitmob community members pitching their best article ideas and developing their overall thesis in tandem with myself. It was meant to simulate actually pitching freelance ideas to real editors, but it also served as a brainstorming exercise to help writers strengthen their central ideas and structure. Many community members began the pitching process, but two stuck with it to the end, writing focused, unique articles that broke from the normal “2010 in Review” format.


My Year of Gaming
by Matthew Polen

Greetings!

My name is Matthew Polen, and I'd like to participate in your Writer's challenge. As far as writing samples, here's a link to my posts on Bitmob. The article "The Joy of Pressing Start" was promoted to the front page and selected to appear in the February 2011 issue of GamePro. I don't have very many posts on Bitmob yet but I'm proud of what I'm posted so far. Also attached is an academic essay I wrote for a video art seminar with my take on why video games are art.

My idea for an article within the bounds of the "Year in Review" prompt is this:

I'm always drawn in by an article titled along the lines of "____ Games of the Year", whether they be the best, worst, most anticipated and sometimes sadly I'll read one of these articles even if it's a list of games for a console I don't own. The problem, I think, with these articles is that while they often are good reviews of games that came out that year, I very much doubt that anyone really plays all of those games. Personally, I'm what I'd call a "serial game uncompletionist". I have a lot of trouble finishing games within a timely manner. For example, I just finished the first Assassin's Creed after owning it for three years and restarting it multiple times. My article would be a humorous personal narrative that explores "My Year of Games" in which I try to complete as many of my older games as possible as well as trying to keep up on newer games by going to midnight releases or having gaming marathons, etc. I think it would be a good contrast to the usual Year in Review articles and one that other time-challenged gamers could relate to.

If you don't agree, I certainly intend to brainstorm a few more ideas while I'm working ten hours in a kitchen today. And to address a possible question you may have, "Who cares about what you played this year?" I'd simply reply that it's all in the execution!

Thanks and good luck,
Matt

Matthew's pitch letter only had two samples, but his idea was a sound one: Recount his own year of gaming, including both old and new games he played. However, I wanted him to think about how he was going to inject his central point into his piece, as there was a danger of having a disjointed piece that meanders around without purpose. Fortunately, that didn't end up being the case.

Matthew is vexed by all the end of the year coverage because he's still working on previous years, a sentiment that more accurately represents the average gamer. That's why he's detailed his complete experiences over the past year in a semi-narrative format to illustrate this, taking games journalism to task for being so obsessed with the latest releases in the process. The individual sections build on each other to make his case, amplified by his introduction and conclusion.


2010's Pacifist Games
by Chris Winters

Hi Jeremy,

My name's Chris Winters, and here's my profile on Bitmob. Here are links to some of my previous writing samples, which I feel may be relevant to this pitch:

Stories That Matter (my attempt at briefly analysing videogame narratives)
Videogame Narratives: The Happy Ending (again, another article concentrating on narratives)
Review: Last Window: The Secret of Cape West (one of the games I plan on mentioning in my article if you accept my pitch)

Also, here are three stories I wrote which have made it to the front page of Bitmob: iPhone Games Based on Current Events Have Untapped Potential (this one has found its way into January 2011's edition of GamePro), The Murky Side of Games as Services, and Gameloft's iOS Games: Homage or Knock-Off?

As for my pitch: The medium of games is often associated with violence, guns and swords, so I'd be looking back on some of 2010's games with pacifistic elements, and highlighting these non-violent gameplay mechanics and how they make a game's story work. The games I could cover can range from games which have a few potential fights which can be avoided using pacifistic means, some which reward players for not killing anyone from start to finish, and others for being entirely non-violent in their narrative conflict resolution.

Thanks,
-Chris”

Chris Winters sent a pitch letter that took my advice to heart, avoiding walls of text by quickly listing six of his best pieces and a concise pitch for this very piece. I immediately liked the idea and commissioned him to flesh out his concept. While he was struggling with how to structure this, we eventually settled on an editorial-style feature.

The result is a piece that laments the bloodlust of the industry today while celebrating the games of 2010 that actually combated that trend. Some games accomplished this by providing more peaceful options in otherwise combative games like Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Mass Effect 2, while others, like Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, took combat and violence out of the equation completely. Chris celebrates them all and calls on the industry to make more games in this spirit.


So thanks to everyone who participated! Chris Hoadley's Picture Text challenge is already underway, so get to combing Google Image Search and don't forget to avoid those watermarks like the plague! Have fun, and I'll see you in February.