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Wiggly Mi-chan here, with a message for the gaming blog-o-sphere.
Keep up the good work!
I've spent some time peruising the efforts of game writers recently and I have to say gaming has evolved stunningly as a culture. Never in my life have I seen such original content. Top ten lists, video game related music and videos, video game previews & reviews, and editorials about how video game journalists are always right on all social issues. The difference is night and day from a few years ago.
It's like going from Buffy the Vampire slayer the feature film, and finally reaching the apex of Buffy the Vampire slayer: The television series!
Still there is always room for improvement. So here are my top 5 tips for a better future for gaming writing and culture.
(Oh my god. I just realized…..I'm writing a top five!….i thought this day would never come….I'd like to thank everyone who believed in me for making this possible. I'll try not to hyperventilate)
#5: Better titles
In the fast paced world of internetting, nothing is more important then page views. And what better way to get more page views then a dynamic and tantalizing title?!! There are two things that make a good title, and they are two dots….one on top of the other. Having the subject of the title of your writing separated into two parts by a colon is a sure fire way to get people's attention. Here's an example.
How you developed erectile dysfunction = Erectile Dysfunction: How you developed it.
Which one would you click on? The second one of course! Because the first one requires reading an entire sentence fragment to know it's a subject you're interested in! THEIR'S NO TIME IN THE DAY MAN! This also allows you to throw brevity completely out of your articles title because the interesting part is forced to the front, leaving plenty of room for elaboration after the colon. Behold
Erectile Dysfunction: How this debilitating disease ruined your penis' ability to harden into a thick veiny cock.
Sure in the feed the title might be cut off to read “How this debilitating disease ruined your penis' ability to ha…' but that just creates an air of mystery. What is the ha? Is it haberdasher? Ham sandwich? Now the reader HAS to click on your article to know for sure!
While your title being long is fine as long as the important bit of it can be read in the time between your reader's diabetic comas, your article must be as short as possible.
Good writing, like good parenting, is knowing which of your babies to kill for the good of the whole. You cant expect the reader to love every one of them! So it's better to destroy the unpopular children. A parents love will never be enough, as we all know it's more important to be popular with all then loved by some.
Don't write about any old thing that comes to mind. The ultimate goal is to appeal to the largest audience possible. I find the best rule for this is to ask yourself WWGFD.
Yes, “What would Gordon Freeman do?” The character who epitomizes gaming. Constant winner of best gaming character contests despite having no spoken lines. Why does he win this coveted honor? Because he IS gaming. His traits are the traits of the gamers who control him.
So let's look at his characteristics and see what we need to know about our audience. Gordon Freeman shoots things. Therefore gamers want articles about awesome things like gun violence and Hollywood style explosions. GF is a nerd, thus gamers want articles about high quality nerd interests such as DnD and old TV shows. Don't write about science though. I know Gordon Freeman is a scientist but that is a red herring. He never actually does science in Half Life.
What other things can we learn about our audience through the lens of our wonderful free man? Well he is white. So make sure that things are at least racially ambiguous if not outright white centric. You're still allowed to write about rap, surprisingly. Just remember to not include any mentions of white oppression or gang violence. Nerd core rap is your safest bet. As it's usually rap about video games. You know how gamers love their content to be about games. Just like Christians love Christian rock!
Gordon Freeman is also male. So if you are writing about women be sure to be careful. Remember you can talk about women, around women, through women, and on women. Never, ever, talk TO women. You might end up having to mention something girly like pretty dresses or flowers and Gordon Freeman would NEVER read an article about that.
Finally, Gordon Freeman is strait. So if you are talking about something attractive it better be female, preferably with included pictures of cleavage. Gordon Freeman has little time for women in between all of the killing but he recognizes the importance of a healthy relationship between a man and a woman. He spent most of half life 2 killing things with a woman that he could freely stare at the ass of, save and comfort when she wasn't able to kill enough to be as awesome as him, and completely refuse to talk to.
So once you have culled your articles down to things Gordon Freeman would read you can sit back and let the page views roll in…just don't expect alot of comments. Gordon Freeman doesn't talk, after all.
As a representative of the authority of game writers, you must never allow yourself an open disagreement. Every attempt to assert an idea by yourself is an opportunity to lose popularity with the readers. What can be used to circumvent this? Two tactics seem to be the most effective.
The first is to never be on the unpopular side of an argument. This is easy when both sides are evenly matched but it's much more tricky when one side or another is popular with the main stream. The trick to this? Change your beliefs so that you are almost exactly similar with the most popular viewpoint, but have one small and unoffensive difference. If you keep doing this then in 20 or 30 years you can change everyone's mind through subtle erosion.
The second is fanboyism and celebrity worship. Don't just be a person having an argument BE the argument. Become a human disagreement machine that every person who agrees with you can rally around. The key to this is to never admit the other side has a point. If you never show weakness then people will rally around your strength…or hide behind it. I forget which.
It is always important to realize you are a journalist now. You are responsible for upholding absolute trust in your readers. How can they possibly take what you have to say seriously if they think it's coming out of the mouth of a fanboy who nurses his fatness in an office chair and browses the Internet to find things he can then tell other people about so they don't have to find it through word of mouth? It's much more expedient to be a Journalist who nurses his fatness in an office chair and browses the Internet to find things he can then tell other people about so they don't have to find it through word of mouth.
How can you earn this trust in your readers? Simple. Be a paid professional. There is nothing that says honesty and lack of bias then being funded by a third party to say things to your readers. So clamor for every paying position you can possibly get. Be sure to sabotage other people along the way, as there aren't many positions of ultimate power left.
Once you have reached the position of professional it is then important to downplay your status. You may now be living the dream of countless nerds everywhere but be sure to talk about how hard your job is and how poor the pay is. Now that you have graduated from being the guy next door to a paid position by acting professional you should try your hardest to seem like the guy next door.
People can't relate to professional writers because they aren't one. When you talk about how down on your luck you are it makes the people who didn't get your opportunities at all feel like you are one of them. That ads the special spice of relate-ability to your writing. You wouldn't want to come off as elitist! Who has EVER been successful in a position of prominence by seeming to be more competent then others?
If all of us commit to following these 5 (I still can't get over that….FIVE!) concepts of better game writing then we can finally find the legitimacy and respect we all desire. Yes, gentle peoples of gaming we can find a better tomorrow by looking to the past we cherish so greatly. Everything game related writing was back then was so wonderful and it all worked out so well for us in the past few years that surely the answer to all our troubles is to stay the course.
People will come to try and get us to change but why should we? Gamers are so awesome that any change would be a step back! New ideas can only corrupt the purity of our ideals. Game writers remember: if it doesn't get page views, don't write it. Game reader's remember: if it doesn't immediately make you want to view the page, then don't read it.
That way everyone is happy.
Mi's current mood : truthy
Mi is currently listening to: Gnarls Barkley-Whatever