Just a quick thought where I ramble a bit

On the eve of my L.A. Noire review appearing in hardcopy for the newspaper I write for, I’m starting to think about how I write my game reviews. I’ve decided I want to do better.

As humans, we all evolve, we all change. Be  it personally or career-wise, and as a writer,  I’m always wanting to evolve my writing style for the better, while keeping the things that I think identify me as a writer.

After years of writing reviews, I’ve decided I want to approach my game reviews differently.  I want to write them more about how I feel about a game rather than the tired old structure of game play, storyline, graphics, closing comments, score. This has partly come about because I’m tired of writing my feelings down in a review then sometimes seeing them appear differently once published because someone down the production line decided they’d re-write a sentence or paragraph. Did they play the game in question? Chances are no.

I’ve tried to change my formula in the past  – for example, written a review from the point of view of what I’m witnessing as a game character – and it’s worked, most of the time, but then I fall back into the tried-and-true formula. It’s comfortable but safe.

Other times, though, I’ll write a review then read it the next day, in the cold light of day, and think “What the hell was I thinking writing it like that?” I often post-mortem what I’ve written.

I think game reviews should be more about feelings and the emotions they create than just a list of all the parts that a game is made up of.  I’m regularly guilty of writing reviews that just describe the components then slap a score on the end.

As a writer my writing should evolve, it should continue to grow, it should convey me feelings.  From now on, I hope it does.


  • I have to say I would prefer reading a review about how someone feels when playing a game rather than about all the components etc. Just because a game doesn’t have the best graphics doesn’t mean it isn’t a good game that engrosses you in the story and characters.
    I guess the only risk is that writing your feelings about the game is lot more personal opinion than just spouting off the components of the game.
    I look forward to reading the new style.

  • Yeah it is so easy to fall into that same old formula. And it’s too bad games are often treated as “technology” rather than as “media”. I try to ignore talking about the graphics for the most part, unless they have some major impact on my experience.

    In any of my reviews I want to make sure I convey what I felt when I played the game. This type of writing was once described as New Games Journalism (http://alwaysblack.com/blackbox/ngj.html). Sometimes I try to write bits of my review in the first-person. But writing that way for an entire review is something I haven’t yet managed to do. It certainly takes a lot more effort! But we can always work towards it.

    Good luck Gerard!

  • It can be pretty easy to slip into a ‘type’ when reviewing especially when up against a deadline or when the subject of the review neither thrills nor enrages. My reviewing style changed when a new features editor arrived at the paper and he wanted a more personal style to the reviews. Good on you not getting complacent bro’ even after all these years.

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