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.

3 thoughts on “Just a quick thought where I ramble a bit

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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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