Press Reset

by Tony

A short time after the last post, I took a short leave of absence from writing. A lot of things happened in my life, I had to change things for the better, and I refocused on the things that I could use to improve myself. Regrettably, Writing About Video Games was not one of them. Said leave ended in October of 2012, wherein I traveled to beautiful Leipzig, Germany to cover Electronic Arts’ Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Since then, I’ve written a dozen features over two years. While down from the dozen a week I’d thrown out in my heyday, I’d like to think the quality of writing has improved.

Since the last post, PlayStation: The Official Magazine shuttered. Two of the editors went to Ubisoft, one went his own way with freelancing, and one has remained with publishing house Future’s US operations. The last, the man who helped me land the role, has been a sort of Games Writing Ronin of late. He’s written lore for the forthcoming Lord of the Rings: Shadow of Mordor and is currently on-board with a third chapter of a Mystery Franchise. Myself, I wandered off to a foray into affiliate marketing with Amazon that paid far better than games writing ever could.

So it begs the question: why did I come back? Because I love to tell a story.

My bibliography since, with commentary:

Probably the worst-written of my post-return features, with a lot of the issues I made pre-leave.

This is the feature that started my turnaround. Instead of doing a boilerplate review format, I decided to review inadequacies of the review format. Originally, this was conceptualized as the beginning of a Feature Theme built around “Why I Quit Games Writing.”

Part one of two in a feature on Saint’s Row IV. A little weak, but it sets the tone for the second part in the later review.

Undeniably the pinnacle of my post-return output. A metareview of shovelware and awful licensed products. If there were a review version of the “I’m not angry, just disappointed” look, this would be it. I’ve gotten compliments on this from other journos, which is a huge honor for me.

A new approach, wherein I didn’t over-research a game topic without going in. A big issue with Games Journalism and Games-Related Social Media is that you tend to be oversaturated with every detail about a game when you get it. In this case, I decided to go in blind.

If the bogeyman of Dead Island was the review system, R.I.P.D. was the system that allowed cheap cash-ins to live, and Ghosts was my prior inability to just enjoy a game for what it was–Saints Row pointed a finger directly at the Greater Gaming Community that is so capricious and cynical. It’s a lot less subtle here, but for good reason.

It was before this review that Justin Leeper asked me if I was writing better content because I was quitting, or because I cared. It’s obvious which way I leaned after that question, because this one pulls away from the “Why I Quit” angle after a brief introduction asking whether or not my role was really relevant. This was about having something you love, and having something you can go back to that’s safe and predictable.

There comes a time in which you really, really want to make the silly gag everyone’s thinking. This is that time.

My first device review, thanks to Radica never providing the Phoenix Revolution for review in 2005. Really, really complex situation where it was obvious that Amazon wasn’t as invested in their own ecosystem as they should have been. Kevin Dent, of the IGDA Mobile SIG contributed as a source on this one.

A brief history of Wolfenstein’s ups and downs. One of my mentors advised me to get rid of the “Get Psyched” mantra sprinkled throughout, but I elected to go on ahead for one reason: it’s the phrase that let me know this chapter would be a bit truer to the history of the franchise.

In journalism, sometimes the details of a story are so negative you have to strain to find something good. Sometimes it takes longer than you expected. Sometimes you try to bury the story. And sometimes it gets a thousand shares on social media with a polarized response of “yep, that’s how the game is” and “Why didn’t you explain the rules? People who understand the rules will love it!”

I went into this one with an open mind, and it wound up being a level of amusing-but-terrible I’d not seen for years. It was then I sent a text message to Chris Faylor, telling him that Haiku Man was back for a one-night-only performance. Mainly because Haiku Man, when not done in moderation, tended to irritate PR.