You may recall a while back I decided to reboot my “sister site” to this blog, MoeGamer. Having now spent two months with my new format, I thought I’d revisit the idea here for the benefit of those who haven’t checked in on it recently.
Essentially, my thinking behind MoeGamer’s new format was to forgo the scattershot approach that games journalism and criticism today typically follows, and instead have a laser-sharp focus each month: a single game, or perhaps a series of games. Over the course of that month, I’d post a series of in-depth articles, each of which focused on a specific aspect of the game or series. By the time the month was up, there’d be a complete, substantial amount of writing about the game in question for readers to enjoy at their leisure, with the content remaining relevant long after it was written.
This is part of the problem with modern games journalism and criticism, and part of the reason it’s so trapped in the clickbait quagmire that ruins it so much. The ever-present need to produce timely content to meet embargoes and line up with release dates means that games that often deserve better don’t get the attention they deserve, and some games, as we’ve seen in the past, get a writeup of no value whatsoever, consisting entirely of the writer in question doing nothing but mocking the game and the people who like it without demonstrating any real evidence that they’ve bothered to try and engage with it on anything more than the most superficial level.
As I noted in my previous piece, though, because MoeGamer is a personal site that I write as a passion project, I’m not beholden to the fickle whims of advertising revenue and I have no obligation to bait people in with provocative headlines and articles about the creator of Minecraft calling someone a cunt (which, for what it’s worth, he was perfectly within his rights to do, as the person whingeing at him was being a cunt). Instead, I can explore games that have proven meaningful or interesting to me; games that are worthy of discussion. I can be positive about them, too, highlighting the things they do differently or particularly well and giving people reasons to check them out rather than, as so often happens with reviews today, reasons to avoid them.
The positivity thing in particular is something I feel strongly about. There seems to be a perception in a lot of modern criticism that you’re not doing your job properly if you’re not tearing something apart or telling it things it should do better. While there is value in this sort of criticism at times, it’s very easy to start reaching for things that are of little relevance to the work as a whole. Polygon’s infamous review of The Witcher 3 that complained about the lack of black people in a world inspired by Eastern European folklore is a good example, as is any writeup that bleats about sexism in an anime-style game without demonstrating any evidence of having explored the characters’ backgrounds.
Personally speaking, the kind of writing about games that I like to read is positive in nature. Games that changed your life, games that had personal meaning, games that elicited emotional responses, games that people haven’t heard of but should absolutely definitely positively check out. It is eminently possible to remain positive about things and still write interesting, compelling content, and it has the pleasant side-effect of creating a positive atmosphere around the articles, too, which encourages discussion and anecdotes of what the work in question means to other people. (There are exceptions, of course, as with most things on the Internet, but most people I know seem to respond far better to positive, enthusiastic writeups than ill-informed, poorly researched pieces that tear things apart unfairly.)
So that’s what I’m doing with MoeGamer. So far I’ve covered Senran Kagura Estival Versus and Megadimension Neptunia V-II. Next month I’ll be tackling Dungeon Travelers 2. Beyond that, I have a whole shelf full of games that I’m very interested in exploring in this level of depth, and I hope at least some of you enjoy reading my thoughts on them.