I’ve already written a substantial post over on my other site MoeGamer about a new plan I have to start writing more hefty long-form pieces on a regular basis, but I figured I’d write something here too. And, since I’m the sort of person who will happily write the same thing in two different ways because he enjoys the act of writing itself, I’m not just copying and pasting the text over, oh dear me no.
I’m rebooting MoeGamer. It’s not a drastic reboot, change of theme, change of layout or anything like that: it’s changing the way I’m thinking about it. To date (well, until last August) I posted on MoeGamer as and when I felt like it: when I particularly wanted to write about a favourite game, or when I particularly wanted to refute something stupid I’d seen from the mainstream press. (“There haven’t been any good RPGs since Final Fantasy VII” was a good example; “Dungeon Travelers 2 is a creepy, porn-lite dungeon crawler” was another.) I made an effort to post pieces of several thousand words in length, much as if I’d be writing a feature article on a regular games site.
And that was fine, apart from a couple of issues, the major one being that it’s very difficult to stay up to date on things to write about if you set yourself even quite a conservative schedule of posting. Eventually, the prospect of running out of things to write about became a bit demoralising, so I stopped to have a think and reflect on what I wanted to do with the site, if anything.
Today, Destructoid published a review of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 which attracted some attention. Not only was it written by a writer with a lengthy track record of baiting the outrage brigade at every opportunity, said writer took the opportunity to insult both the game and the people who might be interested in it over the course of his article. And, once again, I was reminded of the woeful inadequacy of the mainstream games press when covering more specialist titles such as modern Japanese games.
As foul a taste as the review left in my mouth, it gave me an idea. Why not try doing something completely different? By not being beholden to advertising revenue, I have the freedom to wax lyrical about games I find interesting or noteworthy as much as I want. And in-depth analysis is what these games in particular are sorely lacking. Now, I’m not particularly saying Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is necessarily worth some in-depth analysis — although I haven’t played it yet, so couldn’t say for sure — but there are plenty of games out there which are being done an enormous disservice by games journalists who either don’t have the time to invest in 100+ hour RPGs, or who feel “this game is about boobs” is somehow sufficient to describe Senran Kagura.
Much of the problems with modern games criticism come from the twin pressures of time and performance. Everything posted on a site has to perform well, and it has to be timely, otherwise the ad revenue will be shit and no-one will get paid. Unfortunately, this leads to clickbait of various forms — most commonly of the outrage variety these days. I don’t necessarily blame the games journos themselves for this — though there are certain writers, whom I shall refrain from naming for the moment, who can eat a thousand dicks over their incompetent coverage of games that deserve better — because I know from experience they quite simply don’t have the time to explore a game fully in the same way a regular ol’ player will.
But I do. Because I’m a regular ol’ player. So why not leverage that fact and take an extremely in-depth look at a game after the fact, pick apart why it’s noteworthy (or not) from several different angles, and ultimately build up a library of deep, interesting analyses of games that don’t get the time of day from the mainstream games media?
The plan’s pretty simple. Pick a game each month, focus exclusively on that. Write about its mechanics, narrative, aesthetics and context — going into a full article’s worth of detail on each rather than trying to cram everything into a single “review”. Add additional detail as appropriate. Move on to something new the following month. Repeat.
This approach gives me time to work my way through substantial games such as JRPGs and visual novels and complete them to my satisfaction, then write about them in detail. It provides a suitable structure for me to post content regularly. And it provides a variety of perspectives for people who are interested in games for different reasons — not everyone’s as much of a narrative junkie as I am!
I’m sure it’ll be a challenge and I’ll doubtless run into some hurdles along the way. But while I have the time to pursue various creative endeavours, it’s probably best I do that rather than sitting at home twiddling my thumbs and occasionally bursting into tears at the fact I still don’t have an actual job.
I’ll be kicking off this new-style MoeGamer at the beginning of April with coverage of the recently released Senran Kagura Estival Versus, and taking things from there. I’m looking forward to this new challenge, and I hope you’ll be interested to read my work.