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  1. #1

    Writing in Games & Susteinability

    To start off, I'd like to link to this collection of tweets, a conversation between Rab Florence and Cara Ellison (start from the bottom, make your way up)
    https://twitter.com/Melody_Meows/tim...84458116993024

    As someone who is trying, despite everything that has happened lately, to get into games journalism, or rather, criticism, with an eye to eventually maybe get on Patreon, depending on feedback (but this is not about me) I'm both interested and worried about this debate, about whether writing can be a sustainable career, and if so where the money should come from, whether you even think it's worth it in the first place, and so would like to hear RPS's opinion about these matters, both theoretical and in terms of practical application. Is Patreon a good solution, or is it only the best we have right now? How would you improve that?

    I'd also like to hear your opinion on general visibility of smaller critics, and how someone without connections can make themselves heard, if at all, or if we need a better platform for general discoverability than just Critical Distance, or the Sunday papers, and if so, what that would look like.

    I'm lucky enough to not need an income yet, as I live with my parents and at their expense, but others may not have my luck, and I worry that the lack of stability and avenues is reducing the width of available voices, especially since the ones who may not be able to afford it are already the kind of voices gaming as a whole lacks.

    Disclaimer: This thread is not intended to
    • Judge Robert Florence as a person
    • Judge Cara Ellison as a person
    • Talk about Voldemort (even though the first couple of tweets from Cara allude to them)


    Edit: Also, apologies if this discussion already happened, I couldn't find anything reasonably recent by searching, and I figured the tweets would make a nice starting point for a new thread.
    Edit2: That typo in the title, though. Sorry >.<
    Last edited by MelodyMeows; 27-10-2014 at 02:23 PM.

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Ugh... Patreon and kickstarting both exist in the domain of paying for imagined service, I'm just not comfortable with it, but don't judge anyone who is.

    I do agree that games enthusiast writers flood the writing and actual journalists are painfully rare.

    A travel writer doesn't need to visit every beach a restaurant critic doesn't eat every meal on the menu, sure a movie critic watches the whole movie, and a album is reviewed on the merits of its whole run time but these are not 'doings' that take hundreds of hours.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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  3. #3
    Moderator QuantaCat's Avatar
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    Im not a fan of kickstarting or patreon. I believe in making a product and selling it, in this case, your writing. I believe there is an audience for everything, its just a matter of finding your audience.

    However, if patreon is used instead of using commercial sponsoring, then why not? Different payment systems for different people. I just know I wouldnt do it.

    That being said, I never write and expect people to pay me for it. So maybe if I did, I would think differently.
    - Tom De Roeck.

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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    Ugh... Patreon and kickstarting both exist in the domain of paying for imagined service, I'm just not comfortable with it, but don't judge anyone who is.

    I do agree that games enthusiast writers flood the writing and actual journalists are painfully rare.

    A travel writer doesn't need to visit every beach a restaurant critic doesn't eat every meal on the menu, sure a movie critic watches the whole movie, and a album is reviewed on the merits of its whole run time but these are not 'doings' that take hundreds of hours.
    I don't know, I can tell you from first-hand experience that writing decent content requires a lot of hours.
    My workflow is as such. I need to:
    a) Discover and play the game, at least to know if there's something worth talking about in there
    b) if there is, go back and replay, taking notes and screenshots (so, even if I can complete the game quicker, it ends up taking roughly the same time)
    c) Read available criticism or other works you want to bring into your argument
    d) Write the actual thing

    For journalism proper, the workflow is obviously different but then you do need to write a lot more. Either way, for criticism that's what I'd consider the bare minimum to do something decent and well-thought. Then there's obviously following the "scene" on the side, and studying in order to have more interesting, intelligent or culturally-relevant things to say.

    For the steps above, it takes, for a small indie game of 5 hours, about...mmmh, 13 hours? Playing it twice, and reading other people's stuff before writing yours. If you know you're going to write about it, just 8. And that's before actually writing. Writing a 3000 word piece takes me AT LEAST 5 more hours. But 10 hours is more likely, for a fully finished, formatted piece. And that's for one article, for one game. And those hours need to be hours of concentration, no distraction or procrastination.

    Maybe I can speed it up, I don't know, but for me that means it takes me a week for an article, working like a part time job (5-ish hours a day, 6 days a week). Of course, then there's the matter of being good at it or actually having interesting things to say, and saying them well, which is a whole other story, and it requires the possibility, of trying, failing, learning from your experiences

    But it takes A LOT of time. I'm not surprised someone like Campster "only" produces one long and one short episode of Errant Signal a month. It's a lot of work for each of those episodes. It's not something you can consistently do "on the side" with anything more than a part-time job as your main occupation. And not being able to live off all those hours of work, except for the most famous and well-known means we'll get fewer critics, and fewer quality pieces, and in my opinion that is a problem.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MelodyMeows View Post
    I'd also like to hear your opinion on general visibility of smaller critics, and how someone without connections can make themselves heard, if at all, or if we need a better platform for general discoverability than just Critical Distance, or the Sunday papers, and if so, what that would look like.
    Make connections. Whatever is it the field you're working on, you'll need connections. Go outside, meet people, go to events, present yourself, talk, ask for advice. You won't get far without networking. You can't just rely on being out there, even great work will be overlooked if you don't make yourself heard.

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    This isn't perhaps entirely on topic. But the bit "The dev and journo conduct all their lives transparently on social media. The publishers stay secretive and are never asked questions" I don't like publishers particularly but I fucking hate the suggestion that we as devs ought to be living a transparent life on social media. The idea that this is a form of integrity makes my skin crawl. Which seems to be intimately related to the whole idea of Patreon as it's about the character/person as well as their work.

    Makes me uncomfortable as to me being a dev is just a fucking job and I want to go home at the end of the day to my wife and cat.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Prolar Bear's Avatar
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    Tikey's opinion is very sensible. Networking is fundamental.
    Do you enjoy going fast and crashing into a barrier? Then join us at the Racing Subforum!

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MelodyMeows View Post
    I don't know, I can tell you from first-hand experience that writing decent content requires a lot of hours.
    I can tell you from first-hand experience that doing anything to a decent amount requires lots of hours. If you look at any of the guys in Giant Bomb, particularly the guys who came out of Gamespot you'll notice they all have the same things in common. They all worked their asses off playing lots of games on lots of systems and writing about them for whoever would pay them. Many of them paid for those games and the systems with which to review them on themselves for several years before they started getting steady review work from magazines or publishers. Those games where not 2 hour indie experiences either, they where anything from low-budget to high-budget AAA games that they'd have to crank through and put a review out for in a weekend or a few days. They also made connections.

    As Tikey said, make connections. Don't go down the route of trying to get on Patreon, I don't mean to sound dismissive but that's about as upsetting as hearing someone say they hope they can be a Youtube personality one day.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zephro View Post

    Makes me uncomfortable as to me being a dev is just a fucking job and I want to go home at the end of the day to my wife and cat.


    I 100% agree with this. This idea that devs need to be on social media all the time like some sort of reality tv show is horrible. No wonder there's more and more examples of devs freaking out when everything they do is exposed to the world. Get off twitter, do you job, go home and enjoy your life. Don't tweet 24/7 about your vector traces and how hard it is being a dev.
    Last edited by Jesus_Phish; 27-10-2014 at 07:03 PM.
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  9. #9
    I'd like to ask you for advice, especially re: networking, but I don't want to selfishly make this thread about me.

    What I certainly didn't expect was the widespread dislike of Patreon. If anything, because a lot of awesome content creators are on Patreon, and without it they wouldn't be able to do what they do or invest as much time/resources in it (Merritt Kopas's Forest Ambassador, Cara's Embed With, Chris Franklin's Errant Signal, Mattie Brice, Critical Distance etc etc). I always saw it like setting up a bandcamp page with the minimum price being free. As a donation, not as "selling" anything.
    And I certainly don't see someone being on Patreon remotely as bad as being a "Youtube Personality", or even as a bad thing at all.

    I'm surprised almost no one commented on the actual Tweets, since that was kinda the focus.
    Last edited by MelodyMeows; 27-10-2014 at 10:12 PM.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    I read the tweets, my response was about the tweets but you told me to avoid passing judgement on the 2 individuals, so I spoke about the wider topic. When you slap a collar on discussion you limit it, it's inherent.

    Edit: I have found the smug satisfaction of well patreon'd writers repulsive. They are being paid for nothing, but instead of sounding grateful or humbled they sound like they think it was owed to them.

    I can't say this is the actuality, but it is my perception. Indeed when writers who fart out lazy predetermative articles and are more interested in the political profile than quality journalism I believe just like any politician they are compromised, they like any employed party are subject to the conditions of their employer.

    Sounds fine, but patreon is not publicly stated, I know an IGN writer is subject to the advertisers, and I can consequently parse that, but who are the patreon backers, what is their political make up, how is their bias felt?
    Last edited by Heliocentric; 27-10-2014 at 09:34 PM.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    I read the tweets, my response was about the tweets but you told me to avoid passing judgement on the 2 individuals, so I spoke about the wider topic. When you slap a collar on discussion you limit it, it's inherent.
    Maybe I didn't express myself well enough. I just meant I didn't want this to turn into a thread about Cara and/or Rab. Not that you can't agree or disagree with them or you can't mention the cultural climate that GG is fostering and that Cara does allude to, or the reasons why the people she mentions don't work in games anymore. Maybe I went too far with anti-trolling measures, but given the way recent threads about certain topics have gone I wanted to be extra careful.

    It's the first thread I ever created, on any forum ever. I guess I need to learn this as well =P
    Last edited by MelodyMeows; 27-10-2014 at 09:40 PM.

  12. #12
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    Networking advice could be for everyone, and it doesn't matter anways, MM, it's your thread, it's okay for it to be about you :)

    A lot of this, you'd be better off asking elsewhere, like on a forum frequented by professional writers, not by video game players.

    I just want to recommend that you link to your writing in your signature-- that would be the very first step of the self-promotion that would be necessary for eventually landing a (not so) cushy patronage! (And if you don't yet have a page to exhibit your work, get cracking!)

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    I couldn't give two shits about GurneysGuts, it's a stupid concept that people have tried to use to encredit themselves with their opposition and lazy arguing has tried to lasso anyone who disagrees with them into their opposed faction. Fuck factionalised Internet drama. I'm sick of it running roughshod over all other discussion. Maybe I want to call someone out for something, but I can't do that unless they meet a preset suite of attributes which won't cause people to default into drama mode.

    Kadayi is away now, but he'd always call out how I'd accept Tom Chick's absurdist bullshit, he gets things profoundly "wrong" so often, but I find his writing tickles my imagination and encourages different perceptions. But if he met a laundry list of attributes people would leap on Kadayi for calling out my shilling for Tom Chick and other writers, and various games.

    Even I myself am a game enthusiast first and foremost, I look for what is great and will willingly crawl over broken games to wrench out small bullets of genius and hold it aloft screaming this game has gold in it, we should worship it!
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    @MelodyMeows Sorry to HULKSMASH all over your thread, but I dislike people trying to curate other people's commentary, and honestly... The tweets were kinda inflammatory.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    @MelodyMeows Sorry to HULKSMASH all over your thread, but I dislike people trying to curate other people's commentary, and honestly... The tweets were kinda inflammatory.
    It's not my thread, it's a thread I started on a public forum :D
    I just didn't want the discussion to sidetrack into personal attacks or on the ghazis and forgetting the general topic, like other topics that have been closed as a result just last week, and in doing that I was a tad too conservative in trying to, as you said, "curate". But I do want to know what you think about what they said!

    Opinion away!

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Was an edit, then you posted:
    Quote Originally Posted by MelodyMeows View Post
    Maybe I went too far with anti-trolling measures, but given the way recent threads about certain topics have gone I wanted to be extra careful.
    It's more, I see threads locked, sweeping insults against various demographics I belong to, or people close to me belong to on both sides and I'm sat here thinking I want no part of these sides, with a mild anxiety that I'd I don't choose people will choose for me.

    The worst part, it's lazy arguing, filled with greeting card grade rhetoric and links to near bottomless pits of unverifiable quotes. What happened to high quality argument?
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    I have found the smug satisfaction of well patreon'd writers repulsive. They are being paid for nothing, but instead of sounding grateful or humbled they sound like they think it was owed to them.

    I can't say this is the actuality, but it is my perception. Indeed when writers who fart out lazy predetermative articles and are more interested in the political profile than quality journalism I believe just like any politician they are compromised, they like any employed party are subject to the conditions of their employer.

    Sounds fine, but patreon is not publicly stated, I know an IGN writer is subject to the advertisers, and I can consequently parse that, but who are the patreon backers, what is their political make up, how is their bias felt?
    I follow too low a number of patreoned people to comment on the smugness, and the fact that I haven't perceived that smugness in those I do know is not really an argument.
    I still don't agree that they're being paid for nothing, especially because for most (of those I follow) Patreon is nothing but a donation, their content is available to anyone anyway. Also, it still seems to me like you're underestimating the amount of work a critical article can require.

    If that is your view on patreon, I take it you also don't like/don't agree with RPS's subscription system...? Do you think they are now too dependent on their readers to be genuine, in that if they ever had to do something that they think would alienate their subscribers, they wouldn't do it, or they'd at least have doubts?

    My view when it comes to information of any kind is based on trust. I trust certain people individually, and very rarely, I trust certain organizations. In this case, I trust RPS to not become servile to their subscribers, and not just lazily take the standard political position they think is expected of them. Similarly, I trust the few people I do support on patreon to do the same and not have their work corrupted by their source of funding. Can't comment on what the majority does, because I don't know, but I have a lot of trust in the ones I pick, and I don't see Patreon itself as anything more than a glorified tip I'll gladly give when I can, for enjoying their work.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MelodyMeows View Post
    If that is your view on patreon, I take it you also don't like/don't agree with RPS's subscription system...?
    Gonna quote my first posts first line... Yep.
    Patreon and kickstarting both exist in the domain of paying for imagined service, I'm just not comfortable with it, but don't judge anyone who is.
    And yes, that goes for RPS subscribing to a degree, but RPS have a proven coda of service, and I don't mind kicking some back however with caveats...

    I ardently refuse to send money to John Walker, if RPS subscription had a humble bundle style distribution slider I'd reconsider. He has thrown out wretched insults to complete bystanders in these conflicts for disagreeing with him in any manner, while desperately declaring moral high ground. Then saying, "Oh, but I wasn't talking to you dear reader", no you really were, you just tried to take it back without apologising because you are angry about something and decided to use your readership as an emotional punching bag.

    PS What do you mean by a "ghazis" I'm finding very divergent opinions in the googles, its not a term I'm versed in.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    PS What do you mean by a "ghazis" I'm finding very divergent opinions in the googles, its not a term I'm versed in.
    It's another name for the followers of the hashtag that be. Some people on twitter call them GamerGhazis or similar variations to be able to talk about them without coming up in searches and therefore be targeted for harassment.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MelodyMeows View Post
    It's another name for the followers of the hashtag that be. Some people on twitter call them GamerGhazis or similar variations to be able to talk about them without coming up in searches and therefore be targeted for harassment.
    Oh, so you are using a secret slur to insult people privately via public channels, yeah, I can't see how that could go wrong.

    I assumed it was something smart to do with the muslim warrior concept, a generic "internet warrior" word without choosing a side for them, yeah, I'm done I guess.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

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