Recovering from being sick recently and spending more time playing games led me to think a bit about what I really wish to accomplish as someone who likes writing about video games. I know that I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months as an observational writer and a pretty negative person when it comes to talking about the industry. I certainly am not backing down from my assertions that there are serious problems and that the console gaming industry is in need of major changes, but I also have been sitting back and remembering why I started writing in the first place. I wanted to start after reading reviews in gaming magazines during the 1990s and after reading online reviews during the late 1990s into the early 2000s. Reviews are where I got my start.
Some of my earliest attempts at writing reviews date back to 1999. Here’s a review that I put together for Ninja Gaiden on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I didn’t how how to format or that game titles should be italicized. I just emptied my thoughts about the game into a document and submitted it to a website… and there it was. (After further research, I apparently reviewed Ninja Gaiden II and Ninja Gaiden III for the same website.) The thrill for me was getting my work published for anyone to read. I thought that I was taking major steps forward. Although the work is raw as it reads today, I can see how I tried to emulate the writing of my influences back then. It was a start. When I moved on to Video Game Review and to Epinions, the volume of work increased and slowly improved.
My Epinions work came during downtime at my day job and during late nights at my apartment. My first review was for Crazy Taxi on the Dreamcast, written 10 years ago this month. Over the next 13 months, I completed over 130 more pieces for Epinions reviewing games, platforms, game magazines, and even offering some analysis on E3 back in 2000. Back then, I was worried more about pumping out content than I was about how it looked or its quality. It wasn’t until I started working for websites like SonyWeb and PSX Extreme that I really learned how to be a reviewer. I learned about deadlines and assignments. I put more thought and organization into my work and formatted it better. Looking back on this review of Wakeboarding Unleashed from 2003 or this review of MVP Baseball 2005, my writing had come a long way. I went from basically writing capsule reviews to fuller and more professional pieces over that 3-5 year span. I also remember two specific deadlines very well; I played through Metal Gear Solid 2 and God of War in short time spans and turned around reviews in less than a week’s time; in fact, I turned God of War around in a day.
After 2005, and going through some personal trials including a divorce, I got away from writing regularly and from reviews almost entirely for awhile. It wasn’t until 2008 that I found my stride again for awhile. I first spent some time working with GamePlasma, although it was in more of an editing and administrative capacity. I did work on a couple of reviews, though. I put together another few reviews for up-and-coming site Games Are Evil in 2008 as well, focusing mostly on sports games like Tiger Woods and NHL Hockey along with downloadable games for the PS3, like WipEout HD, Jeopardy!, and PAIN. After that flurry, though, the wheels of change were in motion again as I wound up facing some financial difficulties and wound up having to move. I had backed away from writing reviews and instead focused my time here, writing entries for Consoleation and trying to keep my ability fresh. I have written a few sporadic reviews since then, but my focus here at Consoleation has been more about the business side of gaming and reacting to news stories that resonate with me. I think that this experience has been important and has allowed me to speak my mind on a a variety of topics, and, thanks to you, the blog has been generally well-received.
I am certainly going to continue maintaining and updating Consoleation. I do enjoy commenting on sales numbers and trends and being able to react with no limits when it comes to certain events or stories. What’s become clear to me over the past few days, however, is that I need to get back to my roots as a writer. I think that some of my best work has been in the form of game reviews and I am thinking that a return to that form of writing will help with organization and focus. I enjoy writing reviews; I always have. I think that I’ve had over 200 or so published in the last decade. I’ve had opportunities to cover news, but that’s honestly just not my preference… and I want to use my free time to focus on writing projects that I enjoy working on– even if some of the games are stinkers. I’m not sure where I am going to go with this yet and am just now putting feelers out there, but it feels good to assertively set a direction for myself instead of just bouncing around.
I know that this entry is a bit different than many others, and I certainly hope that you took a peek at some of my links here to see how my writing has changed. It’s time to get back to basics while drawing on the knowledge and experience that I’ve gained over the last 11 years. Sure, there are a lot of reviewers out there… but there’s no greater feeling than doing what you love, and I’m looking forward to resuming the course that I set for myself initially.