State of the Blog ’11

And so ends the third full year of me trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing. Thank you for whatever readership I’ve garnered in that time and for continue to stick around. In looking over my work here at The Game Critique I find that I did indeed write more this year than last (33 posts to last year’s 24) and that much of my writing hasn’t happened here. Most of the posts here at my blog are External Sources to my work elsewhere and this is by no means a bad thing. In fact I’m grateful to Ian, Patricia, and Christopher for giving me the opportunity to write for them.

While I started writing for PopMatters’ Moving Pixels blog only in December on a biweekly schedule, and consequently only got a single post published before the winter break, I think it’s a great post highlighting Desert Bus for Hope charity drive, an event I was hooked on for a whole week. In companion to my Moving Pixel’s piece I created a video gallery on this blog to highlight some of the best and most entertaining moments of the whole event.

I started much earlier with Nightmare Mode. Thankfully they let me write whatever I want there and have a great editorials staff willing to talk at great length to make sure your piece is the best it can be. My first post was a repost of my Enslaved piece, the first post of the year, but with editorial oversight, so this is the version you should read. I followed that up with a Ninja Theory companion essay on Heavenly Sword. Then a piece on the Atmosphere of Limbo and Another World that got a big enough response to warrant an in depth reply and further critical discourse in the comments. (Again, the Nightmare Mode repost has editorial oversight and is the better version.) After that began the series of posts on racing games. It has been a bit difficult to get on a weekly Thursday schedule going (a self-imposed schedule), but I am getting better and hopefully I can stick to it in the new year.

At Gameranx, I did a number of top X lists and while not too notable in themselves, I like to think that they are part of an effort to elevate the concept of the top X list itself. Additionally I wrote a feature on what Action/Adventure games are and it lead me to a new area of theoretical thinking. I breach the topic here. I say breach because the response was such that is going to take several more posts in the new year to iron out all the thoughts on game genres.

With all these posts elsewhere, I’ve take a page out of Jorge and Scott of Experience Points’ book by writing up a short companion piece to my posts that appear elsewhere. This has a double benefit of letting the essay be a better more focused work by allowing extra tidbits.

Once again I tried to start up my Indie Game Spotlight series, but could only manage two posts. I was driven to write about The Stanley Parable by its exploration of storytelling, a favorite theme of mine. The other Indie Game Spotlight I wrote was on p0nd, a game I finally got around to writing about. I want to keep up with this series as I had many more minor games I wanted to write a couple hundred words on, but I seem incapable.

Another running theme this year is my focus on books towards gaming as a whole. I reviewed Jane McGonigol’s Reality is Broken and Aaron Dignan’s Game Frame. Neither of which I particularly liked. But I also read A Reader’s Manifesto and how pertinent it was to the modern state of game reviews and cultural ideology toward them.

Massive critical response take downs were other theme. While I could consider my Limbo response a part of that, I’m talking about the link by line take down of arguments I not only disagree with, but also are flat out wrong. These arguments have factual difficulties and problems with the very concepts they were trying to deal with. This is the second time I pulled apart one of DanC’s piece A Blunt Critique of Game Criticism. At 15 pages not many people got all the way through it, but I’m proud of the achievement. I do wish that I didn’t have to so harsh with DanC every single time, because he is an excellent thinker. Incidentally he has invited me out for a drink should we ever meet in person. The other huge take down I have much less qualms about given the original post. I would have ignored had it appeared on writer’s own blog and not Edge. The title of my response says it all: Better the World Think You a Fool than to Open Your Mouth and Prove It Right.

Overall this year was the not the best. In fact were it not for the changes in the last several weeks I would have considered this one of the worst years I’ve ever had the misfortune of living through. Just a constant personal misery and doubt pervaded nearly the whole first half of the year, culminating in August in my Existential Critical Crisis. Writing that was more cathartic that I could have ever suspected as it acting as a way to expel all the horrendous bile that has built up on my soul. And thanks to that post, almost as a karmic response, I was offered a staff position on Moving Pixels and Nightmare Mode both. So in the end things worked out pretty well for me.

This year was one of disappointment for me on the whole. For most of the year I was sidetracked by other mediums and a lot of real life problems got in the way. Then I lost my entire site for a day and while I had a backup of the text I lost all the pictures. This was a massive loss. My posts use images not only as breaks, but rhetorically to make points or enhance the writing. I lost screen captures and pictures of tweets now long lost to the archives of twitter. And then there is the matter of my PAX East photo trip. I have all the pictures, but the hassle of putting them all back in. Not just that post, but also the rest of them. It is a level of aggravation I’m not sure I want to contend with. Though in the end, while I may not have a job at the moment, I feel I have direction and responsibility enough to keep moving forward. I’ve got a theory series in the works and a huge stack of games to play through. I’m not at a loss of things to write bout and not at a loss of platforms to write them on. In fact I’ve been thinking on starting another blog or tumblr for my thoughts on the other media I consume: movies, TV, comic books. I’m leaving things open this time around and see where 2012 will go one day at a time.

Oh and I finally stopped cataloging The Ebert Response this year and as if by magic, they stopped being written.

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