Man, what a difference a doctor's visit and some prescription meds make. I'm not out of the woods yet, but I'm feeling a hundred times better than yesterday. So, in celebration of improving health and seeing that I've exhausted most literary conversations for the time being, I figured I'd talk about my other writing gig: game reviews.
Now if you're a regular to my blog you'll know that I review games for two websites: DLH.net and GeekNifty. If game reviews are something you'd like to do, well, I wish I had good advice for how to get into it. I honestly stumbled into BOTH of these gigs. I'm truly blessed to be able to do something like this, something I love, as a side hustle. If you wonder what the process is, well, I assume most people know, but I'll elaborate and mention a few other things along the way.
First off, I've talk with both editors to let them know what systems I have and what genres I play. It's no good trying to get me to play a Madden title because I don't like football. I don't like Madden games. I'm never going to be able to fairly judge a Madden game or an NBA 2K game because I just don't like them. Once that's out of the way I generally either get a list of games that need reviewing and pick one, or I get an offer on a single game that really needs attention. My editor gives me the time frame, a download code, and I go to work.
This is where I feel weird. I play a game all day and that's productivity. I need to explore as much of the game as a I can. How hard is it, how easy is it to break it, what are the controls like, how's the music, is the story any good? With the exception of in depth RPG titles or completely open-ended games without a real ending, I need to finish the game. I need to explore as much of the content as possible. What extra modes does it have? How's the online play? Then it's time to write everything up.
Each editor has different standards on what they want out of my reviews. One wants something more structured that focuses on sections of the game while the other prefers a more free-form thought exploration. Either way, I make sure to reference past articles I've written so I can keep the flow similar. I tend to start with generalized impressions, then work into the finer nuances. If graphics and audio are a big part of the game, they're mentioned. If not, they're usually glossed over. I tend to review a lot of independent titles, stuff from smaller studios, and there's been a trend of simpler graphics lately. Sometimes that's a great aesthetic and I make sure to mention it. Other times... it's just horrible. And trust me, that's happened in a recent title.
Graphics man. To go off on a tangent, I'm not looking for astounding, realistic textures where I can see every pore on the protagonist's face. I just want to enjoy what I'm looking at. I've play some simple games where the graphics were great, but others where they were so uncomfortably retro that I couldn't stand looking at it. Retro is fine, if you do it right. But making something look 8-bit doesn't automatically make it cool. And it shouldn't be a crutch for game developers looking to save on their graphics, either. If you can't get it to look pleasing to the eye, you need to ditch it and start over.
Anyway, once all that is done, I make sure to check over my review three or four times for spelling and grammar (as you should on anything you write that you expect another person to read), and make sure the voice is consistent. I cut out extraneous rantings, which there are usually plenty of, then go back to make sure everything I felt about the game made it in.
Then I'm pretty much done. Check another notch in my Steam catalog or my PS Store list and it's off to the next one. It's fun, I get free games, most of which are good, and I get to write about it. How cool is that?
Well, as I said, I'm feeling better, but I'm not quite back to 100% yet, so I'm headed back to bed for long nap, dreaming of the day when my lungs choose to work properly once more.
Be Excellent to Each Other
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.