How We Write, and Why It Matters

One of the things that I have wanted to accomplish since the inception of Play With Pixels is to offer an interesting voice that goes beyond the standard news, previews and reviews grind that a lot of video game sites focus on. That model works for a lot of sites and that’s fine, but there are more than enough places out there to get that type of content.
What I have not quite figured out is how to do it; our reviews to date have been analogous to a hybrid of the traditional (classic GameSpot) and more cerebral (Kotaku, specifically Stephen Totilo), but what I really want to expand to is exploring big ideas. What really clicked for me recently was attending a talk with the inspiring name of Taking the Long Road: The Penny Arcade Report Discusses Long-Form Journalism by Ben Kuchera at PAX East 2012, where he made 3 stark recommendations:
  1. Ditch the reviews
  2. Keep a Rolodex of people smarter than you are (especially for an outsider perspective)
  3. Realize that writing is hard, takes time, and you will create lots of bad work before good work (usually a minimum of 5 years)
I’m not going to ditch the reviews. I think there are a lot of interesting insights that reviewers can offer to explain and enhance an experience with a game, and Play With Pixels will continue to explore those possibilities until we excel at providing that (in my opinion, the platinum standard remains the outstanding work that the team at Area 5 created with the beloved CO-OP web series).
The Rolodex is tough, but I’m working on it. Between attending PAX and local Toronto events as well as trying out new and exciting games on a variety of platforms, it will take time but Play With Pixels will become a gathering spot for other exciting voices (including those outside of strictly gaming).
Writing can be very, very hard. One of the strongest pieces of advice that Kuchera mentionedin his talk was that he does not solely work on a single story at once; at any given time, there are 10-15 pieces in various stages of completion that he moves between until a particular piece is ready for publication. It is a model that allows each piece to grow organically and the writer’s mind to work on what it wants to, when it wants to rather than forcing the issue. It’s somewhat uncomfortable doing that on the current SquareSpace platform, but I’ll figure out a way to make that more natural or explore a technological change.
So, there you have it! I have already started to put the above into play, our new weekly feature should debut by next Monday and I have a few reviews in various stages of completion that should start coming out in the next few days as well.
Stay tuned!

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