Thursday, December 5, 2013

2013: Some Writing



2013 is almost over. It's been a pretty intense year! My December is going to be full of travel and events and I'm going to have precious little time to spend on my usual, self-gratifying retrospective end-of-year posts. So this is going to be a bit rushed, but here is a list of some of the writing I did this year that I am still pretty happy with.

1. My interview with Spec Ops: The Line writer Walt Williams. I mostly wanted to talk to Walt about what it is like to read criticism about your own game, but our conversation went much further than that. I didn't want to dissect it into pull quotes, so instead I published the entire transcript on Unwinnable. Related, that there is a site like Unwinnable where I know I can always publish an article makes me very happy.

2. My feature on the Queer Games Scene for Polygon. I struggle to feel proud about this piece because I know it isn't perfect. I know that, despite my best efforts, it still homogenises a diverse range of creators under that 'queer' label. I know that, as a straight white dude, I wrote the article from a position of extreme privilege over my interviewees. But I also wrote the article with the sincerest intentions. The creators I speak to in this feature remain, I am convinced, the most important and exciting people making and writing about videogames today. I wrote this piece because I want other people to be excited about these people. Not in a weird, exotic animal kind of way, but in a "these are the people that are going to convince others your beloved medium is art" kind of way. I don't know. Writing it was exhausting. Seeing a select few people criticise it on Twitter even as so many others applauded it was exhausting. Knowing I could only ever do an imperfect job of this article was exhausting. Still, I know various people who have said to me they had no idea this side of games existed before reading this article, which is exactly what I wanted it to do. So I should be proud of that I guess.

3. My feature on game jams for Edge. This was a piece I was asked to write, but I'm really happy with how it turned out. I like how I try to complicate game jams and look at how they've seeped into the Triple-A space, and that blurry line between jamming and crunching.

4. My profile of Douglas Wilson for Edge. Essentially, I just wanted an excuse to meet Douglas Wilson and talk about his amazing games and research. Still pretty happy with how this turned out.

5. My article on Grand Theft Auto V for Overland. One of my goals for this year was to write for one of Australia's literary journals, to write 'criticism about games' rather than 'games criticism', if that makes sense. I guess the website of a literary journal is close enough (the actual literary journal is happening next year!). This was technically meant to be a review of Grand Theft Auto V but it turned into a longer discussion of how despite talking loudly, Grand Theft Auto V fails to say anything of substance at all.

6. My essay on Tearaway and Sontag and Immersion. Okay, this piece only got published today but I'm still pretty happy with it.

7. My Notes series of blog posts. I really enjoyed writing my Notes posts. It started as an experiment. Okay, it started after reading Susan Sontag's "Notes On Camp" and not being able to repress my desire to imitate every great author I read's style. But it turned out pretty well. The Notes format gave me the breathing room to just touch on ideas and move on to the next with no concerns for how the paragraphs flow, without having to make a singular 'point' about a game. Others have also done this this year, most notable Cameron Kunzelman's excellent post on The Last of Us. I would have liked to publish more Notes posts than I did (I still have drafts for Metal Gear Solid 3, Problem Attic, and Towerfall, but I'm also really happy with the ones I did post.

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