Formulating ideas into writing is a steadfast way of figuring things out. Whether those things be your personal opinion, a long-lost history, an unfolding present or predictions for the future, formulating those ideas into a package for others to read and understand helps writers get to the bottom of their thoughts.
Of course, this point is general and not at all specific to game blogging. It is a fundamental of any type of writing—be it creative, academic or personal. But when it comes to blogging about video games, it focuses those benefits onto refining your opinions and knowledge on the video game industry which we all know and love.
This reward speaks for itself, but there are plenty more blessings which come from writing blogs on video games, so let’s jump into some of those which have impacted me the most.
From Journalism and History to Review and Critique
Blogging is a broad term. This means that there are inevitably tonnes of different ways you can approach writing. Perhaps you’re looking to chart a part of the contemporary gaming industry, which is underreported, perhaps you’re looking to uncover a lost history of a legacy game designer, or perhaps you’re looking to get into the fierce world of gaming critique. All these styles of blogging have their own individual benefits and challenges.
The vast majority of my blogging experience surrounding games has been in the realm of current events and retelling histories. While these may not be the fields which scream out as the most exciting, hear me out.
As an aspiring game designer, myself, one of the most enjoyable part about writing about innovation and different historical moments is that it expands my knowledge of the gaming industry as a whole, expanding my knowledge of where the video game industry has come from and where it is headed. Which in turn allows me to locate myself within the sea of games and game designers past and present.
While my main experience may be in writing gaming news and histories, I would be missing a key point if I didn’t discuss the incredible value personal reviews and analysis bring to the table. These styles of articles, at least for me, seek to get to the bottom of why a certain gaming experience either enraptured me or left me cold.
As already mentioned, this gives me a moment to sit back and really pick at my brain in order to understand that why. While this can be satisfying on a personal level, it also undoubtedly helps to refine my understanding of what mechanics, stories and devices I value in game design—again shaping parts my goals as a game designer.
Writing on Art & the Art of Writing
One challenge which faces countless bloggers, critics and art writers is striking the all-important balance between formulating clear, discursive ideas for the reader and crafting a work with a unique, personal voice.
A master of this type of writing is the incredibly talented Jacob Geller — a video-essayist who tackles games and places them into the wider context of the art history and real world.
What always strikes me about Geller is his ability to formulate exciting ideas, draw incredible links and provoke thoughtful discussions while retaining a probingly casual voice which is unmistakably his own.
His pieces are not dry academic essays, but they are also not consumable pop-analyses—they are irrefutably personal pieces which could only ever be crafted by him.
Such an ability to present ideas clearly and concisely while retaining a rich, personal voice is something all writers aspire to. And, trust me, it is no easy feat.
Personal vs Commissioned Blogs
While the mountain of crafting a unique, critical voice within blogs may sound like a steep climb, it gets a whole lot steeped when you begin juggling personal and commissioned works.
As a writer, your job is, of course, to deliver pieces of writing which fit the bill. When you are hired as a professional critic for a publishing house or news outlet, or are publishing your own work, this is not a problem because, chances are, your work is being read because of your unique voice.
However, as you begin to approach ghost-writing, representing brands and other types of commissioned work the ability to craft each article in your own voice slowly wanes.
The important distinction for writers to make here is that this shouldn’t mean you lose your own voice. On the contrary, you can use this opportunity to mould your voice to fit the specifications of your commissioners—bending and moulding your personal style to its limits while picking up a whole lot of new ideas and methods along the way.
This is most certainly a point which takes us onto the absolutely best part of blogging:
Learning and Growing on the Job
Writing on a diverse array of topics is one of the greatest parts about being a writer. It gives you the opportunity to explore avenues of knowledge you may have never taken the time to consider yourself, while allowing you to carry the treasures of that research for the rest of your life.
Taking on topics outside of your preferred canon—whether that be writing in a different style, on a different topic or reviewing a game of a genre you have never been a fan of—help to challenge your ideals of what it means to play games. It allows you to experience the true breadth and depth of the video gaming industry while encouraging you to leave your biases at the door.
In short, blogging has helped to develop my knowledge on the art of gaming. From understanding histories about consoles, I never played to interacting with games I have intentionally avoided due to personal biases, writing on games has opened my mind to see the truly awesome scope of the gaming industry.
And, well, that constantly reminds me why I am so fascinated in this industry.
Next time you pick up a game you find totally astounding, or next time you are hotly anticipating a new release, or even next time you wonder what made 1996 such a revolutionary year for gaming, consider grabbing your word processor of choice and exploring those ideas to their fullest.
I’m sure it’ll bring you a tonne of value and inspiration and, heck, if you publish it maybe it’ll even touch someone just like you on the other side of the world!