Blog, Podcast, and Video Guides 12 Comments

Writing About Games for Pay vs. For Fun

Over at Clean Casuals today Arwyn has a post on the difference between “game bloggers” and “game journalists” that I found interesting. In the wake of Massively’s closure there’s been some discussion of whether bloggers could fill the news, interviews, and reviews gap. We can just band together and be the new Massively, right?

Arwyn thinks that isn’t such a solid idea, and I’m inclined to agree. Instead of leaving a giant comment there I thought I’d post it here.

(As a sidenote the Massively folks launched their Kickstarter today for Massively Overpowered, so go support them if you are so inclined!)

Do I think some MMO bloggers “have the same strengths and skills as the paid writers, and could produce the same quality of work”? Yes, totally! A bunch of us have in the past or currently do write for professional game sites on the side. Do I think it’s a good replacement for something like Massively? Naaah.

The vast majority of bloggers have non-freelance dayjobs, which means they can’t write up the hot news when it happens, or watch E3 presentations live, or whatever. A Massively replacement wouldn’t have the same kind of dedicated staff as a site with professional journalist types.

Also I think sometimes people assume that because writing a personal blog is fun obviously writing articles for something like Massively is also “fun”. And sure, it is sometimes, but often it isn’t. It’s a job, and you’re writing about games you don’t care about or you can’t be as silly with your language because you’re a real site with a real ads. You have word counts and mandatory screenshots and professional relationships.

On my blog I don’t care about any of that. Hell, I barely care about forming a coherent argument, because it’s my blog suckas! And that is why I enjoy it so much.

Often people see writing about games, just like developing games, as a “fun” job because we all love video games. And while sure, it’s probably more fun than writing about hammers or something, it takes a good helping of time and dedication to churn out words about stuff even when you’re not feeling the fun. It’s a job, like any other job. Implying that hobby bloggers can just step in and take over with the same level of coverage and quality is vaguely insulting to professional writer types (like me in my day job!).

I actually didn’t read Massively very often, preferring the more loosey-goosey opinions of my fellow bloggers. But that doesn’t mean that the two are interchangeable. A professional game news site would be a poor place for Eri‘s swear-filled rants, and a blog that was just a straightforward listing of patch features wouldn’t be terribly interesting. We need both for a healthy MMO ecosystem.

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  • Reply
    February 6, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Great follow up post! I didn’t get into too much of the time commitment and pay (or lack thereof) issues that comes with game journalism. So, I’m glad you spent some time really putting it out there that work is still work.

    Even if you really love something, if you get a job dealing with that something, it doesn’t make that job any less work. It just makes that work a bit more bearable, maybe.

    For example, I used to work in a gaming store. I worked to sell games to gamers, and that part was cool. But it was still a retail job, which had the same challenges that retail stores do when owned by the corporations. (Ok, I think retail jobs suck…) It just sucked less because it was dealing with games, so it made things more bearable to sell something you really loved.

    And there’s such a thing as burning out on something you love if you work with it too closely. Writing and gaming aren’t exempt.
    Aywren´s last post: Gaming Blogging Vs. Gaming Journalism

  • Reply
    P. Mersault
    February 6, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    And another take, also a great read. Thanks for the perspective. Yes, work is work, but my guess is that Scree was talking about volunteer/amateur bloggers joining together and providing that content- which i think wouldn’t work, because it would develop into work you do unpaid. It’s just too much for a hobbyist.
    Now, the idea to get some people together somewhere might be nice, but it’d still be a hobbyist project, i think. Also, some of the more high-profile bloggers already come together for podcasts and stuff like that.
    P. Mersault´s last post: Massively Overpowered on Kickstarter

  • Reply
    February 6, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    As much as I would like a soapbox that large to scream my obscenities I don’t think it would work haha. Also I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t allow gifs too… which makes me sad and ANGRY RAWWWWWWRRRRRRRRRRRR
    j3w3l´s last post: The FtP Demographics Debate

    • Reply
      February 6, 2015 at 8:18 pm

      I take it neither of you read Gawker’s other websites? I am a huge fan of Deadspin (their sports platform) and their Super Bowl “ad” was just straight porn which they linked on their website.

      I would kill for a professionally done gaming blog that doesn’t feel as neutered as nearly every game website out there.
      Murf´s last post: Today, my valentine is Herding Cats.

  • Reply
    February 7, 2015 at 5:24 am

    I made a decision, when I was in my early 20s just after I left University, that I would try to avoid having my income rely on doing something that I would otherwise do, unpaid, in my leisure time. I know a lot of people find that being paid to do something you’d do for free just makes doing it all the sweeter and stops you having to do things you don’t want to do just to get money to live but it doesn’t affect me that way.

    I read a LOT. Have done all my life. For the last near-twenty years I’ve worked in a bookshop. That’s great, because it means I work with people who share my approximate interests and outlook. It’s also great because I get to talk to people about books and introduce people to things I think are worth reading.

    However…I don’t get paid to read, I don’t read while I’m working (well, not if there’s a manager around…) and most importantly I don’t sell books in my free time as a hobby. There’s sufficient difference and separation there for both parts of my “book life” to co-exist and even create synergies.

    Playing MMOs and blogging about them works the same way. Each feeds the other and keeps both fresh. If I had to rely on either for a paycheck to keep the lights on and the mortgage paid then all the fun would vanish.

    At least, though, if that did happen I would be getting paid. I’d just have to find another hobby. For bloggers to step in and take up the responsibility of retailing gaming news day in, day out about all aspects of the hobby, for free, whether they were interested or not in the specific games or events concerned, seems like the worst of both worlds.

    That said, getting a little something now and again, here and there, for ad hoc contributions is sugar. It’s always nice to be asked for your opinions and to be paid for them is…not unpleasant. I’ve done some paid reviewing here and there in my time although not this millennium. Only for beer money though.

  • Reply
    February 7, 2015 at 6:48 am

    Enjoyed reading your response.
    In terms of content from a collective of bloggers would be highly disjointed or repeatative, for example the day the TESO subscription drop was announced it was covered by many bloggers. Great for everyone to have their say but not diverse enough that someone would want to read or sort through siux or more versions of the same topic.

    I have often been asked if I would want to move into game programming, my answer is almost certainly not,the answer to why follows the same vein as others have indicated here, it would remove the element of fun from the past-time.
    welshtroll´s last post: OP Respawn timer

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    February 9, 2015 at 4:53 am

    The reason why I’ve never started writing for anyone else than myself is that I know how tedious that would get after the first week. For me, that’s just not a great deal – lending my pen to others for little pay, having to write about things I don’t necessarily enjoy, having to write just to write. I see zero advantage in that, for myself. Am happy with the visits my blog gets even if I could be writing more often and it’s not like I could ever live from writing about games, anyway. So basically it’s not even a question for me and we absolutely need ‘news sites’ to cover the daily biz, patchnotes and interviews etc. I read more personal blogs than those when it comes to genuine voices and FEELS but it’s good to have them!
    Syl´s last post: [GW2] Heart of Thorns: How excited should I be?

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    December 12, 2016 at 4:03 pm

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