monarch-dodora asked: Okay, I can handle producing quality writing. I just don't produce it quickly. If I were a professional article-doer, how fast would I need to be from starting a game to finishing a piece?
I’m actually faster than many other writers out there. I don’t view that as a superior skill, it’s just one of my abnormalities. When people spend days on a review or feature, it’s a process I literally do not understand. I’ve never been able to do that — if I can’t get all my thoughts down in an immediate timeframe, I become agitated.
So, basically, while the industry does value speed in a lot of areas, especially with news and for tight review embargoes, you can afford to take your time. From what I know, the average writer can spend a few days on a feature. It’s something I’m mentally incapable of, but like I said, I’m abnormal.
There’s video on everything! EVERYTHING!
I’ve always considered myself a writer first, and a video guy a distant second. I hated that everybody would say, “Video is the future” and I despised the sidelining of the written word. Time marches inexorably on, however, and now we’re at a point where I’m editing a new video every single day.
Fortunately, I’ve come to quite like it, and with Jimquisition becoming my signature dish, I can’t complain too much. Anyway, to business!
Wanted to do a roundup of all the videos I’ve done this week, as I’ve done quite a lot.
Over on The Escapist, we had Jimquisition: Perfect Pasta Sauce. It explains how we need variety in the big budget game industry if it’s going to thrive and survive. I think it’s a neat little episode.
There was also Jim & Yahtzee’s Rhymedown Spectacular. Yahtzee and I do poetry now, and while we’re probably not the greatest, we’re definitely the smarmiest! This has been an interesting show to work on. I love writing down the poems, but it’s been tough nailing the presentation down. I know it’s gonna become a great show though.
Movie Defense Force this week might be the most fun I’ve had recording a voice track. It’s about Showgirls, and it’s a stretch of a defense, but I think the evidence is watertight.
There was a Bonus Jimquisition, too. A walkthrough of Among the Sleep, a Kickstarter horror game. I love the idea of this game and want it to happen, so I’m rooting for it. One of the few Kickstarters I feel right about endorsing.
Speaking of Kickstarter games, I spent an afternoon online with Larian Studios to play Divinity: Original Sin. The game’s wrapped up its fundraiser now, but they surpassed many stretch goals and it should be great. Larian also complimented me on my voice acting skills, which makes me happy, because I’ve always had ambitions to do that.
Destructoid-wise, I experimented with a new little show, Super Best Guide. It’s a bit of a spiritual successor to Videogame Show What I’ve Done, but simpler in concept and presentation. There are two guides on YouTube right now - Surgeon Simulator 2013 and Star Trek.
Lordy, what else. Oh yes! We brought video reviews back to Dtoid. Dead Island Riptide is the inaugural one. They’re designed as complimentary side dishes to the written review, a general overview with the ol’ “try, buy, trash” system we used to have, but scrapped, in the articles themselves. Watch it maybe!
Okay, I think that’s everything.
“Is That Jimquisition?”
“You’re Jim Sterling from the Escapist” is still a very weird thing for me to be told, as I’ve spent so long being so closely associated with Destructoid, and still 100% consider myself intrinsically linked to the Red & Green. Destructoid’s my livelihood, and in many ways my purpose. It certainly became my calling.
That said, it blows me away how well known the Jimquisition is getting, to where I can be talking to an industry person about reviews for Dtoid itself, and have them lose their shit when they find out I’m the “Jimquisition guy.” It also still amuses me no-end that, following my cameo on Jonathan Holmes’ Teenage Pokemon cartoon, half the comments were, “Is that Jimquisition playing Ditto?”
It should be noted that, like everything else in my career, Jimquisition owes a major debt to Destructoid. The personality for the show evolved during E3 2010, when I’d just gotten back from Microsoft’s despicable Cirque du Soleil Kinect reveal. Dehydrated, furious, and feeling like I’d been exploited to take part in a gigantic advertisement, I let loose on camera in an interview with then-Dtoid video guy Rey Gutierrez. Wearing aviator shades (which I’d begun wearing on-camera as a kind of crutch for potential nerves), I let loose in a way that got a lot of people talking during the rest of the event. It proved popular enough that I tried it as a weekly show — just me in the kitchen, stood in front of a camera and rambling script-less on whatever I felt annoyed about.
After a while, I decided to try and branch out and ended up talking to Russ Pitts at the Escapist, who I was sure hated me. I told him I was sure he hated me but I’d like to see if he’s interested in my video content anyway. He said he probably did, but admired the balls, and eventually the show was picked up. Just celebrated 100 main episodes of the show since then, and am hoping to show continues the slow but steady growth it’s enjoyed so far.
It’s my hope that its growth also benefits Destructoid as well as The Escapist. I always want for Niero and his team to enjoy a share of my success, because any success I have can always be traced back there. It’s why I’ve stuck by the site through its ups and downs, why I’ve turned down some damn tempting offers in the past, and why anybody who wants to contract my services has to understand I’m a package deal, and my services, while available, can never be exclusive in totality.
I owe Dtoid and Escapist a lot, as well as everybody who’s been so nice enough to continue enjoying my work. Viva la You All.
mrpokes-deactivated20130531 asked: You're back! I'm glad to see your work again.
Glad to be doing a few personal things again. Felt compelled to do the whole “Writing about games writing” stuff, but it’s far too arrogant and self-congratulatory to put anywhere but a personal blog — the home of arrogance and self-congratulation.
From writing to hyping
A large amount of games media writers (or “journalists” if you buy into that term) are really hoping to get jobs in the game industry proper. In fact, many of them end up as community managers or PR representatives. I’ve known and worked with quite a few writers who followed that route.
I don’t think it’s a horrible decision to go from writing about games to promoting them. People change jobs and career paths all the time. But I think that so many writers following that path is inherently concerning, because honestly, if your end game is to get a job working with a game publisher, you actively can’t do your current job better than someone who doesn’t want such a thing.
Really, the people in the business of writing about games for the writing’s sake are the ones who have what they were looking for, thus are unbound by exterior concerns that may hold their opinion in check. They’ve got no potential career jump to lose by making waves, and nothing to gain from pleasing some potential future boss. In my view, the best writers out there are the ones with little or nothing to lose. I won’t completely disregard you if you’re a game reviewer/pundit and want a future job at a publisher, but at the same time, I’m going to have to respect your opinion less than someone who is doing what they do specifically for the love of the work itself, and isn’t viewing the current job as a mere stepping stone. It’s reasonable to doubt your sincerity somewhat when you go from writing about a game company to hyping a game company’s products.
It just happens so much that, as someone with a deep respect for the craft of games criticism — if not always a respect for the things that occur in it — I can’t help but detect a trace of wholesale insincerity in the industry. I have friends who made the jump, I am glad for them and I think they’re in a better place for their individual needs, but the fact it was, indeed, a “jump,” an evolution, a betterment of the current status, just makes me hold a far deeper respect for those in it for the long haul. And it makes me wonder about those writers currently in the criticism business who spend a lot of time defending business practices as “just business” and criticizing fellow writers for not “just enjoying videogames.”
I have ambitions outside the realm of writing about games. One day I’d love to try my hand at some voice work or actual narrative games writing. One day I hope to expand into some fictional entertainment projects. They’re the side quests of my life, though. My main goal is to continue doing this for as long as the industry is around. Criticizing videogames, and going off the rails at companies pulling bullshit consumer-unfriendly stunts is what gets me going, and I don’t want to stop that, ever.
Maybe circumstances will change one day. Maybe the industry will topple and disappear, like so many have, and I’ll need to pursue a new line of work. Nobody can predict what’ll happen, and where they’ll be. All I can say is, if I one day give up this gig to work in videogame PR, you have full license to delete, burn, or otherwise destroy my entire library of work up to that point, as my going into the hype market will essentially render everything I’ve produced thoroughly meaningless.
And I say that strictly about myself, of course.
Edit: I should add that job security and pay is obviously a big deal to some, and that it must be hard to resist turning that down. As someone who *has* turned down more stable and better paying job offers to stay independent and freelance, I can vouch for how tempting the offer is.
It’s part of why I don’t want to condemn a person for making that jump, and why I don’t think anybody’s a bad person for doing it. Some people are pushed into the career change, they didn’t jump, and that’s fair.
Writing about games for a living, with a family and bills to deal with, is terrifying. It scares me every day. Knowing that fear, though, it just makes me respect all the lifers out there all the more. This is a job to be grateful for — pathetically, grovelingly grateful for — but it could be snatched from you in a heartbeat. I know what a hit and a risk it is to stay doing this shit — and you gotta really believe in what you’re saying to stick with it.
On reviews and sentences
One of the best conclusions I ever arrived at was that arguing over my own reviews paid a disservice to the reviews themselves. In almost every case where someone demanded I back up my conclusions in a review, I’ve found I could only ever do that by repeating what I’d already written in the review itself. At that point, it becomes clear the other person either didn’t read the review, or is willfully ignoring vast swathes of it. There’s really nothing I can do for them in either case.
This was most obvious to me in the fallout of my Mario Kart 7 and Modern Warfare 3 reviews. It’s very popular in some groups to compare these two reviews as evidence of my hypocrisy or lack of professionalism. The hilarious thing is it’s assumed I totally didn’t expect a backlash to either review — of course I did. I don’t like backlashes, but after half a decade writing about games professionally, you know when they’re coming. With that in mind, I was very careful to write each review with what I felt was the most rock-solid backing up of opinion possible. If you read both reviews, it’s explained in adequate detail why I felt one game’s repeated content was acceptable and another’s was not. I knew what the arguments against my reviews would be as I wrote them, and answered those arguments.
But of course … that didn’t stop people ignoring all that to reduce both reviews to a couple sentences. So it is that, years after the fact, I am still having people asking me to explain my conclusions about the games, insistently simplifying my argument to an incredibly basic structure and trying to make me answer to charges that were already preemptively answered in the very reviews they’re copying and pasting minuscule sentences from.
After being mad at the reviews for so long, you’d think they’d take the time to finally read them properly. Oh well.
I love discussing reviews and am always happy to answer questions about my own or others. But if the questions asked of me are questions already answered in the review, I cannot help but feel frustrated, and dismiss you as someone who didn’t read all that I had to say. If reviews could be so easily reduced to single sentences or memes, that’s what they’d be. In fact, it’d make my job a heck of a lot quicker to do!
I stick by my MK7 and MW3 reviews fully, and remain confident in my assessment that one formula was already tired and surpassed by others in the genre, while one was still in peak condition and the leading example. I still remain confident that they work in tandem without one contradicting the other, and you may disagree with either conclusion, and that is fine — but if your disagreement stems from reading one sentence from each review, stripped of all nuance and backup, I have nothing to offer you in terms of rebuttal except one other single sentence:
Read the bloody reviews.
The ‘War’ on Marriage
I love the new “war on marriage” thing because it brings it back to what this anti-gay stuff has always been about — ego. When you say there’s a war on marriage, you imply that the world cares about your personal life as much as you care about the lives of gay people, and deep down, you fucking love that.
After all, that’s where this whole “traditional marriage” thing stems from. A self-inflated sense of entitlement. You want something that’s just for you, and you don’t want those “other folks” to have it. When someone suggests everybody should have it, you scream “NO FAIR” and act like you’re being attacked, all the while reveling in your own self pity.
You’re always looking to be the martyr, and the victim, because you’re secretly jealous of people who actually *are* victimized. You want to feel special like them, which is why you JUMP at the opportunity to pretend you’re marginalized and oppressed. From the “war on Christmas” to the “protection of dem dere Muslims” to this new “letting people who aren’t me do things I don’t have to see is an ATTACK ON MY FAMILY,” every single fucking right-wing grievance in America of late seems to be a privileged majority acting like the afflicted underclass.
It’s pathetic. It’s disgusting. It’s childish. It’s a small boy feeling jealous because his sick brother is getting more attention than him.
There were actual martyrs throughout history. People who died for their beliefs. Suffered torture for their beliefs. When I think about such men and women, the current wave of self-congratulatory affectations of suffering from the dominant classes in America leaves a taste in my mouth so bitter I feel like my tongue’s jammed five feet inside a horse’s anus. If you had the ability to self-assess, and rationalize, and see what you look like when you play the martyr in a society that almost explicitly caters itself to your belief system, I believe the shame you’d feel is beyond comprehension. You should be ashamed of yourself for suggesting there’s a war against you and the beliefs you have tried to impose on society through government and law.
History will look back on you and see you for the ignorant, petulant, mealy-mouthed little toddlers that you are, mark my words. They’ll see this “war on marriage” and laugh at it, the same way they laugh at medieval peasants tossing women in the river to see if they’re witches. My only regret is I won’t be there to laugh, because I’m stuck in the new medieval with pricks like you.
Enjoy your little war. I know you will. Deep down, you’re going to fucking adore this, just like you adore every little war your diseased brains conjure up.
primederektive asked: Hey Jim, as a fellow athiest, does death/eternity scare you at all?
I think it scares everybody, atheist or not. There’s a reason why even the religious will fight for their lives, why they will happily accept most modern, evil, scientific, medicine when their life is on the line. We all have an innate — and very wise — fear of death. I think it’s wrong to imply that atheists do or should have any greater fear of it than anybody else.
The difference is that my fear of death simply did not send me fleeing into the arms of a concept that promises eternal life. Because deep down, even people who think they’re going to live forever are still terrified of death, and mourn the passing of others.
Everyone’s afraid of death, and I do not consider myself more afraid of it than anyone who is “convinced” they’re going to Heaven.
Rubbish I Did This Week
Not really done any personal blogging this week as it was quite a busy period, what with most of the Destructoid staff at GDC. Seems like it was quite an event this year. I might go next time, if I can get the time to travel.
Anyway, I did some bullshit on the Internet, as per usual.
By far the most extensive work I did involved my extensive coverage of Blades of Time. All the posts are tagged, so you can read them right here. This is an action game, a spiritual successor to the unremarkable X-Blades. From those who have played it, it’s actually not a bad game, which makes Konami’s silence all the more confusing. As you’ll see from my posts, Konami completely screwed this game up. Barely any marketing, retailers confused over release dates, and the producer not even being able to find the thing in stores.
I’m having fun with the coverage, trying to highlight Konami’s behavior in a satirical way, but I am genuinely disappointed in the company. It has gone off the deep end with several of its games lately, and to the outside observer, Konami looks like it doesn’t know what it’s doing anymore. It’s exasperating to see, as someone who counts himself as a diehard fan of several Konami franchises.
I’ve thus far been unable to find a copy to purchase, and Konami has not responded to a review copy request. Yeah … fucking ridiculous.
This week’s Jimquisition was a more serious followup to my previous episode on gay romance options in Mass Effect 3. Erotic fanfiction was deemed too subtle for some viewers, so I put all my gay cards on the gay table this time. I think the message was received.
I continued my Mass Effect 3 observations on GameFront, with an examination of the insane nerd rage that accompanied BioWare’s latest release. This accompanied a post on Destructoid, where I looked at the Metacritic user review backlash.
Also, we put out perhaps my favorite Podtoid in a long, long time. On this past week’s episode, I planned Jonathan Holmes’ funeral and we talked about running our very own hibachi restaurant. I think the show’s kept up the pace quite nicely, despite the sad loss of Max as co-host. Should be even more interesting once we get some guests on (currently chatting with Irrational about a Ken Levine appearance!)
That was the most notable junk I did, though of course keep reading Dtoid and GameFront for further garbage from me.
Questionable Religious Content
Here’s that blog piece I wrote on GameFront that went up after I did my roundup. I’m quite proud of it so I’m giving it its own extra little plug.
It’s about Nintendo refusing to allow Binding of Isaac on its 3DS eShop, and the wider issue of religion in videogames.