Writing about video games is one of those things I have always taken for granted. For years, I have read the enthusiast press on gaming with a subtle eye of condescension. I have read countless previews of upcoming titles, reviews of current releases and post-mortems of past hits and failures. I recognized immediately that when I read essays on gaming, I envisioned one of two authors. The first author was an astute gentleman with an Ivy League education. He wrote about games, even though he could be writing about Hong Kong’s economic relationship with the Mainland, or James Joyce’s Ulysses. He wrote about video games from a distance, not owning a console or a computer capable of playing games. In fact, he did not actually own a computer. He wrote his essays with a typewriter or better yet, on parchment in eloquent script. Also, he wore a monocle.
Needless to say, I am not a fan of this kind of game writer. They write above themselves. More importantly, they write above gaming. They write as if gaming is not mature enough topic for academic discussion and spend much of their word limits discussing the most obscure and irrelevant parts of gaming. They forgot gaming is supposed to be fun.
Thankfully, the elitist game writer is a rare sight on the internet. Then again, the alternative is an unpleasant compromise. The second author I picture is 15 years old, has acne, obsessively reads manga and sweats profusely. Worst yet, his lexicon is composed of the marketing vocabulary of the X-Games, l33t speak, txt speak, and a litany of surprisingly creative, if vulgar, expressions. Any word above six characters is misspelled. Most importantly, this author’s opinions on things are absolute. Whereas the elitist writer holds no concrete opinions, preferring to muse endlessly, the “Xtreme” gamer believes that his beliefs are the only ones that are right. Those who oppose him will have their sexuality called into question. These are the writers who forgot that gaming is also a form of social commentary, and there are no right answers.
The stuff nightmares are made of.
So I became jaded with games journalism. I was either confronted by the boring prattling of elitist writers or the amateur cacophony of Xtreme gamers.
I came to another conclusion recently though. You see, I kept on going back to games journalism, because I had neglected a third type of writer. This third writer remains invisible in my mind, and that is because he is a brilliant writer. His works stands by itself, with neither superfluous complexity nor unprofessional bias.
It is my goal to be that third writer. One of my greatest faults as a writer is that my thoughts become convoluted on the page. My thesis advisor once told me that my writing made me well suited to become a lawyer. It does not hurt that I actually do want to enter the legal field one day, but my writing style does make it difficult for me to be concise and clear.
How to become a better writer?
I will write about something I love: gaming.
And here is the grand reveal. GamingCulture.org is a site dedicated to discussing video games as a reflection of society. A couple of years ago, I read a translation of The Plum in the Golden Vase, written by Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng during the Ming Dynasty. I was tasked with discussing the book as it related to Chinese urbanism. In other words, I had to ask the question, “How is this book a reflection of the times?”
That assignment shifted my mindset. I began to ask how current forms of media are reflections of our present society. How do books represent our imagination? How do movies represent our dreams? How does television represent our interests?
How are video games a reflection of our society?
That is the question I want to dance around with this site.
I want to accomplish two things:
1) I want to discuss gaming as a consequence of society, culture, bias, philosophy and other factors.
2) I want to become a better writer while gaining a deeper appreciation for my favorite pastime.
I hope you, the reader, enjoy what I discuss. I imagine that you will not agree with everything I write. In fact, if you did agree with everything I write, that would be a symptom of how boring my topics are.
I am always open to comments and submissions.