I’m not talking about my gaming blog. In fact, I feel that out of all the blogs I can think of, mine is one of the least relatable. I avoid spoilers like the plague, even if it’s within the first 30 minutes of the game. I always jump in blind. I even avoid talking about them, and yet here I am trying to talk about games. I have a ton of seemingly arbitrary rules about how I approach media, making it near impossible for me to talk with other gamers in a manner that isn’t bothersome.
So this is not about my blog. This is about all the gaming blogs I encounter. I’ve read so many good ones. Why are gaming blogs so important? What if they aren’t articulated well? What if they don’t know any of the technical game design elements? What if they just play games?
What if they just play games?
Games are a very personal thing. They’re like eating food. We are considered “consumers” after all. It’s like reading a book or watching a movie. It’s like seeing a beautiful vista, and having your own opinion and experience. Games are an emotional experience. And what better way to learn about emotional experience than from emotional people?
All it takes for someone to be able to be a writer of video games, in the most non-objective sense, is to play games; they just need to have the experience. I’m not looking for the top critics’ blogs. I’m not looking for someone who has directed and designed two triple AAA games. I’m looking for Frostilyte Writes, who recently wrote about their perspective for capturing audiences of all sides in the fighting genre for Street Fighter VI. It’s a very good and informative piece. You should read it. Why are people like this important? Because one line sticks out to me from their article.
“I’m not who Capcom needs to convince.“
Games are a part of the investments and feelings that we have experienced as people. Frostilyte has this unique perspective of saying “the people you actually need to convince are people that aren’t already pilled. The people who will buy a fighting game, and never play it online.” That’s me. I’m the person who never plays it online! But this isn’t coming from someone who plays for the casual game. They play for the PvP. Someone who plays for the PvP talking about why the PvE matters. That’s a take I want to find. That is someone’s experience of having played other games in a non-objective way talking about what they think. This is what I’m looking for.
I want to know why they feel nostalgic about certain elements. I want to know what makes other people excited. Is it a technical thing? Are they excited for a character? What is it that drives them to be playing games? Because I’m just one person. And I want to know. I don’t just want to know why things are liked or disliked. I want to know what led them to that. I want to know what and how the people think.
There’s nothing wrong with objective approaches to video games, but they’re are plenty of those. It’s like a scientific paper. The objective is to reach a technical point in which we can reproduce it. In fact, I’m going to use a scientific paper to talk a little more about it. It was a recent and interesting paper called about emotional writing where they state this:
“The idea is that rather than seeing articulations of emotion as detracting from authentic metacognitive knowledge production, such articulations of emotion can and should be seen as a critical part of the metacognitive process… …We are not claiming that emotion alone can give us a clear picture of the metacognitive process, but without accounting for emotion, we have an incomplete conception of how students understand not only their own writing processes but also themselves as writers…”1
In the article they’re talking about objective papers, ones written for more professional research. But I’m going to argue it works just as well for video game writing as well. Media writing if we really want to talk about this. Again, “…without accounting for emotion, we have an incomplete conception of how students understand not only their own writing processes but also themselves as writers…” (emphasis added)
There is nothing more important to me in video game writing than realizing there is another being, with different emotions and complexities, experiencing the same thing I am playing. There is nothing more important to me in writing, than the individual people voicing their opinions. I’m not saying this in a “power to the people” kind of way. I’m saying this in “the people are the power of gaming” kind of way. That this is an empowerment of everyone in the community from the people who have friends who play games, all the way to the developers, and dare I say it, possibly even the corporate side. …Maybe.
Our individual aspects are what makes media so much more enjoyable. Video game blogs give us that in a readable, presentable form. (Except for my website, which is extremely plain and possibly not very presentable.)
The irony is that valid dislikes are what it is being human. How far is someone willing to go before technical game design is a problem? How far before it’s a feature not a bug? Or how far is it before it’s janky fun to “this is getting annoying?” I partially regret adding Mass Effect 3 to the ULTRA, because it had some serious bugs. But I kept it there. I’ve taken down games from the ULTRA for the same reason. Why? Why?! Because every one of my siblings is familiar with Mass Effect and their characters. Outside of the actual aspects of the game, the closeness I feel with the lore is different, because for once it’s something we all can talk about and relate to. I’ve grown close to the janky mess.
What characters or arcs evoke more of the player’s life into the experience? We can even say, what technical aspects of games evoke a player’s life into the experience? There’s a reason why A Hat in Time feels like a good old school platformer without actually being an old game.
How far is this going to stretch? I want to know, because it tells the story of what it is to be a gamer. I disagree with some of the things the bloggers write about. Almost every time, if they’re not writing objectively, they understand the complexity of disliking or liking a game I have opposite feelings for. We are all individual players, and that’s okay. I am grateful for the rapport and the kind of camaraderie of it all.
Objective reviews are read by people who have personal and emotional experiences. Spoken of before, but the comparing and contrasting with others helps to feel what we like and dislike. The benefit of knowing what the voices of the players think is what these personal blogs do best. You can get to know this person in a way you can compare your own interests with.
What better way to display all this in mini form than mixed Steam reviews. These people are almost always connected to the game in some emotional level for good or for bad. Mixed reviews on Steam are sneaky because a 50% doesn’t sound good, but in hindsight, that is half of the people who play it. That’s a lot. And furthermore, they’re usually much more emotionally charged. But 50%! That’s a you like it or you don’t, and think of how many things we attribute that to: movies, books, theme park rides, food, dancing. I’m not saying go play mediocre games, but remember that you are an emotive, real person that has real experiences. Therefore, what better way than to use these tools and help from other players to guide you in how you can best approach the world of gaming, whether that is living life as a gamer or finding a game that you like.
I sometimes stare at my blog. I’m annoyed because I find myself staring and wondering what to write about. But really it shouldn’t matter too much. Because the content is an emotional section just like any other writer. I admit I enjoy more this almost anthropological approach to writing about media than anything else.
I have barely any time to do all the nothing I want to do. But when I read other peoples blogs like WCRobinson, the previously mentioned Frostilyte, and Later Levels, I remember why I love to read about games. I remember why I love being a gamer. That’s huge.
Their individual personalities are like bright fires burning on a dark night. It is a refuge and reminder of how personal and human games can be.
Thanks for reading. Stay safe, and I’ll see you again.
- Scarantino, A. (2006). [Review of Thinking about Feeling: Contemporary Philosophers on Emotions; Emotion, Evolution, and Rationality, by R. C. Solomon, D. Evans, & P. Cruse]. Mind, 115(459), 812–820. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3840610