Letters to the Editor: Needs More Cowbell

Needs More Cowbell

Each week we publish letters sent to us regarding previous issues and highlight particularly interesting forum posts. If you'd like to comment on an article directly, send your letter to editor@escapistmag.com.

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Oh awesome, my post on Red Faction: Guerrilla was used in the Letters to the Editor segment this issue. There's something immensely validating about your writing getting republished somewhere, even if it was just an amusing love letter to explosions and how awesome they are. Yay!

Ironically, I notice that nobody presents the most obvious comment to the whole situation. Simply put that game journals and reviewers should hire more reviewers and assign them to review games for longer periods of time. What's more they should be more selective in hiring reviewers based on their game playing prowess and abillity to play games in a fairly complete fashion in a reasonable time frame. There are plenty of guys out there who can blow through games pretty quickly and are bringing fully maxxed out titles to Gamestop a couple of days after release. You can see guys like this with like 200k+ gamerscore points or whatever.

I mostly point out the financial realities of the situation, concerns that came to a head for me with the whole "Kane and Lynch" fiasco of a few years ago. However that doesn't mean that there aren't other problems, and honestly I think when reviewers are defending themselves in some cases by saying "oh well, I only get so much time with each new title" that itself is ALSO a problem because simply because the journals and such are trying to grind out too many reviews too quickly given the staff they are willing to pay for.

To me it's noteworthy that few people seem to be saying the same things, which strike me s being obvious. Yes, it means less profits, but it also a better quality profit. To an extent I think us gamers are also to blame because we are increasingly willing to patronize bad review set ups, providing an audience for the advertising. We whine about the quality of reviews leading to attempts of justification, but in turn as a general community do not flock towards the higher quality sites (of which I feel The Escapist is one, compared to many others).

The fact that you can probably find like 100+ differant review sources that seem to be profitable enough to stay out there is part of the problem I feel.

Therumancer:
Ironically, I notice that nobody presents the most obvious comment to the whole situation. Simply put that game journals and reviewers should hire more reviewers and assign them to review games for longer periods of time. What's more they should be more selective in hiring reviewers based on their game playing prowess and abillity to play games in a fairly complete fashion in a reasonable time frame. There are plenty of guys out there who can blow through games pretty quickly and are bringing fully maxxed out titles to Gamestop a couple of days after release. You can see guys like this with like 200k+ gamerscore points or whatever.

I mostly point out the financial realities of the situation, concerns that came to a head for me with the whole "Kane and Lynch" fiasco of a few years ago. However that doesn't mean that there aren't other problems, and honestly I think when reviewers are defending themselves in some cases by saying "oh well, I only get so much time with each new title" that itself is ALSO a problem because simply because the journals and such are trying to grind out too many reviews too quickly given the staff they are willing to pay for.

To me it's noteworthy that few people seem to be saying the same things, which strike me s being obvious. Yes, it means less profits, but it also a better quality profit. To an extent I think us gamers are also to blame because we are increasingly willing to patronize bad review set ups, providing an audience for the advertising. We whine about the quality of reviews leading to attempts of justification, but in turn as a general community do not flock towards the higher quality sites (of which I feel The Escapist is one, compared to many others).

The fact that you can probably find like 100+ differant review sources that seem to be profitable enough to stay out there is part of the problem I feel.

If publications had unlimited funding or if the shut-ins who could complete a game 100% in a day could actually write, they probably would.

John Funk:

Therumancer:
Ironically, I notice that nobody presents the most obvious comment to the whole situation. Simply put that game journals and reviewers should hire more reviewers and assign them to review games for longer periods of time. What's more they should be more selective in hiring reviewers based on their game playing prowess and abillity to play games in a fairly complete fashion in a reasonable time frame. There are plenty of guys out there who can blow through games pretty quickly and are bringing fully maxxed out titles to Gamestop a couple of days after release. You can see guys like this with like 200k+ gamerscore points or whatever.

I mostly point out the financial realities of the situation, concerns that came to a head for me with the whole "Kane and Lynch" fiasco of a few years ago. However that doesn't mean that there aren't other problems, and honestly I think when reviewers are defending themselves in some cases by saying "oh well, I only get so much time with each new title" that itself is ALSO a problem because simply because the journals and such are trying to grind out too many reviews too quickly given the staff they are willing to pay for.

To me it's noteworthy that few people seem to be saying the same things, which strike me s being obvious. Yes, it means less profits, but it also a better quality profit. To an extent I think us gamers are also to blame because we are increasingly willing to patronize bad review set ups, providing an audience for the advertising. We whine about the quality of reviews leading to attempts of justification, but in turn as a general community do not flock towards the higher quality sites (of which I feel The Escapist is one, compared to many others).

The fact that you can probably find like 100+ differant review sources that seem to be profitable enough to stay out there is part of the problem I feel.

If publications had unlimited funding or if the shut-ins who could complete a game 100% in a day could actually write, they probably would.

I don't think it would take unlimited funding to be honest. Though I do think that to function a game periodical should be able to review it's subject matter accuratly. When you see a lot of people claiming they don't have the time to do the job "right" and using that as an excuse to the readers, that's a problem. Of course admittedly part of it might be that the industry is getting big enough where you need a fairly big company/committment to cover it properly.

As far as "hard core gamers" being unable to write, well that may or may not be a problem. One guy I used to know online pretty well was "Bill Coffin" we weren't the greatest buddies in the world, but he spent a lot of time writing books for Palladium (RPG company) before having a fight with them, and moved on to doing magazine editing. He got a science fiction novel called "Prime Mover" published at some point, and generally had been bouncing around as a writer and an editor for a while.

One of the things he mentioned that stuck in my mind was that most writers are absolutly horrible. Oftentimes having minimal grasp of english. They are hired for their ideas more than their language. One typical problem in publishing is that when recruiting an author or writer, especially away from another company the new boss oftentimes doesn't realize what they are actually getting. Leading to a recurring joke about how "we should have hired the editor, not the writer".

It's also why apparently you see more "team writing" involved nowadays with authors pretty much keeping themselves tight with a specific editor they trust. This last bit not coming from Bill but from other things I've read over a period of time. At one point I had some ambitions of becoming a writer so did some checking on what kind of connections I'd probably need given my limitations.

The point I'm getting up to here is that if your going to do game reviews, the reviewer being a horrible writer isn't going to nessicarly be that big a deal assuming you have the editorial staff to deal with it.

I'm not sure if you'd nessicarly need shut ins, but to be honest it would probably be a benefit to have people on staff who would give opinions after having finished/seriously played the games they were assigned, as opposed to ones that would say "well, sorry about the way my opinion came accross, but I didn't have much time to play this game given the others ones I have to review" that comes accross as being kind of ridiculous. Sure, you'd need to back it up with extra time editing, but the end result would probably be better even if the people doing the reviews and playing the games were ridiculous "shut in" fanatics (and let's be honest, if you care about information about games, who is going to know more about games from the perspective of an actual player?).

This is simply my opinion of course, I'm not expecting you to agree with me (and you are after all a real editor, and truthfully would probably hate having to clean up the articles).

I really wish there was a notification for getting a comment or post re-posted in Letters to the Editor. It's somewhat disconcerting to see what I wrote in there unexpectedly. At least the first time I got a badge.

mikekearn:
I really wish there was a notification for getting a comment or post re-posted in Letters to the Editor. It's somewhat disconcerting to see what I wrote in there unexpectedly. At least the first time I got a badge.

I received my badge a few hours before the latest issue went up. Hooray Letters to the Editor and validation through republishing!

 

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