Last week Jason Dewey interviewed me for a new video series he’s doing called Press X to Speak. I talked about what I like about games, what I hate about them and what my biggest professional regrets are. This teaser clip features me talking about The Secret of Monkey Island and why I enjoy co-operative singleplayer more than just straight multiplayer. Watch it, do.
The way I play games has changed a lot over the last decade. Much of it is what you’d expect from a maturing – or aging – gamer. I don’t have as much free time now, for example, so I tend to prefer shorter games than I did before. Or ones which value my downtime as highly as I do, at any rate.
Generally speaking, these changes have been for the best. I play a wider variety of games now than I used to and I’ve become more selective about what I’ll sink my time in to. Gone are the days of completing every Tony Hawk challenge just to unlock all the skaters.
There’s one change I’m less keen on though; one which I have to fight against constantly. I call it sleepgaming and I think it’s a growing problem for many seasoned gamers.
This year I left games journalism behind to start a new career, but despite that I still write the occasional article. The latest was for Alan Williamson, who asked me to contribute to a special charity issue of his digital magazine, Five Out Of Ten.
Alan gave me total creative freedom, so I decided to write something really pretentious. For a change. It’s about my evolving attitude to games in both a personal and professional sense and the sacrifices that come from following your dreams too fully. It opens with the review event where I realised I wanted to leave full-time games journalism behind…
The longer we prattle on, the emptier the hyperbole becomes. Dishonored is great, but the more we speak the less certain I am we’ve got anything to say… I remember Braid for the ninetieth time in a hundred games: another title we loved before we understood.
It’s probably an article that’s very typical of me, but Five Out Of Ten is still worth picking up despite that. I play second fiddle to the likes of Dan Grilopoulos, Christian Donlan, Helen Lewis, Maddy Myers and Leigh Alexander, so there’s plenty of actually good stuff to read. And Alan wrote something too.
Steam Trading Cards. When Valve introduced them, my first reaction was to cringe. It seemed a crass new direction for the store and the notion of turning game-playing into a wider card grind was one I didn’t want anything to do with. I sold the first cards I got out of curiosity, made 20p, then quickly lost interest. This wasn’t for me.
Until earlier this week, when Teleglitch was reduced to £2.25. I’d had Teleglitch on my wishlist for a while, but I was also trying to save money and couldn’t justify any expense. So, I set myself the challenge of raising the money in a single day, just through Steam Trading Cards.
After all, everyone’s read about the man who swapped his way from a paperclip to a house. This goal didn’t seem anywhere near that grand…
I can’t leave well enough alone. No sooner did I leave games journalism and cancel my podcast than I return to games writing by penning a piece for Rock Paper Shotgun.
The article in question, Stealing History: Dark Camelot and Thief, investigates Thief: The Dark Project and the two cancelled projects that preceded it – Better Red Than Undead and Dark Camelot. With help from the lovely Randy Smith I came up with unused art, early trailers, concept details and the stories from a whole bunch of the original team.
I really like writing these sorts of articles and I think it’s a shame there aren’t more of them. Preserving the stories and relics of an industry is an important role for most sector journalists – but the only writer I know who’s explored it lately is the awesome Rick Lane. Rick, who recently took over from me as Games Editor of Custom PC Magazine and Bit-tech, wrote a Eurogamer piece about Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines that’s well worth reading.
Last year, I had an idea. Like most of my ideas it was borne out of frustration and dissatisfaction; it was arrogant and melodramatic and took itself too seriously. Eventually it became Unlimited Hyperbole, a podcast which is still best described in those three terms.
Now, after four seasons and twenty episodes, Unlimited Hyperbole is finished. I set myself the goal of being nominated for Best Podcast in the Games Media Awards and I said I’d stop if I didn’t make it. I didn’t, so the show’s over.
A few people have asked why I set that goal and why I’m stopping the show so suddenly. I figure I owe those people an explanation.
Last year I collected a list of the good things I had read. I made a folder and bookmarked everything I thought was moving, important, brave or insightful. These are the things that, had I written them, I’d have been proud of writing. I posted the list as ‘The Angry Best‘.
I’m not really sure why I started doing it, but a handful of friends bookmarked the post and returned to it for weeks to come as a list of interesting things to read over lunch. So, I decided to do the same this year too. I read a lot, so the list is naturally quite long, but I’ve emboldened the ones that are really essential and separated ones about games for convenience.
I’m always interested in reading more good things, regardless of whether it gets on this list or not – if you spot something good then please send it to me.