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Stephen L. (Reviewer)
“Write what you’re passionate about” is advice frequently given to wouldbe bloggers and online entrepreneurs (along with “don’t forget to check your spelling before hitting the [Publish] key”). Someone who’s turned his passion into blogging is Baden Ronie, who runs the popular site Wolf’s Gaming Blog. We asked Baden about writing and blogging in a recent interview.
7SR: You started your blog out of your passion for gaming and a desire to share information on the topic. After more than five years of writing about gaming, do you find that you’re still as enthusiastic about your blogging?
Generally yes. Now that I play more games than ever I do find myself getting burnt out from time to time, so these days if I’m not actively in the process of reviewing a game I tend not to play anything at all and instead spend my time catching up on movies, reading or chatting with friends.
As for the blogging, it’s largely the same answer. There are those days when you get up and feel like you’re banging your head off a brick wall because views haven’t gone up much over the past month or because nobody seems to be commenting, but then there are days when you get to play a cool game you may have never known about or when you get a pile of comments thanking you for the review that make it feel pretty awesome. There are so many other sites out there that becoming successful is pretty unlikely. Most of the time, though, I feel that so long as even a few people are reading what I write, I’ll keep doing it. Luckily, though, there seems to be a lot of really awesome people who come and check out my site. Yup, I’m pretty damn lucky.
7SR: What do you do to make sure you’re always coming up with new and interesting ways to present information, when you’re talking about similar games, or upgrades to older versions?
I don’t sit down and plan out reviews or how to change up the way I describe certain things. At the end of the day there are so many similarities between mechanics in games that after a while you run out of ways to talk about them. Still, while I’m writing I do attempt to vary the way I approach talking about something. Quite honestly one of the ways I do this is by reading a lot of other reviews. By checking out the style other writers use and how they tackle talking about certain mechanics it provides a little inspiration.
In fact reading in general helps. It’s amazing how much you learn without even realising it. The way different writers piece their sentences together can vary so much. It’s amazing how versatile the English language can be. Perhaps one day I’ll actually be able to write well enough that people will recognize it as English, rather than the mess it is now
7SR: Gamers, like other online groups, often have a jargon that only insiders will understand. Some of those words (like “noob”) eventually make it into standard English usage, but other words and phrases are confusing to nongamers who might be looking for information. How do you handle the difference between “geek speak” and everyday English vocabulary?
I think the bigger question is where exactly do you draw the line between “geek speak” and normal English? Is describing a game as being a coverbased shooter too geeky for most people, or not? These days “geek speak” is almost is a part of the everday English vocabulary, so I don’t actually avoid using it very much. Indeed, l tend to assume that most of my readers are already entrenched within the culture of gaming and understand terms such as “noob.” If I attempted to avoid all “geek speak” then almost every review would increase massively in length because I’d have to describe a lot of basic stuff, such as what a coverbased shooter is. Having said that I try not to pepper my articles with incomprehensible gibberish. Provided a term like “noob”, for example, is presented in the right context I think even the uninitiated can generally understand its meaning, at least enough to accept it and carry on reading. Really it comes down to the fact that if I simplified everything I was saying and attempted to explain each individual element of a game or word then reviews would be messy. It comes down to attempting to concisely describe things while also describing the mechanic, theme etc. as a larger picture.
On the other hand I also review board games, and in those I tend to be a lot more mindful about using terminology that my regular readers may not be familiar with. Whereas with videogames I’m writing to an audience that already known their stuff, with the boardgames I’m hoping some of those videogame fans might read some of the boardgame stuff and check them out, so I actually take the time to stop and quickly explain what a workerplacement game is. How long I’ll keep doing that, though, is hard to say.
I guess when you get right down to it I’m probably not the most accomodating when it comes to people who have don’t have at least a passing knowledge of videogames
7SR: In many ways media are seamless, with movies morphing into video games (or vice versa) which leads to online fanfic and blogs like yours. What’s your vision for the future when it comes to gaming and participation in communities devoted to gaming (virtual and IRL)?
Now that is a complex question. Obviously at the moment we have virtual reality entering the picture, having suddenly become a technology that anyone can acquire and have in their living room, provided they can afford the hefty price. At the same time the adoption rate hasn’t been fast, although we can probably safely assume that the high cost of something like the Oculus has a lot to do with that. The headset itself is expensive, as is the computer upgrade most people would need to run it. Until VR becomes much cheaper I don’t see it becoming too common, and thus at least for the forseeable future I don’t think gaming will change too much from what it is right now. Perhaps what is more important in the gaming landscape right now is that consoles are going to start getting hardware upgrades, moving them away from what consoles once were and closer to the PC market.
As for the other topic Esports seems to be growing and growing, and with it Youtube. Video reviews from people like AngryJoe let people connect more with the reviewer, and through that subtantial followings are built. Written media, on the other hand, is struggling, which is bad news for me since I’m not pretty enough for Youtube! Sadly, though, we’re still seeing plenty of hostility within the gaming community, which the media loves to focus on.
Honestly, I can’t even begin to guess what the future holds for gaming. I’d love to see VR become more affordable, and for the media to grow bored of using videogames as a scapegoat for bar parenting or acts of extreme violence. But more than that I’d like to see larger companies back down from their various anticonsumer policies.While we get treated to many amazing games, we’re also treated pretty poorly by the likes of EA and Ubisoft. Awful preorder bonuses tha tare designedto boost preorder numbers with no real benefit to the customer, games being released in buggy states or with poor performance, and questionable microtransactions. These are just some of the problems that need to be solved.
7SR: Ernest Cline’s book “Ready Player One” has been turned into a movie that looks as if it may be as popular as the book. Do you have any plans for writing a book, a movie script, or anything like that?
I’ve thought about writing a book or comic/graphic novel a lot over the last few years. I’ve always got characters, scenes and plot outlines floating around my head. But my problem is that I’m terrible at creating all the smaller things that need to happen along the way. In my mind I know the big things that occur at the beginning, middle and end, but get utterly lost when it comes to joining it all up to create a booklength tale. For this reason I think that if I really want to get into writing some stories I’d start with fanfiction. By choosing to write about characters and worlds I already know I could focus entirely on learning how to structure a story and join all the major plot points up.
My fear is that I’ll write a book and by some strange miracle people will enjoy it, but I’ll be completely unable to write another one. Maybe I’ll just have one book or comic in me. Or maybe I’m the next George R.R. Martin! But y’know, with less death and depression. Actually, scratch that, if I could be even a fraction as good as great, late Terry Pratchett I would be one very, very happy person.