I think a key reason for the stop-start nature of this blog, in addition to several other much more valid but less humorous reasons, is my commitment to opening every post with a pseudo-conversational opening. ‘Hello’. ‘Hi’. ‘What’s up fothermuckers?’ None of these actually fill the role of being conversational, as that would require multiple conversing parties, and the closest thing we can get to equal discourse on the Internet is the one-sided, I-write-a-big-long-post-and-you-write-a-tiny-comment mechanic that has dogged YouTubers for over a decade now. But persist I shall, writing as if I’m speaking, and communicating as if there’s someone there to communicate to.
And communicate I shall, for I have embarked upon yet another gaming writing project. Tentatively titled Dodge Rolls & Determination – bonus points if you can identify which game series those mechanics come from – this blog covers sports strategy games, and dives into the nuts and bolts of their mechanics, rather than the loftier, more artistic approach to games I’m taking over on The Game Shelf and in my impending Skyrim dissertation.
Speaking of The Game Shelf, briefly, that is still very much a thing, although it is going through a rough patch as I’ve been struck by creative lethargy (one of the previously-mentioned ‘valid’ reasons for the lack of updates on this blog). I plan to combine the two projects in a monthly ‘here’s an interesting game mechanic’ piece on The Game Shelf, and leave Dodge Rolls & Determination for more in-depth and frequent trips to the GameFAQs pages of obscure RPGs; seriously, my first post – an introduction to the races of Bloodbowl 2 – pushed 4,000 words.
The reason that I have a shiny new blue-backgrounded site for these latest gaming ramblings is that I’ve become much more interested in the mechanics of game and game design lately, rather than my initial focus on ‘games as art’. Oddly enough this started last month as I watched several Let’s Plays of crappy noughties Sonic games, and I started to think on what makes a good game; how are the levels designed, how is plot presented, how is the player made to care about the characters and worlds of the game. These are more functional questions than ‘Is the opening of Super Mario Sunshine a feminist battle-cry?’, and ones I’m currently more interested in answering; I also feel like these questions are fundamentally different to the more artistic ones that float around on The Game Shelf. The subject matter – games – may be the same, but how they are engaged with is a totally different process; a thesis on the content of a Dickens novel will be entirely different to a thesis on nineteenth-century book-binding and distribution methods.
I’m becoming increasingly aware that, for better or worse, games are my thing. They’re the medium I feel most drawn to, the subculture I find myself most at home within, and the world that is accessible to the point of copyright-infringing democracy. But with great certainty comes great uncertainty, and I’m still not sure how I want to contribute to this growing world: do I want to be a gaming academic, preaching in lecture halls about queer theory in JRPGs; or a reviewer providing a service that is part-political, part-informative to gamers around the world; or even a gamer myself, making guides and tutorials, competing in tournaments and having a more personal connection to the games I play.
In all likelihood, I’ll settle for a tedious office job somewhere near a particularly shite part of Edgware and write game reviews on a half-arsed-looking blog when I’m in my forties and get a spare weekend. But that’ll be a source of delight few people will be able to lay claim to, and I’d love to live such a life; in the meantime, I’ll keep playing, writing, and badgering you to retweet my articles.