I am, apparently, good at knitting. Which is to say, when I put 300 odd stitches into a something resembling a scarf last year, I received plaudits for the neatness of my knit and purl and imagined a future in which I would create hundreds of wonderful items with trademark precision, and doubtlessly to widespread acclaim. Never mind that my casting on and off was terrible – practice would make perfect and I’d hit the big time soon enough!
Hello, sometime Reticule contributor Stephanie Woor here, and yes, the paragraph you just read is an overworked analogy for my attempts at games journalism on this site (and only here, really). But don’t let me leave you hanging on the knitting anecdote – I finished that scarf, took a look into something a little more complex and then immediately gave up when it turned out that a couple of solid, core technical fundamentals doesn’t help you when you have no real reason to create something or a reason to create.
The idea when I first approached Chris – who I knew as an intelligent and affable poster active on the Halflife2.net forums (now Valvetime.net) – about writing on The Reticule, was to write and magically get hired in video games journalism. Sure, everyone was pointing out to me that the field was entirely oversubscribed and underpaid, but these now compelling arguments didn’t really mean much to someone whose most recent employment included ‘sideshow operator’ and ’15-hour contract phone shop employee’.
So I wrote, and the Reticule graciously hosted my stuff (I appear to have clocked up 30+ articles, not counting my partial contributions to group articles) – but the story of my foray into journalism just fizzles out there. Basically, it turns out that if you don’t actually pitch articles to publications, you don’t get to write for them. Who knew!
Looking over my output here, it’s sort of obvious why that is though – I didn’t have enough to say outside of reviews of whatever we had codes for. My few features indulge in a pretty narrow list of all-time favourite subjects, and the one potentially good ongoing series I created (‘Gaming crowdfunding weekly’) spent too much time on the obvious, doomed-to-fail dross. Still, I called Nier:Automata character designer Akihiko Yoshida an ‘occasional enemy of noses’ at one point, so from that perspective at least, it was all worth it.
I persisted until 2014, where things started to break down. I was already struggling to find anything to say about the Nintendo games that now occupied my time (lacking the vocabulary to describe the refined play experiences they emphasise, having always focussed more on narrative and broader mechanics). I was also finding that I was reading less and less games journalism, and ultimately you want to produce what you consume (some of us just don’t have faces or voices that can ‘pivot to video’).
But if we’re honest, the conversation around games and games journalism had turned nasty and that dream job writing about games I’d lazily imagined just ceased to hold any appeal. Even putting aside the sense that paid gigs probably meant dealing with a level of audience toxicity I was never going to have put up with in my (better paid, better prospects) marketing job, it just seemed more important than ever for those in the job to have not only something to say, but something to defend and to fight for. I greatly admire those who manage it – but I’ve no real desire to discuss those aspects of my identity that arguably would be the most interesting to pick at in public. Not for the sake of games, and certainly not for “gamers”.
So that’s my sob story done with, and aside from pausing to ponder how many far more talented people were lost during that period (and how many thrived despite it), let’s talk no more of it. For any critical project to last 10 years through changes in both the industry that produces the objects of criticism and that which produces the criticism itself is quite the achievement. It’s always a pleasure to see contributors still working the coalface and weighing in on games new and old. So congratulations to The Reticule on the big 10 – may you last another 10 and may games continue to offer experiences worthy of your comment.
Despite the appeal of the 3D effect of Nintendo’s latest handheld, I’ve found myself falling for one of the 3DS family’s lesser-known innovations – Streetpass, the Wi-Fi handshake that two 3DS users have in general proximity. From a manufacturer known for being a little behind the curve on all things online, it’s a welcome differentiator. A light, low-maintenance social dimension, a way of showing off your best times or the layout of your in-game home, or just expressing something about yourself to other passers by.
Back from rehabilitation, Gaming Crowdfunding Weekly cleans up its act and gets back to what really matters: underfunded puzzle platformers like Kodama, collectible miniatures making the transition to video games with Prodigy, fart-propelled naked spacemen in Cosmochoria and “Skyrim with bears” in Bear Simulator.
Welcome back to your sometimes fortnightly weekly series of gaming crowdfunding news. In this week’s round-up: Enjoy a bowl of nourishing Dragon Fin Soup, mine and craft voxels in Planets³, swear you’ve seen that visor design before in Dark Drive and welcome back the relaunched Festival of Magic, now dubbed ‘Earthlock’.
Having created a (largely) well received opener for its difficult second album, The Walking Dead strides with confidence into an exciting second episode that is packed with memorable moments and tantalising hints of the action still to come. Major spoilers for Season Two have been avoided, but details from Season One may be touched on. You have been warned.
Because it’s still Thursday somewhere, Gaming Crowdfunding Weekly. This week: StarCrawlers is a star-based dungeon crawler (see what they did there?); Tulpa is not the first stylish puzzle platform game you’ve seen; Koe thinks you’re learning Japanese, it thinks you’re learning Japanese, it really thinks so; and Sierra Ops found so much money suddenly that we decided to talk about it again.
Entering late and loud, ignoring your enquiries about where it was last week, the Gaming Crowdfunding Weekly slumps into the last free desk in the classroom and spends the lesson scratching an incomplete Cerne Abbas giant into the top with its protractor. This week: Blackmore tries to snatch back the magic of that one good Mega CD adventure game, Labyrinth threatens to leave a string of weak David Bowie references in its wake, Darkest Dungeon’s name is the only remotely weak thing about it and the Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is asking for more ink.