Gamer, hands, video game, gamepad, controller

Playing games for playing’s sake

Since the start of the year, we’ve been extremely lucky to be nominated for several awards by some amazing bloggers. The latest is The Blogger Recognition by NekoJonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog – for which we’re very appreciative – and as part of the nomination, recipients are expected to give two pieces of advice for new writers.

This seems to be a common theme among these awards: helping new bloggers find their feet and giving those that have been around for a while a bit of well-deserved acknowledgement. It’s just another aspect of the WordPress community that makes it such a great and friendly one to be a part of.

Our nomination from NekoJonez this month got me thinking: what’s the most important thing I’ve learned in the several years I’ve been blogging? There are tips that make writing easier over time – planning the structure of posts, organising a schedule, staying focused for example – but would I say they’re critical? In fact, the most important advice I could give was written by Vincent from Alpha Signal Five in this post from last year.

I need to read and write for their own sake, and adjust my own expectations of creating.

The site that Ben and I wrote for previously was heavily focused on reviews. The policy we created for them meant we played video games analytically and dissected their every aspect: plot, gameplay, audio and visuals, replay and innovation. At the end of each post we’d assign a score which would then correspond to a final award. This site lasted for around three years and during that time, we forced every title we touched into a neat little box.

My world outside of blogging was similar in a way. I manage a team that oversees a best-practice framework within IT (that’s the best way I can explain it) so my job tends to centres around processes and data… lots of processes and data. Each side of my life was based on logic and followed a structured set of rules – and woe betide anyone or anything who dared to step outside of those boundaries.

Over time, I admitted something about myself: I don’t enjoy writing reviews. I don’t particularly enjoy reading them either. I started blogging in 2013 as a creative outlet but during those three years it had changed into something very different and less fulfilling. I realised that I’d started to attempt each new gaming experience in a way that was almost clinical, with one eye always on the lookout for material for the next article, and I’d forgotten about the sheer joy that comes from playing video games.

I couldn’t describe it any more perfectly than Vincent did himself:

Basically before I’ve finished seeing, reading or hearing something, I’m already reviewing it in my head in case I can drag a good 500 words out of the experience. And because of this (albeit small) mental shift, I feel like maybe I’m missing out on enjoying something for its own sake.

Taking the decision to wrap up our old site after several years was difficult, because we’d spent so long hiding behind analysis and review scores instead of writing from the heart. Our new home has given us the chance to remember that a video game is more than the sum of its parts and to love them for what they are. I’m no longer interested in numbers and final awards; I want to know about the journey a title takes you on, the way it lets you step into another person’s shoes, and how it makes you feel.

That’s the most important bit of advice I can give: play for playing’s sake, and write because you have something to say rather than something to post. The world of blogging is a wonderful place and you have something unique you can bring to it.

Thank you to NekoJonez for inspiring me to write this post – you should go check out NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog as soon as you possibly can – and to everyone who has nominated Later Levels for an award. And hello to all the new bloggers out there: you’re doing great.

23 thoughts on “Playing games for playing’s sake

  1. Very much agree. Enjoy doing what you’re doing otherwise it becomes a chore. This is why I don’t see what I write as reviews and more as thoughts on the game culminating in whether or not it was fun. I don’t consider myself able to take apart and fully analyse each aspect of a game and I doubt I’d enjoy them as much if I did!
    I enjoy reading your content, so keep doing what you’re doing!

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  2. I love that you’re posting stuff that I’ve been pondering of late. Upon completion started with the gang reviewing something to a schedule and that failed. So although we post erratically we post when we have things to say, and I think that’s made for a better time for all.

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    1. Those are the kind of posts I enjoy reading: when someone has something they want to say or discuss, and when they’re writing from the heart. Those kind of posts are much more enjoyable to write too! 🙂

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  3. Hi! I agree with you on playing games for playing sake. Quite frankly, I’m a completitionist. I felt overwhelmed that my backlog is getting bigger because I don’t have as much time to play it. Creating a blog has helped me to stay focused and appreciate one game at a time. I feel much happier. 🙂

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    1. I’m trying to do the same: I wrote a post about my New Year’s resolution to play more games, and noted 10 releases due out this year that I’m aiming to play. Hopefully I’ll get to December having managed to get through all of them.

      PS: looking forward to your post on D4 – it wasn’t one I was able to get my head around!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I think that writing an article is my way of closing the experience on that game. I have tried to explain it in one of my articles but to be really honest, I have no idea why.

          This is the article I’m talking about btw: https://arpegi.wordpress.com/2017/01/14/gamers-thoughts-the-struggles-of-a-game-blogger/

          And maybe it has to do with that I want to write a new article each and every week and when I continue to play a game, I might run out of time to prepare next week’s article. :/ But, the real reason will be a combo of various other reasons.

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          1. It can definitely be tough trying to fit everything in when real-life gets in the way – I’m lucky if I can get an hour of gaming every other day at the moment! Your posts are great, so you’re obviously doing something right. 😉

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  4. You know, I’m well aware that most of my writing is crap, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the act of writing. I think its incredible therapeutic to put my thoughts down, even if it’s just mindless video game talk; it gives me an outlet and that’s super valuable.

    So I’ll never work for a major gaming outlet, but that’s not the reason I write. I write because I enjoy writing. And even if no one actually reads my shit, that’s totally okay.

    To quote Little Miss Sunshine. ‘You do what you love and fuck the rest’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s really refreshing to hear someone who has a site about video games say that they’write because they want to’ and not because they’re looking to break into journalism. Keep up the good work, and we’ll keep up reading your posts. 😉

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  5. Yeah, I started my blog with the principle that I’m not going to push myself. I write when the mood hits me. I can’t say I produce amazing stuff, but it is an enjoyable experience nonetheless. My work in the real world is pretty darned demanding so it’s nice to have a place where I can flub around and explore.

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  6. Lately, I’ve noticed that I’ve done something similar to what you’ve described: writing a review in my head while I’m playing it. I don’t even particularly _like_ writing reviews either – I like raving about games I love, and ranting about ones I don’t.

    Forcing out reviews for everything you play though.. that is a fast track to turn this fun activity of blogging about video games into another day at work 😦 Gotta write when you’re inspired and passionate.

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    1. Completely: the last thing you want to do after getting home from the office is feel like you’ve got to put in another few hours ‘at work’. Sometimes you just need to play something for the enjoyment of playing, and forget about the review – if the game inspires you that much, you’ll want to write about it anyway.

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