When you start making money in a profession — any profession — you become the “go to” person for advice. My wife, a nurse, gets calls asking about particular ailments, friends who are cooks or chefs are asked to bring specialty dishes to events, and mechanics get asked to work on the cars of friends and family. Writing about video games is no different, believe it or not. Games aren’t cheap, so people investing $60 (or more) want to know they’re spending their money wisely and they turn to people they trust.
In the case of my friends and family — and you readers — that means they come to me to ask about all sorts of games.
It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of doing this, believe it or not. It’s encouraging to know that people rely on me and accept my advice, but there’s a level of difficulty to it. Being confident enough in my profession to proudly tell folks that “I write about video games” leads to a surprising amount of people admitting to playing games themselves. And lots of them aren’t casuals either, which always leads to fun conversations.
Another point is that I know a little bit about a lot of games, but I don’t know everything about everything. Shocking news, I know. I get loads of press releases and, while I open a majority of them, often I just skim the news looking for something that catches my eye. If something does, I look deeper and develop a strategy for coverage. Essentially, “How can I cover this in a way that someone will pay me for a feature?”
It’s hard being ethical when you approach it from that angle and, if you think about it, that train of thought is exactly what’s lead to so many clickbait articles and disgusting media coverage over the last decade(ish). This is why it’s been so hard for me to consistently have work — because I don’t want to sell out for the sake of money. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I’m some noble individual in gaming media. I’ve done my fair share of writing that orbits around clickbait, as you’ve seen. I gots bills, yo. It’s because of my children, but mostly because of you. If I lose the readers, I lose everything.
Anyway, to get back on track, perhaps the hardest part of giving advice is knowing your audience. Direct questions about certain games are easy to answer, but to earn trust you need to tailor every response appropriately. Listening for the sake of listening, not for the sake of responding rings true here. My experience in sales also helps — learning the specific tastes of someone within just a few seconds, through small talk and listening, can give you insight into what they’re most apt to be drawn to.
Which leads me to this invitation: If you have specific questions about particular games, want to offer advice to a moderately sized audience, or have a topic you want me to look at, contact me.
So now, 500 words into what was supposed to be a quick intro, here’s what I’ve been playing:
Ark: Survival Evolved (Xbox One) – It’s only in the preview mode on Xbox One right now, but if you’re into the sandbox survival genre, my suggestion is to pick this up on PC. I really hope that it ends up looking better after full release, but with the processing power necessary to run the game, I don’t see it getting much better. The visuals are “tolerable,” but they’re pretty nasty right now. The game itself is enjoyable though. Survival sandbox is the next “big genre” and adding dinosaurs and (depending on your server) PvP is pretty rad. Know that, unless you have a dedicated server, anybody joining your game will have to stay within 200m of you at all times. I wish I had researched that before buying in.
Fable Legends (Xbox One – closed beta) – It’s under NDA. I can’t say anything right, but I really want to.
Punch Club (PC/Android) – Tinybuild sent the PC game over for free — like they often do — and I enjoyed it so much that I picked it up on Android to help support them. There’s a perfect amount of humor and micromanaging involved that it becomes a perfect time waster. If you poop a lot, pick up Punch Club, it’ll help pass the time.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (Xbox One) – Yeah, I’m back into COD. This is the first one since Black Ops that I can do “alright” in. K/D of about 1.50, still haven’t prestiged, so I’m still learning the intricacies of the game. I have to say that I’m having a lot of fun though. I’ll have a formal review published at CollegeNews.com soon as part of my “Review Rewind” series.
The Division (Xbox One – Beta) – This is the big one. The beta shuts down tomorrow (Feb 3rd) and despite me having literally NOTHING new to discover in the game, I’m still spending time wandering around the PvP area, called the “Dark Zone”. Seriously though, talk about a disappointment. You could have called it Danger Zone, Ubisoft, and people would have bought the game for Archer references alone. I think it’s the perfect mix of open world shooter strategy and nail-biting PvP stress. It’s got something for everybody and for those who have loved Destiny, at least throw a sideways glance at The Division.
Of course, it’s just a beta and the game could come out and suck. I just really don’t think it will.