Should I Write a Newsletter About Games?

I’m trying to talk myself out of writing a newsletter about games. There are many reasons why this would be a bad idea, not least because people are asking whether there’s a future of video games journalism at all, but I can’t get over the fact that I found so few newsletters about the most profitable, most popular, most innovative form of art and media and entertainment today.

There are plenty on the business of games – everyone wants to tell you the minutiae of Microsoft’s attempt to buy Activision Blizzard. And while there are countless excellent podcasts and YouTube explainers out there, they’re not for me. I just can’t sit through an hour talking over gameplay clips or three hours of someone dissecting the mechanics and clothing of Cyberpunk 2077. That’s not a knock on those videos, it’s a commentary on my impatience and my preference for reading rather than watching non-fiction. If you like them, I salute you!

So here’s my pitch for a newsletter:

  • It’d be for the general audience and for experts. Think Aaron A. Reed’s 50 Years of Text Games or Matt Levine’s Money Stuff: accessible to total novices, thorough enough for industry veterans. No academic jargon unless absolutely necessary!
  • It’d avoid breaking news and industry talk. Too much of games discourse is around how much money they make.
  • It’d focus on recent games I’ve played, like why Pentiment’s story works so well but its design makes it so tiring to play; or the utter vacuum at the heart of Season’s gorgeous settings.
  • It’d also cover broader society and political themes, like how I think multiplayer games may be an imperfect replacement for the institutions that used to help men make friends
  • 1000-3000 words per week. Long enough to get into specifics, not so long you give up halfway through.
  • It’d be cool to get guest contributors, whom I would pay.

What I find most exciting about games is their incredible number and variety. The barriers to entry and distribution are lower than ever. But even after making games for twenty years, I still find it hard to wrap my arms around everything that’s going on. I want to learn about the amazing games people are making, but existing games outlets, with their focus on breaking news and reviews, aren’t doing it for me. And while there’s no lack of great games writing in the world, much of it is highly specialised and written for experts.

I want to write something I’d like to read: a newsletter that helps me understand what matters in games today, from someone with direct experience. Something that takes games seriously – which means being serious about critiquing them. But it’d also be fun to read!

Why not continue writing on this blog? Unfortunately, people don’t read blogs as readily as newsletters! They don’t spread as well and they don’t get anywhere near as much feedback or engagement. I’d still write here on non-games topics and try to copy stuff over.

What about something even longer-form, like a magazine or a book? Well, I already write a monthly column for EDGE magazine, which is lovely, but it takes weeks for my words to get in front of readers and I don’t get a lot of feedback from them, either. Books are even worse. And they’re both too big a commitment.

I’m not promising to write this – I’m pretty busy right now! But I love writing, and I love writing about games; I just wrote a book critiquing gamification that the New York Times liked! I especially love writing for general audiences.

Newsletters are perfect for that.

Photo by Bram Van Oost on Unsplash

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