We’ve now reached what is probably the most important part of our retrospective on Late to the Party: the lessons learned during Season 1. These lessons are both what I learned about on writing about games, and about myself. Here are some that came to mind when I was rereading my work and thinking over the whole experience.
1. Only write about what matters. In my first commentary, on Call of Duty: Ghosts, I was trying hard to cover as much of the game as I could. I think I did this because I still hadn’t quite figured out how much detail to put into any given commentary, so I opted for excess over deficit. As I continued writing about games over the coming months, I realized that I didn’t need to discuss every last detail. For example, I’m not an audio guy, so after awhile I stopped noting a game’s audio unless there was something about it that stood out.
2. There is no need to finish a game if you don’t like it or are only somewhat interested in it. My younger self would recoil in horror at the though of not finishing games, but with age comes wisdom, and I’ve learned to not have such a narrow view of gaming habits. I am only one man with limited time for gaming, so it’s better to not waste my time on games that don’t hook me. If I worked for a games media outlet then it would be a different story, as I’d be assigned games to play and talk about in-depth regardless of whether or not I’m interested in them.
3. Sometimes the critics are wrong. While I respect the opinions of many persons in the games media, that doesn’t mean they’re always right. The perfect example of this is the game Gone Home, which the games media swooned over but I don’t think is as good as they all say it is.
4. When I write about games I notice that I tend to focus on the positives of a game. That’s not to say that I completely ignore the negatives of a game, but that I usually commit more space to what a games does right rather than what it does wrong. I think the reason I do this is because I love gaming and want others to see what’s so great about it. Or then again, maybe I’m just desperate to prove to myself that my hobby is worthwhile.
5. Playing and writing about multiple games in fairly rapid succession can at times be a tiring process (more so the writing than the gaming). I can better appreciate now why games media outlets normally cycle their writers through producing game reviews.
6. Flowery wording isn’t necessarily better than plain wording. I tried to mix things up every now and then and brought in some words and phrases that I don’t normally use, but over time I came to understand the old lesson that using “regular” wording is just fine and can even be better if it more clearly conveys what I’m trying to say.
7. I can keep a deadline, even in less than optimal life circumstances. Finishing Diablo 3 while getting kicked in the nuts by my job wasn’t easy, but I did it, and it turned out to be a half-decent commentary. Next time I’m in a similar situation I won’t have much of an excuse. I’ll see that Diablo 3 commentary and have to tell myself “You did it once, now do it again.”