Today, it’s time to talk about something else. In the past, I have written a few articles on the gaming industry and the blogging world. Today, I’m going to tell you what before I click on the “Publish” button. Yup, let’s talk about the steps I take to create an article for this blog. This is my current process, so things might change in the future. But it might be interesting to share it, no? Also, to avoid making this article too complicated, I’m only going to talk about how I write my gaming articles like my first impressions, reviews or game quickies. Feel free to leave your methods in the comment section below.
Phase 1: Picking the game
So, how do I choose a game to review? Well, to answer that question, I should answer how do I choose which game to play?
Let’s get the easiest part of the answer out of the way first. Sometimes, I get a mail from a developer asking me to take a look at their game. Then, some emails happen. We discuss what the article should be about and what things I can or can’t mention. I have to stress that I hate censoring. If I’m not always to express my full honest opinion, I’m not going to write the article. Since I think that lying to the readers of the article is a bad idea. On this blog, I always express my honest opinion on the games I play, so that would be too much out of character.
So, the more difficult part of the answer is when I don’t get a mail from the developer to take a look at their game. So, what happens then? In my free time, I play a lot of games and when I find a game that interests me, I write it down on a list. It’s text document in my cloud storage so, I can access it at anytime and anywhere.
While I make schedules for my blog, I’m truly terrible at following them. The reasons for that are emails from developers that I want to first or games that interest me and that I want to write about that aren’t on the schedule. In very rare occasions, I choose the game that I’m going to write about on Sunday morning and then I play the game all day. That happened a few times already.
That’s why I rarely to never share my schedule. Since I know it can change at any moment. Not only thanks to emails from developers but you can never predict life. Also, I think I’m more creative when I don’t plan out my articles too much. Apart from deadlines or agreements with developers, I rarely plan a date for an article.
Phase 2: Playing the game & analyzing it.
This phase speaks for itself. I start playing the game and write down some notes on my phone or tablet. In the past, I wrote everything down. Each thing that could make it in the article was written down.
I stopped doing that. Since I noticed that I didn’t use all my notes to write the article. Also, it broke the immersion and my focus on the game when I had to take notes.
So, what I do for notes now, is write down the things that I shouldn’t forget about the game. And let me tell you when you do this for a few years like I have, you are able to write articles without taking notes sometimes. So hear me out on this, I think that a review or a first impression should be a reflection of your experience. If you are unable to remember some negative aspects like an annoying puzzle or two, a few boring levels or a strange dialogue… I don’t think it’s worth mentioning in an article. But, I’ll go more in-depth about that later in this article.
Last year, I wrote an article where I talked a bit more about this phase. I wrote about how I analyze a game. So, here are a few things I didn’t mention in that article. I’m very picky when it comes to UI. I love it when I don’t have to go through five different menus when I know it would be possible in two menus. If you have a clear menu system, it’s more inviting to the player.
I’m very picky when it comes to UI. I love it when I don’t have to go through five different menus when I know it would be possible in two menus. If you have a clear menu system, it’s more inviting to the player.
I honestly enjoy tutorials to a certain extent. What I mean is that I enjoy tutorials when it explains the basics of the game without holding your hand too much. For example, that the explanation of controls is a sign you choose to read. But, when you have already played the game in the past or when you understand the game mechanics already, you can skip them without an issue.
For how long should you play a game before you can write an article about it? Well, my rule is that when I have played the game for more than 4-5 hours, I can write a first impression about it. I only write a review about games that I have finished or beaten. But, wait, what if the game doesn’t have an end goal or is unbeatable like Tetris? Well, then I review the game when I think I have seen or experienced enough to review the game.
Phase 3: Research & Writing
So, I have played the game and/or I have beaten it. Now, it’s time to research and write the game. Like I said in a previous article, I have a habit of listening to the soundtrack of the game I’m writing about. This helps me to write and sometimes it helps me to remember the experience.
Also, when I’m writing, I have the game open near me. For example, when I write about a 3DS game, my 3DS is in front of my keyboard while I’m writing. When I want to quickly test something or refresh my memory, it’s just a second way.
Things I always check are Wikipedia/Wikis & Metacritic. I check Wikipedia to check if there are any interesting facts of the game I didn’t know about like it’s development history or something similar. If there isn’t a Wikipedia page or doesn’t have enough information, I look for a Wiki on the game.
Why do I check Metacritic? Well, not for the score or anything of that nature. I just find it very handy to see other articles on the game. What did other people think of the game? What are their positives and negatives?
Another thing I do is the “searchability and presence test”. I enter the name of the game in different search engines and on different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube… to check what other people like or dislike about the game.
That test and the information I get from Metacritic help me to write. Now, I don’t copy somebody else’s opinion, but when you see sentences in my article like this: “A common complaint is …. and I (dis)agree because…” or something along that nature, well, that’s the consequence of that.
A very handy website is howlongtobeat.com. It’s very difficult to tell how long is a game is and this website helps a lot with that. This website allows me to talk about if the game is long enough and things like that.
When I start writing, I try to continue to write everything in one piece. So, when a link needs to be put in, I put it in before I continue with the rest of the article. What I do first is write the introduction and then the headings. After that, I insert the images of that article. Then, I put in brackets what part of the game I’m going to talk about in that paragraph. So, that way I know what I’m going to talk about in and give the article some structure.
So, how do I decide what to put in an article? Well, that’s a tricky question. To be honest, my answer to that is simple. I use my gut feeling. When something doesn’t feel right to mention, I don’t mention it. I also try to give my honest opinion what I think about the game and what I liked and disliked.
How do I decide the length of an article? Well, I try to have around 1000-1500 words. The reason for that is that I find it the perfect length to talk about the game with enough depth. If I make the review longer, it can be because of two reasons, either I have a lot to talk about or I got carried away while writing and I don’t want to cut out certain sections.
After I have written my article and the conclusion, I always go over the article with two spell checkers. I use Grammar.ly for almost a year now to fix various spelling mistakes and after that, I copy the whole article into a Word document to double check. After that, I read the article myself and fix and/or tweak any other spelling mistakes I can find.
Then, the article is almost ready. I add all the tags and add it to the right category or categories. After that, I click publish and check if the post reached all my social media pages. After that, I update my overview page and go on with my day. I either start up a game that I want to write about next week or do something else.
So, thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing this. It honestly felt kinda strange writing down how I write articles. Honestly, this is my general workflow but sometimes it differs from article to article slightly.
My main goal with this article is to give a look behind the curtain on how I write articles. Also, I tried to give some tips and tricks if you are a starting blogger looking for some advice. Don’t copy my workflow, but try to improve your own.
I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.