I’ve been doing some thinking lately: about what to do with MoeGamer, which you’ve doubtless noticed has been dormant since last August; about how I can provide good quality writing that will encourage people to show their support via my Patreon (which is due a revamp — watch that space over the next few days for details); and about how I can help plug the gaping hole the mainstream games press has left when it comes to coverage of more niche-interest Japanese games.
MoeGamer has always been a passion project that I’ve worked on when I’ve had 1) the time and 2) the motivation to write something. It’s easy to get wrapped up in something like this and start pressuring yourself to provide “content” day after day as often as possible — this is the model the majority of the Web operates on, after all, but it’s partly why the games press (and much of the press at large, it has to be said) is in such a mess right now. That constant drive for content — not writing, not criticism, not analysis, content — makes it very easy to get burnt out, which I think is partly what happened here.
Whenever I’ve done regular writing about Japanese games, be it for my READ.ME and Swords and Zippers columns on the now sadly defunct Games Are Evil or for my JPgamer column during my time at USgamer, I’ve always felt the pressure to always try and be on top of things: to be writing about something new; to be writing about something relevant; to provide an interesting spin on something that takes the pulse of (supposedly) popular opinion as well as my own take; to maintain the audience’s interest. Content, content, content.
While that may be an effective way to operate an ad-supported site with a team of regular staffers, it’s no way to run a passion project in which I just want to write in-depth articles about games that have particularly resonated with me — and which I want other people to experience the joy of, too. As such, I’m rebooting my thinking with MoeGamer and trying a new approach that will hopefully create something a little bit different to other games coverage out there.
Each month, I’ll decide on a “cover game” which will be the focus of the site for the entirety of the month.
Put simply, I intend to increase the depth of my coverage while narrowing its breadth. This is something that professional games journalists do not have the luxury of doing due to that constant pressure for content, content, content. I, however, have no such professional commitments or obligations to adhere to, and as such I intend to seize the opportunity to dig deep into a variety of Japanese games — both old and new — and provide a more detailed breakdown of what they’re about than I can recall seeing on any enthusiast press site.
Here’s the plan. Rather than a scattershot approach, attempting to cover a broad range of topics as they strike my fancy and/or they’re relevant, I want to take things on a month by month basis, almost like a magazine. Each month, I’ll decide on a “cover game” which will be the focus of the site for the entirety of the month. And during that month I’ll publish a series of in-depth articles on the game exploring it from a number of different angles.
The exact angles I’ll explore each game from will vary according to quite what there is to say about it, but at the very least you can expect pieces on the game’s mechanics (or structure, in the case of a visual novel); the game’s narrative (with spoilers); the game’s aesthetics (visuals, sound, voice acting, music); its cultural context, or what we can learn from it; and perhaps its historical context, if particularly noteworthy. Where appropriate, I may also support these focused articles with more op-ed style pieces on broader topics that are relevant to the cover game, but the focus is primarily on doing extreme deep-dives into games that barely get the time of day on mainstream press sites.
This will doubtless be a challenging project, but focusing on just one game per month allows me the time to explore the titles in question fully and to be able to write from a completely well-informed perspective as someone who has seen (hopefully) everything the game has to offer — something that, once again, professional game journalists don’t have the luxury of having the time to do.
You may question why I want to dig so deeply into some of these games at first glance; with any luck, the articles I produce on each title will demonstrate how there is often a lot more to talk about with regard to these games than might be immediately obvious — or than might be suggested by the typically poor, limited and often ill-informed coverage they receive from mainstream press sites.
Focusing on one game per month allows me the time to explore the titles in question fully and to be able to write from the perspective of someone who has seen everything the game has to offer.
I intend to kick this off at the start of April, and already have some games in mind for the first three months. There are plenty more possibilities staring at me as-yet unplayed from my games shelves, too, so this will provide an eminently suitable incentive for me to dig into some titles I’ve been meaning to explore for ages now.
I’ll begin with a deep dive into the recently released Senran Kagura Estival Versus in April, to be followed by the nearly-but-not-quite-as-recent Megadimension Neptunia V-II in June. By July I hope I might have finally actually finished Sting’s incredible dungeon crawler Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library and the Monster Seal, so I’ve got that earmarked for then. Beyond that, we’ll see which way the wind blows, and what tickles my fancy from month to month — and, of course, if you have any requests or suggestions as to things I should take a look at, do feel free to share them with me in the comments or via a private message. I’m always delighted to discover new things, and I will always give something a fair chance; I much prefer to look for the good in something rather than immediately write it off as a turkey, since a number of my very favourite games of the last few years have been, shall we say, not exactly critically acclaimed.
But if you’re here, you probably know all this. You know how poor coverage of these games typically is in the mainstream press, and you know well the disparity between critical and public reception. To those of you already on board with what I’m doing, then, I’d encourage you to share what I’m doing here, and to help point curious people in the direction of games they might be interested to try and may not have heard of. The extreme time pressures of professional games journalism coupled with the rise in kneejerk outrage culture means that a number of top-notch games simply don’t get a chance to be discovered by people outside the niche audience these days, and that’s a real shame; if we can help just one person discover a new favourite game that they might not have previously even dreamed of picking up, then I’ll call that a resounding success.
Watch this space for the beginning of this new project, then, and if you’d like to support what I’m doing and encourage me to do more of it, please consider flinging a bit of virtual spare change my way via my Patreon.
Thank you in advance for your support — be it through page views, comments, shares or cold, hard cash — and the Senrans and I will see you in early April!