Bill knows what he’s talking about or why IGN sucks

Since Bill has been elevated to whatever his title is on GameShark, I have had to become more critical of my own writing. At the risk of sounding like a suck-up, Bill knows writing.

This becomes more apparent to me after reading the Forza Motorsport 2 review at IGN. Hilary has been at IGN for some time, and despite years on the job, either him, or his editor allowed this sentence in the review:

“If you love cars, you will likely love Forza 2.”

You are kidding me right? Likely? Nice qualifier so that it isn’t a finding of fact. But I mean seriously, it’s like saying, “needless to say Forza 2 isn’t for fans of soccer.” WTF?

Obviously it didn’t take Bill to make me notice this example, but you see what he’s trying to do at Gameshark to move above drivel like this.

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About icedcorn

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11 Responses to Bill knows what he’s talking about or why IGN sucks

  1. Loren says:

    IGN is the worst example of writing around. Their #1 problem outside of poor writing is that some reviews are way too long.So far from what I’ve seen at Gameshark there are succinct reviews (usually don’t push beyond 2 pages) and since you picked up some people from Gamers with Jobs and the Escapist the writing is excellent. Couldn’t pick from two better sources for good/great writers.

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  2. bill abner says:

    Wow, Dan, someone wants a raise in freelance pay. ;)It’s a process and is going to be a long one. Gameshark needs a redesign — in a huge way. I want to get that rolled out sooner than later but I have zero control over that stuff. So many things need fixed/enhanced/added to the site. It takes a particularly good writer to pull off a 1500+ word review without getting repetitive, boring, and wandering into Feature Creep ™. I don’t like writing super long reviews because I fall into the same trap. I read some of the stuff I wrote 10 years ago and it’s hard to get through because you just don’t NEED 3,000 words on High Heat Baseball. The stats prove it — the vast majority of readers won’t bother reading 2,500 word reviews. They just flip to the last page for a score. Game writing is not strong enough to warrant the length. I am constantly trimming (wasted) words from GShark reviews. Honestly, some come in at 2200 words and come out 1200. As for that Forza review, I guess I have never understood it when writers finish reviews with lines like that. “If you like soccer, you’ll love FIFA!” Well, if you don’t like soccer you wouldn’t be reading this review, right? I personally don’t like car racing games, so I’m not going to read a Forza review even if it’s rated 100%, A+, or 5 out of 5 love stickers. Maybe a more compelling end line would be, “Even if you hate car racing games, Forza is still worth buying.” That would grab my attention a bit more. I love the GWJ and Escapist stuff, too. I guess we’re off to a great start on the staff restocking because we’ve only had one article posted in the month that I have been there from the GWJ crew (Cory’s Sam and Max article) and none from The Escapist writer (Susan). Traffic is up so I hope we’re doing something right.

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  3. Neil says:

    Not to be mean, but the grammar in the gameshark MLB review isn’t particularly praiseworthy either.

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  4. bill abner says:

    (I was drunk and playing Railroad Tycoon in North Carolina) That’s an editing issue more than it is a writing one, though. Same with the IGN review. That falls on the editor’s lap more than it does the writer.

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  5. Loren says:

    I agree that Gameshark needs a makeover, but you’ve touched on that before. When I was doing reviews for another site we always needed an editor, but no one stepped up to the plate. I like to think I’m a good editor, but it would be hard to edit the number of reviews that were being pumped through the site with just one person.I’m not sure there are a lot of online sites that have actual editors. IGN puts the word “editor” in many of their staff’s titles, but it is obvious there is little to no editing going on. Print magazines and newspapers are where there is true editing going on with an actual editor(s) looking over the work. In the online marketplace everyone is only interested in getting the information out stat and not worrying about the “look” of it.I’m glad to see that Gameshark is attempting to buck that trend. I’d love to write for the site because I think there is a great foundation there to build upon.

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  6. Flying Norseman says:

    I had an editor when I wrote reviews at AVault a long time ago. The problem was that he mostly edited what I had to say not how I said it. You have to be more positive you see, or we will lose advertising dollars…

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  7. bill abner says:

    Wow, seriously? That happened at AVault? (I’m not being flippant. That really does surprise me)

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  8. Neil says:

    I agree that the writing at IGN is very poor in terms of style (and grammar, too, but like you said, that’s a different issue). I would not mind the length if it were entertaining or informative. Instead, you have these long-winded introductions about the writer’s personal experiences with some similar game from 15 years ago, coupled with a half-hearted attempt to grab the reader’s attention (“Does [this game] [suck] or [not suck]? Our full review”). Like the saying from the 90s, “Know your role.” If you are not an entertaining or witty writer, stop trying to be because it’s painful to read. I really wish that mainstream sites like IGN would employ writers a step above “semi-literate person who likes video games,” but I guess spending the extra dough on quality writers wouldn’t do much for their bottom line since the majority of their audience can’t tell the difference.

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  9. bill abner says:

    Based on my experience both online and in print — most people don’t care about the writing level as much as they (in this order)Previews with good screenshotsCheat codesTimely reviewsWhether or not the writer is witty, engaging, boring or Faulkner-esque doesn’t matter as much. It’s like what Steve Bauman told me. “People SAY they want a gaming magazine with great writing and a mature tone. They just don’t buy them.”For IGN to change its style would be insane from a business PoV. A site like Gamers with Jobs will never be as mainstream as a magazine like Game Informer. At least not until this medium has had time to mature and the 1st and 2nd and 3rd generation of gamers have had time to retire. After all, mainstream PC/videogaming is what..15 years old or so?

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  10. Flying Norseman says:

    Yeah I was told to change my Grand Prix Legends review to appease some of the forum nazis and I suspect advertisers. I was too critical they said and all I claimed was that it had a steep learning curve and was not for the casual racing fans.

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  11. Dan Clarke says:

    Wow. Look at all the comments. Of course, I make mistakes when writing and people let me know about it. Usually there are editors that do help out with that — we try to double and triple check our work. Typos can and do slip through….but what I was trying to say is how could anyone let through a line that says “Forza is all about the cars” or whatever, when duh…it’s not an Outlook like calendar program. I agree that my misspellings and improper use of grammar do undermine the thoughts of the review; it is all about the complete package. And we are working to fix these issues..

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