Why I Love: Stealth on ships

It’s always bothered me that gaming websites, by and large, don’t have a dedicated space for talking about the things their writers love. Sure, there’s nothing to stop them from having one off celebratory articles – but it can be too easy to get trapped in the routine of pre-release coverage. Hence, I suggested this: a regular PC Gamer feature about the stuff we love. I wrote the first one.

Indie Advice: contact a games journalist

Hi, I’m Phil. I’m the news editor for PC Gamer. If you’re an indie developer – hell, if you’re any type of (PC) game developer – there’s a chance you would like me to write about your game. I’m writing this because I occasionally see developers complain about how difficult it is to get coverage for their game. I’m writing this because I rarely get emails asking for that coverage.

This is frustrating, because one of the best parts of the job is alerting people to the existence – or soon to be existence – of cool new games. It’s also understandable, because my contact details aren’t obviously available on the website I work for. Hence this, an open invitation for (PC) game developers to get in touch and tell me about a thing I could be covering.

Here’s my email address. Let’s do this!

Unfortunately, an email isn’t a guarantee of coverage. I’m rarely short of things to write about, and, to be frank, I’m going to have to decide whether it’s worth covering. That isn’t just about being good – although, yes, I work for an outlet based around games criticism, and so I take a broadly curatorial approach to the games I cover. But there are other factors too. First and foremost, my job is to service my readers, and that means being sure that I’m confident in the thing that I’m covering.

The obvious example is Kickstarter. More than for released or soon-to-be-released games, I do get regular emails from Kickstarter projects. Kickstarter can be a great tool, but it’s also an uncertain one. If a project is from an unknown developer with no previous games, no playable prototype and no game footage, I’m probably not going to write about it. Nothing personal, but it’s a gamble that, from my perspective, is too big to ask a reader to participate in.

In order, these are the things that are most helpful when deciding whether to write about a game:

1. A playable prototype, or, if it’s already out, a press key. This isn’t essential, but it’s really helpful. If I can play a game, I can easily discern why it’s cool. If I can discern why it’s cool, I will happily tell readers. This happened recently with KeeperRL. It’s in alpha, and costs $15, but because I was able to play it, I was able to see why it was worth putting in front of people.

2. A trailer. It not only lets me see what’s interesting about the game, it lets my readers, too. Again, it’s not essential, but video is often a better reflection of the game than screenshots. For instance, after seeing this trailer for Crawl, there was no way I was not going to write about it.

Alternatively, gifs.

3. Read this. Do this.

Final note, persistence. There’s a chance it’ll take me a couple of days to write about your game. It needs to fit around breaking news, or other games I was already planning to write about. If you don’t hear anything, don’t feel bad about following up. Again, KeeperRL. The developer’s email was already in my folder of things to cover, but it was the second one that prompted me to take the time to take a look.

Important: this doesn’t just apply to commercial games. If it’s free, or if it’s a mod, I also want to hear about it.

It really does have to be on PC, though. Sorry, iOS devs, but you can stop emailing. Seriously. Please stop.

Wildstar review

Over at PC Gamer, I review Wildstar.

Jazzpunk review

Over at PC Gamer, I review the comedy adventure game Jazzpunk.

Now Playing: earning a hard-fought victory against Guild Wars 2's twisted marionette

Over at PC Gamer, I write about Guild Wars 2’s recent update.