Jamison Trumpets

The Penny Arcade Report

February 21st, 2012 by DanielRGT

Hey, it’s a new post!

I felt like it was necessary for me to make a post showcasing The Penny Arcade Report and why it is much cooler than you. You’re probably going over all the reasons that you’re incredibly cool, but I have to burst your cool bubble and show you why the Penny Arcade Report is one of the best things to happen to video game journalism in a long time.

I’ve had a big problem with the state of video game journalism for a long time. Being a former video game journalist myself (albeit not a very notable one), I know what it’s like to try and write news articles for a website. It’s very obviously different than writing for my personal blog.

Firstly, you have much less freedom when writing for a website. That’s sort of a natural realization though, isn’t it? The site has a certain image it’s trying to present, and if nine of the ten articles I’ve written are showcasing which video games have cocks hidden in them they are going to have trouble with me. Websites define how good an article is based on how many views, or “hits”, it gets. What type of articles does this produce? Well to be extremely blunt, it produces utter shit.

Ben Kuchera maps this out much more eloquently than me however. I’m not a weaver of words such as Ben or Tycho of Penny Arcade, but I try my best. Kuchera puts it as such:

“The super-blogs push content out at a furious pace, but the open secret is only a few interesting things happen each day in the world of video games. Everyone runs two or three interesting stories per day, and the rest is filler. The continual, relentless publication of stories that don’t say anything of worth, re-write an existing article, or exist only to grab page views with a few sexy images can be numbing. This is why so many people don’t take video game news seriously: there just isn’t enough out there to fill out a schedule that demands a story every twenty or thirty minutes.”

Wasn’t that a nice quote? He doesn’t even use any naughty words like I do! Truly this showcases the difference between a professional and an idiot, such as myself.

Back to the original topic which I brought up though (Remember what it was? It’s up there, where I said you have no freedom!). There’s a lot of rigidity involved in video game journalism. Articles end up being bland, mediocre, uneventful, and sometimes even completely nonsensical. Factual inaccuracies make frequent appearances in articles nowadays. This leads me to my second point.

Since articles are being shit out at an alarming rate, then the magic of “The Editorial” ends up becoming a dream rather than a reality. As a child, I have fond memories of reading video game magazines. The most notable in my memories would undoubtedly be the classic “EGM” (Electronic Gaming Monthly). It was my dream to write for this magazine, and it’s unfortunate but now that dream can never come true. EGM has since been out of print for several years now and it has everything to do with the internet.

Why have a subscription to a magazine that gives you month old news when you can get instant “gratification” from the internet news? I understand why magazines basically died out; even magazines like Game Informer need the endless bickering of a GameStop employee to shove their subscriptions down your throat.

Is that a good thing though? Obviously in magazines you had to wade through endless pages of advertisements, but what you got in return (at least in my opinion) were articles that seemed like they had actual content. Articles with some meat on their bones. Not every article was a winner, and of course even magazine journalism had its faults; however, I felt more comfortable reading those articles than the drivel that ends up on gaming websites nowadays.

Seeing an article with an outrageous headline to draw readers in isn’t gaming news. It isn’t even entertainment. It’s a poor attempt at drawing in readers that will eventually become enraged at the article as a whole. At that point, however, it’s too late. The person clicked on it, so the people running it count it as a win. “These types of articles interest people, look at all these hits!” The data ends up being read over the general response from the “crowd” as it were.

Gamers complain about all these types of articles, yet this is the norm; this is the standard of living we have become accustomed to. We read an article and go, “That article had no content,” then we are right back to the news feed to say the same thing about the 20 other articles being released. One could say it is an exercise in masochism how much gamers put up with this shit, but the reality is that there isn’t really an alternative. It ends up being “read this bad article” or “read no article.”

Why am I telling you this though? Chances are you aren’t a video game journalist, you’re a “consumer” such as myself. You’re one of the many readers who’s been victim to this type of poor writing and structure. You already know all this information. So what’s the point of me telling you, right? It’s sort of like me beckoning you over on the street and unveiling to you that yes, people tend to cry when they are sad.

I could lie and say that I have some sort of naive optimism that video game journalist will read this blog (which currently averages about 1 reader a month, usually myself) and change their ways. I could do that, or I could say that there are people making an effort to fix this type of shoddy journalism.

I mentioned it at the beginning of my post, Penny Arcade brought on board Ben Kuchera (the guy I quoted above) to present to you The Penny Arcade Report. They brought him on board awhile ago, but I suppose you could say that The Penny Arcade Report started up extremely recently, as early as yesterday or today.

What type of things can we expect from this endeavor? Well, if what they say is any truth at all (and I trust Penny Arcade’s backing, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the odds are high that it will be) then we will be seeing journalism that is respectable. Interesting articles about gaming? On the regular? How could this be possible?

So what is this blog post about anyway? Is it an advertisement? “Sure seems like it” you might be saying. You could be right, honestly. I’m trying my best to put this new thing out in the open. I don’t really see video game websites advertising this type of things to be honest. It’d be like if a new restaurant came out claiming to be way better than Red Robin and then Red Robin said, “That place is fucking banging check that shit out! Way better than us!” It just wouldn’t happen.

I want to see video game news that isn’t complete horse shit. I want to see articles with intelligent points and proper research done. I want to see news that gets my brain working. I’m tired of what video game journalism has turned into. I used to really want to be a video game journalist when I was younger perhaps out of some naive image I built up in my head. As I grew older, however, I soon realized that the field I wanted to join was turning into what it is now. There’s almost no part of me that wishes to be a part of video game journalism now, which is a shame because part of me thinks I would do okay in that field.

However, if journalists step their shit up and take a look at the type of things Penny Arcade is producing via The Penny Arcade Report I may be able to have that dream yet again. Is this about me? Not even a little bit, but everyone is a little selfish.

Best of luck to Ben Kuchera and The Penny Arcade Report. This is the first sign of hopefully better news; I’m hoping others will follow suit in whatever way they can.

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WeB^U Comics

May 20th, 2010 by DanielRGT

There’s a lot of things I’ve learned these past few years. First, it’s that shoeboxes do not make ample shoes. In fact, despite their name, they are quite uncomfortable and difficult to wear.

Second, I’ve learned that making webcomics is a hard business to be in. When it comes to video game webcomics, there’s a certain art of being able to portray a punchline and some sort of message about the video game in question in about 3 or 4 panels. There are some sites that, with a very high percentage of success, complete this in a way that is truly spectacular (e.g. Penny Arcade). Then there are other sites, with one in particular having a negative percentage of success, that fall flat on their face and, if there really is a merciful God, those sites fall under.

Just kidding though, because bad webcomic websites never fall under. The creator has some disillusioned fans who, for whatever reason, have stopped taking their meds and found the awful webcomic as a source of…something. It can’t really be identified as entertainment because by definition, entertainment is meant to be entertaining.

Certain webcomics (and I don’t intend to name any here, but I will tell you the one I’m talking about rhymes with Patrol, Palt, Pelete) have been going on for a long time with no rays of light, no tunnels of hope, no possible chance to become, at any point, an interesting or humorous webcomic. On the contrary, their stubborn attitude towards their critique digs them farther into the ground of awful writing, awful drawing, and 4 panels filled with nothing but nonsensical text (Sometimes you can see smidgeons of what could possibly be art, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet).

I don’t claim to be an expert in webcomics, but I do know a funny and interesting webcomic when I see one. First off, we should go over some of the basics of what makes a webcomic interesting. Webcomics, much like you’re regular run-of-the-mill comics, involve the use of art and text to portray a funny joke, an interesting tidbit, or artsy-schmartsy something-or-other. That’s right, webcomics don’t necessarily need to be funny to be in anyway a good webcomic. If it’s interesting to a particular group of people, and one can see how one might feel that way, then overall it’s probably an ok webcomic.

The most well received webcomics tend to be the ones that are funny, because often times when one thinks of comics they think of the “funny pages” in the newspaper. This means that these webcomics follow a general formula. Generally there are 3 or 4 panels, and the first 2 (or 3) will be used as some sort of set-up or lead-in into what is eventually going to be a great punchline. Sometimes, punchlines can appear in the middle panels, and the last panel can be a sort of resolution or funny comment on it. Penny Arcade does this a lot.

Like I said, I’m not expert in webcomics so I’m being fairly (very) vague here. But even the common idiot can understand what I am trying to say. Namely, I’m trying to say that humor webcomics are meant to be in, some form or another, humorous. There is many a recommendation to do this, and here are just a few:

1. KEEP TEXT TO A MINIMUM

This is not to say that you shouldn’t use text in your webcomics, but really try and make every word count for something. There are so many comics that just have bubbles of useless text that really need not exist. There’s one in particular that if it removed it’s 4 panels of War & Peace sized text, it would improve significantly (mostly because your brain would not be melting because of the awful quality of writing).

Text is a good thing, just not in excess. If you have a lot of text, there better be a damn good reason for it.

2. BE FUNNY

It goes without saying that if you are trying to make people laugh, odds are you should try and be funny. Jokes have things called punchlines, which is usually the part where the person laughs. If you’re writing a comic and you’re not able to pinpoint the punchline of your comic, you are doing something wrong.

Also, when someone asks you where your punchline is and you respond with, “Every panel is a punchline!” You are most certainly an idiot and an awful webcomic creator and should probably find a new profession immediately (such as politician).

3. DO NOT NAME CHARACTERS ETHAN

That name really sucks, you know?

4. CHARACTERS (SURPRISE!) NEED TO HAVE CHARACTER

Characters (as their name implies) have character. What this means is that they have a personality, they have strengths and weaknesses. A character who is just some wacky, brainless, can’t-do-everyday-things is not a character, he’s a mentally challenged person that requires medical help.

This is not to say that I look down on mentally challenged people, but it’s never in good taste to poke fun at them. They can’t really help it, you know? To base a series off of an idiotic character who is completely incapable of doing anything right, much less string together a coherent punchline, is just in poor taste.

Also, to write this character as someone so stupid that, much like an amazing game of Tetris, all the blocks fall into place for them to receive countless royalties, treasures, and what pirates call “booty.”

These are but some of the things to keep in mind when making a webcomic. You might notice that, without mentioning any names, I have singled out a particular awful webcomic in this post. A webcomic so horrible, so evil, that words appearing on syndicated television could not describe it (though blaring profanities could!). A webcomic so awful, that it’s mere mention makes people see nothing but flashes of pure white rage before their eyes. A webcomic so dumb, that only the dumbest and lowest of human beings could appreciate it for what it truly is. A webcomic so poorly written, that Stephenie Meyer constantly dines with its creator on weekends to discuss awful writing, and all awful writing related materials. A webcomic so poorly drawn, that my artists rendition of a falcon (as in the bird) dressed up as a clown (as in the circus) is far beyond what this webcomic’s creator could ever produce. A webcomic so disillusioned that the creator has created a fantasy world in which he is great, wonderful, and awesome and all the others who critique his webcomic as horrible have no idea what they speak of. “They’re simply jealous of my genius,” is probably something he says frequently.

Yes you may have noticed I was singling this webcomic out. I have to respond, however, with a simple, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

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