Sunday, December 28, 2014

Stuff I Wrote in 2014

The end of 2013 was a turning point for me as far as my writing goes. I couldn’t be more grateful for the great response to my Kotaku feature story on the Chicago indie gaming scene, and my fantastic internship at PC Mag made my actual journalism school graduation six months later feel like just a formality. In 2014 I tried to keep that freelance momentum going and ended up writing a bunch of stories for a ton of awesome publications that, a few years ago, I never imagined I’d break into so soon. I think I did some of my best work in 2014, and it just so happened to fit in a nice, chronological, top ten list.

Coding Clementines: Black Girls Make Games, Too- Teaching a game design camp for little Black girls in summer 2013 was awesome enough on its own, but sharing that story on The Escapist felt great as well, just in time for Black History Month. Like anything involving race on the Internet, not everyone had nice things to say about this one, but there were plenty of good comments to read too.

Who Wore it Best?- It may not get the most views, but I’m really proud of this ongoing video series I launched on 148Apps, where I'm now a Senior Writer, covering the avalanche of clones on the App Store. It just got so weird so fast. Favorite episodes include Threes! vs. 2048 and the end of the year wrap-up I just did.

Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball Review- This was the first thing I wrote for Paste Magazine’s great gaming section, and while it may not measure up to some of the truly brilliant essays on that site, I think I did a pretty good job conveying just how crazy and clever Nintendo’s twist on free-to-play gaming is. But haggling with a divorced, washed-up, baseball playing dog dad is really something you should try for yourself.

From Big Screens to Touch Screens- Licensed movie games moving from consoles to mobile phones was a trend I saw surprisingly little writing about, and I had become close enough with some mobile developers that I figured I could cover this topic myself in this Escapist feature. This was my attempt to write something more industry-focused than usual and I liked how it turned out.

Video Games’ Afrofuturism Frontier- This year I donated to the Media Diversified Kickstarter to highlight pieces from writers of color, and to get on their database I had to write an original piece for their site. Fortunately, the potential connections between video games and Afrofuturism were already on my mind after going to author Ytasha Womack’s talk at Northwestern, and this article was a great opportunity to tie all those thoughts together while interviewing Womack herself. I even got to host an enlightening Twitter chat about it afterwards.

Entering the Thought Processes Behind the Weirdest Video Game Titles Around- Of all the new places I wrote for this year, getting onto The A.V. Club might have been the coolest. I think my feature on weird game names like Drunken Robot Pornography and a certain Charles Barkley game fit in pretty well though. Plus I got to mention Momma Can I Mow the Lawn? which is always fun to do.

Use Your Words: The Apple Watch and the Devolution of Language- My take on the storied “old man rants about new technology” genre of tech opinion pieces is about how dumb the communication features of the upcoming Apple Watch look. This one is basically just a transcription of incredulous conversations with friends.

Milestones- Unwinnable is another very cool, classy magazine that I was excited to finally write for this year. For these developer interviews, including one with one of 2014’s gaming all-stars Brianna Wu, I tried to use a more experimental narrative format, connecting four otherwise unrelated personal stories through themes and concepts. I hope the end result is enjoyable enough to overcome how pretentious that sounded.

A Conversation With Robert Brunner, the Iconic Designer Behind Beats by Dre- I started doing regular work for Paste’s technology section this year, and this interview with industrial designer Robert Brunner was probably the best thing I did there. The blogosphere talks a lot about trying to critique games as art rather than just product, but even products have plenty of artistry to think about as well.

The “Good” Gamer’s Dilemma- As a games journalist, GamerGate was something I obviously couldn’t ignore this year. But beyond just saying it’s horrible, even though it is horrible, I wanted whatever feature I wrote on the debacle to uncover, or at least reiterate, some core truth of the movement. It took 5,000 unpaid words, but I think these lengthy, revealing interviews with GamerGate “moderates” on how ultimately untenable that position is at least come close.

Some other cool stuff that didn’t quite make the list:

-The Donkey Kong retrospective on this very blog convinced Nintendo to invite me to a Super Smash Bros. preview in June.

-My favorite three iOS game reviews of the year: Revolution 60, Leo’s Fortune, and Swing Copters.

-These Paste Tech features on Bitcoin, Silicon Valley, and Tech from 2004 were very fun to do.

-Pikmin has weird politics.

-Halt and Catch Fire had an intriguing pilot, but apparently the rest of the season wasn't as promising.

Of course, 2014 also had plenty of setbacks, both personal and professional. But that just gives me more goals for 2015. If you enjoy my work, or even if you just skim through it, thank you so much.

-Jordan Minor

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