“If complaining is indeed unhealthy for the mind, then become someone who makes a habit out of being grateful.”
The wait is over! I’m pleased to have a big triple announcement prepared for today.
The first part of that announcement is one full of gratitude because we’ve now surpassed the milestone of 1000 followers! Thank you so much for helping to make The Well-Red Mage a place where people come to interact with each other and share their thoughts through discussion, even in disagreement. Yes, I’m talking to you, reader. This blog wouldn’t be what it is today without you. You’re the one who comes and reads our analyses, reviews, opinions, essays. You’re the one who shares our content with others. You’re the one with the contagious passion in your comments. You’re the one who contributes to the organic discussion with your own thoughts. So I sincerely thank you. Wherever you are, know that there’s one family in the world with very warm thoughts toward you: my family.
I am also very happy to thank our contributors!
These are talented people who either helped build The Well-Red Mage from the ground up or asked to join the team out of their own interest. Whatever which way, I’m glad to have met these writers and gamers, and I’m proud to be a part of a team with them. A big thank you to the Timely Mage and the Black Humor Mage for being here from day one as founding members. Thank you to my supportive wife for finding time between raising two healthy and intelligent children to help with editing here and there as the White Out Mage. Thank you to the Midnight Mystic Mage for being our most frequent and consistent contributor of all time. Thank you to the Evergreen Sage Mage for being a wellspring of wisdom and counsel to me. Thank you to our special effects “trifecta of awesome”: the Green Screen Mage, the Silver Screen Mage, the Shamrock Show Mage. Thank you to new friends afar off: the Spoony Bard Mage, the Moronic Cheese Mage, the Five More Minutes Mage, the Final Fourteenth Mage, the Hopeful Handheld Mage, the Brave Blue Mage, the Dapper Zaffre Mage, the Sincere Scholar Mage, the Writing Beige Mage, the Red Hot Chili Mage, and the Over-Caffeinated Nostalgia Mage. Thank you to friends close by whose companionship has been invaluable: the Bearded Board Mage, the Magenta Martial Arts Mage, and the Papa Grey Mage. Some of you have come and gone, moved on to bigger and better things, but your time here on our mage crew has left an undeniable imprint of gratitude on my heart of hearts.
I won’t thank the Rage Mage. Dude’s a sphincter…
ANYways! The second part of our announcement is that we’ve dropped the “wordpress” out of our URL. Yes, we’re now officially thewellredmage.com! This may seem like only a small victory, but I’ve wanted to shorten up our rather long address for quite some time. Reaching this recent milestone seemed like an appropriate time for it. With the custom domain comes something else that’s new to us: overhead, however slight. I’ve always run this blog as a hobby and a past-time, keeping it free for me up until this point, but with the amount of content and the direction that we want to take, it seemed to me that it was time to take this next step.
Now I can make the third part of our triune announcement, which is that we’re officially launching our Patreon today, August 1st!
So why are we opening a Patreon page?
This is huge for us but I want you to understand that this is not a decision I made lightly. The last thing I wanted to do was move in the direction of crowdfunding flippantly without providing what I would believe to be something valuable to the gaming community in terms of writing and journalism. That said, I’ve had many conversations recently with people closest to me about the next step for TWRM…
Over a year ago, I thought I was just starting a little place where a couple of friends and I could share our thoughts on some games we played, providing a little extra meaning to all the hours I spent in front of the TV. It was also an outlet for me to write smaller, more manageable chunks of material rather than tackle sprawling stories I usually didn’t finish. Now here we are all these months later and I realize I never anticipated what this blog would come to represent. Writing a critique on The Last of Us in June marked the first time I was unable to keep up with the influx of thoughtful comments from readers.
Feedback that I’ve received from followers indicates that we’ve touched on an angle and style of writing on games, namely long-form, analytical reviews, that’s not commonplace anymore, which has resonated with people and has come to define us. Also, while I wanted TWRM to function as a kind of community hub for highlighting other talents across the blogverse, I didn’t anticipate that this would become a place where people came to have discussions with each other, where people I’ve never met expressed interest in joining with us and writing with us in the same style. I didn’t anticipate the growth and the kind of blog this would become, but now that it’s growing, I can begin to look at the horizon ahead.
And what lies ahead?
For a while now I’ve teased the announcement of a coming podcast called Mage Cast, an avenue where we could bring our conversational and in-depth approach to an audio format. The perspective would be about tackling big questions about the nature of gaming and defending the assertion that games are an art form, in a more accessible way to non-gamers than a dedicated blog. A goal of raising funds through Patreon to help support the purchases of necessary equipment and sustaining the Cast seemed like an appropriate measure.
There’s also this future goal that I’ve not publicly mentioned until now, which is that I’d like to take The Well-Red Mage in a direction away from being a blog and developing it into a functionally consistent webzine (I prefer hyperzine, but let’s not pick nits). In July, we picked up six new contributors. While not all of them have made their debut posts yet, I’m currently functioning as a kind of casual advisor/editor-admin. Between this and writing my own pieces, and of course keeping time to actually play games, this has kept me pretty busy.
Right now, I have content scheduled in advance all the way up until the end of the week. I don’t know what August is going to look like but if we take on more talented writers, we could seriously begin looking at scheduled posts with regular consistency. At that point, I’d need to begin preserving our identity as The Well-Red Mage by maintaining a unity of approach and standard of quality between all reviews, even in terms of word count and prescribed content. But I’ve never explicitly asked that much from our contributors before. That’s why I want to pay them.
This again is where Patreon comes in. I want to run a site that hosts talent which I can compensate for their time and energy. I don’t know of too many blogs that do this so I’m excited to stretch the possibilities in this direction. I know that our contributors put a lot of effort and work into writing their posts, and I think they deserve it. Offering some kind of payment for their word count seems fair as we continue to move in this direction, and that’ll effectively turn us into a webzine by building up a staff like this, slowly but surely.
A lot of this is hard for me to express, because there’s always that nagging fear that I don’t want to appear over-confident or presumptuous, unrealistic. At the same time, I don’t want to let my apprehension at what others might think of me, or anything else, hold us back in a world where there are so many possibilities and so many resources available for content creation. I’m excited at those possibilities and I hope to be a positive influence in the gaming/writing community in this new way.
So who should check out our Patreon?
Here’s my philosophy on this: I’m not going to beg for your support. I don’t believe in that. I think someone should only join alongside our work if that’s what they want to do. If you like the content that we put out and you want to see more of it at an even higher quality… if you’re inspired by the idea that writers can find a new way to get paid for their work through The Well-Red Mage… then you can make that consideration to support us. Of course, I’ll be immensely grateful, indebted. I already am for your support as readers, but this is another step ahead and you can take it with us if you are so moved.
Recently, and I’ll conclude all these words with this, I conducted a few polls on Twitter asking people what they were most frustrated with about mainstream gaming journalism. I’ve seen a lot of individuals express some real disappointment in the big names in gaming writing/reporting, but the wealth of replies to these polls really surprised me:
“The fact that it’s not really “Journalism” anymore. It’s either bought ratings, or blatant fan-boyism. No more integrity or non-bias.”
“They lost the eyes of a child. Everything is rated out of the perspective of adults, but children game too… What I referred to are downvoting games that are too easy or simple, because they don’t realize that they’re not the target audience. Or complaining on mechanisms that were clearly made to protect children.”
“Definitely the bought opinions.”
“When they normalise trolling as just a bit of fun.”
“They twist gaming into sheer nonsense where one person is offended about a design in a character and suddenly the game is sexist.”
“How they twist everything into sexism, racism or gamers are dead crap. How they view any hard game like Dark Souls. How they assume all gamers live in their parents’ basement. How one person has a bad experience and gaming is toxic.”
“Also, the fascination with every opinion on gaming being part of some fandom/culture war.”
“How everyone feels inclined to say that *insert random game here* is the “dark souls” of *insert other game here*.”
“Their hatred towards the Japanese in terms of certain games. The fact that they complain about inclusiveness that makes no sense to the context of the game itself. Case in point, Call of Duty: WWII.”
“People who minutely analyze everything in order to uncover problems, issues, reasons why a 30 second blip means the entire game sucks, etc.”
“Things like “I f—ing hate Sonic so I review the Sonic games”.”
“How perfect everything has to be. Back in 64 days glitches were fun and exciting. Now they are negative and mean the game sucks.”
“Just have an open mind when playing games not be so biased because you dislike a game from the series.”
“Titles that have preorder options and reviewers that either praise or criticize said preorder game… then both heel turn when the game’s out.”
“How half of the 10 point scale never gets used.”
“The misuse of a ratings scale. Please use the whole range. If not, then condense the range, or ditch it all together. With games becoming more service-like, and having longer legs as a result, a bit of post-release coverage would serve to better inform.”
“Leaks/oversaturation with information. We know too much about games when they come out – it kills the suspense.”
“The fact that each little screenshot and trailer gets analyzed and spoils sometimes more than half of the game.”
“The lack of coverage for games post-release. Kotaku is good about this, but others tend to move on immediately.”
“Games have no time to simmer. Always about the next thing.”
“The article comment sections…”
“The need to attach meaningless metrics to games that just confuse. Obsession with heavy promotion of games pre-release.”
“It’s the disparity between the general consensus of consumers and of reviewers. The fact that somehow 7’s have become meh and a 5 equates to absolute dogsh-t. In my opinion this helped kill off the middle market titles that were abundant during the PS2’s lifespan. The middle market was where you saw studios take chances. For example games like Killswitch which was a direct influence on Gears of War, wouldn’t have a chance today.”
I’m going to word it this way: if you’re irked by mainstream gaming journalism then support citizen journalism that’s not bought out, that’s not a propaganda machine, that’s not obsessed with clickbait headlines. It’s smaller but it’s put together by people who actually play and enjoy games.
We’re going to call our Patrons “Warriors of Light”! Gotta stick with the Final Fantasy theme, after all. There will of course be exclusive content available to provide some extra value. Exactly what we’re offering additionally can be found here on our new page set up as a roster for Warriors of Light, where they’ll have their names and links forever immortalized, or you can also find out more information by visiting our Patreon page. If there’s something else, some new content, you’d like to see then know that I’m open to having that conversation with you. I can’t run the best blog around but I can be the hardest working. Onward into this New Frontier.
The secret’s out and that’s our big announcement! Thank you for everything, readers, followers, contributors, and friends.
-The Well-Red Mage
Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in restoring integrity and quality to entertainment journalism. We specialize in long-form, analytical reviews and we aim to expand into a podcast and webzine with paid contributors! See our Patreon page for more info!