I still believe in the uniting power of video games.
Here we are at the end of 2018. It’s time to reflect back on the days we’ve had and the days which are still to come.
One of the more powerful moments in 2018 in gaming was for me at the opening ceremony of sorts for the Game Awards when three titans of industry took the stage together, and seeing them together felt surreal. But Shawn Layden, Phil Spencer, and Reggie Fils-Aimé of Sony Interactive, Xbox, and Nintendo of America demonstrated by their presence and agreed that games unite us, our passions, our celebrations, regardless of fandoms entrenched or casual, despite arguments as fierce as any on social media.
This brief moment was one of solidarity, treating gaming as a common interest, not as a battleground. Sure, this was probably a good business move for all three men on that stage, but they weren’t there to promote their own brands, explicitly, but to promote gaming itself to its own community.
In all this that I’m about to say, I want to, at the core, echo that sentiment. Games, this interactive art form we all enjoy, bring us together, if we let them.
Looking forward now toward our collective futures in 2019, this is the one thing that I hope we can carry over: the value of community, unity with unanimity, diverse voices in harmony and not discord.
As I step closer toward a new year, I like to take the time to reevaluate the things I’ve done in my past, try to learn from my mistakes and take the good and build upon it. With 2019 on the rise and the changes that have occurred here, I have to ask: what is TWRM? Is it a blog, webzine, community hub, or something else?
The answer is: I’m not really sure yet. On the one hand, it’s a blog with my personal thoughts, only I share it with a lot of other people. On the other hand, it’s a webzine with a ton of articles being published, only it has a very non-webzine approach to content and maintaining writers. On the other-other hand, it’s a community hub where people come to contribute in numerous ways and share their content, only it’s not like a private group at all. On the other-other-other hand (how many hands does this have??), it’s a bit of each of those things with crowdfunding and idealizing long-form writing as a platform thrown in.
It’s not gaming journalism.
It’s not consumer reviews.
It’s not a public forum.
It’s not a private empire.
…[we] are part of a paradigm shift…
I suspect we’ll find out exactly what TWRM is together. All I know is I want it to mean something; I want it to help change the way people think about thinking about games, to help change the way games writing is structured and the way it is consumed, to help unite the army of games writers just trying to get by, spinning their wheels in isolation when they have meaningful things to say and contribute to the world of games critique.
Part of this is going to have to come down to diversifying content. So far, we at TWRM have emphasized critiques over reviews and consumer reports. In short, a critique attempts to judge a game’s merits and flaws, lay those out in front of the reader in as logical and objective a fashion as possible using the sciences of criticism (still in development). A review more specifically provides a reviewer’s personal thoughts about the game and their feelings about it, and then consumer reports on the shorter end of the content scale are designed to answer the question of whether a game is worth your money or not.
Historically, we’ve aimed at critiques, though portions of our articles contain aspects of reviews and/or consumer reports. This has been fortified by our grading system designed to force the writer to examine multiple aspects of the game, as well as our dedication to long-form over short-form writing. I had no idea that that’s what we were doing until our readers began pointing it out and describing the value of long-form writing in its explanatory capability.
Well, while I think TWRM will always prize and be known for its long-form critiques, the time has come to decisively say that there’s room for more.
Part of this change has come through discussing the nature of our writing with the Middle-aged Horror Mage (@trashlevania), who joined us recently, though I’ve known him for a while now. If TWRM is to continue to grow, I need to be open to welcoming in new kinds of content, including shorter reviews more appropriate for and as dictated by games which are shorter by design. Makes sense, right?
Starting in 2019, you can look out for a wider range of styles in our critiques!
Unlike those cold, calloused corpses running those huge Midgarian corporations who say they’re listening to the fans while still refusing to put Waluigi in Smash… we at TWRM are actually listening…
It’s for this very reason that I’m delighted to announce The Well-Reddit Page, our latest platform for discussion! See, this is something more than a few of us have been thinking about for months now, and some of our readers have actually reached out to ask about what further opportunities there are for meeting the mages, hanging out, having a conversation, and sharing in the discussion.
Why a Reddit page? Well, we do have the comment sections here but it’s tough to carry a multilayered conversation in this way as the sections are attached to separate articles. There’s also our private Mage Chat for contributors and patrons which moves at times at lightning speed and can get away from you if you take a nap, go to work, or otherwise have a short break. And you ain’t getting a good conversation out of Twitter’s structure!
This new Well-Reddit Page is going to be dedicated to discussion in the gaming community, with conversations kindled and distinguished from one another, set at the pace of a forum, not a continuously scrolling chat feed. But without the hideous toxicity of social media and Reddit. Of course.
…one game at a time.
In 2018, we launched two podcasts: MAGE CAST and Mage Cast: Side Quests, headed up by the ABXY Mage (@ABXY_Reviews). In 2019, we plan to continue to do them. You can check out the first and only MAGE CAST (2019) teaser trailer in the video above, or a list of episodes here.
Done? Okay, so the new year is going to bring much more podcastery, more episodes than ever, more guests than ever, and more games talk than ever.
If you want to make an appearance on either MAGE CAST or Side Quests, all you have to do is let us know in the comments, emails, or the PMs. Just get in contact with us, it’s not that hard and we’re not mean. For MAGE CAST, I’ve got several guests lined up already but if you want to pop in as a guest, we just need to come up with some games you and I could foreseeably dig deep into to fill up an entire podcast episode. Yes, it’s one game at a time.
Oh hey, and we’ve also got a YouTube channel. That’s cool, right? Right?
Actually, the coolest thing about it is that it’s exclusively where you can find Side Quests right now. Also, there’s going to be more TWRM Radio, including (but not limited to) the new project #TWRMradio2019: a different piece of video game music uploaded to our channel… every day! I can’t wait to celebrate more VGM throughout all of 2019!
Here’s a sneak peek at some tunes from the first month:
The heart of TWRM is always going to be in writing, so that means more think pieces, more opinions and editorials, more Anatomy of a Review posts and more Asking Big Questions, alongside the critiques and reviews.
There will be more columns on the way, not just with the Bookwarm Mage’s (@wesleyschantz) weekly essays on Earthbound but also with a new year-long column by the Purple Prose Mage (@AlexSigsworth) on racing games. We’re welcoming a series of appreciation posts by the Blood-Stained Metal Mage (@gimmethefife). There’s a new conversational series every Friday called the Weekend Wizard Inn led by the Middle-aged Horror Mage (@trashlevania). Diverse voices, including the fact that the Hyperactive Coffee Mage (@GameswCoffee) is now spearheading our TWRMstagram on (you guessed it) Instagram!
There’s also a Best of 2019 collaboration coming January 1st!
We are passionate enough about gaming to want more.
Recruiting new mages will remain an integral (maybe even more integralish) part of TWRM… I began this post talking about unity and togetherness, and by golly, I’m going to hammer those concepts as I start to draw this whole thing to a close.
TWRM is bringing people together to write and create under the ideals of loving games and discussing what we love. It’s not so much that we’re always looking for more talent so much as our doors are always open for those who share the same ideals and want to write with us on this platform.
I get a lot of private messages and emails about joining but you can find that most of your questions are answered on the Join the Party page. There are no deadlines for voluntary, non-press-key-related reviews and I accept most pitches. I’m pretty much just looking for likeminded individuals who want to write and be a part of the community in a bigger way. And yes, you get a cool mage name and avatar, and because of the networking nature of TWRM, I am always happy to help promote our writers’ exterior works.
This is not a paid gig, not yet, but we’re working on developing our crowdfunding specifically for that.
As the industry continues to grow, new brands continue to appear, and fragmented pocket groups continue to splinter, The Well-Red Mage aims to unite as many bloggers, as many content creators, as many producers and writers as possible under one banner: the love of gaming.
This brings us at last to the Warriors of Light, our patrons through Patreon. Each patron is helping to build this new future I’ve been talking about in this post. Yes, there’s the Collector’s Cards and the Twitter support and the shout outs and Discord access as tokens of my sincere gratitude, but I know that every Warrior of Light wakes up in the middle of the night with a soaring sense of pride knowing that they’ve avoided an inevitable gaming industry crash and subsequent apocalypse by supporting TWRM.
Over this past year, I’ve honestly wrestled with how to promote our Patreon campaign, how to be candid about what it is we’re using the funds for, and how to grow our presence on that platform. It’s extremely difficult but I’ve found that it’s been about helping others to catch on to the vision of TWRM: a hub for quality games writing that’s neither games journalism nor fan forum, that opts to avoid any of the many, many culture wars happening in gaming today.
It’s hard to break into games writing professionally. It’s hard to get paid to write. Help me build a platform where writers don’t have to wait for that elusive making-it-big moment that might never come at all. Through reader and writer support, we can create a community-based, non-idealogically-driven site with funds that pour back into the writers themselves, creating more and better content without the need for ad revenue slavery or capitulating to sponsors.
If you like what we’re doing here, please consider supporting The Well-Red Mage through Patreon. We’re growing and any amount of support helps!
There might be a billion times a billion different timelines out there, if there is a multiverse, but I like this timeline, dreaming of a brighter, bolder, happier 2019.
See you there, together.
-The Well-Red Mage
Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in restoring integrity and quality to games writing through thoughtful, long-form reviews. We’re a community aspiring to pay our contributors and build a fairer and happier alternative to mainstream games writing and culture. See our Patreon page for more info!