And this, in turn, poses a bit of a problem. I imagine that I’ll be spending more time with short games than I currently do; and I’m frequently at a bit of a loss when writing about shorter games. When writing about longer games, I have some rules to guide me: only write about what specifically interests me, and don’t write something because I’m unconsciously following a review model. (I still break that last rule a lot, alas.)
At times the results are better, sometimes the results are worse; but at least I generally manage to pull off something that I’m not to embarrassed about. If I’m playing a game for ten hours, probably something will catch my eye, and I’ll be able to link that to something else that I’ve been thinking about. If I’m playing a game for five minutes, though, that may well not happen.
And, of course, if it really doesn’t happen, that’s fine: I try to write about every larger-scale game that I play, but I’ve already passed over many Flash and Facebook games in silence, and I will continue to do so if nothing about them catches my eye. The harder case, though, is what to do about games for which something does catch my eye, but where I’m having a harder time putting that something into a broader context. I’m really not sure what to do in such situations; maybe I’ll experiment with a more impressionistic approach, but I’m not sure I can pull that off well.
Also, some of the reasons for consciously avoiding review tropes won’t necessarily hold in this case. In particular, if I’m playing a game from a traditional publisher, I can be quite confident that it’s easy to find many other people who have done a much better job than I could of giving a general overview of the game. Whereas, for smaller games, it’s not so clear to me that that’s the case. (Though that could have more to do with the tunnel vision in my choice of sites to read than anything else.) Having written that, it’s not clear to me that that it’s important to give an overview of such games: if a game is a click away in your browser, and only takes ten minutes to finish, then there’s not much point in my writing anything beyond what will get appropriate readers to click on that link, aside from my personal perspective.
(One thing I will certainly try to avoid doing in the future is apologizing when I don’t feel I’m writing well about a game. I should either write or not write; either is fine, but there’s no point doing the one and acting like I should be doing the other.)
I’m looking forward to this. And, unusually for me, I’m kind of wishing that I had a Windows PC to broaden my choice of possible games. (I have a VirtualBox installation, but it has some serious sound problems and can’t run recent games.) I’m not wishing that enough to actually go out and get one, but I may well set up Boot Camp on the next Mac I buy.
This post has not been revised since publication.