Shop Talk: Queries – From Pitched To Published

Querying publications with feature pitches is still among the best ways for freelance writers to break into new outlets, but there’s more to a killer pitch than simply coming up with a good idea. I’ve been getting quite a few inquiries lately asking about the best way to craft features pitches. I plan to cover that topic more in-depth at some point in the near future, but in the meantime I thought it might be fun to give a concrete example of a successful pitch that made it to publication…using myself as the guinea pig. Now I remember why I never delete old crap from my inbox.

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iPhone Review: Wolfenstein RPG

“Even before Doom titillated PC gamers with droves of satanic space demons and the advent of graphic chainsaw dismemberment, the small band of renegade developers that created it seemed hell-bent on making waves in the gaming world. The original Wolfenstein 3D was highly controversial for its time and paved the way for much gaming depravity yet to come.Wolfenstein RPG is a much appreciated nod to the formative days of the first-person shooter genre.”

Check out the full review here at The Escapist.

Review: Zubo

Zubo definitely possesses a certain “what the hell” factor. It’s a game that’s been marketed to kids, but it’s not based on any pre-existing gaming franchise or movie tie-in schlock. It looks cutesy, but it’s actually one of the more creatively designed and visually impressive games on the system in some time. It smashes together rhythm game elements and a turn-based RPG battle system – two things traditionally reserved for titles geared toward more hardcore audiences – with cushy adventure exploration in a way that’s mostly clever and humorous. At the same time, you’ll find fluff mini-games, a monster-battling collection element and tiresome fetch quests scattered about. Zubo clearly suffers from a bit of an identify crisis, yet this quirky mish-mash of styles and ideas surprisingly works in its favor.

Check out the full review here at The Escapist.

Review: The Conduit

“Unlike PC gamers and the rest of the console gaming community, Wii purists have been starving for high-quality first-person shooters. They’ve suffered through Red Steel, a glut of tired WWII-themed shooters and a few other major disappointments in their quest for blissful headshot salvation. After years of roaming listlessly through the parched desert of FPS mediocrity, a game like The Conduit offers a certain measure of relief. Yes, if you’re thirsty enough, even stale, gritty canteen water can taste like Evian.”

Check out the full story here at The Escapist.

Quote Punch #2: Garden Variety

Quote Punch

“Every Monday, six of us venture out into the garden and sit at the vertices of a pentagon. The last person to arrive is required to spend the meeting sitting on my lap, which is sometimes painful for me, but also sometimes quite pleasant. Each team member writes ideas out onto slips of white paper, and impales them onto bamboo poles near seedlings. When we return the subsequent Monday, the ideas with the healthiest-looking sprouts are implemented, and the rest are discarded.”

– Dejobaan Games founder Ichiro Lambe being facetious about his team’s creative process.

The story: An unexpectedly funny interviewee, Ichiro has a wacky humor about him that bleeds into his work. This quote didn’t make it into the finished piece, but I felt it was worth sharing. In this very same interview he suggested plying game testers with various forms of alcohol to help determine how effective his game would be on different consoles. Good stuff. Dejobaan’s upcoming game about kamikaze skydiving, AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, is profiled here at The Escapist.

Indie Queue: Hats Off To Fez


“Landing a steady paying job as part of the development team at a major publisher is a dream come true for many budding young game designers. For Phil Fish, the unexpected and unpleasant reality of the situation he found himself in – working for a large studio as an anonymous drone amongst hundreds of others in an impersonal, sweatshop-like environment – made him momentarily question his choice of careers. However, far from crushing his spirit, the hellish personal experience actually fortified his resolve. Fish didn’t give up; he went indie. And much like the red hat-toting protagonist in Fez, he’s discovering there’s another whole other dimension to be found hidden within a seemingly two-dimensional world.”

Check out the full article here.

Indie Queue: To Hell With Gravity

“One can only imagine how the round-table brainstorming session played out for the folks in charge of coming up with the perfect title for a game where you dive off of mile-high buildings, head-butt poultry in mid-air, flip-off fans for extra points and collect human teeth as currency. After tossing around about 50 different names of varying quality, the team at Dejobaan Games finally settled on a winner for its upcoming extreme (and overtly peculiar) skydiving simulator: AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity. Yes, that’s spelled with 25 letter As and three exclamation points.”

Check out the full story here.

Feature: Kickin’ It Nerdcore

mc frontalot

“Even before MC Frontalot coined the term “nerdcore” almost a decade ago to describe his own distinct flavor of hip hop, geeky rappers have busted out rhymes about videogames, AD&D, hacking, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, computer culture and an array of other unabashedly nerdy subjects. As this singular hip hop scene continues to develop and gain momentum, it’s not surprising to find an increasing number of references to videogames and gamer culture woven throughout the lyrics and beats of many rappers who rally under the nerdcore banner.”

A fun feature exploring the connections between nerdcore hip hop and videogames. This piece will eventually be expanded into a chapter in the book I’m working on about the music of geek and gamer culture. Check out the full article at The Escapist here.

Indie Queue: A World of Insanely Twisted Shadows

“A decade and a half after launching a highly successful career working as an animator and visual artist in the animation and film industry, Michel Gagné decided to quit his full-time work with the major studios and instead focus on independent projects. As a result, Gagné has spent the last year or so eating, breathing, and sleeping on an Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. Despite having little prior experience working on videogames, he’s found himself throwing the bulk of his creative time and energy into designing what will arguably be one of the strangest, most visually compelling, independently developed games around.”

Check out the full article here.

Nerdcore, Videogames, and Projects

Expansive research and interviews for my forthcoming book on the music of geek and gamer culture continues (no solid title yet). I’ve got a variety of related articles in the works, one of which — a piece on the connection between nerdcore hip-hop and gaming — will be featured in an upcoming weekly issue of The Escapist early next month.

Aside from that major project, I’m continuing to churn out reviews, features, and columns on a steady basis (as you’ll see much of it posted here) and occasionally finding time to venture out into the outside world and get a nice blast of pleasant weather. Considering it’s still the slow season in the gaming world, it’s been a moderately busy few months, and I’m hoping to expand the volume of publications I write for in the near future. In any event, figured I’d drop a little text here to break up the article posts. I’ll be doing so off and on as I’ve got interesting stuff to share. Cheers.