"Don't be a dick." That simple notion is the first of Victor Lucas' 3D rules. The others? Don't dick around and don't hang out with dicks. Some would lead you to believe the games press is filled with dicks. It's not. With this in mind, I seek out the best games writing - from news to interviews to reviews and beyond - and highlight it here.
Adam and I had the unenviable task of coming up with a shortlist of the games writers we wanted to recognize as the best of the best from the past year. We thought it would be an easy task, but some thousand odd articles later and several conversations with editors, writers, community members, and so on, we realized just how hard it would be to come up with a shortlist.
Our Top 7 (this could be a GamesRadar feature — Mr Cooper, phone us!) is a list that is far from comprehensive. In striking a balance between those that report, those that critique, and those that fall somewhere in between, we had to lose something. There are many great voices in our industry, and we encourage you to seek them out. Whether it’s Mattie Brice creating poignant, pointed criticism, or past winner Colin Campbell still standing as one of the best reporters around, there’s no shortage of potential snubs on this list.
Our list was compiled to represent what we view as a very strong year in games writing; it is a list that recognizes not just writing ability but a certain spirit of games writing. There were no easy decisions to be made, and the job of the judges is certainly bound to be no easier. We feel, however, that our list is a good one, and it is presented below:
In Alphabetical Order:
1. Leigh Alexander
There might not be anyone more synonymous with the practice of games writing than Leigh Alexander. One of two returning nominations from last year’s Goodie awards, Leigh never rested her keyboard in 2013, writing news, criticism, opinion pieces, and addressing games from almost every conceivable angle. Her talent for navigating big-picture analysis and cogent personal reflection, sometimes in the same piece, paired with an active interest in every way that games are discussed has made her a preeminent voice in games writing that everyone should follow.
2. Chris Kohler
As Wired’s Game|Life editor, Kohler claimed the region of industry analysis as his personal fiefdom. Few writers were more trusted and more incisive in 2013 on the subject of corporate examination. In particular, Kohler was the voice of reason in a turbulent year for Nintendo, blending sharp criticism with expert knowledge of the company’s historical practices to produce insights into what the Big N’s future will look like.
3. Simon Parkin
Parkin secured a Goodie nomination in the same deft fashion that nominated him last year. As one of the best investigative journalists going, he combines natural prose with unimpeachable research, taking readers deep into the impact that games have on our culture. Though seen at prominent game outlets like Eurogamer and Polygon, Parkin continues to help build the bridge between games writing and mainstream news sources, appearing regularly in The Guardian and The New Yorker, among others.
4. Russ Pitts
Russ Pitts is the Indiana Jones of games writers: a professor and a doer. Under his leadership, the features wing of Polygon was unstoppable in 2013. Between overseeing the regularly excellent output of his fellow Polygon staff, he continued to travel across the map, embedding himself in development studios, profiling the people behind the games we play, and never ceasing his efforts to uncover and share “the human element” in videogames.
5. Robert Rath
Good games writers are often known for their journalistic skills, or their talent for criticism, but few know how to tie those elements together into something just as important: history. Rath does this better than anyone, because his prime instinct is to write about games relative to our history, not just the history of games. His column for The Escapist, “Critical Intel,” gave 2013 a weekly marriage of games criticism and historical analysis that showed readers how to contextualize the games we play in the social, political, and martial legacies that preceded them. He took a novel idea and turned it into vital, appointment-games-reading.
6. Jason Schreier
Schreier has the distinction of being the most nominated person among these candidates. His pieces received more Goodie nominations in more categories than anyone in GGW’s (admittedly brief) history, and with good reason: Schreier is consistently our go-to guy for great longreads. Whether he’s exposing the corporate play-making behind next-gen console launches, or diving into topics that have long been dogging at the minds of gamers, his work has been exemplary of thorough research and great composition.
7. Alan Williamson
Alan Williamson isn’t keen to put himself in the spotlight, but he is keen to shine it on games writing. As editor-in-chief of Five out of Ten magazine, Williamson worked tirelessly to prove that diverse, quality games writing didn’t need to go uncompensated, and didn’t need the capital afforded by big advertisers to flourish. The result is a digital palliative to the idea that games writing is all press-releases and “seven to ten” criticism. We commend Alan for starting a revolution (or rebirth?) of quality paid content.
Congratulations to all our nominees. Winners announced soon, along with the rest of The Goodies winners!