In high school, an essay I wrote changed my life. It was a four-page piece reflecting on my childhood and how much I’d grown and matured since. It was my first time writing for reasons beyond completing an assignment. Instead, it was an opportunity to dig deep into my soul and speak on my life in a way that I hadn’t before. A lot of emotion poured out of my heart and into that piece, as those thoughts and feelings were just bottled up this whole time. Doesn’t hurt that I got a perfect score on the assignment, but it only served as further validation that pouring my heart out in that manner was ultimately a good thing for me.
From that point forward, that emotional slant became the approach to everything I wrote. Besides being an effective vehicle for getting my thoughts and feelings across, I selfishly liked writing this way to clear my mind and soul of whatever was percolating in my brain. It’s therapeutic in a way.
In Third Person was no exception. Treating this as if it were my personal online journal about video games, I tried to write everything with that same passion and thoughtfulness, regardless of the content type or subject matter. It’s been an interesting experience trying to make this voice of mine work with this subject.
The world of video game discourse has a number of pre-existing formats for discussion. Some of those include reviews and news. Though I have experience writing more IGN-style “consumer-grade” reviews for other outlets, trying to write a review that covered every aspect of a product’s experience with the end goal of letting readers know if they should buy it or not proved exhaustive for how I like to write.
For example, I generally don’t like writing about graphics. I can’t speak to the technical mumbo jumbo of how developers make games look a certain way, and really don’t have much to add to the discussion that you couldn’t already get from looking at the screenshots or images I provide. Unless the visuals have gameplay ramifications, such as bad frame rate, I generally don’t bother.
Instead, I’ve pushed myself to whittle down the review scope to a handful of talking points that really support my final judgment. Narrowing the focus helps me express how I feel without being obligated to cover certain aspects of the experience that I don’t want to talk about or won’t impact the final outcome. Reviews can still be a chore for me to write sometimes, but it’s certainly more enjoyable writing them with my own parameters.
With regards to news, I generally avoid it entirely. Beyond the short shelf-life of news posts, there isn’t much room to do what I do best. It largely boils down to regurgitating what everyone else wrote, followed by a footer with my opinion on it. Doesn’t really lend itself well to the way I like to write unless I can find the right angle to approach it in my voice. Not really interested in making straight-up news content, so I generally choose to abstain.
Though I’ve tried writing posts of all sorts, I still have the most fun and feel the most at home when I’m writing a diary-style entry. With room to just let it all out, I pour all of my emotions and thoughts onto the screen without a care who sees. These posts are never going to pull in an audience in the same way that more battle-tested formats do. I primarily writing them for myself knowing that the audience for this is super small and the content won’t do much for my SEO, but that type of writing is what makes me feel best when it’s done.
Finding my voice on a stream is also a different beast. With a webcam in my face and without the ability to hide behind time and a keyboard, I have to “act natural” in an unnatural environment. Not to say that I’m faking it when I’m on stream, but If I were to simply play as I normally would, I would just be staring at the screen, grunting from time-to-time.
When there’s an audience, it’s probably the biggest test of my approach. I know that my stream isn’t going to win you over because of the games I’m playing. There’s no consistency to what I play, so you can’t rely on me when you want to watch “Game X”. If I’m playing certain games like Street Fighter or Tetris, I might wow you with my gaming skills. Otherwise, I’m okay at best, and a nightmare at worst if you force me to solve an in-game puzzle on the spot. You definitely won’t stay for my looks. I’m not the most dynamic person to begin with, either. I don’t have a personality that jumps off the screen, and that’s okay.
But you might stay based on who I am, what I stand for, and how I can enrich your life. Again, I think that speaking from the heart goes a long way towards what I can offer. Maybe more so than any sort of topical knowledge I can conjure from my head, or whatever gameplay wizardry I’m able to pull off.
Even after 2,000+ posts and hundreds of hours of streaming, I’m still trying to fine-tune my voice. From the games I choose to cover, to which medium I choose to convey my thoughts in, to finding the best way to articulate my points, it’s a never-ending process. I may never truly get to a place where I have complete control over my message, but it’s fun to keep working at it every day.