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June 3, 2006 6:39 AM   Subscribe

How to write an article about women who play video games. A sarcastic 10-step guide by Richard Corbett.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (49 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
By sarcastic you mean "badly written". Right?
posted by seanyboy at 7:15 AM on June 3, 2006


You making me aware of this guy making me aware of others errors in making me aware has raised my awareness of awareness, good citizen. And the entire female gender is sleeping soundly tonight.
posted by jonmc at 7:19 AM on June 3, 2006


If by sarcastic you mean "badly written," then this article is extremely sarcastic.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 7:29 AM on June 3, 2006


seanyboy already thought that line was funny 15 minutes ago, gorgor.

Why, exactly, do you guys think it's badly written? I agree with almost all of his points and think he provided ample evidence to them in the article; that's why I posted it. What exactly did you find unappealing? Do you disagree with any of it?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:43 AM on June 3, 2006


Why, exactly, do you guys think it's badly written?

The snotty, arch tone is kind of offputting. Plus it's criticism of criticism of a simulation. That's a little too damned meta, already.

Do you disagree with any of it?

That's beside the point. When bad writing is used to back up a good point it's self defeating. Plus the guy seems to offering himself as the sole exception, which annoying and self-righteous.
posted by jonmc at 7:47 AM on June 3, 2006


The snotty, arch tone is kind of offputting.

Sarcastic, even?

Plus it's criticism of criticism of a simulation.

?. It's a criticism of tropes in a particular genre of gaming articles.
posted by carmen at 7:52 AM on June 3, 2006


The snotty, arch tone is kind of offputting.

Sarcastic, even?


Maybe it's just me, but I've kind of had my fill of archness for one lifetime. And ultimately it's the "Look how everybody does this, but not me, I'm different hubris that bugs me. The author just strikes me as the type of person who's day isn't complete unless he finds something to get indignant about. And in this world on my list of things to get indignant about, articles about video games are waaaaay down the list.
posted by jonmc at 7:56 AM on June 3, 2006


I wonder what on Earth it is that prevents so many American games writers from remembering Japanese - and, incredibly, often console - games exist. I'm not really pro- or anti- the article, in theory. He makes points that're worth making, and the overall aim of the thing is potentially interesting, although he undermines himself as often as he hits home. However, as an example, his list (in point no. 7) of oft-forgotten female characters actually only mentions one non-Western, non-PC name. It's as if he quietly thinks console games are for children and only American games have ever trodden new ground. He's fully entitled to his opinion, but it makes it very difficult to see his writing about the medium as a whole as anything other than critically compromised from the start. It's akin to writing about the medium of film without acknowledging the existence of anything other than, say, British straight-to-video releases.

jonmc: it's criticism of criticism of a simulation

It's criticism of criticism of art. That happens elsewhere without being branded 'too meta'. Gaming isn't and shouldn't be re-creation of reality. There are definitely things wrong with the article (and things right!), but I can't honestly agree that it's fundamentally flawed.
posted by terpsichoria at 8:01 AM on June 3, 2006


It's criticism of criticism of art.

Even that's too meta for me. It's sort of like "You don't like the way articles about women in gaming are written? write a good one. otherwise you're just a digital Waldorf & Statler."
posted by jonmc at 8:03 AM on June 3, 2006


Now that I definitely agree with. If he'd knocked out a really, really excellent article about women and videogames (a timely one, too, since Half-Life 2 Ep 1 just came out, carrying with it one of the most human and non-stereotyped female characters I've ever seen in a game. And it's on the PC and developed in the West, so he'd be allowed to talk about it!), he'd have stood to make a lot more difference and come across as much less of a backseat whiner. Ho hum.
posted by terpsichoria at 8:10 AM on June 3, 2006


How to write. . .
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:11 AM on June 3, 2006


The metaness of the article doesn't actually contribute to the point he's trying to make. He could have just written an essay. But noooooo, that's not intellectually aloof enough.
posted by slatternus at 8:12 AM on June 3, 2006


At some point in your writing career...

(dies laughing)
posted by reklaw at 8:17 AM on June 3, 2006


jonmc, I don't see the him saying he does it better part, nor the "write a good one" part. It seems like he's actually saying it isn't worth doing at all. His main thesis seems to be that the majority of games are gender non-specific, as are the things that interest people in games, and that writing articles about "girl-gamers" necessarily misses the many ways in which "gamer" is more important than "girl."
posted by carmen at 8:19 AM on June 3, 2006


And ultimately it's the "Look how everybody does this, but not me, I'm different hubris that bugs me.
posted by jonmc at 3:56 PM GMT on June 3


Now that's comedy...
posted by bouncebounce at 8:23 AM on June 3, 2006


jonmc, I don't see the him saying he does it better part,

In the fact that he's criticizing criticsm, it's sort of implicit, I think. And that brings out the "put up or shut up," impulse in me. I'm not even that big a gamer, and I can see his point about how these articles are flawed. However, like I said, it was more the snotty, aloof tone of the article that put me off my feed. Yeah, he backed up his points, but this isn't a paper for a class it's an article on the internet for a general readership, and supposedly a persuasive essay, and the snottiness works against the persuasiveness.
posted by jonmc at 8:24 AM on June 3, 2006


I like the term "fragdoll."
posted by Eideteker at 8:32 AM on June 3, 2006


Corbett could pick this up for as little as $3.99.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:33 AM on June 3, 2006


terpsichoria: the author of the "article" appears to be British, actually.

-----
I'm with the folks who think potentially good points were wasted by his self-congratulation.

And many more points were obscured by his attempts at rubbing noses in the mess he's making too much ado about.

Basically, it reads like yet another male gamer trying desperately to score cred with female gamers by showing how much more reasonable he is than his drooling, weak-minded brethren. It comes off as pretentious and needlessly labyrinthine. See also: frothing.

Further, he grinds toward one particular viewpoint so intently that his article reads as very shrill. This female gamer was exasperated by his attempt to stand alongside us in solidarity, since he was basically doing what he's accusing so many others of doing, only in a far more self-righteous tone.

Meh. He should have a nap and try again.
posted by batmonkey at 8:39 AM on June 3, 2006


I thought it was funny.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:42 AM on June 3, 2006


Curses, you're right! It was lazy of me to assume he was American. Although I have seen more US than UK-based games writers do that, ignoring console games and non-Western games is a problem amongst an awful lot of videogame critics irrespective of their origins.
posted by terpsichoria at 8:44 AM on June 3, 2006


jonmc, this article works better (in terms of content, if not execution) if you have actually read a lot of writing on gaming, and a fair handful of the sorts of girls-n-games articles being sent up. (I don't necessarily recommend doing this, however.)

Which brings me to this:

Why, exactly, do you guys think it's badly written? I agree with almost all of his points and think he provided ample evidence to them in the article; that's why I posted it. What exactly did you find unappealing? Do you disagree with any of it?

I think it's badly written because I think his writing is bad. His tone is inconsistent, his phrasing is bleh, he is not near as pithy as he seems to think he is. And there's a bit too much Wink Wink for a drily sarcastic writeup; it's as if he is trying so hard but knows that he isn't really making it.

But that's independent of the examples and evidence, which are on target. He clearly has read a lot of these articles, and clearly does have a sense of what's wrong with them. He just wrote about it rather badly.
posted by cortex at 8:50 AM on June 3, 2006


Weirdly, I was at the same school as this guy. He's a big gamer bloke and as far as I can tell its just in his nature to prefer the rant format. In many ways it's more entertaining than the 'well written essay', though obviously might not be doing his persuasiveness any favours.

My favourite bit is the CSgirl typo: "Thanks for letting me be apart of this!"
posted by 6am at 8:54 AM on June 3, 2006


But that's independent of the examples and evidence, which are on target. He clearly has read a lot of these articles, and clearly does have a sense of what's wrong with them. He just wrote about it rather badly.

That is more or less what I was saying, cortex. And I criticize bad writing in the name of good points harshly because it undermines the very things it espouses by being so off-putting.
posted by jonmc at 8:55 AM on June 3, 2006


To be honest though, the writing on Penny Arcade pisses me off infinitely more than more or less anything else I've seen.

"Your Local News Affiliate is rarely a bastion of reasoned discourse, exposés on "the dangers of improper lettuce washing" related by manicured corpses really are the norm."

"I don't have time to enumerate for you every instance of L. H. Franzibald's bald "acquisitions" from my pure texts. Suffice it to say that I have found a fitting place for his creative output. So there is no confusion, it is the same place I might hurl a soiled tissue or perhaps the wrapper from a King Size Snickers, its noble work having already been accomplished."

I just don't get why he writes like that. The only justification for such overdressing is he's doing it as a joke, but he does it all the time. And the way he emphasises points that really don't need emphasising also really gets on my tits. Do you think he thinks his writing is 'better' for being ridiculously overwritten?
posted by 6am at 9:08 AM on June 3, 2006


The only justification for such overdressing is he's doing it as a joke, but he does it all the time.
posted by 6am at 9:08 AM PST on June 3

It is a comic strip written to be funny. So, uh, yeah, he might use that over-the-top voice all the time.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:21 AM on June 3, 2006


Still, too much of anything gets tiresome after awhile.
posted by jonmc at 9:36 AM on June 3, 2006


And he's been doing it for about eight years...
posted by 6am at 9:43 AM on June 3, 2006


I enjoy PA's writing. Overdressed is funny.
posted by graventy at 10:15 AM on June 3, 2006


That is more or less what I was saying, cortex. And I criticize bad writing in the name of good points harshly because it undermines the very things it espouses by being so off-putting.

Heard, understood, and agreed, jonmc.

As for Tycho/Jerry's writing on PA, I find that I am consistently pleased with his style—yes, it is clearly affected, and consistent, but it is also done well. Listening to their podcasts, and reading his occasional 4th-wall-busting discussions of his and others' writing, you can see clearly that he enjoys and engages in the measured deployment of words on a level not at all evidenced in the article under discussion here.

Listening to their (too infrequent, too irregular) podcasts is fascinating in part because you can get such a clear picture of the personalities the strip and newsposts channel. Jerry does not talk like Tycho's newsposts, but you can hear, now and then, the gears turning as he breaks an idea down and works it into that Tycho template. It is wordsmithing, and I like it.

I disagree with his use of comma splices, though. I can see the intent—capturing a sort of conversational flow—but that gets on my tits.
posted by cortex at 10:22 AM on June 3, 2006


Yeah, 6am, I have to agree with graventy & Optimus. The articles on Penny Arcade amuse me almost because of the goofy over-the-top floridity of the prose. That, and the fact that they're usually either crystalizing my thoughts or very insightful about a subject I was unaware of.
posted by jonson at 10:23 AM on June 3, 2006


Fair dos, It must just be me then. I do see why he does it, and he always has a point...it's just I very rarely find the language itself funny. It's what has to be said that is, and for me the flowery wording gets in the way of that.
posted by 6am at 10:39 AM on June 3, 2006


cortex, those podcasts are some of the funniest things I've ever heard. Going back to the 'penis well'? Comedy gold.
posted by graventy at 11:10 AM on June 3, 2006


how to write a terrible article about articles about women who play video games. an incoherent 10-step guide by richard corbett.

jonmc - a criticism of a criticism not too meta for you if you're participating on the next level up !
posted by sergeant sandwich at 1:49 PM on June 3, 2006


In the comments he waxes eloquent about leisure suit larry. He knows his Laffer, so I have to give him props. (Do people still give props?)
posted by Sparx at 3:09 PM on June 3, 2006


The last time people gave "props" as you say, Mulder and Scully were TV's hottest couple.
posted by slatternus at 4:34 PM on June 3, 2006


Maybe it's just me, but I've kind of had my fill of archness for one lifetime. And ultimately it's the "Look how everybody does this, but not me, I'm different hubris that bugs me.

WE ALL KNOW THAT ABOUT YOU ALREADY :P

As to wether or not it's two meta, well I can understand why criticism of criticism might be boring, but it's not boring to me.

And anyway, those stupid "girls in gaming" articles have always irritated the hell out of me. Lots of girls enjoy games, just diffrent games then guys, games which are often not even seen as "games" by hardcore gamers. It's stupid and myopic.
posted by delmoi at 5:17 PM on June 3, 2006


And ultimately it's the "Look how everybody does this, but not me, I'm different" hubris that bugs me.

hahaha welcome back jon :)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:15 PM on June 3, 2006


6am: It isn't just you. Tycho's writing bugs me, too. I don't mind that kind of writing style in general, but more than a few times I've had to struggle through one of his sentences two or three times before realizing that the reason that it didn't make sense is that it was just plain grammatically wrong, but not intentionally so.

Still, I give him a bit of slack because I remember him mentioning, once, that he was the kind of kid who unconsciously picked up advanced vocabulary but misunderstood it and thus misused it. So, his writing is sometimes byzantine and nonsensical, but at least he realizes it, and isn't under the impression that it's correct and that anyone who doesn't understand him is a mental inferior.
posted by Bugbread at 7:06 PM on June 3, 2006


So, jonmc, which one are you? Digital Statler or Digital Waldorf?
posted by wendell at 7:59 PM on June 3, 2006


Fozzy. Waka waka waka.
posted by jonmc at 9:24 PM on June 3, 2006


you know, the article is badly written (stylistically speaking.) but I'm not seeing the "look how everybody does this but me," thing. specifically, i'm not seeing the "Plus the guy seems to offering himself as the sole exception," thing, because he specifically mentions womengamers.com twice in the article (if you count the note in his comments thread as part of the article).

I mean, I read jonmc's defense of his point by saying that writing criticism of criticism is implicitly saying "i'm a better critic than you," but that's like saying it's impossible to say "this is bad criticism" without being either full of yourself or a hypocrite or both. maybe that's his point, but christ what a tired point to make if it is. i suppose criticism must be the one form of communication that has to remain untouchable and static for all time, then. meh. presumably, if one cares enough about a medium/genre/whatever to criticize it professionally, then one cares enough about it to see that professional criticism advanced without necessarily having ulterior motives. sure, there are no doubt critics with that level of hubris, but saying that an article like this one merely existing is evidence of such hubris seems stretching it. a lot. meh, again.
posted by shmegegge at 11:23 PM on June 3, 2006


Some people read this cricism as "I think you do something badly. Therefore, I think that I could do it better." I read it as: "You do something badly, yet you do it. I don't do it."

I've seen people do bad ventriloquism. I've commented on it. It's not because I can do it better, it's because I have the sense to realize I can't do it well, so I don't.

By the way, I think that what the article says is essentially true, but it's written poorly. I don't think I could write it better, though, so I don't.
posted by Bugbread at 12:36 AM on June 4, 2006


6am:To be honest though, the writing on Penny Arcade pisses me off infinitely more than more or less anything else I've seen.

Here's a neat trick you can try:
If you don't like it, don't read it.
posted by spazzm at 3:13 AM on June 4, 2006


spazzm : "Here's a neat trick you can try:
If you don't like it, don't read it."


Define "it".

I don't like Tycho's writing style ("it1"). I do like the information and opinions he presents ("it2"). If I don't read "it1", then I can't get "it2". So it's a kinda damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't thing. But I like "it2" more than I dislike "it1", so it's better for me to read it and be annoyed at the writing style than not read it and be annoyed that I'm missing some content I want to read.
posted by Bugbread at 4:50 AM on June 4, 2006


Anyone have the link to the "Why Geeks Make Great Guys" written by so-called female geek who's number one reason to keep a guy around is so he can fix her laptop?
posted by shownomercy at 10:40 AM on June 4, 2006


Aha! Found it.
posted by shownomercy at 12:46 PM on June 4, 2006


Bugbread, show me some information Tycho offers that you cannot get from any other source than Tycho.

His opinions, on the other hand, are inextricably linked to his style, so if you want the former you have to accept the latter.

I find the writing on PA funny to the point of being hilarious precisely because the writing is so verbose. It sets him apart from the usual "then I was like...then he was like...dude!" drivel that is usually aimed at the "gaming crowd".

If you find it confusing and hard to penetrate, get a dictionary. Expand your own horizon, don't expect others to shrink theirs to accommodate your limited view - especially when they offer, free of charge, information and opinions that you willingly admit that you want.
posted by spazzm at 4:00 PM on June 4, 2006


spazzm : "His opinions, on the other hand, are inextricably linked to his style, so if you want the former you have to accept the latter."

I fail to see evidence of that. I've been getting his opinions for a few years now, without accepting his style.

spazzm : "If you find it confusing and hard to penetrate, get a dictionary."

And do what with it? I understand the vocabulary Tycho uses. What throws me is that he so often uses it incorrectly. It's his grammatical failings that bug me, not a lack of comprehension of his vocab.

spazzm : "Expand your own horizon, don't expect others to shrink theirs to accommodate your limited view - especially when they offer, free of charge, information and opinions that you willingly admit that you want."

I don't expect others to "shrink" their horizons (I gather by "shrink their horizons" you mean "improve their grammar") in order to accommodate my "limited view" (by "limited view" I'm assuming you mean "distaste for florid writing executed poorly"). In case I was unclear above: his writing style bugs me because he's trying to use vocabulary that he doesn't have a firm grip on. However, from what I can tell, it's not a matter of being pompous, nor is he under the impression that his grammar is perfect, so it doesn't annoy me nearly as much as it might otherwise. In addition, it's his damn site, and he can do whatever the hell he wants with it. If his writing is poor, I don't expect him to accomodate my tastes. If the benefits of reading what he writes exceeds the drawbacks, I'll keep reading, and if the benefits are exceeded by the drawbacks, I'll quit reading, but I certainly don't expect him to go out of his way to accomodate some random guy on the internet (me).
posted by Bugbread at 3:45 AM on June 5, 2006


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