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honestgamer It's not all an elaborate ruse, some misguided attempt to establish for myself an online persona of dubious quality. I really am dull. If you don't find that unbearable, though, this is my blog that examines just how truly boring I can be.

Title: Site promotion efforts continue...
Posted: May 14, 2011 (02:01 AM)
Well, I'm pretty excited about some recent efforts to expand the site's audience, so I thought I'd post here.

First of all, the site's Facebook page has been updated and will now continue to see updates from yours truly. I can post links to reviews, find freelancers to cover games, run contests and solicit user feedback there and get information from potential new users on the site. It's a great way to bring our content to people conveniently, so that they'll be reminded that we exist even if they don't check into the site often.

To make sure that the page does the most possible good, I'm investing what I can in Facebook ads. I hope to invest more in the future. It's expensive, but we'll see how things go over the next few weeks. So far, it's looking like this is a good step to take, one that will yield the sort of results I'm looking for. I don't mind spending money if it leads to (essentially) a permanent increase in the size of the potential audience for site content. That's money well spent!

I'm also doing what I can to ensure that, going forward, we're covering more of the current game releases that attract users to sites like ours. That doesn't mean that retro coverage will no longer have a place on the site. I hope very much that each of you will continue to revisit your favorite (and not so favorite) games from past eras and that you'll continue posting quality reviews.

Facebook continues to be only one aspect of the site's push to reach more people. I remain active on Twitter and I will continue to look for (and act upon) other opportunities as appropriate.

In any event, things are going really well and I'm excited and wanted to share. It's hard to explain, exaclty, but the way that things are coming together feels right. We're on the edge of great things--again--and I look forward to seeing where the coming months take us. Thanks for being a part of things in the past, in the present and hopefully a long time into a bright future!
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Title: 30 reviews to go and I hit 600
Posted: May 03, 2011 (10:02 AM)
Just so you know, I only need to post another 30 reviews and I will have 600 of my reviews live on this site at once. I've posted that many over the years, but in the early days some of my content sucked and was written from memory after not playing certain games for years, so I have long since removed those reviews. When I hit 600 this time, it'll be something special.

Not so very long ago, I remember talking to Masters on AIM and I was around 35 or 40 reviews from hitting 500 reviews. It seemed like such an impossible number to me, and each new review was like pulling teeth at the time. Now, here I am in a similar situation as I approach 600 reviews. I don't know why big numbers like that psych me out, but they do and always have.

I'll probably hit 600 reviews, and probably by the end of the year. Maybe down the road, if things go well, I'll hit 700 and 800, maybe even 1000. Right now, though, 600 remains the hurdle. Do any of you find yourself psyched out by similar hurdles?

Title: Congratulations on a great week, everyone!
Posted: April 28, 2011 (04:04 PM)
I just thought I'd take a moment to congratulate you all on a great week. We've posted reviews every day since at least April 24th and there's been some great content coming through the site from a nice mix of contributors.

I know that each review represents a shared experience that doesn't just happen because you played a game. It's the result of playing, thinking and finding a way to communicate effectively. I appreciate each of you who chose to share those experiences here at HonestGamers.

Your contributions to our community are what will help it to continue to thrive. The more regularly each of us contribute, the easier it is for visitors to see what we have going here and the more likely they are to want to get involved. I hope to find additional ways to make the process rewarding in the future, but until then I wanted to let you all know that I'm truly impressed with this community's output over recent weeks. Thanks again!
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Title: An April update on my activity
Posted: April 21, 2011 (03:57 PM)
I know when the site re-design happened awhile back that some of you commented that you'd like to see me check in more often and keep you all in the loop as far as what's going on with me and the site. I like to let my activity speak for itself, but sometimes that's not enough so here's an update post.

---

1) I've been trying to gradually ramp up my own activity on the site, specifically with reviews (the site's well-deserved and nearly sole focus now), but that can be difficult because I get a large portion of my income from freelance work and that keeps me fairly busy. I have a part-time job too, after all, and a lot of weeks for awhile there I was getting 30 hours at work and then coming home to many more hours of freelance work. It's hard to find time for other writing in between, as I'm sure you can imagine. And sleep. Sometimes I like to have that. Plus for a while, I was also taking online classes!

The good news is that I've been taking steps to simplify my life. I'm also keeping HonestGamers as a priority, so you don't need to worry that I've lost interest. When I can, I also use freelance work to get time with games that I then review for the site. My recent reviews for Okamiden and Super Monkey Ball 3D (posted today) are examples of that. In the weeks ahead, I hope to further cut back on the outside stuff so that I can focus even more on producing content for the site (and so I can spend a little more time relaxing, too, which is also important for my well-being).

2) I'm trying to build up a team of game critics who can regularly produce quality content for the site. It's slow going. A lot of the best and brightest people want to be paid, and there are enough outlets vying for their attention that we're basically left with whoever out there hasn't secured a paid position elsewhere but still wants to write about games. Sadly, there aren't a lot of truly talented folks (aside from our current staff team) who will write just for games beyond the ones that I've already found throughout the years or who are devoted staff members on other sites of a similar size... and those of us on this particular site are getting tired after writing so many hundreds of reviews, most of us.

My search for new writers therefore requires me to take a more active role as I work with the willing writers to make sure that their output matches the site's high quality standards. That means it takes more time to get new reviews flowing through--plus there still aren't a lot of people in the talent pool--so unfortunately it's going to be awhile before the site is performing at peak levels and covering the wide variety of blockbuster, niche, indie and retro titles that I hope to see it cover.

3) I continue to search passively for ways that the site can bring in more revenue, particularly because today I was contacted by one of our more regular advertisers and advised that they would not be able to advertise with us for a while.

The long-term goal is to bring in more revenue and therefore increase our advertising exposure so that more people find out about the quality content that we provide each week. More eyes on the site means more interaction when each of us post new content and it means more ad revenue so that the site can pay for itself. I believe that there are still a lot of people who would enjoy reading our content and perhaps contributing content of their own who just don't yet realize that we exist, so getting the word out is key.

To that end, I've also been more active on Twitter lately. You can follow my activity there by following me (@jasonventer). I am gaining more followers there, interesting and friendly people with important contacts that can lead to future opportunities for the site. Twitter is free advertising, so I'm pleased with how things are going on that front and social media has already had a small impact on the site by finding us a larger audience and more talent. I hope to see that continue.

---

HonestGamers has the potential to be a vibrant community for reviewers and for people who just love games like the rest of us, and I'm encouraged by the content that you among the active community have continued to produce. It helps to ensure that people have good reason to visit the site several times each week. I look forward to doing what I can in the coming months to increase activity and the number of registered users in general. Please bear with me as I continue working on this--mostly behind the scenes--as it is a time-consuming process and I am always learning ways that I can do it better.

Thanks again for your support, and please continue to use and enjoy the site!
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Title: VideoCritics relaunch is mostly a go!
Posted: March 14, 2011 (08:38 PM)
So, VideoCritics is gone, replaced by... VideoCritics! You can find it here:

http://www.videocritics.net

The new version of the site is, I feel, superior. It no longer has a bunch of index pages that will never actually be populated with information. As I discussed previously, the new site just has content that approved contributors actually post, along with the forums.

Right now, the site only has one review, which I just finished writing a short time ago. That review is for "Unknown" and I will be posting a review for "The Adjustment Bureau" sometime very soon, I hope. Probably tonight. After that, things are wide open. I might write a few video reviews for older movies, just to fill things out, but my long-term plan is of course to get other people involved.

There were two of you who expressed interest when I brought this up previously. I'd love to hear from you ASAP to see about working out plans in the short term. We're coming up on the weekend, for instance, and I'd like to hear from you regarding what movie you might want to watch (if any) and review shortly thereafter.

Discussions along those lines can continue to happen through HG Mail here and in response to this and possibly future blog posts, but I'd like to get the most interested parties registered on the new site (all old accounts are gone) and we can discuss things more easily on the contributor forums there.

If you know any genius movie reviewers who would also like to be a part of this, keep them in mind. Right now the site looks pretty shabby and will continue to do so until we have a minimum of around 15 reviews posted, but after that we should be in good shape. This should be fun for the people invovled, but obviously I'm going to be particular about who does participate because I feel that's necessary. I'd like to be one of the least talented critics on the site when all is said and done. ;-)

If anyone has any questions or concerns, just let me know by HG Mail, or on AIM or whatever.
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Title: Maniac Mansion and the trip to the NES... plus stuff
Posted: March 05, 2011 (01:28 PM)
Ron Gilbert, the creator of Maniac Mansion, posts on Twitter. He recently gave a talk about Maniac Mansion and was talking about the talk on Twitter, so I took the opportunity to ask him about something I'd always sort of wondered about but never actively researched. He answered with a link:

http://www.crockford.com/wrrrld/maniac.html

My not-entirely-specific question was whether or not he had worked on the Jaleco version of Maniac Mansion that was published on the NES. He had not, but the article to which he linked me was written by the guy responsible for overseeing the conversion to that platform from the original PC version.

The article above discusses the changes that had to be made to the PC version for it to work as an NES release, and there is (I think) some fascinating information there. For an NES fan or a fan of early graphic adventure titles, I think it might qualify as required reading. Certainly it's recommended, so I thought I'd share.

In other news, it was recently suggested that I should post more often, give you updates on what I'm doing and such. So...

...today I read the forums, which is what I did yesterday and pretty much every day before. There wasn't much else to do on the site--maybe there will be later today--so I fooled around on Twitter and I'm finishing up posting this blog entry. Then I plan to spend most of the day working on a guide for recent DS RPG release, which won't be published here. However, when that gets done I'll write a review and that will be posted here... so in a sense, just about everything that I do today will somehow impact this site a week or so down the line. What are you doing with your Saturday?
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Title: First steps toward a potential new design
Posted: February 27, 2011 (03:24 AM)
Okay, the comments in previous threads got my mind running and I've just spent the last couple of hours or so on what may be the start of a new design of the current site that keeps the current content but provides reviews with a more prominent focus throughout the site. I believe that this design implements a lot of the feedback that some of you have provided.

To give you a general idea of where I'm headed with this idea, though of course it's up for modification, the site's top bars would lose most of the current links. Instead, there would be a single bar that lists the various systems (as there is now). A few key user functions (such as Submit, My Blog, HG Mail(#), Logout/Login) would be placed on the site near the logo so that they appear on each page but don't take up extra real estate. The search bar could perhaps move to the right vertical bar or something along those lines.

Below all of that, you'd have your content for individual pages. The change I've worked on in the last couple of hours would be relevant on the site's main page and on system index pages. It could also frame reviews.

Instead of listing a bunch of content for each content type, the index page would now list the newest staff reviews and the newest reader reviews. Here's an example box:



There would be four or five of the newest staff reviews, along with four or five of the newest user reviews below that. Each review would be previewed in the box that you see above.

Some notes about the box:

1) The picture in the upper left corner would include game cover art for the game being reviewed. As on the current site, the "HG" logo in a black box would appear if no cover art is available. Clicking on that image would take the viewer to the game profile page for the game in question.

2) The title would appear on the black bar and would potentially be clickable. It also would lead to the game profile page.

3) "Review by..." would be followed by the full account name for staff members or the username for user reviews, as is true now. The date in parentheses will let viewers know at a glance how new the content that they are viewing is.

4) The review excerpt will be just that--an excerpt--for staff reviews, which have that functionality. For reader reviews, which have not had that functionality, the first paragraph from the review can be included as a sample. People like samples. They're more likely to read a review if the sample catches their eye, and of course the first paragraph in any review should catch a reader's eye.

5) The image in the lower right corner will be the one that appears on the site forums, resized to half its usual size. This will make it easy to identify the author at a glance, and because forum avatars are chosen from approved images on the site, will make it more difficult for users to post reviews and then switch avatars to make something inappropriate appear on the site.

Now all that's left to explain is the content on that lower white bar, which would to a certain extent be dynamic.

Read Full Review
Links to the review and also allows "Read Full Review" to serve as an internal link, which can't hurt from an SEO perspective.

Leave Feedback
This could say "Leave Feedback" if no one has left any feedback, or it could say "Comments(#)" if someone has left comments in a feedback thread. That will make it easy to tell at a glance if others have started commenting on the review, which may get more discussion going sooner for reviews... and keep it going once it starts. Users who aren't logged into their accounts and who try to start a feedback thread would be taken to the account log-in/new account page.

Author Profile
This link would take the user to the review author's blog.

Review This Game
This link would take users either to an account sign-in page, or automatically to a page that allows them to submit a review for the game (if they are signed into their account), reminding users that they are encouraged to submit content and making it easy to do so. Constant, subtle reminders increase the likelihood that readers will get involved. The call to action also can help with SEO.

Related Content
This link could take readers to the game profile page, which can in turn list all content types. This would ensure that other types of content, such as cheats and FAQs, still have a chance to be viewed and appreciated but no longer take up unnecessary space on the front page.

I am quite fond of the new box because:

1) I think that it looks reasonably attractive and can be blended into an updated site design in an attractive manner.

2) The new box does a lot of things well that the current design does not, including the aforementioned calls to action and the SEO perks.

3) A design that uses the box in the right places will make it clear that the community is one that is focused on reviews, but intelligent design around the boxes will allow other content to flourish, particularly as the review-centric site continues to build a larger audience and more readers start using and contributing other content types. Meanwhile, the site no longer suffers if that content is updated less frequently in the present.

I'm not sure how effectively the potential design comes through in this forum post. I'll try to produce a mock-up design soon so that you can see it in action. In the meantime, I wanted you all to see what I'm working on and get a feel for the sort of things that I'm considering.

The design as noted above has an added benefit, by the way: because no content is removed from the site, we can move toward an updated design in shorter order and without any content lost, giving us a chance to continue evaluating future changes at a more comfortable pace. Some of the other ideas presented in the feedback--many of which revolve around completely new features for the site rather than changes to the current features--will be possible to consider more efficiently once we have ensured that current content is performing to its fullest potential.

Title: The state of the HonestGamers site (version 2.0)
Posted: February 24, 2011 (05:45 PM)
Alright, I think that everyone who wanted to say something has probably said something. The original topic has run its course, so here's a new topic wherein I respond to selected comments and questions from the original topic. This might go a bit long...

Know why I come here? Because I know when I post stuff here, it'll get a fair critique if it's due one. As long as that's true, I'll be here. (Fedule)

If a day comes when that's not true and there's little hope that it can be true again, I don't see a reason for HonestGamers to continue. I posted this topic because I see things headed slowly in that direction and I'd like to stop that.

I think activity will pick up in the summer, although we probably have to accept the HonestGamers is never going to be Gamespot. That doesn't bother me, but then I guess I'm not the one paying for the site. (JANUS2)

I've noted to others that I think the lull we're seeing here is a seasonal thing. However, every season it is getting worse. We're slowly seeing our numbers dwindle, so that even our brightest bursts of activity start to feel that they're lacking something we once had. Every period of inactivity that hits as low as we've been hitting lately makes it more difficult to bounce back. It decreases the likelihood that all of the people currently involved will feel the urge to fight for something that no longer is as exciting and dynamic as it once was.

Is the site likely to die next month as a result of this current slump? No. Next year? Maybe. Two or three years? Almost certainly, if the trend continues as it has these past few years.

So overall, I think HG is in a good place. What we need is not to improve in any particular area, I think - what we need is to redefine our goals. We're never going to be a big-name video game news site. The question is, what should we be aiming for instead? (willthegreat)

I find myself in the unique position of agreeing with pretty much everything that Will said in his full post on this topic. HonestGamers has something special and what we do with our reviews is commendable. It goes to the heart of the site. HonestGamers is a review community. That's what we do well, and our goals in other areas tend to be ignored or they get only token support. I have a lot of thoughts along those lines but there are other comments I'd also like to address.

To add to what Janus said, if anyone accuses you of not caring, it's probably because you seem to make a thread like this every couple of months and nothing ever changes. And I'm not blaming you for that, because in my mind, there's one big problem with this site, and I don't know how to fix it. Basically, HG needs a bigger community. (Suskie)

I make these topics on occasion to determine the community's level of satisfaction with the site's slow death. I have ideas to streamline things, to focus on our strengths and possibly to reverse things and bring activity and a more active community to the site, but they won't work with the current design and changing too much may just piss off too many of the people that I would need to see stick around and participate for a re-design to work. So I have to see where we're at on occasion, and I have to either say "Screw you all!" if not enough people are ready for serious change--then implement sweeping change anyway--or I have to say "Well okay, then, we'll leave things as they are and see where we are next year." I've been doing the latter for a long time now, hoping that people come around to trusting me to make some big changes to the site. They haven't. I'm not sure that most folks have trusted me to make big changes to the site for a long, long time.

There's really no excitement around here at all. I bet some good reviews are still being posted (I hardly read reviews here anymore but don't doubt they exist) but honestly no one seems to care anymore. Why bother writing reviews anymore? There's really no way to improve with the lack of community and no one to impress with the lack of people reading. If you want new, exciting content you first need a community. (sportsman)

I wish I could disagree more heartily with those comments. I'm glad to say that I don't completely agree, either. Review of the Week still is quite interesting and occasionally inspires some excitement. The people who are keeping that alive definitely deserve more shouts of "Kudos!" than they've been getting.

We've had some neat reviews posted over the preceding months that have had the same effect. But HonestGamers feels a bit like a huge lake now and there aren't enough fish. A fish leaping out of the lake to stir the surface of the water has a hard time making a ripple when there's so much distance between that fish and anyone else who might be watching.

The problem is, how do you advertise a dead board and a largely unenthusiastic community? (JANUS2)

A valid point, and one that had occurred to me. If I pour money into advertising, I want it to do some good. Right now, it wouldn't. I've spent months experimenting with options and money and what I've learned is that in its current form, HonestGamers won't benefit from cash injections unless I'm ready and able to spend a lot of cash--thousands each month--for a year or two. I wish that I could, but I can't.

The problem isn't getting people to come to the site, anyway. We do that every day. We average around 1600 to 1700 unique visitors daily, but they're not finding what they want. Why should I pay for another 1600 visitors daily (which would be expensive) if they're not going to find anything different than the first 1600 did? We can't force people to dive into our database of excellent content. I've done what I can to address that wealth of incredible content and to make the casual visitor aware of it, but the fact is that most people who come to the site will quickly get the impression that nothing much is happening and then they will leave. I'd rather not pay for the privilege of seeing that distressing event play out again and again.

Speaking of convergence, isn't there a way you can combine the reviews here and the blog style streaming of Gameroni into one site, or at least two sites with a common home page that takes advantage of both site's material. Because they're both run by you and it does seem silly to spread yourself across two sites - three if this videocritics thing ends up happening. Gameroni's forums seem dead apart from article feedback, so the two forums could be integrated, couldn't they? (Jerec)

That's not an entirely unreasonable idea, but it's not the direction I'd like to go because I feel that we could benefit more from a pure focus on reviews and review feedback. HonestGamers has far too broad a focus, to the point where it struggles to even have a focus. Gameroni has a narrower focus--and thrives, comparatively--but it's still broad. I'd like to see things get even narrower, to see them really come down to what we do well: reviews.

I now know a bit more of what Jason was planning with Gameroni because of a discussion we had a couple days ago, and that made me feel somewhat better about the whole thing, though I still admit to feeling uncertain about its necessity beyond a certain point. (wolfqueen001)

Gameroni was built to allow myself and others to write the content that we wanted to write within a new framework, on a more agile site that could easily allow us to determine what sort of content was directly impacting the site's performance so that we could adapt and find solutions more easily.

That experiment was a huge success, and it allowed me to find all of those things out without having to take a risk and change HonestGamers in any substantial way, only to find that the changes didn't work or were ill-advised. I am extremely pleased with Gameroni's performance and its potential outlook for the future (though it is suffering lately from a lack of ongoing support and that could ultimately damn it to failure). In any event, Gameroni has already accomplished its primary objectives and my only regret about the entire experiment is that people decided not to believe me when I told them the truth about the site and its importance.

Part of me does wonder if Gameroni attracts more visitors than HonestGamers does, actually. (Ben)

It's not that simple. On a day-to-day basis, HonestGamers typically receives more traffic than Gameroni. There are days where Gameroni has more visitors, but those occur a few weeks apart. There are days where something gets posted on Gameroni that brings the traffic up to around half or two thirds of what HonestGamers gets. Those days are quite a bit more frequent. And there's a lot of content that does really well for Gameroni that wouldn't be noticed here, or would have its impact severely limited.

A sobering fact is that HonestGamers has around 70 or 80 times the content that Gameroni does--literally--yet receives only around 8 to 10 times the traffic on half or more of the days within a given month. Not only that, but according to Google Analytics, traffic that visits Gameroni tends to stay on the site longer after arriving. The obvious message to take from this is that Gameroni is doing a better job of engaging people. If I were ready to pour a bunch of money into advertising and content on Gameroni, there's a good chance that I would see a visible return on that investment. Unfortunately, the same is not currently true for HonestGamers. I know this because I've tried.

Firstly we need more exposure. Try searching Google for "antipole review" and you will find our review on the second page third from the bottom. I personally would not dig that deep for a review the first three or four on the first page would be as far as I would go. Remember i found this site looking for some specific information not just browsing around. That should tell us something. (CoarseDragon)

A lot of that comes down to SEO, and a lot of that can't be changed in a substantial way without a serious change to the way that HonestGamers functions. A site has to be built around its focus to impact that site's performance in social media and search engines, and right now HonestGamers is built around a focus that can be loosely defined as "no focus at all except that it in some way relates to the very broad topic of video games."

I personally think the site could benefit from a design change that better promotes content through a cleaner layout. I don't read a whole lot of content on the site except when I'm looking for something on a particular game, but I still like submitting for contests. I like HG because I get a different level of feedback from the writers here than I can get anywhere else and I think that's the biggest strength of the site. (asherdeus)

A cleaner site is a difficult thing to do with the numerous types of content that we feature but don't really promote with activity. At this point--as it has been for awhile now--it's clear to me that the variety of other content that we feature is hurting the site in several ways that won't be going anywhere anytime soon unless there's a major reworking of the site... a reworking that, based on half of the comments in the original thread, would irritate about half of the site.

I personally am not interested in one-way promotion. If these two sites are going to work together, then let's make them fucking work together. (willthegreat)

I've been linking to HonestGamers content since Gameroni started, and more links to HonestGamers from Gameroni have happened than the other way around... by far. But people don't seem to care and that's fine. I'm no longer looking to mingle the two sites. I'll continue to link to HonestGamers content from Gameroni when it's relevant, as I always have, and until something changes I'll continue to do what I can to make sure that HonestGamers folk don't have to worry that they'll load up HonestGamers and see reference to what they have decided is unwelcome competition.

This is a good idea. I'm not sure if HG receives that many review codes nowadays, but this could be worth looking at. You can maybe push new recruits to post in the forums from time to time as a requirement. (Ben)

Just about every regular writer on the site right now has had the opportunity to write in exchange for games, and the few who haven't could--in most cases--have a similar opportunity if they contacted me and made a compelling case. There's a limited pool of talent right now, the result of years of letting things slide.

So that leaves me looking outside the current talent pool, competing with many other sites who also are trying to recruit talent. It's becoming harder and harder to convince good writers who have no prior experience with the site to write for HonestGamers without not only sending them games, but also paying them. And of course, I can't afford to pay people when I have no expectation that the content I pay for will perform in a manner that makes back at least a fraction of the money that I put out to run that content in the first place.

Most freelancers who write well enough that they attract my attention and get a gig or two then start looking around elsewhere and find work there too, because after all, HonestGamers turns good writers into great ones and great writers can demand more money than I can pay. In those rare cases where good writers stick around without compensation (and some do, because they come to appreciate what our reviewer community has to offer once they dig through all of the layers of filler), the last thing I'm going to be able to do is force them to participate in the community as a condition of continuing to post their stuff.

The solution here is to put together a site and frame the community in an approachable manner that makes fresh talent want to participate, and that's really what all of this comes down to: right now, as much as we'd like to believe otherwise, we don't have that. If we did, we wouldn't be struggling to get new people involved. It's food for thought.

Personally, I think it's time to cut our losses and focus purely on the review community aspect of the site. It's time for me to put together a new version of the site that features nothing but reviews and forums, one that focuses on the exercise of writing better reviews while cultivating a passionate audience that appreciates what we do here and grows as a natural result of that appreciation. But hey, that might just be me.

Title: The state of the HonestGamers site
Posted: February 22, 2011 (12:32 AM)
What is the state of the HonestGamers site?

The answer to that question is different to each and every one of us, I believe, so you might argue that really there's no answer. I think we can do better than that, though.

I'm not here to say what I think the state of the site is. While I have some ideas of my own, what I'd really like is for some of you to tell me what you think of the state of the site.

My point is that if you have something to say about the state of the site, if you have concerns that you don't feel I or the other site staff are addressing, I want you to voice them either by HG Mail, in response to this post or somewhere else on the site or over AIM where you feel that you can be heard.

I'm getting the impression that some people don't think I even care anymore. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm not going to post here with a list of the ways that I am involved in the site each day, or about how much time I spend thinking about the site while I'm not at my keyboard... just as I always have.

Let me know what you think of the site now, of its current position compared to its past position, of the path it needs to follow in the future... any of that. Or if you don't care or if someone else has already said what you might have said, a quick note to say "Ditto" is more than welcome. The figurative door is open, in other words. Pull up a chair.

Title: Determining interest: VideoCritics reboot
Posted: February 19, 2011 (04:14 PM)
So, I just got back from watching "Unknown" at the local theater. I enjoyed it. On the way to the theater and then on the way home, I had an idea. It goes like this:

I rework Videocritics.net so that it is a lot like Gameroni, only the focus is movie reviews. That's all we ever post. There are forums for gossip, for Oscar predictions and such, but the main site itself is strictly for movie reviews.

We post around 12 reviews a month, approximately three per week, maybe more during a busy season and less during a slow season. As we grow and revenue makes it worthwhile, maybe we add a few writers and maybe someday we cover nearly everything that hits theaters each month. Or maybe that day never comes. It might not.

At first, the goal is just to cover the most interesting stuff, whether it's a blockbuster or an indie film or a foreign film... anything noteworthy.

I and several other writers (probably around 3 others) produce those reviews. I pay for the cost of tickets for everyone out of my pocket and (hopefully) eventually out of ad revenue, up to $10 a pop or around $120 a month. We post reviews within a day or two of their release in theaters, tops. I need people who can watch movies and have a review live by Friday evening. That's a necessity because that's when the most people will be going online to see what they should watch that weekend.

Each person involved has to spend around 5 hours a week on the effort, around three weeks out of the month because we'd try to cover around 12 movies per month between around 4 people. About half of that time would be spent watching movies and the other half would be spent writing and posting reviews, then putting brief effort into letting people know about it on social media sites like Twitter and such to spread the word.

The goal would be to legitimately position ourselves as a worthwhile, dependable site for movie reviews of quality. We wouldn't be fighting a hundred battles on a hundred fronts, trying to be the first with movie database entries or the latest celebrity news or anything like that. It's too exhausting, at least at the start and with normal-people resources. We can worry about growth later if the site's exposure and reach justify it, but the real goal here would be to do just the one thing--and do it really well, and have a blast in the process, to recognize that we don't do everything but that it doesn't matter as long as we're posting timely and high-quality reviews of the newest movies.

$120 or so a month is enough money for me that I'm not going to go forward with this unless I can get the right people interested and involved right from the start. So this post is an attempt to do that. Are you one of those right people? Specifically, do you have good knowledge of movies old and new, do you have around 15 hours a month that you could spare for watching movies and writing about them and are you interested in doing so on a regular basis? If so, I want to hear from you. Contact me by e-mail or by HG Mail.

This post is merely an attempt to determine interest. It's a starting point and that may be as far as it ever goes, but I believe that this can happen if the right people get involved and I'm ready to make a serious effort if that happens. Thanks for reading!

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