So I think I know why HG's so dead....
October 03, 2011

Everyone moved to Realm of Gaming. Or elsewhere. Even Jason seems to have given up on it!

Of course, Jason could also just be receiving money for his contributions at RoG, but I didn't think RoG is in any more of a position to pay its staff than Jason is. But, well, I could be wrong about this. I just found it interesting.

You can also find Louis Bedigan there as as well. And probably a few others. True's a main player on that site, and Espiga contributes now and then.

As for the rest of us, who can say where we've gone? Some of us have just grown tired, or busy, or discouraged by the sheer lack of growth here. But as for others, I really can't say. I do know one thing, though. This is such a sad situation to be in.

Most recent blog posts from Leslie Dickson...

JoeTheDestroyer JoeTheDestroyer - October 03, 2011 (04:51 PM)
Some have also gone to Thunderbolt. I've also contributed to RoG recently; did a review for Rush 'N Attack: Ex-Patriot.
Masters Masters - October 03, 2011 (05:17 PM)
I've always had stuff at Thunderbolt. Asherdeus is the big cheese there. But who else have you seen?
honestgamer honestgamer - October 03, 2011 (05:22 PM)
I contribute to Realm of Gaming during special circumstances. I've contributed a number of reviews there, but you'll notice that around the time I was contributing there, I also contributed 2 or 3 reviews in the space of the same week or two. So it didn't cost HonestGamers activity, really.

Realm of Gaming has a habit of poaching freelance writers from here. I know the webmaster and help him out sometimes when he needs writers to cover stuff. As for Thunderbolt, the people who contribute there were contributing there first, basically, so activity they provide over here is just a welcome bonus.

One of the main reasons you haven't seen more stuff from me here (HonestGamers remains my base of operations when I'm not doing paid freelance work elsewhere) is that I've been busy with a few guide assignments. A lot of times, if I write a guide for a game I'll review it here. However, I'm not especially motivated to review Driver: San Francisco since we already have a staff review for that one. I might do it anyway. Time will tell.

Currently, I'm playing Dark Souls and that's sucking up a lot of my time that I would typically use to line up additional reviews, and to write them myself. That will keep me busy another week or two and then I have some content planned, but the community definitely can't survive just on content that I produce myself or that I line up with freelancers. It needs continued contributions from pickhut, from JoeTheDestroyer and (at least sometimes) from other people too!

I've been mulling over the idea of re-adding news articles, since cutting those seems to have halved the site's traffic. I floated the idea by staff on that forum but no one responded (in part because staff mostly just check in now with the occasional review or approve user submissions). I'm not sure how much difference it would make in terms of user contributions, but it would help liven up the community without spreading our focus too far from its core. Any thoughts?
overdrive overdrive - October 03, 2011 (05:50 PM)
Oh yeah. I was going to comment on the news deal, but forgot. I thought it was a good idea, especially if it brings more traffic back.
wolfqueen001 wolfqueen001 - October 03, 2011 (06:12 PM)
Heh. You can bring news back if you want. It probably won't hurt anything. But I doubt it'll help any, either. Even if it does raise traffic a marginal degree, it probably won't bring in any new faces that actually care enough to actually do something useful.

The fact that you're considering it - and that the site is in such a poor place that you need to consider it - also draws out the clear clash of interests you seem to have regarding the site. These are: to increase traffic and visibility, or to focus exclusively on reviews. Obviously you need traffic to mean a damn to the internet, but at the same time, to stand out at all, you need to have a focus. So really, the way I see it, you just can't win. =/

Anyway, I know I'm sounding highly cynical here, but I really don't know what to think anymore. I'm sorry, but I just haven't seen enough improvement to feel any kind of hopeful about it.
True True - October 03, 2011 (06:34 PM)
Well, my first thought would be to rethink the term "poaching". Yes, I have and still occasionally borrow writers from here. I, not Leyanna. He's actually against the idea because you are a decent contributor over there and he wants to stay in your good graces. So he's respectful of your boundaries--as am I--and that term makes it sound utterly negative, like I'm stealing all the decent writers from here when it couldn't be further from the truth. I've not asked any of them to come on full time, to stop writing here or tried to make them exclusive. I'm simply providing them with another outlet to showcase their skills, inspire them a little bit because I know what it's like to drudge away on only one site to rarely--if ever--see any sort of appreciation for it. So when Leyanna gets a free game, I typically pass on it and seek out someone who I think could use a little incentive, mainly Joe. He's a fantastic writer and completely committed to reviewing. But like anyone, he needs to be reminded of that every now and then or he's going to get burned out. I can't speak for him, but I would dare to guess that a lot of people need more than contests, scores or RoTW to keep them motivated. Never underestimate the power of a free game, a bump up into a staff position/review or even a personalized thank you. And maybe I'm wrong in that aspect, and I'm not helping them at all--simply fueling their dissension. That, however, has never been my intention. Every time I've wanted to borrow a writer from here I've cleared it with you prior and stayed away from your staff members because I never wanted to hurt the site. Both Jason and I still firmly believe that HG and RoG have never been in competition with one another.

And I could go on another rant about how I wish you two would combine your skills--that with your amazing coding ability and maintenance, your attention to detail and work ethic and he with his PR contacts, his ability to delegate and make those who work for him feel appreciated--you would run one hell of a site that could give some of the big names a run for their money. I'm not going to. I've told you that a thousand times, as well as what I think needs to be done here and that's my limit. I'm not saying it again. I simply wanted to let you know, respectfully, that "poaching" is a poor choice of term.

I know you probably didn't mean it that way, or hell you might have. I never can tell with you. But I know how things are perceived on here. Those who have written for RoG might end up feeling guilty; those who are still committed to HG might get pissed. I just wanted to remind everyone that they can do both, and writing for one or the other shouldn't be seen in a negative light.

And with that being said, I have one more thing to pass along and this one won't be as candid.

Enjoy, Spiggy. I miss you, Friend.
jerec jerec - October 03, 2011 (07:17 PM)
I must be out of the reviewing loop because this is the first time I've heard of this site...
SamildanachEmrys SamildanachEmrys - October 03, 2011 (07:31 PM)
Nor have I. Then again, the only reason I heard about HG was because zippdementia gave me a heads up.

I suppose HG is quiet, but it's still busier than a lot of the sites I frequent. It's also the only place my reviews get any exposure (I've written a handful of reviews of different games on other sites). I was asked to provide a regular reviewing/opinion column elsewhere, but that site typically gets somewhere around 25 views per review, plus they collectively have a bad attitude.

Anyway, my point there is: as far as I'm concerned, HG is the best outlet I have for my tendency to review games that I have opinions on, with the bonus that the people here aren't assholes. So I'm not going anywhere.
JoeTheDestroyer JoeTheDestroyer - October 03, 2011 (08:52 PM)
I don't think it was anyone who "went over there", per se. Maybe I had perceived it that way and was wrong. It wasn't very many names, maybe two other than Matt's, that I saw in common.

HG offers the best possible setup for reviewing. I can cover a game from just about any platform and just about any era, and I don't have to worry that the game already has coverage. I could do the same at GameFAQs, but I wouldn't receive the feedback I desire. The only feedback I would receive would only come once a month in the form of an ambiguous score from an admin and without any sort of critique or discussion on the matter. What True said about motivation is correct. I didn't receive any of that from GameFAQs, and therefore left.

HG needs traffic, but in order to have more traffic it will need more material and more contributions. Bringing back news articles would be a great idea, but I think we'll need a bit more than that, too. We need to attract some fresh blood, or we need some other occasional contributors to contribute more often. Folks like Mega5010, SpencerTSisson, PaiMay, japanaman, threetimes, and Sam; they're awesome writers, but we don't see stuff from them very often. I know there are reasons, potentially that some of them have other haunts, but it would be nice to see more from them and possibly to attract others. Even attracting less anyone less experienced folks would be great [if you're a lurker and you've been toying with contributing something other than spam, please take this as an open invite to write about any game--and I mean any game].

You also have staff members and other regulars who have become less regular that I'd love to see more often, too. I think many of us have moved on, some of us have become burned out. I don't know what'll bring them back, but I'm betting that's more of a personal deal.

As for RoG, I don't feel that I was poached. I was offered, and I accepted. It was my choice to write there, and I appreciate the opportunity for exposure. I've always seen both this site and RoG as unofficial sister sites. I enjoy both and think they both showcase great freelance work.
honestgamer honestgamer - October 03, 2011 (10:15 PM)
I'm grateful for everyone who is here and contributing, whether that's reviews or the occasional post on the forums. The issue is that we need more of you.

Based on feedback, it's looking like the news articles thing will almost certainly happen. That would mean news, interviews and previews, maybe even opinion pieces, but not the volume that we had previously. I think for it to work and be sustainable, you'd be looking at maybe 4 or 5 posts a weekday, including any review submissions during that time. If we go that route, I'd be looking at "hiring" a volunteer staff person or two who would be charged with making a news post a day or something.

There's no question in my mind that the site needs a fresh infusion of talent, new faces and additional interesting people who fit the community... while we even still have a community. The level of activity here lately has dropped below a level that I feel is acceptable and I'll definitely be doing what my time and resources allow me to do in order to revive things a bit.

Note that these efforts can't start for a few weeks yet, but I'm doing what I can to prep behind the scenes. In the meantime, I hope that you'll all continue to review the games you love--or hate, or are indifferent about--and that we can gear up for a fun holiday season and beyond.
bloomer bloomer - October 03, 2011 (10:24 PM)
If I could play action games, I'd probably still review, but with the RSI they're unfortunately always too low on my priority-for-use-of-health-resources list.

I've written some reviews this year, but they're of text adventure games. The reviews tend to be a bit pragmatic. The thing is, I suppose I only post them at because that's a site dealing only with that type of game. So there's a ton of stuff you don't have to talk about in each review. Even my review of text adventure The Lurking Horror, which I posted here... this year?... is incompatible with what I'd post at IFDB because it deals with a lot of stuff that's too elementary for that site.

Another headache is that modern text adventures don't run on particular OSes, they run on virtual machines that work on most systems - which makes them annoying for regular game sites like HG to catalogue. Infocom games were always like that, actually, but few people noticed because they still sold copies for your Apple II, your C64, your PC, etc.

This just gave me an idea. Atm, text adv reviewers don't have many outlets apart from IFDB, or their own blogs. Maybe if you added the few virtual machines as platforms, they could be encouraged (EG I'd plug it) to come over here to review. Some of them are general gamers. There might also be a bit of cross pollination. But it must be admitted IFDB is already very well setup for exactly that kind of review, so a response might be 'Why do I need to go somewhere else?'. But these games are running on a platform that none of the gaming sites cover, so it is a potential avenue for drawing people where the competition is minimal. Anyway, PM me HG if you want any more info. Or don't if you don't :)
SamildanachEmrys SamildanachEmrys - October 04, 2011 (06:02 AM)
I don't know how much I can do to help, but I intend to submit more reviews (I finished my Masters degree so I have more time) but I need to play the games first, ha. I can whore HG to anyone I know who likes/might like to write reviews or even just read a different perspective to the usual IGN/GameSpot types. Other than that, I don't know what else I can bring to the table.
asherdeus asherdeus - October 04, 2011 (08:06 AM)
I've written for Thunderbolt, HG and Realm of Gaming. I realized a long time ago, in an industry that's all about who you know, that getting your work out there on as many sites and networks is the best way to be successful. Everyone should be submitting everywhere! As a courtesy to HG though, I personally try to keep my role as a "big cheese" at Thunderbolt and a contributor here separate, and also try to refrain from contacting his contributors about writing for me (this is not from a lack of desire; there are many skilled writers here that I'd love to have on S.S. Thunderbolt!).

I don't personally understand why this site has faded a bit. Of the experiences that I've had with the different sites that I've contributed to, this site far and away has one of the only communities that sees reviewing games as something more than telling people how a game is. People here embrace creative writing styles and delivery techniques. We have debates on style and form. You can write a review for HonestGamers in a rap format and other reviewers won't mock you, but will try the style out themselves. I left another site that I was contributing to that had a larger profile than any of the sites mentioned so far in this topic - combined - simply because they didn't take reviewing seriously.

Part of the problem may be that the community here has aged a little bit. We're not younger high school and college-aged guys and gals hunkering over our screens every night. I put in about fifty hours each week at work and then put in another twenty or so with Thunderbolt, split between editing articles for posting and PR stuff and actually playing games. With all that and a full-time girlfriend, it doesn't leave a whole lot of time to be active across the 'net, despite wanting to be.

Also, I was going to submit my Deus Ex review last week, but Susukie beat me to it and I didn't think two reviews of the same game were necessary in the same week. I'll submit now!
overdrive overdrive - October 04, 2011 (09:17 AM)
Part of the problem may be that the community here has aged a little bit. We're not younger high school and college-aged guys and gals hunkering over our screens every night. I put in about fifty hours each week at work and then put in another twenty or so with Thunderbolt, split between editing articles for posting and PR stuff and actually playing games. With all that and a full-time girlfriend, it doesn't leave a whole lot of time to be active across the 'net, despite wanting to be.

I think that's a big part of the problem, with the other part being that hordes of new guys aren't coming (or if coming, not staying super long) to replace them. I know when I started on GFaqs in 2003 there was a pretty large community, but even then, some people who seemed to be well-known were essentially retired and only showing up for the Summer Team Tournament and stuff like that. As time went on, more and more have faded away.

Crap, who knows, if I hadn't gotten divorced, I might be in that category by now. But I'm single, so after working my full-time real-world job, if I'm not going somewhere, I like to just crash on the couch and screw around with one game or another. And now that I have two TVs in my living room (a perk of not having $$$ getting funneled into the black hole of doom that was the ex), I don't have to choose between game-time or whatever sporting event looks interesting. Now, the big impediment for me is the combination of occasional bouts of writer's block/recreation writing apathy AND how I tend to prefer RPG types, which can lead to occasional weeks of inactivity because I'm working through a long game.
honestgamer honestgamer - October 04, 2011 (01:16 PM)
The problem is pretty straightforward as I see it: our healthy community has dwindled because the talented people who made it what it is have gradually been leaving as life (marriage, graduation, the job market, other opportunities) got in the way and we haven't been finding enough new folks to bring something new to the site. I won't say "replace," because we haven't lost many people that really can be replaced, but there has to be a certain number of people actively participating for any site to be healthy and we've dropped below that number.

The idea behind the news articles thing is to produce "easy" and interesting content that inspires discussion, stuff that makes people feel like they have something to add to the conversation and makes it easier to enjoy being part of the conversation. From there, some of those people would naturally begin submitting reviews as they got a better feel for the community. News articles would be like the worm on the hook that lands us the big fish we need, to use one of my oft-criticized metaphors.

Thanks to those who have provided different offers of assistance over the past few days. It means a lot to know that I'm not the only one ready to fight for the site's future. To answer your questions, there's not much I would ask any of you to do differently yet. Once the news articles are implemented, though, it will be the time to make a concentrated effort to expand our audience and I'll definitely be looking for you all to spread the word if you're still interested at that point. In the meantime, I remain open to comments and questions that you might have here.
jerec jerec - October 04, 2011 (04:25 PM)
Well, at least it's doing better than Gameroni which has had the same boring article on gela skins as the most recent update for god knows how long.
honestgamer honestgamer - October 04, 2011 (05:04 PM)
Gameroni is on hiatus. The site helped me to learn a lot of things and it continues to rake in a surprising amount of traffic given its volume of archived content. I'm not sure when the next update will be posted there, though, or if one will be posted at all. It's difficult to find interested writers for two sites at once, so I'm focusing my energy on HonestGamers.
espiga espiga - October 05, 2011 (12:03 AM)
Haha, I haven't listened to Hot Issue in a really long time!

Here's a new-ish song for you, True. It has Koreans pretending to be cowboys.

Calvin Calvin - October 05, 2011 (03:55 PM)
What's a Thunderbolt?

The only thing preventing me from contributing here more is I'm trying to distance myself from doing user reviews. One day I'd like this all to turn into something. I don't know what exactly, just that doing user reviews makes whatever it is I'm trying to accomplish feel more distant.
wolfqueen001 wolfqueen001 - October 05, 2011 (04:27 PM)
If anything, fastkilr, doing user reviews can only help. It shows you've written a lot more than you otherwise would have, and also shows you have motivation to do what you're doing other than fame or money. Regardless of whether that's all you really want, writing without the prestige shows initiative, and I'm fairly certain that every employer on the face of the planet would appreciate that.

I only have three staff reviews on this site, and I still felt that the quantity of user reviews I wrote still shows something that employers, or (potentially, if I chose to pursue it) other game sites, would appreciate.
honestgamer honestgamer - October 05, 2011 (05:01 PM)
The reasons to write user reviews are numerous, but very few of them actually have anything to do with making a living writing reviews (if that's what you're pursuing, as it sounds like fastkilr is).

The biggest benefit is practice. There are a surprising number of writers who were pretty good when they started writing reviews here. Then they got really good because of practice here and community feedback. Now they don't write for HonestGamers anymore because they got so good that they're writing reviews and making good money at it. I'm not going to list the full list of people here, but you'd seriously be surprised (I would wager).

Writing user reviews here didn't get any of those people noticed, though. Writing the user reviews got them practice and then they wrote some staff reviews here and then they used those staff reviews to springboard to other sites. It's actually a bit of a problem for HonestGamers, in that the really motivated people come here and improve and then leave and more folks don't step in to replace them. We're like a boot camp for reviewers, without the benefit of having that reputation widespread enough to keep bringing in new recruits.

If you're writing a lot of user reviews here and you're hoping that will get you noticed and get you a gig elsewhere, though, that's not the way to go about doing it. You should be writing user reviews for the experience and because you love sharing your thoughts on games. You should be writing as a freelancer or site staff member if you're serious about writing reviews for a living. Most of the contributors here, despite having a lot of talent that with polish could lead to a career along those lines, simply aren't interested in that... because (to be honest) the money in writing about games is not that good. It's tough to make a living doing it, even once you have more contacts.

Anyway, that's all there is to say on that. I think most of the people writing here are doing it for reasons other than breaking into the industry, but one of the exciting things about HonestGamers is that whatever your reasons for reviewing are, the site is a great enabler and a fun place to read about games. Any changes that happen down the road will be made with the purpose of amplifying that, not changing it.
Calvin Calvin - October 05, 2011 (06:11 PM)
True - the whole reason I'm doing this is for the love of games. Part of it is not wanting to associate my writing with this username. It's pretty dumb sounding.
Masters Masters - October 05, 2011 (06:40 PM)
Hey fastkilr--why not have your name changed?
jerec jerec - October 05, 2011 (07:01 PM)
Yeah, I'm sure you can get a couple more letters and become fastkiller.
pickhut pickhut - October 05, 2011 (09:28 PM)
Yeah, if you're writing video game reviews hoping to land a job with some huge pay... yeah.

I enjoy doing it as a hobby because of the different methods writing reviews. I doubt a "professional" site would have even allowed my silly Courier Crisis review. XD
JoeTheDestroyer JoeTheDestroyer - October 05, 2011 (11:18 PM)
I agree with fastkilr, in a sense. Even my name, JoeTheDestroyer, probably won't be around forever, at least not if I decide to go further with writing reviews in the future.

As for mainstream recognition, no, I realize I'm not getting that here. Honestly, I don't see a whole lot of editors lining up to read a Simon's Quest review with thoughts of recruiting me. I review here because it's the perfect venue for discussing older games. As far as writing reviews for a living goes, I'll say, "Not likely." It's not that I wouldn't want to, but the pay is not really what I'm looking for. With a kid on the way, I'm going to need something better paying, with possible plans to return to retail (but only to accept a well-paying management position, and nothing less). I will definitely continue to do freelance reviewing, for this site and for others, and reader reviews for older titles.

Maybe as a part timer for a supplemental income--i.e. extra spending cash--or free games, I could see myself writing for monetary value. Mostly, I do it because I like to yammer about games.
Masters Masters - October 06, 2011 (08:07 AM)
What I'm not getting is why the folks with names they're not proud of in a 'professional sense' don't just change those names.

Ironically, I'm considering a switch back to my REAL name, Ken Masters.
fleinn fleinn - October 06, 2011 (01:11 PM)
Hm.. Maybe I should change my name to something else that also is made up of sounds that don't have a phonetic equivalent in English :p

...anyway, it's nice that people think highly of "professional" writing and all. But.. look at the general bulk of what's printed nowadays.. Do you really think we don't "compete" with that?
zippdementia zippdementia - October 07, 2011 (10:53 AM)
Real life. Someone here mentioned that. And yes. Real life is a bitch. Or at least a jealous mistress.

These days, I just don't have the time to write reviews. Pretty much all writing that has nothing to do with schooling or film has been completely put aside, to be honest. I'm supposed to be writing a draft for publication in the next six months and... urgh. Even that great offer I just don't know where to fit in.

It's not that I've completely stopped playing video games (see the WoW thread) but I've had to limit my time to playing a couple hours late each night and as a truly relaxing thing. I no longer can keep up with the release of games and, frankly, I'm looking to get into WoW so that I have something to constantly occupy me and don't need to buy new games. I will pick up Uncharted 3 and I have continuing interest in little PSN releases, like From Dust and Eufloria, but my days of playing big games and then finding the time to review them within a week of their release are over by default.
threetimes threetimes - October 07, 2011 (04:08 PM)
I keep meaning to write more, and finish of lots of reviews I've got lying around but then FAQing takes over, which is a hell of a lot easier.

If you think HG is dead, you should pop over to GFs contributors boards sometime...

I don't know how this might help, but GFs has introduced critics reviews, with HG and Thunderbolt staff reviews featured, amongst many other sites.
wolfqueen001 wolfqueen001 - October 07, 2011 (04:23 PM)
That's pretty cool, actually. Though, I'm inclined to think that one of us would almost have to submit all the HG content to GFAQs simply because, even if our reviews are on GameRankings, those doing the database work for GFs likely won't consider us important enough.

For example, I don't see HG stuff for the new Deus Ex on there, but it's also possible GameRankings hasn't found it either.

Either way, this might at least partially help get the site out there a bit more, even if it's still us doing all the work. =/
honestgamer honestgamer - October 07, 2011 (04:45 PM)
GameRankings automatically updates when new HG staff reviews (of games that are in the GameRankings database) go live. They just follow our reviews RSS feed. For example, the Deus Ex review is listed on GameRankings.

The page on GameFAQs pulls its info from GameRankings, so any staff reviews posted here should wind up on GameFAQs as well--eventually--and on other sites too (for example, GameSpot sometimes links to data pulled from GameRankings).

GameRankings and any other meta site won't consider an HonestGamers review a "critic review" unless it is submitted here as a staff review, which makes sense. There's no need to manually submit reviews anymore (though there was several years back). It's just a nice bonus. I hope to find other nice bonuses, as well, as I work to increase HG activity here in the near future. I'll be sure to let the community know about updates along the lines already discussed within this thread.

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