Diary of a Casual Gamer: year one
Sometimes, it’s possible to be too clever. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it’s possible to be too fond of what one views as one’s own cleverness. As an example, let me put forward the column “Diary of a Casual Gamer,” for which as much as I enjoy the title, and referring to myself as “The Casual Gamer,” I’ve written exactly one entry about a casual game: “Click, click, click,” about the Facebook game Mafia Wars.
In all honesty, I think “Click, click, click” is still pretty good, mostly because I spent more time writing it than most of the other pieces I’ve written for the site. I’ve tried to stay true to the “diary” part of my title, writing as much as possible about the games I’m playing at any particular time, giving my more-or-less off-the-cuff impressions, and trying to be smart and entertaining while doing so. Sometimes I do pretty well. Sometimes, I just do.
“Diary of a Casual Gamer,” however, got started while I was writing for a different site. Kevin Mattison had been doing some film writing for a site called Ditching Otis, and I jumped at the chance to reach out to a broader (or at least different) audience than was reading my personal blog. Ditching Otis seemed fun, had a couple of good writers, and used a photo of Nietzsche wearing steampunk goggles as its logo. Good times were had by all.
Until the dude who ran Ditching Otis shut it down, totally and without any warning. One morning it was just gone. I probably should have taken the ads selling gold investments on the side of the page as a warning. Kevin spent a day or two trying to talk the dude into giving it another go, but it wasn’t long before we decided that we could do a better job ourselves. And without tooting our own horn too much, we did. After all, had you ever heard of Ditching Otis before this column? (Seriously, eff that guy. He was a Ayn-Rand-loving, self-centered douchebag who shut down Ditching Otis because he decided that he wasn’t going to make any money off a site he wasn’t paying people to contribute to. Whereas I’m a charming, self-centered socialist who takes pride in not making a penny off a site I’m not paying people to contribute to. Totally different.)
I’ve already highlighted a number of my favorite Idler pieces from our first year, but if I’m supposed to be talking about the writing that has had the most impact on my own, then I really need to give credit to Andrew Simone, whose list of “Essential indie games” and link to Brandon Boyer’s GDC microtalk have had a huge impact on my thinking about what video games are and should be doing, and Kate Sloan, who reminded me how much I love comics, and that there’s a lot of really great, really smart ground left to cover in writing about Batman.
And dear god, you know, everyone else! I read everything that goes up on The Idler, and the fact that The Idler‘s writers still surprise, inform, and entertain me (and thus, hopefully, our readers) is what keeps the site going.
I know I asked everyone to talk about what they wanted to do in the next year, but I’m going to exert editor’s prerogative and decline to do the same. (Other than to say that the “Gamers’ Club” will be making a return in the next couple of weeks, and we’ll be playing the SNES game Earthbound.) What I’m looking forward to most about the next year is continuing to be surprised by The Idler‘s writers. I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone.
Gavin Craig is co-editor of The Idler. You can follow him on Twitter at @craiggav.