One of my dirty little secrets — not really a secret per se, but definitely something I don’t run around proclaiming from the rooftops — is that this site and the accompanying books we publish are basically my 1UP Idea Farm. It’s been that way since the start, actually, although many of the best ideas that have been kicked around here never found the corporate-level support they needed and thus never made it over to the site proper. Alas!
This week, though, we skipped the middle man. A few months ago, I suggested putting together an issue of GameSpite Journal focused entirely around digging into the minute details of a single game. I’m sure we’ll do one of those in due time, but I was so enamored of the idea I jumped the gun and ran it by my coworkers, and they in turn liked it and decided we should give it a shot on the site as a lead-in to Mass Effect 3. And thus I bring you: Mass Effect 2 revisited, a week-long series of 15 articles by 1UP’s writers (and community) dedicated entirely to exploring every facet of ME2 we could think to discuss. (And, yeah, I cheated and recycled a piece from GameSpite Quarterly 4, because it was a pretty good article that was only read by about 1,000 people, which seemed a waste.)
I’m happy with the results! The project could use some fine-tuning, but it’s a lot of great reading and works together well for the most part. And I can’t ever recall seeing any major site devote a week to exhaustive, no-holds-barred, spoilers-allowed, critical analysis of a two-year-old game. Maybe we’ll discover that’s because it’s a really dumb idea that destroys our traffic and reader loyalty, but I also enjoying seeing us experiment with content beyond the beaten path of Games Journalism. I hope you dig it, too.
12 thoughts on “Skipping the middle man”
On the one hand, I fully support running a bunch of ME2 articles as a lead-in to ME3. On the other hand, to me the real appeal of that sort of focus-fire writing on a particular game really works best for something that’s out of the spotlight.
At the moment, it’s extremely hard for anyone to write objectively about ME2, partially because of all the pressure from EA/frothing readers/frothing co-workers to stay super positive so as not to kill their ME3 hype buzz, but also because, well, presumably the people writing these articles are in that same keyed up eager anticipation mindset, and that’s just going to color your judgement.
Of course, that whole “games journalism is a dish best served cold” angle is something I find true in general, which is why I’m so into the whole GSJ thing.
I agree that perspectives on a game whose sequal is about to appear may be rose tinted and [perhaps] the people writing may not have played the game in a year and a half/since their run through at launch, but that probably serves to put them in a similar mindcamp to most of the readers, so it’s not a bad thing. The long term historic rearview article is certainly an important thing for documenting the past and identifying its influence on the present, but in the case of ‘here’s a comprehensive look back on the game that came before this new one about to appear’ and ‘here’s a thing or three that maybe you didn’t think about when you played it’ is just as important. It hearkens back to schoolyard discussions one might’ve had. I know within my gaming peers there’s been Diablo II related talk on and off since Diablo III became a reality and I’ve rather enjoyed it. Having never played any Mass Effect I’m thinking this would be similar, so am all for it.
TL;DR: more of this please Parish!
I notice I lost my train of thought there in the middle of that.. I meant to say that the historic analysis article is great, but the thoughts on the prequel of the game about to be release article is just as great and that I appreciate the effort involved.
The ME2 coverage has been really enjoyable, but one thing I like about this site (especially with the inclusion of a whole crew of different writers) is that there’s just so much variety, and virtually any game (from a major console) has a chance of showing up in an article. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m glad you didn’t focus an entire book on a single game.
Unless that game is FFVII, which inspires some of the most polarized responses of any game (that I’d like to read, anyway).
I’ve really liked this collection of articles so far. Not just because Mass Effect 2 is one of my favorite games in recent memories, but because the articles themselves have just been so damned interesting – from a look at the more problematic aspects of the plot (i.e. gender) to a comparing the ethical choices to different schools of philosophy. It’s been really insightful and so completely different than anything you see on other gaming blogs and news sites.
I realize this just boils down to me gushing about the new direction 1up has taken again, but really it’s just because the site keeps upping the ante. I approve of this experiment. If it does become a new issue of GameSpite, I will be buy the hell out of that volume (You know, as opposed to just plain ol’ buying it like I normally do).
I don’t know if it makes you feel better, but I visit this site every day, while almost never going to 1UP (and if I do, it’s because of articles you linked here).
Man, that doesn’t make me feel better at all.
I think what I’ve mostly learned is that a lot of the commentary from folks on some of the more controversial topics (like the sexism in ME2) is absolutely frightening.
It’s a shame that 1UP’s community stands in such contrast to the talents of the staff.
I definitely approve what 1Up’s been doing with Mass Effect 2. It’s great to see a major outlet for video game reporting actually turn their attention towards criticism, and dare to dissect a video game from a major studio without the pressure generally associated with reviews.
On the other hand, I’ve had pretty mixed feelings about it too. One of the things I like about this site in particular is that it turns me onto video games I might have never heard of, or helps me to see video games I might have heard of or played in a completely different light. To me a lot of the articles written on 1Up about Mass Effect 2 seemed pretty negative–discussing interface problems, casual sexism, tone imbalances in the plot…
Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Obviously Mass Effect has its problems, and sexism is rampant in the video game industry and deserves to be pointed out when necessary.. And yeah, there were bits talking about philosophy and science relating to the game published on the site that were pretty neat.
But I didn’t see much in the way of articles discussing the game’s strengths. Nothing on the lines of someone like Phil Armstrong gushing about Breath of Fire IV, or even that pretty great analysis of Chrono Cross published here by Jeremy Parish a while ago. That latter article was very evenly balanced between the game’s strengths and weaknesses. I haven’t played Mass Effect 2, and after reading through those articles on 1Up I know that people love the game, and that it has its issues, but I have no idea what the game did right.
Occasionally people would mention that Mass Effect 2 was a “great” game, but really: what makes the game great? Should it be self-explanatory by this point?
No, I agree. There was a streak of negativity that wasn’t properly balanced by praise for the game. That’s my fault for not coordinating content better. Next time we’ll be sure to make things a little less gripey.
These articles are dull, pretentious and overthought; and that’s coming from someone who likes Mass Effect 2. It’s just a fun video game with a typical sci-fi story.
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