This year at PAX East 2014, I banded together with Susan Arendt from Joystiq and Chris Kohler from Wired Gane|Life to revisit some a few of the game reviews that haunt us — stuff that elicited such a strong reaction that we had to stop and wonder if we’d done the right thing. Here’s the description of the panel and its purpose:

Was I Wrong? Revisiting Controversial Reviews

Every game critic has That One Review that haunts them – too low, too high, or just plain unpopular in the eyes of the public. It’s enough to make the writer wonder if they really made a mistake or if the rest of the world is just nuts. A gathering of game reviewers past and present revisit That One Review to talk about their processes, what they did to weather the storm of controversy, the fallibility of human beings versus the assumed infallibility of the press, and ultimately how to handle criticism of criticism.

I’ve finally uploaded the audio from this panel, so if you couldn’t be there in person, you can still hear all about it. I’d include the PowerPoint but it’s embarrassingly simplistic and ugly, because I made it.

In any case, the file is available for download here. There are a few four-letter words in this panel, so parental guidance is suggested. Share and enjoy!

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Nathan Meunier‘s Up Up Down Down Left WRITE comes out today. Nathan has freelanced for more than 30 major gaming outlets over the years, and his book focuses specifically on the full-time freelance career path. Nathan goes further into how to sustain yourself as a business than I did in Critical Path. For instance, I didn’t even cover the realities of self-employment taxes or anything like that; I focused more on the hows and whys of the writing itself. Nathan covers that too, of course, but I think his insight into how to pay the rent at the same time will be particularly valuable. If you are thinking of going full-time freelance, I would recommend reading this before you do. Plus, the book’s foreword is written by my ex-boss and my brother from another mother, Andy Eddy.

Hey, it sure can’t hurt to have more advice from people who have been where you want to be. It’s out now for Kindle as well as print, and a sample chapter is here if you want a taste.

Congratulations on the launch, Nathan! Now let’s team up and write a book about how to write a book about getting a job writing about videogames!

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Satire: It’s funny because it’s true

July 3, 2013

In college, I took several writing courses, one of which was called Humorous Writing. Every style I wrote — parody, nonsense, what have you — turned out to be satire, according to the professor. So I believe in its power; when I see satire done well, it can be the most incisive forms of criticism […]

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How to avoid being a journalist

May 1, 2013

If you’ve read my book (or at least page 22), you know I use the word “journalist” very carefully when describing game reviewers. I see no shame in the titles “reviewer” or “critic” whatsoever, but I feel “journalist” is pushing it if all you do is evaluate software. But over my career, I did a […]

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GamesRadar’s 10 Great Books That Will Teach You About Gaming History

April 30, 2013

Critical Path got a nice shout-out from GamesRadar for those of you looking to expand your videogame library — that is, not your library of games, but your library of  books about videogaming. “Even if you don’t currently plan on joining the freelancer ranks,” writes Henry Gilbert, “his detailed approach to reviews will have you […]

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Come say hi at WonderCon Anaheim

March 25, 2013

I just got back from PAX East, which is always a blast. I sold a few books, but only brought a handful compared to previous years. I am wondering if it might be worth doing a booth at PAX Prime. I’ll do some research. However, I just got a fresh shipment of books today, and […]

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One-year anniversary…and the hidden chapter

February 21, 2013

Critical Path is now officially one year old. It’s comforting to say “it’s been out for a year” after saying “it’s been in the works for eight years.” One day it will be out longer than it took to create, and by that time, I will probably say “I wrote a book? I don’t remember […]

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Rare evidence of a modern TK mistake

September 3, 2012

If you’ve read the book, you may recall me discussing the magazine shorthand “TK” as placeholder text for something that is “to come” in the production of that article. (It’s page 79 of the book if you wanna go check it out.) Kat was flipping through the September 2012 issue of O — Oprah Winfrey’s […]

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Download the PAX Prime 2012 “How Not to Write a Game Review” panel (MP3 & documents)

September 2, 2012

I was able to record the audio of my How Not to Write a Game Review at PAX Prime 2012 (thank you, PAX Enforcers!). Here it is as an MP3 file. You will also want these three examples as you listen along: The author’s raw copy The editor’s notes The rewritten copy Thank you to everybody […]

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Come to my PAX Prime 2012 panel on reviews

August 13, 2012

I am on several PAX Prime panels at the end of the month, but one is just about Critical Path. If you’ve read the book, you know there’s a sample review filled with newbie mistakes. Rather than just repeat that live, I’m working with a friend to create a second flawed sample review, which I […]

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