Guides To Success Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Guides To Success RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network JTP Guide: Who to follow on Twitter for the best news leads https://www.gameskinny.com/i8wwf/jtp-guide-who-to-follow-on-twitter-for-the-best-news-leads https://www.gameskinny.com/i8wwf/jtp-guide-who-to-follow-on-twitter-for-the-best-news-leads https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyop/8/b/9/orig_8b9d0f83f7b4893c50133941c1ca8ded.png i8wwf/jtp-guide-who-to-follow-on-twitter-for-the-best-news-leads Tue, 05 Jan 2016 10:13:32 -0500 BlackTideTV

During my original session here in the Journalist Training Program (JTP) I found that grabbing news articles was extremely easy. Within ten minutes of waking up and flicking through Twitter, I could find 2 or 3 great stories to write about. Unfortunately, from what I gathered in Slack and the Forums, nobody else was as lucky. 

Twitter can be one of two things: an epic source of information, or an epic waste of time. There are a ton of great people to follow like developers, game pages, other news sites... There is also a ton of horrible, time wasting people to follow such as meme accounts.

What it really comes down to is what you use Twitter for: business or personal. That being said, I used Twitter for personal reasons for years before beginning the JTP, and I didn't change a thing when I started the program. That's just the type of Twitter user I am I suppose.

So who do you want to follow for the best news leads? I choose to follow these accounts for my own personal entertainment and enlightenment, but you can take the premise and apply it to your own choice of games/devs/etc.

Fair warning: this article will contain a ton of Twitter handles. Luckily for you, I made a neat list on Twitter that you can find here.

Let's start with news for a specific game. For example, Assassin's Creed news. 

Who should you follow on Twitter for the most breaking Assassin's Creed news?

  1. The game page - @AssassinsCreed
  2. Any variation on the game page (sometimes they post differently or sooner based on time zones) - @Assassins_UK
  3. The main development studio - @Ubisoft
  4. Lead Game Developers (if applicable - I don't follow any lead devs for Creed but, for an example: as far as Call of Duty goes, I follow @MichaelCondrey and @DavidVonderhaar)
  5. Systems the game will be available on - @PlayStation, @Xbox, etc

Now let's talk about news from other news sources.

Ever heard that old saying, "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer?" Time to take it literally. Jump on Twitter and follow all of the big gaming news guys, all of the little gaming news guys, that one random dude that had that great tip that one time, everyone.

Start with @IGN, @Polygon, @gamespot, and any others that you know of. Don't just stick with online gaming journalists. Go after TV talk shows and their hosts - @reviewsontherun, @epdailytv, @Victor_Lucas, @ScottCJones, etc. Don't stop there! Does the entertainment journalist at your local paper have a Twitter? Follow her! 

Remember: following other news sources can be a great source of information, but you'll often come across other news articles. You can create your own articles by taking their info and combining it with other sources, but plagiarism isn't tolerated to... well... anyone really.

Don't forget to follow @GameSkinny!

Let's lighten the mood. Following merchandisers and product manufacturers.

Make sure you're following all of the places that sell video games and related content! You never know when you'll have to write about an awesome deal. Here is a taste of who I follow:

  • @Walmart
  • @EBGamesCanada
  • @StaplesCanada
  • @amazongames
  • @Amazon
  • @BestBuy
  • @Gamestop

You might have noticed that the heading for this section said merchandisers AND product manufacturers. Well what's a product manufacturer and why should you care? I'm not talking about the guys that make the game cases! I'm talking about gaming goodies like headsets, capture cards, pro controllers and so on.

For a start, you can follow @ScufGaming, @turtlebeach, @ASTROGaming, @KontrolFreek, and @elgatogaming, but there are too many of these companies to count. Good luck catching them all, Pokemon fans.

The big 3 and other gaming expos.

I hope this one is pretty obvious. Where are the biggest, hugest, most amazing news stories broken each and every year? Gaming entertainment expos. Make sure you follow these guys and when that time of year rolls around you'll have non-stop writing powers. @E3 and @Official_PAX are a good start, but there are plenty more to choose from. Consider more out of the box expos as well such as @Comic_Con.

Sometimes, YouTubers are just in the know.

YouTubers are not to be overlooked (and I'm not just saying that because I am one). A lot of the time they will have strange breaking news or interesting theories that can form an idea.

I'm a big Call of Duty guy when it comes to YouTube (making my own guides, tips and tricks, and camo showcases on a daily basis), so most of my references are Call of Duty based. Again, take the premise and apply it to your own favorite gaming related YouTubers.

Despite my dislike of them, check out @Chaosxsilencer and @OMGitsAliA for good Call of Duty breaking news stories. My personal favorite YouTuber is @Drift0r, who I glean most of my inspiration from, myself. Of course, there are gaming news YouTube pages like @MachinimaETC, but you'll have to find most of them for yourself. 

Don't forget to follow yours truly: @BlackTideTV. While you're at it you might as well throw a YouTube subscription my way as well. ;)

I hate to say it, but sometimes it's beneficial to throw your friends under the bus. 

Follow each other, and any other friends that you know in the industry. Sometimes you can collaborate, sometimes you can find an idea off of someone else's, sometimes you'll notice someone's idea and jump on it faster than they can. All is fair in love and journalism.

That's about it, apart from a few outlying categories:
  • Actors who star in video games.
  • Support Twitters such as @ATVIAssist
  • Cosplay Twitter accounts - believe it or not I've found many a good article through my sources (which I won't be giving away on account of they're too damn unique... and pretty NSFW sometimes).
  • Movie info and review site Twitter pages can sometimes be great for video game news.
  • Finally, follow big brand names like @starwars and @Marvel. They often tweet about upcoming entertainment of any medium - including video games. 

I hope this article helped you to create a better Twitter experience. With any luck your feed no longer consists mostly of meme tweets like mine once did. When used properly, Twitter might be the best source of readily available information in today's society. Good luck article hunting!

Where do you find your news info? Let me know in the comment section!

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GameSkinny Update 9/10: Introducing our new navigation! https://www.gameskinny.com/0gzlm/gameskinny-update-910-introducing-our-new-navigation https://www.gameskinny.com/0gzlm/gameskinny-update-910-introducing-our-new-navigation https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyop/b/6/4/orig_b6409b7cb038717de1226692e1a59a7c.jpg 0gzlm/gameskinny-update-910-introducing-our-new-navigation Fri, 11 Sep 2015 10:32:18 -0400 GameSkinny Staff

Say hello to GameSkinny's brand new navigation bar! 

Since our last update, the dev team at GameSkinny has been hard at work thinking up new ways to improve the site. One of the things we've determined is that our old nav bar wasn't being used as much as we'd like, and some articles just weren't getting nearly as much attention as a result.

We thought that needed to change.

Our community writers put out stellar content on a daily basis and it all deserves to be found, especially when it comes to posts about the most popular games. The new navigation bar (with it's glossy, new color scheme) will help direct readers to more great content.

It's still a work in progress, but the new nav should help our readers scoot around the site in a more efficient way!

The Games Tag in Article Backend

With this new navigation comes new responsibilities for our writers: if you want your Witcher 3 articles to show up in the Witcher 3 nav hub, you'll need to make sure you put Witcher 3 in the Games section of the SEO tab when you create your articles.

Also, you'll want to add Witcher to that Games section to make sure your article shows up whenever people are looking for all things in the Witcher franchise.

Tags are Even More Effective Now

Tags are valuable assets in making sure readers can find more content about each tagged phrase (you'll see tags at the end of each article) and our new nav system has some great under-the-hood coding to make tags work better for our readers.

This means that writers will have to be careful about tagging appropriately and not over tagging in the SEO tab of articles. Try to stick to 3-5 tags. If a game is already tagged in the Game Tag section, you're all set - don't worry about adding the games to the normal Tag section, our system has you covered!

Also, certain tags like 'cosplay', 'eSports', 'interview', 'Kickstarter', and the like will help make sure your articles show up in the right place for readers looking for those kinds of content. Tag smart!

Two New Categories

For a long time now, the 'Culture' category has been a catch-all for everything that doesn't fit neatly into News, Reviews, or Guides. We're expanding our number of categories to give two popular types of content their very own homes.

Listicle - Lists have been increasingly popular on GameSkinny, and our readers can't seem to get enough of them! This new category will put all list articles in one place for readers who are looking for some easy-to-digest list content.

Opinion - We've all got opinions, and they deserve to be showcased in a special category! The new Opinion category will be the home for the most opinionated gamers and writers among us. 

A little lost? Here are some examples:

Questions, Comments, Suggestions?

As always, share them in the comments!

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11 things you should know about interviewing developers https://www.gameskinny.com/2sz3a/11-things-you-should-know-about-interviewing-developers https://www.gameskinny.com/2sz3a/11-things-you-should-know-about-interviewing-developers https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyop/3/c/3/orig_3c31ecc487651fc4f81d829f24dabe49.png 2sz3a/11-things-you-should-know-about-interviewing-developers Fri, 31 Jul 2015 12:15:52 -0400 Larry Everett

Gamescom in Cologne and PAX Prime in Seattle are coming up quickly. Gamescom starts next week, and PAX Prime hits at the end of the month. Although I’ve never traveled to Germany to attend Gamescom, I have been to all the PAX conventions in the US at least once. They are by far my favorite kinds of conventions. Unlike E3, which is primarily for press, or Comic-Con, which is about general entertainment, both Gamescom and PAX focus on two of my favorite things: games and the people playing them. Although press does make its way to both conventions, the players are the first focus.

As a player attending either one of these events, you will get a chance to speak to the actual people making the games on the show floor. I believe you will find most of these developers to be extremely passionate about the product they’re developing. However, that might not be enough to give you the answers you’re looking for. I have been interviewing developers for going on five years now, so let me give you 11 pieces of information that might help you get better answers.

1. Research the games

I cannot tell you how important it is to know the games that you’re going to see at the convention. Both Gamescom and PAX have maps of the show floor, letting you know which games and product developers are going to be there. And there is also a schedule of panels, check that out and make you can get to the ones you think are the most important. There are also phone apps like Guidebook that will allow you to set a schedule based on the convention itself and it also gives you a digital version map of the convention, too.

Once you have a decent schedule set, you should do research on the games that you’re going to see. Find some of the key features about the game that you would like to hit on. Find out what has already been talked about, so that maybe you can expound upon that or maybe not reiterate a question that has been answered multiple times already.

2. Developers are people

One of the biggest things to understand when talking to developers is that they are people, too. This means that they are fallible. Most of the time, there will the a PR or community person within earshot, so that mistakes can be heard. If something is said that a bit out of place or seems to hit you funny, allow them to correct the mistake or ask for clarification. If for some reason the developer talks about something he is not supposed to, be respectful and don’t publish it. Or at very least, get it OKed. Bottomline: Treat them how you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes.

3. Call them by their names

Learn the developers’ names. If you can learn them beforehand, that would be wonderful. But learning them during the interview is fine. You should also pay attention to the PR rep’s name, too. Most likely, any of your future communication will be handled via the PR rep. Then during the interview, refer to the developer by his or her name. Don’t over do it by using his or her name in every sentence, but a couple of times during the interview would be good. This will not only make the dev feel good, but you will also be more likely to remember the name later when writing up the article.

4. Developers love the games they are making

Oftentimes, gamers like to trash on games. It’s a thing. I get it. And sometimes, games really, really deserve it. But most of the time, if a game makes an appearance at a convention, there is significant money and love dropped into the game. The developers who put up with spending a lot of time in a loud, crowded convention hall have put their heart into the game and want to share it with others. It would behoove you, if you actually want them to answer your questions, to not insult their game, no matter how bad it is.

5. Ask open-ended questions

I think this one is obvious, but over and over I hear “professional” games reporters ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Of course, it’s not always possible to avoid a polarized answer, but if you do run into that situation, try to have an immediate follow-up question. Avoid yes/no questions when possible.

6. Ask questions that they can answer

We all want to break the biggest news, right? We want to be the first with bits of information that no one else has. Well, unless you’re working for IGN then it’s unlikely you will get the biggest reveal for a particular game, but you might be able to get tidbits of information that no one else has. And the best way to get that is to ask questions that developers can answer.

For instance, you might know that developers aren’t talking about all the classes in an RPG. So it would be foolish to ask, “Which classes are going to be in the game?” The developer will clearly answer: "I can’t talk about that yet." 

But a developer might be able to talk about how classes fit into the rest of the game, so you can ask: “What was the philosophy between balancing gameplay mechanics and the game’s story?” Of course, it’s possible that the dev will not be able to answer anything about the classes, but you’ll likely get some hint as to how the classes work within the overall game.

7. But don't be afraid to ask for secrets and easter eggs

If you’ve been respectful and polite to the developer, you might be able to point-blank ask about the secrets of the game. 

I’ve asked the Star Wars: The Old Republic developers flat out: “Where should I look for the biggest secrets in the game?” At the time -- several years ago before the game was launched -- the answer was holocrons. I was told to look up and listen for the noise that holocrons make.

8. Ask for their favorite parts of the game

As I mentioned before, developers love their games, and they love talking about them. Besides making the game, they also play it. So if you’re looking for secrets, sometimes you can ask them about their favorite parts of the game or ask them about their favorite experience while playing the game. 

You’ll be surprised sometimes what is revealed during those anecdotes. But ready for follow-up questions for clarification because that can be revealing, too.

9. Ask for a business card

Developers don’t come to conventions without business cards, and some devs actually have some very cool business cards. At PAX South this year, I interviewed the developers of Life is Feudal, and no lie, the lead developer had a metal business card that he loved to show off. 

However, the real purpose is to get the developer’s information and to show that you actually cared about the game and the interview. Of course, you’ll want to have business cards of your own, too. Even if it's just for your blog or YouTube channel. That will show that you take the interview seriously.

10. Thank them for the interview

It seems to be common sense to thank the developer for the interview, but sometimes common sense isn’t so common. And when you’re caught up in the excitement of the show floor or finally speaking to the developer you always wanted to talk to, you can forget some of the basics of conversation. 

Be polite. Shake the developer’s hand and thank her for her time. This will demonstrate that you understand the importance of her time and might open you up for more interviews in the future.

11. Send a follow-up email

Lastly, send a follow-up email to either the developer or the PR rep or both. Thank them again, and if you have any follow-up questions, this would be the time to ask them. If you know when your article will go live, the follow-up email would be a great place to mention that, too. 

PR reps really like to know when articles are going live. Who knows; you might actually get a promotional link from the developer’s Twitter account or featured on the game’s website.

If you’re going to Gamescom, be prepared for what is the biggest gaming convention in the world. There will be a lot of people and developers there to talk to. Let me know how it goes. And if you’re going to PAX Prime, look me up. I would love to talk to you; I will be there the whole convention. Thanks for reading, and I'll talk to you again soon.

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10 Reasons video game websites use 'top 10' lists and slideshows https://www.gameskinny.com/gipwg/10-reasons-video-game-websites-use-top-10-lists-and-slideshows https://www.gameskinny.com/gipwg/10-reasons-video-game-websites-use-top-10-lists-and-slideshows https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyop/d/e/c/orig_dec663ea7035b8843654d18c82f3eb3d.jpg gipwg/10-reasons-video-game-websites-use-top-10-lists-and-slideshows Thu, 02 Jul 2015 08:36:38 -0400 Rob Thubron

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1. They make an easy reading experience - lists are effortlessly acquired data for our brains.

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This is true for all lists, not just those that appear on gaming websites. Ultimately, list-based articles are both simple to read and allow our brains to take in information easier. The vast majority of people would prefer to read the exact same article in a listicle format over a standard one. 

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Gamers love to give their opinion on what's the best game, console, and Team Fortress 2 hat, and that will never change. As long as we have video games, websites like GameSkinny, and passionate players, we'll have listicles. Long may they reign.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/c/1/9/c190944f51cc9b1d6c80a6946bb9f477.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/c/1/9/tiny_c190944f51cc9b1d6c80a6946bb9f477.jpg","type":"slide","id":"73132","description":"

2. They often have mass appeal, usually beyond a gaming site's target audience.

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List articles are very popular - it's why there are so many sites solely dedicated to their production. Gaming sites know this, and they also know they are the articles that get the most social media shares and views. It's one of the main reasons they continue to come up with them; it's these views that keep the websites alive. That one blowout list about NSFW Skyrim mods might have gotten enough traffic for a site to justify things like smaller op-eds and interviews. There's a content ecosystem to keep in mind.

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There's also the fact that gaming listicles often appeal to those who only have passing interest in the medium; maybe someone who plays Call of Duty on their brother's console every now and again, or enjoys freemium phone apps. They may not know who all these people are in the 'most obscure fighting characters in gaming history' list, but it doesn't stop them reading and enjoying it.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/3/f/5/3f50e1f2ccf139e97f8d6c2e16859dd1.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/3/f/5/tiny_3f50e1f2ccf139e97f8d6c2e16859dd1.jpg","type":"slide","id":"72843","description":"

3. Video games have been around for long time; this means plenty of entry options for lists.

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The first popular retail video game (game inside a system) was Pong, way back in 1975. In the forty-years since then, we've had a lot of games, especially when you consider the frequency at which they're released. This means there are a huge number of options to pick from when choosing entries for gaming listicles.

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Remember: the more wide-ranging the subject matter, the easier, and better, a list will be: '10 greatest video games' will always be an improvement over '10 greatest types of sock'.

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Because of the sheer amount of choice available when it comes to thinking up these lists, it's unlikely they'll ever stop being produced. With more new titles being released every day, and therefore more potential listicles, they can carry on being a feature on gaming websites indefinitely.

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4. They are a good way of summarizing a game's features.

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One of the ways a listicle can most resemble a standard article is when it's summarizing a game's features. This can be an excellent method of showing a title's best, or worst, qualities in a quick and easy to read format. They're also good at gathering all known (or rumored) information regarding upcoming games and presenting it in an appealing, update-able fashion. 

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The authors of these types of lists often entice readers even more by using terms such as "the most exciting..." and "reasons we can't wait for...". Some examples from GameSkinny include 10 Reasons why Star Citizen will blow you away and Fallout 4: Everything we know so far.

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5. They start debates.

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It may come as a surprise to many people, but a large number of gamers get quite passionate about their hobby. So, for example, when someone makes a list that claims Lara Croft is sexier than Samus Aran, the site hosting the listicle can expect some angry fans to express their outrage.

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This often starts a comments debate (i.e. fight) that will ultimately lead to more people getting involved. It's then hoped that viewers will share the list with their friends, usually with the added "check out the crazy assholes in the comments section."

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Having a provocative title is also a good method of getting views... and death threats. Anything along the lines of 'Why (insert game here) is massively overrated' usually does the trick.

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6. Reading the text is often optional.

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Gaming sites know that some of their readers aren't always keen on reading 1000+ word articles; this is where listicles might come in handy. A great number of lists don't actually require people to read the text beneath each entry. A lot of times, only the images are necessary, and this is particularly true with picture-based listicles. 

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There's no better way for a reader to take in a massive article very quickly than to make it list-based. Although, it is worth pointing out that the text does sometimes add to the experience. *Cough*

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7. They're a good way for fans to discover new games.

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If a person is a fan of a specific gaming genre, such as real-time strategy games, then a list article can be a good way of helping them discover previously unheard of titles.

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'Best of genre' lists are constantly updated, and every author has their own opinion. Some listicles can be game specific, such as '10 games all Starcraft fans must play'. These kinds of lists often get a large number of social media shares, making them big favorites with gaming sites.

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8. The main picture of a listicle is sometimes more influential than its content.

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The main image of a listicle carries a lot of sway over how many people will read it. Even if a person is interested in an article's subject, that might not be enough to make them click on its link. But if they see a picture they like, especially if it's something that really grabs their attention, there's more chance of them checking it out.

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Once their interest has been piqued and they're on the site, hopefully they'll stick around and read some of the other work available - and not just the stuff with Dead or Alive girls in it.

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9. Gamers like to know how their favorite hidden gems are ranked.

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A large number of gamers have strong attachments to certain games which, although they may be brilliant, never got the publicity they deserved. Whenever a listicle appears on a gaming site that could/should have a person’s favorite hidden gem in it, they'll more often than not check it out and see how that game fared.

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This kind of thing often results in said gamer hurling abuse at the author for not putting their beloved indie title at number one. But hey, another day in the life.

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10. They can draw people in.

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Although it may be considered mildly unscrupulous, some lists are made purely to arouse curiosity - and they do. These are the ones that give people the "I've got to check this out" urge, or 'clickbait' for want of a better word.

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Sites will often find lists such as 'You won't believe your grubby eyes when you see Harley Quinn's 10 hottest costumes' will do a lot better than a well-written page of text explaining why the author likes indie games. Sad, but true.

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It's been said that the content of the internet can be broken down into the following statistics: 50% porn, 10% cat-based memes, and 40% lists. While this may be a slight exaggeration, you get the idea.

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There are literally hundreds of thousands of lists, top 10's, and slideshows online. The subjects of these 'listicles' (the slightly cringeworthy term for online lists) have no limits: 20 most amusingly shaped vegetables, 12 hairiest Senators, 50 reasons not to eat raw sewage.

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One place where list-based articles have really taken off is on gaming websites. They're often the most popular section of these sites, and, thanks to the sheer number of video games that have been produced over the last 40 years, there are an almost endless number of gaming listicles that can be thought up.

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The subject of this particular top 10 is why do video game websites actually use listicles so much? Hopefully the irony of it all won't be lost on anyone, and maybe you'll learn something - even if it's just more proof that you can make a top 10 out of anything.

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Digital Journalism 101: 4-minute crash course in writing the news https://www.gameskinny.com/8cbu2/digital-journalism-101-4-minute-crash-course-in-writing-the-news https://www.gameskinny.com/8cbu2/digital-journalism-101-4-minute-crash-course-in-writing-the-news https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyop/4/3/5/orig_4354788ad82532961b0f480e63907847.jpg 8cbu2/digital-journalism-101-4-minute-crash-course-in-writing-the-news Wed, 10 Jun 2015 09:02:47 -0400 GameSkinny Staff

Writing the news isn’t particularly difficult, but it does take practice and discipline. While the label of ‘journalist’ can seem like a lofty title, you can write effective news without much fuss if you follow the guidelines and advice below. (And GameSkinny is a GREAT place to start practicing games journalism.)

A news article, in its most essential form, is a vehicle for information to get from A to B. You are A, your reader is B. When writing the news, your duty is always to inform the reader as best you can in the most effective, efficient, and engaging way possible.

One of the quickest ways to get information across is to focus on the essentials first, the details second.

Your reader must know six things, quickly:

Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

I can see you nodding right now, “yes, yes, of course, duh.” But these basics are nothing to scoff at; drill them into your brain.

An effective news story has a succinct answer to each of those six questions, usually within the first two paragraphs. Don’t hesitate to flex your writing chops and answer more than one of these in a single sentence.

Let’s look at an example: a popular game developer is Kickstarting a spiritual successor to a beloved, old franchise. 

  • Who is the developer? The team? The characters?
  • What is the game about? What has the developer made in the past? What is the goal?
  • Where does the game take place? Where is the team located?
  • When will the Kickstarter start? End? When is the game anticipated?
  • Why Kickstarter? Why now?
  • How is the campaign going? How is this all being received?

Use the inverted pyramid of news: critical info first, the rest follows

Source: LitReactor

The ‘base’ of the pyramid puts the most relevant information first. If your reader only has time to read the first two paragraphs, you’ve still got them covered.

Assume that the story might get cut off at any point or the reader will quickly scan to find the info they need and leave. Not only is providing critical information first good practice online, but also in print, where word counts and physical space are so important and an editor might have to cut down a story to size.

As you move into the middle, you’ll have the opportunity for quotes, comments, additional information, background, and other useful tidbits necessary to flesh out the story.

Towards the end, you’ll wrap up and provide final details, links to other relevant on-site articles, and the necessary off-site links.

News is for people and about people

Don’t just think about who the big names are, but also consider who is affected by this news. Who are they and what are their reactions? How do people feel about the news? If someone is reading, consider that they likely have a personal investment or interest in the story.

Use quotes and name names; give a human element for the reader to connect to.

Keep the human element in mind. Your readers are *typically* humans, after all.

Be accurate, concise, and readable

It should come as no surprise: you need to fact check your work and make sure your sentences are grammatically correct and reader-friendly. We’re not talking about any old readers; we’re talking about internet-savvy, Reddit-using, social media-fueled commenters who expect top-quality writing.

Tell your reader what they need to know and keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Don’t go overboard with descriptive words, and don’t talk about things that are unnecessary. Take a proofreading axe to your words once you finish writing, and make sure the information is articulate and easy to digest.

Accuracy also means accurate capitalization and italics. BioWare, not Bioware. PlayStation, not Playstation. World of Warcraft, not World of Warcraft.

If you’re the not first to break the news, you need an angle

If you don't say something different, your work will fade into the crowd.

You will not be the one breaking the news most of the time, that’s a fact of the digital journalism industry. These days, people can get the news just about anywhere: Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, blogs, public press releases, and so on. You need to provide something a little extra if you want to engage readers.

Have an angle, use your voice and tone, be inquisitive, and consider approaching the news in a way that isn’t in the limelight yet.

Don’t just write: “PS4’s early sales outperform Xbox One’s sales”

By the time you write this headline, there are already a hundred other articles with this same headline. Why would someone click on your version rather than IGN’s or Polygon’s articles that say the same thing? If you want people to stop and read what you have to say, you’re going to have to do more than regurgitate the news. You’re going to have to stick out, and you’re going to have to say something new.

Develop your angle, consider a perspective:

  • “PS4’s early sales lead might be all smoke and mirrors”
  • “PS4 launch sales shoot ahead, but with no exclusive games in sight”
  • “Xbox One developers worry about PS4’s strong early sales lead”
  • “PS4 is winning the console war, according to massive sales lead”

Here are four different ways to interpret that same news. Instead of yet another regurgitated version of a PS4 press release, these headlines offer something new that required a little critical thinking. A good angle is not necessarily an opinion, but it does require considering a perspective.

Anyone can write a bland news piece quickly, but a journalist needs to do more than that. As a journalist, it is up to you think critically about perspective, use your brain, and come up a version of the news that appeals to and resonates with readers.

---

Action Item: Write a piece of news that satisfies who/what/where/when/why/how in the first two paragraphs, uses the inverted pyramid style, and has a fresh angle.

We invite you to try your hand at games journalism by writing here on GameSkinny, where our editorial staff is happy to review your work.

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GameSkinny Writing Guide: How to Write Reviews That People Want to Read https://www.gameskinny.com/ynce7/gameskinny-writing-guide-how-to-write-reviews-that-people-want-to-read https://www.gameskinny.com/ynce7/gameskinny-writing-guide-how-to-write-reviews-that-people-want-to-read https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyop/1/8/1/orig_1817df86562c5a7c31e1157fab435127.jpg ynce7/gameskinny-writing-guide-how-to-write-reviews-that-people-want-to-read Sun, 07 Jun 2015 04:23:50 -0400 Auverin Morrow

Reviews matter. While it's easy to brush off a review as being "just someone's opinion," a well-written review can be a lot more than that. Critical opinions, both positive and negative, have some serious influence on gamers. A good review can convince you to buy a game, just as a bad review can dissuade you. 

But a good (read: well-written) review isn't easy to write. Here at GameSkinny, we strive to create the best content possible. And that means we want to put out kickass reviews. So we're going to guide you through the key parts of the process.

1. Have a clear opinion. And don't be afraid of it. 

This probably seems obvious. But every now and then, you'll come across a review that either has a weak stance, or (other than the number score) has no stance at all. As you write your review, express your opinion clearly and consistently. Don't like the graphics? Say it. Loved the storyline? Tell us! Your readers want to know about strong emotions, not 'meh' emotions. 

Some review writers can get a little intimidated when their opinion on a game is starkly different from the general consensus. I can count more than a few times where I've felt guilty for liking a game because everyone else seemed to hate it. (Or vice-versa.) And I've felt guilty for disliking a game because I like the developer. Don't let yourself think this way. Until further play or new information changes your mind, stand strong by your opinion. Don't veil it with half-hearted assertions. 

2. Support, support, support.  

Now that you've got a solid opinion, you've gotta support it. Your readers won't be satisfied if you merely say that The Witcher 3 was a lot of fun and a fantastic RPG that everybody should play. We could get that much information while browsing Twitter or having a conversation with a friend.

Use concrete examples to back yourself up. 

If you were reviewing Witcher 3, you'd probably talk about things like the storyline, the graphics, and character depth. But it's not enough to say these things were good or bad and then move on. Be specific. Discuss why the story was riveting. Perhaps mention a few memorable moments. Point out instances of incredible detail or breathtaking landscapes (extra points for screenshots!). Were the combat mechanics or quest design lacking? Explain why! Share anecdotes of experiences you had while playing. Weird combat movement got you eaten by a Griffon? Say that. Got tired of repetitive contracts? Say that, too.

If your review is clocking in around 200-300 words, you're probably not saying enough about the game (unless it's really short/simple or a demo of sorts). Really dig into what makes the game good (or not so good), and take the time to lay out those reasons for your reader. This leads us to our next tip...

3. Consider all aspects of the game.

When reviews are posted on the site, this is most often their fatal flaw. In your review, it's perfectly fine to really hone in on one or two key aspects of the game that make or break it. But not at the expense of all other elements. 

There's a lot to consider when reviewing a game. What are the graphics like? Do they suit the game's premise, or would a different aesthetic have better served the experience? Is the music well-made and suitable to the game? Are the sound effects good? How does the game play? What mechanics work well, and what mechanics don't? Is the combat well-constructed and enjoyable? Is the storyline engaging? Are there any notable bugs?

These are some of the questions you need to consider as you're writing. All aspects of the game play into the overall experience. So you want to dissect these elements and really take a look at them as you review. 

4. No ad hominems. 

This is something you'll often see when a reviewer is extremely disappointed in a game. It can be difficult to write a negative review without bashing the developer. Resist the temptation. Attacking the developer of a game (or in some cases critics and fans who've previously reviewed it) does not do your review any favors. And it damages your credibility as a writer.

When Assassin's Creed: Unity came out, a lot of reviewers flew into an outrage about how glitchy the game was. It's perfectly reasonable for fans to be upset about buying a broken game, but I saw a lot of reviewers fly off the handle and berate Ubisoft. Accusations were thrown that Ubisoft was money-mongering instead of caring about fans, that the Unity devs were lazy, or that Ubisoft was "just f***ing stupid".

While these accusations may or may not be true, they have no place in your review. It's a review, not a rant. You are evaluating the game, not making judgements about the developer, critics, or fans. Check out this Rack N' Ruin review by one of our staff writers to see how you can negatively review a game without attacking the developers. 

5. Remember the GS Review Scores

When it comes time to assign that all-important number score to your review, take a moment to review the GameSkinny scores. Here's a cliff-notes rundown of what each number means:

1: A game so broken that it's unplayable. 

2: Barely playable, but in no way enjoyable.

3: Playable, but the bad vastly outweighs the good.

4: Playable, but less than mediocre. 

5: Meh. A bland experience. 

6: Just alright. May have some good parts, but is ultimately lacking. 

7: Good, but comes up short in some key aspects.

8: Enjoyable and generally recommended. 

9: Executes a familiar concept well, and will be fondly remembered. 

10: A very well-made, must-play game. (Not a perfect game.)

Very few games will fall in the 1-3 categories, and even fewer will afford a 10. 

6. Use headers and screenshots. 

Formatting is key to any review posted here on GameSkinny. Headers and screenshots help break up your article text and draw the reader's eye down. For readers who skim rather than reading closely, headers can help highlight particular paragraphs they might be interested in. 

Each aspect of your review should fall under its own header. Graphics and art style may be one header, while sound is another, and combat is another, etc. And while it's perfectly fine to just use "Graphics" or "Sound" as your header, your reader tends to engage more when those headings are a little more descriptive. To see descriptive headers in action, check out our TyranoBuilder and XQUISIT LZ380 reviews. 

Screenshots

Screencaps are important to any review. Whether they're just there to give the reader a sense of what the game looks like, to visually demonstrate a particular point you make, or to show an in-game bug, they augment your reader's experience. 

In a pinch (or if you're reviewing on console), you can use in-game images that you find on Google. But it's best to try and grab your own. When choosing screenshots, make sure you try to get dynamic stills that highlight something about the game: graphics, action, level design, combat, bugs, user interface/menus, etc.

7. Have a clear, summarizing conclusion

A strong review needs a strong ending. You'll want to have a concluding paragraph that reiterates your overall impression about the game and wraps up all your main points. Answer any further questions your reader might have, and make your recommendation (or not). 

Some writers choose to use the concluding paragraph as a place to score each aspect of a game individually. Graphics might be an 8, for example, but combat may only be a 5 or 6. Whatever method you decide to use, make sure you're ending strong. 

Now give it a shot. 

Pick up a new release or find an indie title that interests you. Give it a playthrough, then come share your thoughts with us. And practice the skills listed above. Before you know it, you'll be a review-writing machine. 

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GameSkinny's Journalist Training Program Testimonials https://www.gameskinny.com/mzv8j/gameskinnys-journalist-training-program-testimonials https://www.gameskinny.com/mzv8j/gameskinnys-journalist-training-program-testimonials https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyop/5/7/0/orig_570cb120203f9d1f6fb88e65683ed875.jpg mzv8j/gameskinnys-journalist-training-program-testimonials Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:09:07 -0400 GameSkinny Staff

Here is a collection of some of our successful Journalist Training Program veterans and what that have to say about the program and their time with GameSkinny!

Want to learn more about the program? Read all about it on our JTP posting!

Michael Falero

JTP gives a young writer a few very crucial tools: topics to write about, a deadline to worry about, and editorial support to rely on when you need it. These three things eliminate a lot of the roadblocks that new writers often face. It's writing training wheels so you can feel more confident about your job as a writer in the long term.

JTP pushes you to write more content and better content faster than you might feel "comfortable" with. That's how it helps you grow. I needed the deadlines, but I also appreciated the editors and senior interns for their support and their company. GS can make you feel like you belong to a community of writers, and that you're not alone.

Mandie M

The JTP program was, firstly, a breath of fresh air after years of copyediting. At first, I struggled a little bit with my newfound freedom.

It was a little something like this inside my brain: "What do you mean there aren't assigned keywords and lengths? Choose my own topics? Are you nuts?"

But I jumped right into the pool, and lo and behold, I started swimming.

Writing-wise, I learned to tighten up my writing, choose topics, and write to my audience, which is significantly different from writing for my typical audience. It was nice to write a little bit more casually, but my ability to research deeply certainly helped me out quite a bit.

Lauren Puga

Not gonna lie, it’s a pretty great feeling to see something you’ve written published online. It’s an even better feeling when that published something is on the front page. That’s the awesome part about GameSkinny – people actually read your stuff.

Sure, I have a personal blog and sometimes I write things there, but on GameSkinny, I’m a *real* writer with a real audience. That exposure comes with perks too. Since I started writing for GameSkinny, my Twitter following has grown and I’ve been asked to participate in things like podcasts and streams.

I’d say you’d be surprised at what kinds of jobs the JTP prepares you for. Even if you’re not sure about a career in games journalism, you’ll leave the program with so many lucrative skills you wouldn’t have learned otherwise. Who knew my experience using Google Analytics and mastering SEO would land me a job in digital media."

Nick Boisson

The JTP is a great start for any aspiring writer to enter the vast domain of games reporting and criticism. The staff is always there to help and -- no matter how good or poor your writing was when you entered -- you will leave the JTP feeling like a professional.

GameSkinny was a great site to help me get back to writing about games.

Michael Arrieta (zoLo567)

The JTP is a great way to get into the video game journalism business. The editors at GameSkinny Will help shape you into a great writer, and teach you what you need to know. They helped me perfect my craft, to the point that my editors did not have to change any of my articles, which they loved. I had come in a seasoned writer, but GameSkinny showed me that there were still things for me to learn to help hone my craft.

Interviewers were able to see the work that I did and were impressed. One thing that the JTP will definitely help teach will be self-editing, which has proven to be a strong skill to have.

Michael Chiu

I think the JTP is a great entry point for people aspiring to be good writers in the video game business.

As many know, gamers are very passionate about their hobby, and the JTP provides an outlet for them to express their opinions and to share their knowledge for just about anything related to video games.

I wish I had more time to participate, and hope to some day get back in. The virtual newsroom is always buzzing with the latest news, gossip, and other exciting tidbits of information in the world of video games, and everyone is very supportive of one another's work.

As for writing, I have definitely improved through JTP, and have since been invited to be a featured writer in a Taiwanese-American Science & Technology journal, writing about consumer electronics/tech and Internet of Things.

Pierre Fouquet

Just do it! It's great fun, loads of great people. Even if you don't think you have the time, it's fine.

[Writing] becomes a thing you want to do in your usual relaxing time, at least for me it did. Give the JTP a shot, because you won't regret it.

Greg McGee (CoatedPolecat)

I used to be a musician and always enjoyed the attention, but more importantly I enjoyed the emotions felt creating that piece of music. Much like writing, I feel like I've accomplished something with each article posted. The feeling of knowing someone may actually enjoy your art, your opinion, your understanding of the industry - that feeling is like none other. That is what draws me to writing.

Through my head-in-the-clouds feelings 'n' all, the JTP kept me grounded. Not to say the editors knocked me down and rained on my parade, quite the opposite. They let me know what I was doing wrong, and how to fix it, daily. Not unlike a teacher, both Jay Ricciardi and Katy Hollingsworth (the only JTP editors [at the time]) were very patient - and still are - with my lack of commas and understanding of proper punctuation.

The importance of taking that extra step shows through so much when writing, from the research you do on the topic to taking time and playing with Google Trends. "What you put in to it, is what you'll get out of it," applies to the JTP, the games journalism industry, and life in general.

Brandon Morgan

The feedback I have received on my work in these past few weeks has earned me some new skills with my writing, plenty on SEO, topic choice, editorials and more. Thanks to the work Katy did with me I am more confident in my writing and with the topics I put stock in. I carefully select the right work that will make an impact with the community. While I can always improve upon this, and intend to, I feel I did quite well getting a grasp on it.

In my time in the JTP, I may not have received the most views or comments, but I’m pretty sure I made some waves in the gaming community. My Titanfall rant earned me plenty of hate-fueled comments and began a war between two sides of the gaming community. With around 400 comments and counting between GameSkinny and N4G, I am quite proud of what I accomplished there.

Elijah Beahm

Thank God for GameSkinny, because I couldn't have found a better place to help me improve my writing and get a new start. The months I contributed here, it was like a breath of fresh air. On most sites, you're either a full-fledged member of the staff, or at best, you can blog independently amongst the community. Beyond that, only a few gaming sites try to encourage new contributors.

The staff were (and still are) all great here at GameSkinny. I got a lot of helpful feedback from everyone, and I still love the approach GameSkinny has taken to games journalism. There's no other site where you can write up an idea and within the day, get free editorial feedback and helpful suggestions, and maybe even end up on the front page.

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How to Get More Views on Your Content: A Comprehensive Guide to Better Traffic https://www.gameskinny.com/mcllv/how-to-get-more-views-on-your-content-a-comprehensive-guide-to-better-traffic https://www.gameskinny.com/mcllv/how-to-get-more-views-on-your-content-a-comprehensive-guide-to-better-traffic https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyop/2/5/e/orig_25e6f9c08873d4d42c1369b1d08ba8d1.png mcllv/how-to-get-more-views-on-your-content-a-comprehensive-guide-to-better-traffic Thu, 09 Apr 2015 11:15:38 -0400 GameSkinny Staff

You're a writer, a creator, and you write some pretty excellent content! Your work looks great on your blog, or even here on GameSkinny... Just, not enough people are actually reading or linking to your articles.

That's lame. This handy guide is here to help!

tons of article views exampleYou can get a ton of views on your articles, trust me. But you'll have to put the work in and be aware of every little edge you might be able to gain. There is no whizz-bang easy way to get more views, no "one simple trick," and no shortcuts. You aren't just missing a word or a sentence that will magically get you more views, it's not a quick fix: there's a whole mentality and style to writing the best of the best view-growing posts.

This article is for any blogger or writer looking to make it big, but the examples will all be gaming-oriented. GameSkinny is a site where our writers can earn money for writing with our Bounty program.

I've been editing at GameSkinny about two years. I've worked on, and have seen results from, an average of about 80 articles per week. My experience encapsulates a large sample size, to say the least. I've worked with writers who have a handful of views and writers who have millions of views. With grizzled experience under my belt and dashboard analytics twinkling in my eyes, I'm going to lay down some knowledge.

user dashboard tons of views

A GameSkinny user's dashboard.

1. Before You Write, Do Your Homework

Slow down, tiger. Pre-writing legwork is just as important, if not more important, than writing excellent content. If you don't know what topics are worth writing about, you're likely wasting your time. You need to look at a map to figure out where you're going before you start to drive, so to speak.

Before you even put a key press to your word processor, you had better plan out exactly what you are going to write and why. Put in some time researching your topic and the topic's audience, as well as the community surrounding the topic and what resources they already have access to. In this section, we'll explore the mindset necessary to find great topics.

A. Is There an Audience? Who is It?

Please, don't answer 'gamers!' You're smarter than that. Ask yourself some of these specific questions as you try to plan your topic research:

Find a niche to explore and thrive in.

What game or piece of technology are you specifically after? Are other people actually interested in that? If they are, what about that topic will those interested people be looking for? Does the audience already have access to an article like the one you are about to write? If yes, is it any good? If no, is that because no one is looking for that kind of content?

B. "Can I Prove There is an Audience?"

Take some time to look at some free tools like Google Trends, Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Keyword.io, and Ubersuggest (right image). Spend some time in the official forums or subreddits or fan site forums of whatever game or topic you want to pursue: get down in the trenches with your fellow gamers and find out if anyone is going to want to read what you are planning on writing. What are people talking about?

Ubersuggest used to research keywordsIf a popular post on Reddit is asking: "How do I Beat the First Wing of Blackrock Mountain?" Then maybe you should write a guide about that.

You need to find proof that people are out there looking for information about a topic. If you write about something you can't prove there's demand for, then don't be surprised if no one wants to read your article.

Find a niche to thrive in.

Too general to be useful: "I'm writing an article for Minecraft players because I know Minecraft is big!"

Fantastic niche research: "I'm writing an article for Minecraft players who are looking for world seeds with villages in them because there are several popular forum threads asking for good village seed suggestions. I checked Google Trends and the statistics confirm this is a popular search topic."

miecraft reddit popular

Reddit can be a great place to gauge interest in a topic.

C. What is the Best Way to Present This Information?

Before you sit to write, know what you're about to get into and what kind of formatting you should use. Think about what the information is and how you can most effectively convey it. In terms of formatting and presentation, what does your article NEED in order to solve your reader's problem? It is paramount that you find the best way to present your information (we'll touch on this more in the formatting section below).

Here are a few examples:

Bread Recipe: Image of the bread, a bullet list of ingredients, a numbered list of steps, maybe a paragraph or two about the process and theory.

Pokemon Capture Guide: Names and images of each Pokemon, where to find them, when to find (if relevant), and any special notes. A long list or table would work well.

Item Location Guide: A table with items, names of locations, coordinates, possibly some special notes or screenshots if necessary. A small intro and outro would be great for providing context and bookending the table.

How to Get More Views Guide: A few short paragraphs for each section, scannable headings and subheadings, proof of numbers, examples, bullet lists of important items, screenshots of specific concepts where relevant, links to additional resources. Oh, and add a snarky, self-referential example in there somewhere.

D. Research: What's Out There Already?

If you want to write about a specific game or topic, the first thing you should do is open Google and search for it. What comes up? Whatever you find should give a good idea of what the competition is: you should look to be better, offer more value, and have better formatting than the top links. 

Whatever you are about to write, open up the current best piece of content about that topic. Got it open? Good. Now write a better article than that. If your content isn't better than what's already out there, why would anyone read a new, less-good article? Think about it from the reader's perspective.

Let's continue our Minecraft example from earlier:

"...I checked Google Trends and the statistics confirm this is a popular search topic. There is currently only one article out there with a ton of great village seeds, but it's poorly formatted and has no screenshots of the seed worlds. These gamers aren't going to want to load up the seed just to see what it looks like: so, my article will have excellent screenshots, even if I have to take them myself. This extra effort will make my article better than the other articles currently out there."

E. What do You KNOW Gets Views?

Don't reinvent the wheel before you prove that you can ride your first bike. Start with something basic, standard, that you know will get views. If you can get a couple thousand views off of something you know works, then you can start venturing into more creative territory with confidence.

But, trust me, you aren't above writing a Top Ten List until you've got at least one successfully under your belt.

Let's think about what tends to work. None of these should be a surprise:

  1. How-tos, guides, and tutorials
  2. Best/top lists (we also have some tips on making good lists)
  3. Answers to common questions
  4. Evergreen content in general

Here are some things that do not tend to get many views:

  • News, announcements, and updates
  • Speculation and opinion pieces
  • Articles tied to a recent event or announcement
  • Reviews (sorry!)

This is not say those types of content aren't great - they are! A happy content-oriented site or blog needs a healthy mix of different types of content. But if you are gunning for views, and nothing but views, maybe skip that review until you have a larger following.

REBUTTAL

As a total rebuttal to myself, I wanted to briefly talk about when and how it IS ok to write these things that typically don't get a ton of views. Each has value other than pure views - and that's important to consider.

  • News, announcements, and updates are very easy to write and make for perfect opportunities to quickly practice your ability to present information clearly. Don't underestimate how much you can learn here!
    • Also, if you do manage to scoop news first, that could be huge.
  • Speculation and opinion pieces are generally low-impact for all but well-known pundits. But, occasional well-written pieces that shake up the conversation can hit big.
  • There is still a place for hard-hitting, event-specific journalism.. but success stories are few and far between. You are really going to need suprise everyone.
  • Reviews have a lot to teach us about providing just the necessary amount of context and summary. They also teach us a lot about analysis and screenshots (more important than you'd think)!

2. Awesome Content is a Requirement

Ok, you've gone through the first part of the process: you have a good topic that you know people are looking for. Hot damn, this audience is going to be so stoked about it! Now you need to actually write it. And write it well (that means you need to proofread).

This isn't a middle school paper that you can submit at the last second and pray you get a C+ on; if you want to get views, then you had better be bringing your A++ game. We aren't trying to appease an elderly English teacher, we're trying to write an article that will knock a skeptical Redditor's socks off.

Besides great writing, a great article is going to need a few key things to get a lot of views:

  • We'll need an excellent headline
  • We'll definitely need excellent formatting
  • We'll need to solve whatever problem our reader is looking to solve
  • We'll need to write something that we'd share with a friend even if we didn't write it ourselves.

Let's go over each of these points, one by one. Each point is equally important and deserves consideration! If you have selected a great topic and you nail each of these four things, you will totally rock your reader's world. And, importantly, you will start to see your dashboard numbers climb.

A. If You Don't Have a Killer Headline, No One Will Click on the Article in the First Place

I know, I know - big surprise, huh?

Be clear, be direct, and be deliberate. Use your headline to make sure your reader knows exactly what your article is going to be about from the get-go. Don't try to be clever with your headlines; give away the "punchline" right away in the headline and allow the rest of the article to flesh out all the details. 

There is a lot of science behind writing the best headlines and what that means, what words to use, and so forth. I'm not going to go into that, but there are some great resources for those who search. There are a lot of impressive statistics - but there is one, singular lesson you need to know about writing a good headline:

If I don't know what an article is about, I'm not going to click on it. And I certainly won't be looking for it.

If you are reading this article, that means something about the headline resonated with you. You were looking for information about getting more views, or at least you thought this article might add some value to your life. But when you made the choice to click on this article, you hadn't read it: you had only read the headline.

B. If Your Formatting Is Bad, People Will Click Away

Most people will scan an article before they decide to read it. You may have scanned this article, or maybe you are scanning right now!

If you squint at formatting, you should be able to see major sections.

[Credit: Baker Bettie]

Anyone who spends time online has an incredible amount of content thrown at them every day; we just can't read every word of every article we click. It's just a fact of the information age. We will click on an article and immediately scan to decide whether or not that article is worth our time or has the information we want. Good formatting can help someone determine an article's usefulness, quickly. 

This means we NEED to consider readers' scanning habits when we write.

If you haven't noticed, this article is broken into easy-to-digest sections of a few short paragraphs each. The sections are clearly defined with headings and subheadings, and there are numbers and letters for each section to help you navigate. This article is designed, intentionally, to cater to people who scan articles.

We can improve our formatting by using visual landmarks. I have a whole article and video about visual landmarks and formatting, but here are some quick pointers:

  • Use headings and subheadings
  • Bulleted and numbered lists are great
  • Images, gifs, and videos can draw attention
  • Embedded media like Tweets, polls, and widgets give readers interactive stimulation
  • Readers are, by nature, scanners
  • A wall of text can be a death knell

If you have a great topic, and a great headline, then you'll get people to your page. But, if you don't have excellent formatting jiu-jitsu up your sleeves, then your article will struggle to keep those hard-earned viewers. If people like your content and the formatting keeps them around, they'll tell others about the article, they'll return to the article and they'll be infinitely more likely to click on your other articles.

C. Your Reader Has a Problem, Help Them Solve It

Think. What do you use Google for most often? Ok, ok, besides spell-checking?

Most likely, you use Google to find answers to your questions! "How do I make bread?" "What's in a margarita?" "What are some cool Minecraft seeds?" "What's the most expensive video game ever made?" "How tall is the Empire State Building?"

Maybe they aren't exactly questions, but you might be looking for something pretty specific when you search for things like: "cool Mario tattoos," or "Clash of Clans townhall level 6 defense," or "cheap gaming desk," and so on.

google search example

Stop and consider: what words do you put into your Google searches?

Whatever the case may be, your reader is looking for something specific and wants to find it. They don't want to muck around too long with your intro, they don't care enough to dig through dense paragraphs, and they will leave the article within 10 seconds if they can't confirm that your article is worth their time.

Be clear, be direct, openly state the main points of your article, and help your reader solve whatever problem they have.

D. Golden Rule: "Would I Share This If I Didn't Write It?"

I've talked about this Golden Rule before, it's a pretty big deal! If you want other people to share your article, you need to make sure your article is something you'd share even if you didn't write it yourself.

Now, don't cop out and say "Well, I don't share articles, so this doesn't apply to me," or something like that. The key to this point is pride; you should be creating content that you are proud to show off.

This concept is often called "eating your own dog food" and that roughly translates to: if you only had one article about this topic, would you pick yours or someone else's? Would you, be bluntly honest, use that cheap gaming desk guide you wrote if you need a new desk? Or would you look elsewhere? Think about your content from your readers' perspective. If you don't think your article is the #1 source you would want, then your reader won't think so either.

3. The "Extras" Are Required

Once you have your killer article, a perfect headline, flawless formatting, and an article that even the most scrupulous internet-dweller would love, then there are a few extra tidbits and lesser-known technical tricks to help your articles achieve new heights.

We're talking about the "extra" bits, the "optional" things, and the "extra credit" tasks of article publishing. These are things that are not necessary to publish a full article, but will help your fledgling article's chances significantly.

Each of the following items affects things on more than just your article. We're talking about also how your article ranks in Google (SEO), what your site looks like in a thumbnail, how a reader might find you through tags, and how you link internally on-site and between articles.

A. Use Interesting Header Images/Videos

Not only will header media look great at the top of an article, it will look even better outside of an article; that header image will end up being your thumbnail. Having a great header image is like having a great headline: it's the only visual of your article that your reader sees before click on it.

minecraft pe mods

Your header image is the visual representation of the article!

Your article thumbnail will show up in home pages, suggested article sidebars, and most forms of social media. A header image or video might not always feel necessary, but it will really make a difference.

B. Use Tags That Serve Your Reader

Ashley S already has a wonderful article on GS about building an audience through tagging, so I'll be brief on this one. An effective tag will help shepherd readers to and from similar topics. Tags don't have quite as much to do with SEO as we once thought, but they are still important: tags serve as mini-directories for related articles. If a reader is interested in your topic, they will likely be looking for similar articles; this is exactly what tags are for.

On GameSkinny, and many other sites, tags dictate what sorts of articles will show up in the Related Articles sidebar.

C. Brush Up on Your SEO

Search Engine Optimization is a bit intimidating and, to some, it might appear to be voodoo witchcraft. SEO is a complex topic that we simply can't get into too much detail right now, but suffice it to say: if you use certain keywords and focus on building authentic backlinks, shares, and overall 'internet reputation' (or 'street cred', depending on how you look it), then your posts will be much more trusted by search engines. And, since most traffic tends to come from searches, aiming for a high page rank very good thing.

Here are a few resources that I like to refer novices to for SEO basics:

minecraft keywords in adwords planner

Researching SEO-friendly keywords in Keyword Planner

D. Write a Useful Meta Description (Skinny)

A good meta description, we call this the 'skinny' on GameSkinny, can make a huge difference by doing a few things:

  • Meta descriptions will show up in Google search results (SEO)
  • They will also show up in the top of your post
  • They will summarize useful parts of your article
  • BUT it will not simply repeat what your headline says

A good meta description will be a sort of secondary headline: what else can you say to convince a reader that this article is what they are looking for? Meta descriptions take up an area of prime real estate both on and off your posts; getting it right is very valuable. 

meta descriptions are important

The same meta description in search, in article, and in GameSkinny's editor.

E. Provide Image Alt-Text/Image Description

As of right now, Google can't actually know what an image is about unless there is text attached to it. If you search for 'Master Chief', a search engine doesn't actually know what that looks like - but that search engine will look for words like 'Halo', 'Spartan', and 'Master Chief' that are attached to images, and it will make a guess based on the associated alt-text.

So, the easiest way to clue a search engine in? Write an image description or alt-text with relevant keywords by modifying the image's properties. It's pretty simple to do and can make a huge difference.

Once that's done, your article will have a greater chance of coming up in Google searches and image searches.

example of good alt-text

One day, we'll have advanced Machine Learning programs that don't need image descriptions and alt-text to identify images - but, until then, make sure you are taking the time to optimize your visual content for search engine robots.

If you want to learn more about writing SEO-friendly alt-text, I recommend this article.

F. Link to Other On-Site Sources First, Off-Site Sources Second

This is one of the biggest mistakes that I see people consistently make.

If you are going to provide links for your reader (and that's a great idea!) provide your own links first and wherever possible. If a reader is interested in learning more about a topic, then let them indulge that interest - just don't send them to another site! The more a reader spends on your own site, the better. This is so important that we actually built our own Existing Content Finder tool for GameSkinny just to make this easier for our writers.

trick to find existing content

On a site like GameSkinny, where there are hundreds of active writers, there's bound to be an article or piece of coverage relevant to what you want to link to.

If there isn't anything on your own site to link to, use this priority list:

  1. Write the desired article yourself, then link to it
  2. Look to friends, fellow on-site writers, and trusted blogs for links
  3. If all else fails, find reputable links elsewhere

But, regardless, try to find something to link to that you've written before looking elsewhere. Keep it all 'in the family' and promote your own content, or promote your contacts' content (they might repay the favor later, which is awesome).

Again, be sure that the first link in your article is to another article on your site, if possible. Don't send your readers off-site with your first link; they might not come back.

4. Share! Avoid the "Field of Dreams Trap"

Too many people take to heart the iconic line from Field of Dreams (1989): "If you build it, they will come."

Sorry, but you're not Kevin Costner and that's just not going to happen with your articles!

It might feel overly-indulgent to share too much of your work, and that's a really just a cultural thing. We've always been instructed to be modest, to avoid hubris, and to not brag about how great we are. However, we need to check this cultural norm at the door if we actually want to get views on our articles. 

Tell everyone. Just don't be a jerk about it.

field of dreams trap fallacy

A. Here Are a Few Great Places to Share

All of the below are excellent places to share your content, but -please- don't share before doing a little research on each site. For example, if you don't abide by Reddit's 9:1 content posting ratio, you might get yourself and GameSkinny banned from a subreddit! Be sure to read the next section for more tips.

  • Relevant subreddits (not broad ones, like r/gaming)
  • N4G
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Fan and official topic forums
B. Abide By the Holy 9:1 Ratio on Reddit (and N4G, StumbleUpon, even Others)

According to common Reddiquette practices: if you post 10 links to Reddit, only 1 of those links should be something you wrote/created and 9 should be from other creators. This is the 9:1 ratio. That means you need to be an active member of the community if you want to get the most out of it. No sharing site or forum wants to be abused for views.

9:1 ratio from reddit's reddiquette

Reddit's "Reddiquette" explains 9:1 ratio.

If you don't respect the rules of the community you are trying to share with, then don't expect that community to respect you or your content.

This 9:1 ratio has been pretty regularly adopted by most other sharing sites as a way to curtail people who are just looking for self-promotion. Sharing sites are looking for a healthy balance of content, not just everything that you wrote! If you don't abide by this 9:1 ratio, many sharing sites will ban you without hesitation, and this may be a black mark on your entire website.

So, please, share carefully!

When it comes to Facebook and Twitter:

For personal social media accounts, we also suggest moderation. Your friends and followers don't just want an RSS feed of your articles, they want a healthy mix of content types in their feeds.

  • Twitter: We suggest the 5-3-2 rule of mixing content and personal status updates. For every 10 posts: 5 of others' content, 3 of your content, and 2 personal status updates.
  • Facebook: The 5-3-2 ratio is still great here, but I'd also suggest a different 4:1 ratio. For every 4 status updates and/or others' links, 1 link to one of your articles is generally ok. But keep an eye on this - you don't want your actual friends to unfollow you on Facebook!
C. Use Tools Like Buffer

There are a lot of great, free tools out there for social sharing - take the time to find the ones that work best for you. Good social tools are invaluable and can help you schedule posts, discover social analytics trends, measure interaction, and figure out the best times to be on social media.

buffer in action

Buffer in action on GameSkinny

GameSkinny uses Buffer, Hootsuite, and Tweetdeck on a regular basis for article promotion. These tools have free plugins and extensions that are make them very handy to use.

D. Tell Relevant People On Twitter

If you wrote an article about an indie developer, tell them on Twitter. If you featured a cosplayer in a slideshow, let that cosplayer know. If you wrote an article on journalism internships and you know someone who is looking for a journalism internship, then reach out and inform them that you have a killer article they should read!

Twitter is an awesome resource and the network you build can be invaluable. Every retweet you get can increase your view potential exponentially.

E. Use Images on Facebook and Twitter

Don't jump the gun and share a link, share an image instead and provide the link next to it. At this point, it is a well-known fact that visual media is better-absorbed than text on social media by enormous degrees of scale. 

using twitter cards

Share an image and more people will actually see it. Simple as that.

5. Check Out All of GameSkinny's Other Guides and Tips

Up your writing game with our other writing tips and tricks. We put in a lot of effort into these guides for our writers and we think we've got some pretty rad content.

This guide is pretty comprehensive, but it's not the only resource you have on GameSkinny for improving your writing: we have loads more guides on our main writing tips page. Not only that but we also have a few case studies of specific articles that really took off.

6. Don't Stop Here!

And don't just stop at GameSkinny guides! Obviously, we're going to promote our own content, but be aware that this is not the only article on the internet about getting views. Look up what other sources have to say. One of the best ways to stay ahead in the pageview game is to constantly be looking for more advice, new tips, and updated insights.

There's a whole wide world of useful tips and tricks out there, this is just your introduction. Take to Google, learn as much as you can, and ride your dashboard stats into the sky!

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3 Tips On Creating Awesome Lists/Slideshows https://www.gameskinny.com/8w8ba/3-tips-on-creating-awesome-listsslideshows https://www.gameskinny.com/8w8ba/3-tips-on-creating-awesome-listsslideshows https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyop/3/4/0/orig_3401ec606cbd03f7858dc7b6db5247d3.jpg 8w8ba/3-tips-on-creating-awesome-listsslideshows Thu, 09 Apr 2015 10:24:36 -0400 Rob Thubron

It’s been said that the internet primarily consists of two things: porn and lists. While the former may only appeal to certain demographics, it seems everyone loves lists. Why? Because in the simplest terms: they make an easy reading experience - lists are effortlessly acquired data for our brains.

For those interested in making a standout list/slideshow article, here are some tips and tricks that can make it more appealing, and hopefully get those viewing figures up.

1. Have a subject that appeals to people

Although it may sound obvious, no one is going to bother reading a list if the subject is of no interest to them. Topical subjects will usually do well, as do lists on upcoming big games (e.g. 10 things we know so far about X, why to get excited about X, 10 reasons why X will fail). Check what’s trending in the gaming community, as any lists based on these subjects should get plenty of interest.

The other avenue to take is making the list something that will start debate and discussion. Offering a difference of opinion on a universally accepted view will often guarantee a lot of readers (e.g. "10 reasons why Bloodborne isn’t as good as everyone thinks"). Of course you may have to deal with a bit of abuse and shouts of “clickbait!” but this is the internet, after all.

Try to make it fresh, new

Try to make the piece something that hasn’t been seen before. This can be the hardest part of the process, as there seems to be a million gaming-based lists online today, so thinking up a new one isn’t easy. One option is to add a spin to a common subject: instead of ‘The 10 greatest video game bad guys’, try ‘The 10 greatest video game bad guys you feel sorry for’. Alternatively, make the list more specific: ‘Scariest games’ has been done to death, so try something like ‘scariest clowns in gaming’.

The importance of the main image

They say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, although it seems this rule doesn’t apply when it comes to online lists. The importance of the article's main image cannot be understated.

A huge number of people decide whether or not to read a list/slideshow based on the main image alone. It’s vital that you make it eye-catching, relevant, and something that arouses people’s curiosity - enticing them to click and read.

2. Research is key

All slideshows/lists require some level of research. If you accidentally put an incorrect fact into an article, then not only will it likely be pointed out by readers, but the validity of the entire piece may be called into question. It’s always best to check any facts from several sources before including them.

Remember, even the smallest discrepancies may be exposed in the comments section, there are some extreme pedants out there.

3. Make it engaging

The best list/slideshow content manages to combine facts with opinions in an engaging way. Most people don’t want to read a long series of statistics for each entry, so try to include only the most important and relevant information in a presentable manner.

Item images/videos

As interesting as a writer makes each entry, the image or video which accompanies it can help improve a reader’s experience immensely. If you want to include a picture based on the entry’s subject, make sure it’s high-quality and captures the essence of what you’re talking about.

If you decide to include a video instead of an image, then unless it’s directly related to the entry (e.g. a twenty-minute Twitch video of a world-record speedrun), it’s best not to link in vids that are overly long, as most people won’t bother to sit through them.

Introduction/Summary

Having a good introduction and summary to your list/slideshow can really set it apart from the crowd. Possible things to mention in the intro include:

  • Expansion on what the article is about
  • What criteria the entries need to meet in order to make it onto the list
  • A brief history of the subject

Summaries aren’t always necessary, but they can add that something extra - rather than simply finishing an article with the number 1 entry. They don’t need to be as long as the introduction, and a good idea is to include any conclusions that can be drawn from the list.

Share your work with the class

Once the whole thing is finished, get sharing. Many Twitter and Facebook game accounts like to repost list articles based on their titles (though they obviously tend to do this when it’s a positive piece, rather than one stating the 10 reasons why their favorite game is crap). With something well written, researched and shared amongst the right groups, these kind of articles can get well over 100,000 views.

Here are some examples of great lists:

 

An example of a list article with a pretty unique premise, something that people are interested in reading. Using a main image from Aliens: Colonial Marines definitely helped get the reader’s attention. It is well written and researched, and has a good combination of images and videos, not forgetting it also has that slightly controversial element about it (why was this game included/not included?)

Also, notice that despite being an excellent piece, the small typo on the number one entry has been picked up on in the comments; the internet loves to point out the tiniest of faults. This list has so far achieved 1.1 million views.

19 Of The Best Unlockable Characters

This is how to make a list article more specific. Rather than going with the so often used ‘Best Characters in Gaming’, the author has instead made a list of the best unlockable characters. It’s informative, interesting and well researched, with great images used to showcase each game.

Every entry is a constant 2 paragraphs long, and there’s a summary at the end that invites people to comment on the piece.

10 Ridiculous Video Game Marketing Campaigns

Another list with a great, readable concept. This is an example of how to include a lot information in each entry without it becoming laborious to read. Lots of links, good images/videos, well written, and it doubtlessly required extensive research.

This is one of the most viewed gaming lists on the site.

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GS Writing Guide: How to Write Long-Form Articles https://www.gameskinny.com/kdftm/gs-writing-guide-how-to-write-long-form-articles https://www.gameskinny.com/kdftm/gs-writing-guide-how-to-write-long-form-articles https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/1f0111f76ae6cab572041b6163c887fc.jpg kdftm/gs-writing-guide-how-to-write-long-form-articles Wed, 04 Feb 2015 10:22:47 -0500 Auverin Morrow

Long-form writing is tough. Even if you have a lot of ideas, it can be daunting to try and put all of them down into one cohesive product. And it can be difficult to sustain a longer article without losing your focus or repeating yourself. Not to mention that the sheer thought of putting down 1000+ words makes most people's skin crawl. 

It's not as horrible as it seems.

While it does take a lot of practice and discipline to really get the hang of long-form writing, it's a skill that will help you in countless other areas of your life: cover letters, job reports, college essays, defeating your foes in the great Internet arena (aka the comment section) - there are lots of possibilities. And a lot of the skills that go into long-form writing will also help you sharpen up your skills in shorter writing samples. 

Here are some topics we'll go over in this article: preliminary research, compulsive note-taking, well-made outlines, and thorough proofreading are all key to writing the best long-form articles. But so is a little rest. Stepping away from the computer screen is also a key part of the process. 

Truthfully, there is no one secret to doing this right. Mostly, it comes down to good planning and self-discipline (and a little self-love, too). But there are a few basic practices that can make the whole process a lot easier. 

Research First

Nearly every long-form article will need some research. The amount of research will vary depending on the topic. A culture piece about a particular hot-button topic or a spotlight piece on a game/developer will require a fair amount of research. An op-ed piece or a review may not require as much. 

Regardless of what you're writing, it's a good idea to do a little digging before you put anything down in that text editor. Even if you don't use all the information that you come up with, it will help you contextualize your arguments and ideas and give you a larger pool of resources to draw from.

A well-informed writer is a confident writer. 

Although all of your research might not wind up directly in the writing, you'll have a much deeper wealth of knowledge about your topic, and that will show in your writing. 

Doing research can also kickstart some ideas about your topic that you may not have had otherwise. I'll give you an example. Back when I first joined the site, I published this article about Elder Scrolls Online. In it, I speculated about the impact that its mediocre reception could have on the Elder Scrolls franchise. At some point during my research, I decided to look at rosters for every development team that worked on an Elder Scrolls game, including ESO. What I discovered through that one bit of research ended up becoming a central point in my argument, and a sizeable chunk of my article. Had I not done a little legwork beforehand, I would have missed information that turned out to be invaluable to my writing. 

Research doesn't have to be meticulous and time-consuming. 

It's one thing if you're writing a piece that's based entirely on research and synthesis of source material. That requires a lot of time and effort. But your research can also be as basic as finding out what projects a developer has previously worked on or looking at a game's critical reception.

The type and amount of research you'll want to do largely depends on what you're writing. The more evidence you'll need to back up what you're saying, the more research you should do. Like most things, it takes time and practice to do it efficiently. 

Take ALL the Notes!

Okay, maybe not all the notes, but you should definitely take a good amount. Taking notes may be something that you left behind in school, but it's a really helpful habit for writers to get into. 

If you're anything like me, brilliance often strikes while you're in the middle of something else. Our brains work in strange ways, so often we make connections and have little epiphanies at weird moments. And we tend to think that we'll remember it later. If it were really that good or that important, we'd remember it, right? 

I wish.

Oftentimes, if we don't get something down right when we think it, it gets lost forever. Some people are blessed with steel-trap minds, but the rest of us have to hang onto our brilliant thoughts somehow. And notes are the best way to do that. 

It doesn't matter how organized your notes are. They can look like the scribblings of a madman as long as you get them down. 

You can always organize your thoughts later. But you've got to have them nailed down first. Take notes on your research. Jot down arguments and ideas that you're mulling over. Questions that you still need to answer. Whatever occurs to you, write it down.

There's no consequence for not using that infomation later. It's always better to have more ideas than you need, rather than less. Even if it's just a vague idea or a concept, getting it down now can help you remember to come back to it and flesh it out somewhere down the line. 

Outlines are Non-Negotiable

This might make me sound like a high school teacher, but outlines are really important. While they might feel unnecessary - or like an extra step in the already tedious research/writing process - they're actually a great tool for you to keep yourself organized and focused. 

I don't think I've written anything for this site that's under 800 words. I get asked a lot how I can write such long articles without getting stuck or losing focus. The answer: outlines. 

Outlines are so simple that it's hard to imagine they'd be helpful at all. But, like the humble wheel, they have their place in the bigger picture. You may find later on that you don't need one or that some other method works better for you, but it's always best to have some kind of guide - no matter how minimal - to keep your thoughts organized while you're writing. 

Your outline can be as messy or as neat as you want. As long as you're able to follow it, form doesn't matter. 

I've made some outlines that are nice and polished, and I've made others that end up looking more like a connect-the-dots activities than organizational tools. The point is that your thoughts get put down where you can see them. 

Outlines should cover at least your main and supporting points. Get all that down, structured in whatever way makes sense to you. Here's a basic version:

  • First point
    • Supporting idea
    • Even more ideas
    • Ideas everywhere
  • Second point
    • More supporting ideas
    • Look how many ideas you have
      • If you have even more ideas about your ideas, you can make more bullet points like this one. 

The beauty of outlines is that they can be as basic or as detailed as you want. If you need/want more organization, you just use more bullet points. Some people make outlines so detailed that when it comes time to write, all they really have to do is make sentences out of their notes. Although that's time consuming, it's helpful if you really struggle with staying focused as you write. And it's a good starting point if you're a relatively new writer. 

You can also use outlines to change your structure on the fly

...without having to rewrite paragraphs or cut/paste entire chunks of your work into different places. When you get to the end of your outline, you can always check and make sure that the ideas are flowing well, and make any changes that might help them flow better. You can also add ideas to your outline as you write, so you don't lose them before you get to them. 

If you want another example, here's my outline for this article:

First Impressions are Everything

Introductions are important. So important that some people actually save them for last. This may seem counter-intuitive, but you can't really write a great introduction for your article until you know exactly what you've said in the body of it.

Introductions to long-form articles serve a very specific purpose. You want your readers to stay with you for the long haul. But if your readers are going to agree to spend that time with you, they'll want to know what's in store. What are they going to get out of paying attention to you?

That's where your introduction comes in. It should serve as a sort of roadmap - it outlines the ideas that you're going to discuss in the body of your article.

You don't need to list off everything that you talk about; just the main points (the "header ideas") will do. That way, interested readers can get of sense of where your article is headed. Speed readers can pick out exactly what information they want from your article and start looking for it. A good introduction can even persuade a previously disinterested reader to give your article a shot. 

Can you pick out the road map to this article in the intro?

Use Visual Landmarks

When you're writing for the Internet, it's good to keep in mind that you're writing for an audience that has a significantly shorter attention span than the audience of a book, magazine, or newspaper. There's a whole lot of shiny stuff on the web that your readers can devote their attention to. So you have to kind of trick them into staying with you when you're writing longer pieces. 

Visual landmarks, like headers, pictures, videos, and other embedded media, help keep your reader engaged. Elements like that break up the text so your reader doesn't look at the screen and see a wall of words (and not the cool kind from Skyrim). A big block of text can be daunting, and a lot of readers will click away without a second glance if they see one. 

Landmarks also help draw the eye down the page. Just as your reader is getting a little bit tired of reading, you give them a header or a shiny piece of media to look at for a few seconds. Not only does this help refresh the brain so your reader will stick with your article longer, it also satisfies the ADD that we all kind of have. If the brain is looking for something other than words to take in, the pictures and media in your article can be that distraction, without causing the reader to click elsewhere. 

Just imagine how daunting this article would be without headers. Scary. 

Give Yourself a Break

Even though it's not a physical activity, writing is exhausting. It takes a lot of brain power, especially when you're writing longer form. A lot of people are intimidated by long form because they're under the impression that all the work needs to get done at once. That is absolutely not the case. In fact, it's counter-productive to try to do it all at once. (That's only for when you have a serious deadline to meet.)

It's best to do your writing in pieces, with short breaks in between to let your mind rest.

You can choose how best to break it up - by time spent writing, by bullet point, whichever way works. A lot of people, like me, choose to use time limits. Here's something you can try (even if you're crunched for time):

Studies have shown that humans can spend about 45 minutes really focusing on something before the brain gets tired and stops working at optimal capacity. When you sit down to write, set a timer for 45 minutes. Write without distraction for that period of time. After time is up, take a ten-minute break. Go to the bathroom, grab a snack, walk around, look at cat pictures. Whatever will let your brain rest.

Once your ten minutes is over, sit back down for another 45 minutes. Repeat as necessary until you've done three 45-minute sessions. After your third, take a longer break. At least half an hour, preferably an hour. Then you can come back and start the whole process over if you need to. 

Don't ever feel like you need to push yourself. Forcing yourself to start writing is one thing, but forcing yourself to keep writing after the brain is exhausted is another. If you push yourself to continue, you'll end up with sloppy writing, poorly structured arguments, flimsy ideas, bad rhetoric, and other maladies that you'll just have to spend even more time editing later.

When you need a break, take a break. The writing will still be there when you come back. (You just may need a little discipline to bring yourself back.)

Never Hit "Publish" Without Proofreading

The editors here at GS love reading your content and polishing it so it's ready for the world to see. But here's a secret: we aren't actually wizards. A lot of what we do, you can do independently.

It's always best to have a second set of eyes on your work, no doubt about it, but your own eyes can catch a whole lot of stuff before your article ever reaches us. 

Proofread, proofread, proofread. I cannot emphasize this enough.

While it's important to proof everything you write before putting it out there, it's especially important for longer articles. Because you have to be so focused on form/structure, and on keeping everything organized, its easy to miss little details like spelling errors or unclear sentences. And when you get into the zone, and you're cranking out sentence after sentence, you're definitely not stopping to check all your grammar. 

Wouldn't it be a shame to do all that work, and then let a few mistakes overshadow your content? Like it or not, grammatical mistakes and messy writing can ruin great ideas. And they can disengage a reader. Always proofread your work for spelling/grammatical errors, unclear sentences, etc. 

Silly as it may seem, it helps to read your work aloud, even if it's just in a whisper to yourself. You'll catch things that may have seemed right or clear to you on the page, but don't sound quite right out loud. 

Although your mistakes are kind of our livelihood, we as your editors want to see you all be great writers. We're thrilled when we get to read an article without making changes. We want you to proofread. We even wrote a guide for you on common grammar mistakes and how to avoid them

Proofreading will also help you catch places where you repeat yourself, which is often a problem with long form. If you have to make big changes or cut lots of text, that's okay. Don't worry if your word count drops. Quality is always better than quantity. 

Take a Deep Breath. You Can Do This. 

The only real secret to long form writing is you. It'll take time, patience, and a lot of self-discipline, but you're just as capable as anyone out there. Try not to be too overwhelmed, and don't be too hard on yourself when things don't go smoothly. In writing, they probably never will. You'll learn to ride the dragon. You just have to grab the reins and hold on. 

Editor's note: At time of editing, this article clocks in at over 2500 words.

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GameSkinny's Recommended Reading List for Writers https://www.gameskinny.com/wowwj/gameskinnys-recommended-reading-list-for-writers https://www.gameskinny.com/wowwj/gameskinnys-recommended-reading-list-for-writers https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/9705478909f835d6ddc36d15665f967d.jpg wowwj/gameskinnys-recommended-reading-list-for-writers Tue, 13 Jan 2015 08:04:57 -0500 Auverin Morrow

Writing isn't easy. Stacks upon stacks of books and essays have been penned on how to write well.

This is great in one sense, because it means that there are lots of resources for writers to fall back on when they're unsure of themselves or just can't get something to come out right. It's not so great when you're trying to distinguish which resources are actually helpful and which ones aren't worth your time. 

When asking a seasoned writer what their recommended reading list would be for an aspiring writer, you'll get a lot of different answers. A lot of the time, this list will look different depending on a writer's preferred genre and personal style. 

Our editors here at GS have compiled our very own recommended reading list for all of you. From style manuals to short essays, we've picked out what we believe will be the most helpful resources for you during your writing career at GameSkinny and beyond. (There are even some free PDFs in there for you!)

Strunk & White's The Elements of Style

This book is a sacred text for any writer. Buy a copy of it. Buy two copies of it. Memorize both. Read it before bed. (Or just read this PDF version.)

The Elements of Style is the definitive resource on grammar and composition rules. It's influenced what is considered "good" and "bad" writing in most literary circles. And the majority of published authors find it invaluable. Stephen King gave it a shout-out in his own book about writing, saying:

One notable exception to the bullshit rule is The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. There is little or no detectable bullshit in that book....I'll tell you right now that every aspiring writer should read The Elements of Style.  

Writers are not magicians. We can't magically make something sound good. We work hard with our words, and Elements of Style shows you how to structure your language so that it's both beautiful and efficient. It will give you all the basics you need to start writing at a more advanced level.  

That's not to say that The Elements of Style should dictate every sentence you draft from now until the end of time. But you have to master the rules before you can break them successfully. 

The Careful Writer (A Modern Guide to English Usage) by Theodore Bernstein

Next to The Elements of Style, this book is hailed as another invaluable style resource for writers of all levels. Bernstein tackles a lot of tricky instances in the English language, and clarifies how best to handle such issues when you encounter them. 

Unlike other style guides and texts, The Careful Writer doesn't try to be purely instructive. Some of the explanations and lessons in this book incorporate humor. It's also less dry and less dense than most other style guides. 

This is the only one that we couldn't track down a PDF for, but you can get it for less than $5 on Amazon. 

A Writer's Reference - Diana Hacker

Hacker has written several manuals on style, research, and documentation. But this is one I've found most useful. If you're a college student, this is the only book about research you will ever need. Ever

Writer's Reference gives you an in-depth look at all the grammar you could ever ask for, from sentence structure to punctuation to passive voice. It also has an invaluable guidebook about the research process. Hacker gives you tips on how to start your research, how to do research efficiently, what to do with research. The ability to research quickly and thoroughly is important for any journalistic writer. 

Although you likely won't use it on this site, Writer's Reference also has the handiest guide to citation that I've ever come across. Hacker gives citation structure and examples for every type of source imaginable - and she does it in MLA, APA, and Chicago style. It's well-written, well-organized, and definitely well worth your time. 

Bookmark the PDF here. 

"Shitty First Drafts" by Anne Lamott

This is from a larger book on writing called Bird by Bird. Although it's mostly targeted at fiction writers, it's definitely a great resource and a surprisingly entertaining read. 

As good as the whole book is, there's one essay in particular that really stands out. I was given this essay by a college professor, and my writing career has never been the same. Lamott addresses something that all writers experience, but few writers talk about so plainly: a terrible first draft. 

We've all written them. We've all had days where the words just don't want to come, and nothing sounds right, and you want to just trash it all and give up (at least for a while). It happens to the best of us. 

In this essay, Lamott talks about the value of a shitty first draft, and what you the writer should do when you find yourself stuck with one. 

The best part is, it's only two pages long. Read it here

Style: Toward Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams

Style is a word that gets tossed around a lot. Style is the key to good, clear, effective writing. But style varies from author to author, so its important to read more than one style book. As wonderful as The Elements of Style is, that doesn't mean Strunk & White knew everything. 

Sometimes style guides fail to be helpful, because they often tell you what to do, but don't always explain how to do it. In this book (or this PDF), Williams doesn't just offer lists of do's and don'ts. He writes rules, but he also explains how to follow them. Williams knows it isn't enough to tell a writer to "Be Concise". He walks you through what concision actually means and how you can achieve it. 

On Writing Well by William Zinisser

This is a definitive guide for writing nonfiction. Zinisser covers a lot of bases in this handy book. He opens with chapters on principles of writing and methods of execution, then dovetails into a discussion of various forms of nonfiction writing. 

There are chapters in this book for every sort of interest - sports writing, travel writing, interview writing, etc. After you've gleaned information from chapters that are relevant to you, it's worth going through and skimming other chapters about different forms. The advice you'll find in these chapters can probably be applied to your writing - even if the genre is a little different. 

Here's a PDF copy for your reading pleasure. 

Sage Advice from the Pros

You don't always need to read a whole book about writing to glean wisdom from veteran writers. A lot of writers have given advice about writing that isn't contained in an essay or a book.

There are some things that almost all writers agree on. But the writing process is highly individualized, so it's unfair to pick sage advice from just one author. Here are tips from a handful of our favorites:

The Notion of Grit

Psychologist Angela Duckworth coined the idea of "grit" - that is, the "doggedness" that is essential to being successful. Her research based on this idea won her a MacArthur Genius grant. 

Not only that, but writers high and low (from Neil Gaiman to Tchaikovsky) have pushed the idea of grit in their own words. To quote Isabel Allende:

Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.

That perseverance is the grit that everyone keeps talking about - even if grit isn't the word they use. 

Read more about grit in this blog post on Brain Pickings

"Five Ways to Get First Draft Material Out of Your Head and Onto the Page" by Joanna Penn

This blog post echoes the sentiments of Anne Lamott, saying that first draft material is allowed to be crap. Oftentimes, the most difficult part of writing a first draft is conquering the self-doubt and forcing yourself to put down words that you know are not at their best. 

Joanna Penn acknowledges this struggle, and she offers up a few ways to discipline yourself as a writer and get that daunting first draft onto the page. Some of the posts are about habits that encourage you to write, while others are sites and software that help keep you focused and limit distractions. If you're struggling, give this a read and try out some of her tips. At least one of them is bound to get you started. 

Pretty much everything that exists on Purdue OWL. 

Purdue OWL is an invaluable resource for writers. The online writing lab (OWL) has all kinds of free resources for you to look through. There are sections on the writing process, grammar mechanics, academic writing, research and citation, and so many other things. Here are a few of the links that will probably be most helpful for your future GS articles:

These quick articles about journalism and journalistic writing.

Blogs are a great place to find tips, advice, and columns that are relevant to your writing interests. The links below come from Journalist's Resource and American Press Institute. Both these sites have a wealth of information for the curious writer. American Press Institute has a lot of short, to-the-point blurbs about different aspects of journalism, while Journalist's Resource boasts a database of information, tips, and case studies in various academic fields and writing disciplines. 

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How to Use Game Titles in Your Content Effectively https://www.gameskinny.com/m8nij/how-to-use-game-titles-in-your-content-effectively https://www.gameskinny.com/m8nij/how-to-use-game-titles-in-your-content-effectively https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/157e928973afd514d4d31a719f181307.png m8nij/how-to-use-game-titles-in-your-content-effectively Fri, 09 Jan 2015 09:25:30 -0500 Ashley Gill

Good writing can go far in creating content people will be looking for, and the use of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques can help them find it.

SEO is a complicated subject, so we won't be covering it in-depth here. Rather, we will be discussing effective use of a game's title within your content. But first!

What is search engine optimization?

SEO is something every website bears in mind with its content and structure, and is something any internet content creator would do well to learn. Why? Because it makes search engines work for you.

A well-optimized web page has particular keywords within its body and meta data (such as tags) to tell search engines what that content is about. A search engine will then compare it with other pages on the subject.

No one knows any search engine's exact algorithms used to sort pages, but we do know they use:

  • In-content and meta data keywords
  • The speed at which a page loads
  • How many times that content has been shared via social media platforms
  • The overall quality of the on-page content

You as a writer have very little control over the speed the site loads and how many shares your content receives (outside of sharing yourself), but you do have control over your content's keywords and quality.

I'll trust you on the quality part! But below is what you need to do to give your content the edge from a keyword standpoint.

Making good use of the game title (and related keywords)

This is the most basic SEO-related task you can implement in any of your articles, no matter the type of article it is. News pieces, editorials, and guides all benefit from making good use of the game's title.

So what is good use? At the most basic level it entails putting the game title in:

  • The article title
  • The first two sentences of the first paragraph
  • The tags (here on GameSkinny that would be the 'Games' field above the platform listings in the 'Bonus points' tab)
  • At least two more times past the article's first paragraph
  • The 'Skinny' field of the 'Bonus points' tab

Easy, right? You know it! So what else can be done aside from using the game title in the listed places? How about using a keyword entailing the game name instead (except under the 'Tags' field)?

Pairing the game title with selected keywords

Are you writing a guide? The most basic way to add some keyword flair is to add the word "guide" after the game title in the article title, as well as once in the content itself and once in the tags.

Example: "Final Fantasy XIV guide"

But even this is a very basic example. What type of guide is it? Let's add another word in there.

Example: "Final Fantasy XIV crafting guide"

Another basic example (building off the previous one), and you can see where I'm going with this.

With news, editorial, and review pieces, things can be a little more tricky. You must consider what the content is about and choose your keyword carefully -- then use it in the title, first paragraph, and tags, just as you would if you were just using the game title as your keyword.

A good rule of thumb for choosing a keyword (unless dealing with a complex topic or using a keyword search tool) is to think about what 2 ~ 4 word phrase most people would type into their preferred search engine to find your content. If the phrase is not grammatically correct, consider using the approach shown in the examples below.

Working with a grammatically incorrect keyword

Here I am going to toss out an example keyword and show how to work with it in the title, in the content itself, and in the tags.

Example: "Farm Heroes Saga working cheats"

This is a hard phrase to shove into a sentence, right? Let's assume this is a guide or tip article. If so, you can position the keyword as such in the article title:

"Farm Heroes Saga - Working Cheats to Get Past Level 200"

The dash here functions to separate the game title and the second part of the keyword to your readers, but not to search engines. It's a win-win. Now let's say this is (for some reason) a news article.

"Farm Heroes Saga - Working Cheats Put Dent in Game's Profitability Due to Unreasonable Difficulty and Player Demand"

... Whew. That's a mouthful -- but this isn't an unrealistic news topic. As you can see here, using a dash in titles for articles other than guides gets the same job done.

What about in the article itself (and by proxy the Skinny)?

As long as the keyword is together in the title as demonstrated above, you have a little wriggle room in the content itself: the keyword does not need to be all together in these instances, but preferably not completely separate. So what do I mean by this?

Let's continue to use the "Farm Heroes Saga working cheats" example from above in an SEO-compliant sentence.

Example: "Farm Heroes Saga doesn't have many working cheats."

Super simple example! But still just as effective. This method can and should be used in both the article body and in the Skinny field.

Using your keyword and the game title in the tags

We have two separate fields with tagging functions here on GameSkinny: the 'Games' field and the 'Tags' field. Both have their own purposes:

  • Games - Lets you tag content as related to one or a number of games. They are indexed with other content on the same game(s), separate from tag searches.
  • Tags - Lets you put an entire keyword in a single tag (even if not grammatically correct), as well as developer, publisher, acronyms, and related words people might search for.

Both of these fields have a large impact on a piece of content's meta data, meaning they are almost as important as the content itself.

Now let's work once more with the Farm Heroes Saga working cheats keyword and get a look at how the tags for a piece of content on the subject might look like.

'Games' field - Farm Heroes Saga

You could potentially also put Candy Crush Saga in the 'Games' field, if you mention it once or twice in the article. The games are related in that they are from the same publisher and are of similar genre.

'Tags' field - farm heroes saga cheats, farm heroes saga working cheats, king.com, king farm heroes saga, farm heroes saga best cheats, level cheats, how to beat, best cheats

NOTE: It is a good idea to include acronyms in your tags if the game is known by any. These should have their own tags, both with a keyword or two and without.

A recent example being Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire -- which is often refered to as ORAS. 'Pokemon ORAS' and 'ORAS' tags should be present, both alone and with keywords. (Examples: pokemon oras secret base, oras secret base, oras legendaries)

And finally: numerals

It can be tough to decide whether to go with Roman (III, IV, V, VI) or more widely used Indo-Arabic (3, 4, 5, 6) numerals when writing on a sequel, but you should choose the Indo-Arabic route 90% of the time.

Though many games use Roman numerals in their titles, most people type the Indo-Arabic numerals because they are faster and more familiar. This shows up in search trends for virtually every game, and is something you do need to keep in mind.

An example of this in action is Grand Theft Auto V -- more commonly searched as Grand Theft Auto 5 by a wide margin. Here's the Google Trends comparison chart so you can see this in action:

...So use Indo-Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3) in the title and in your content itself, but do be sure to include the Roman numeral version of the game title in the tags to cast a wider net.

Hopefully these tips help you improve the most basic level of SEO in your content, through which you will get more traffic via search engines (and by proxy, via organic shares).

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How to Conduct Interviews at Game Conventions https://www.gameskinny.com/y69sl/how-to-conduct-interviews-at-game-conventions https://www.gameskinny.com/y69sl/how-to-conduct-interviews-at-game-conventions https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/2c50046115fcd376be2dbc1f09118bb6.jpg y69sl/how-to-conduct-interviews-at-game-conventions Thu, 08 Jan 2015 19:22:10 -0500 Amanda Wallace

The ultimate goal of many freelance gaming writers is to earn a position in the world of video game journalism. Games journalism has many different tracts, from writing guides for games to conducting industry interviews. The purpose of this guide is to help you interview at an industry event, like E3 or PAX. 

This advice comes from my own experience, so take it in the spirit it is given. There are plenty of ways to skin a cat, and there are many ways to conduct yourself at a convention. 

Don't Fly by the Seat of Your Pants

It's really tempting to run into your first video game convention, perhaps with a press pass in hand, and just hope something lands in your lap. The first major convention I attended, PAX Prime 2013, I approached in much the same way. I had a standard 3-day convention pass, and showed up when the doors opened hoping to play every game I could get my hands on. 

There are a couple of reasons I would advise against this tactic. For starters, major video game conventions are huge. If you've never attended one before, imagine the largest university in your state holding a football game and letting everyone out on the field. Except that it's also filled with huge psychedelic displays, people in costumes, and every game you've heard about for the past year (and some new ones). It's barely controlled madness. 

My first convention I spent 2 hours waiting in line for access to The Wolf Among Us, and while it was worth the time to get first hand experience with a new title, it meant that I wasted valuable time that would've been used interviewing developers. This is the risk of flying by the seat of your pants.

Schedule Interviews

This first big step is substantially easier if you have access to a mythical press pass. Different conventions will go about this process in different ways and with a variety of steps that I will detail in a later article. For PAX, you get put on an email list for all developers to contact. 

Honestly, the worst they can do is not respond. 

This doesn't limit who you can contact. Are you a fan of the developer Double Fine? If you know they're going to be at the convention, put out feelers even if you don't have a press pass. Honestly the worst they can do is not respond. You can reach out to developers like this through their contact pages on their websites or through Twitter or other social media. This is easier with a smaller publisher, and not necessarily someone like Riot. 

For PAX East 2014, I put out a call with the PAX hashtag on Twitter, which is how I got ahold of a few other developers. These were fantastic interviews that I would've otherwise missed. 

Interviews typically run about 30 minutes a piece, though this will depend on the individual developers. This is a copy of my schedule for PAX East 2014: 

 

Typically I tried to space interviews so that there was 30 minutes in between each one, enough time to run around the massive convention center. This schedule is very ambitious, and not necessarily what you'll want to do. But it shows the way you can space things out throughout the three days of a convention. 

Come to the Interview like it was Your Job

Two major things really helped me make my interviewing above the board. For starters, I brought a little recording device so that I could record all of my interviews. As you are recording people, it is good practice to first ask each person if they are ok with being recorded. I didn't have a single interviewee say no, but it's good practice to ask either way. 

The other thing, the thing I'm probably best known for in terms of my interviewing is my binder.

You might be asking, "Why a binder?"

For every one of those interviews, I printed out a piece of paper with the date, time, and location of the interview. Additionally, I made sure to include an informational blurb for each one of the developers, the property we would be discussing, and a minimum of five questions. I then reviewed these notes just prior to the interview to prepare myself.

Overkill? Maybe. But I never walked into an interview without knowing what there is to know about the developer. I never had to come up with questions on the fly and I never asked questions that I knew were just in the FAQ section on their website. 

Bring business cards. You're a professional, act like one. One key way to do that is to bring a card with your name, your media outlet, and your contact information. Be prepared to accept business cards back from every person you meet. And actually reach out to those developers after the convention, whether you write about them or not, to touch base. This is your chance to network professionally. If you can't afford to design or print out cards, you can just get blank cards and write your information in. It won't be pretty, but it is better than nothing.

So What About Those Questions? 

People tend to over complicate questions and, when it comes down to it, miss the chance to really rock the opportunity to talk one on one with a developer. There's one big "Don't" in my book: don't ask questions in the FAQ section on the website. This can seem obvious, but I can't tell you the amount of times I've read interviews where the interviewer asks something like "What platform is this going to be on," or "when is your release date." These questions are available everywhere, and are frankly a waste of everyone's time. It's important that you know what you're talking about (RE: the binder) and ask valuable questions. 

The real skill to creating interview questions is a few softball mixed with some bigger, potentially meatier questions. Since you're doing entertainment journalism, you're rarely going to be asking real hard hitting questions. 

Some sample softball questions are, "How do you feel about the community that Kickstarted you?" and "What did you think about working through Greenlight?" These questions, with a few exceptions, will usually be the moment when the developer gets to gush about the community that propelled them to success, and it's a good moment. 

Harder, less soft questions are where you ask about the development process in more depth, working with the studio that they're involved with, and touching on interesting bits of your research. What would a die-hard fan (or critical reader) want to know? Your intention should never be to trip up your interview subject. We're not Katie Couric, and even if we were, the convention room floor is not the time to be an investigative reporter. 

It Comes Down to This

A convention is a pretty short experience, overall, and it's a great opportunity to actually network with developers. Especially if you don't live in a major city, this is a rare chance to actually meet with developers one on one, and it's a chance that you shouldn't miss. One of the keys to getting the most out of the actual convention time is pre-con preparation: get your notes in order, know what you want to see and do and who you want to talk to, and think ahead about the questions you want answered.

Don't stress, enjoy yourself, and really soak in the experience. Standard convention tips always apply -- bring extra socks to change throughout the day, carry a large bag and wear comfortable shoes and try not to eat at the convention center. Follow these rules and you're already halfway on your way to being a true convention superstar. 

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GS Grammar Guide: Common Grammar Mistakes and Conundrums https://www.gameskinny.com/8j07q/gs-grammar-guide-common-grammar-mistakes-and-conundrums https://www.gameskinny.com/8j07q/gs-grammar-guide-common-grammar-mistakes-and-conundrums https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/7a88911aed6440a16f9064629706c6e0.jpg 8j07q/gs-grammar-guide-common-grammar-mistakes-and-conundrums Wed, 07 Jan 2015 18:38:46 -0500 Auverin Morrow

There are some errors that our editors see over and over again. From newbies to veterans, lots of writers make these mistakes. And frankly, it's exhausting for us to continuously correct them. Because we have to be efficient editors, we can't explain all the pesky grammar rules each time we see a common mistake. We have to correct them and move on, which often means the writer doesn't learn how to avoid that mistake in the future. That leads to more mistakes down the road. 

You may be thinking: it's just a little mistake now and then. So what? 

It boils down to professionalism. You want to be taken seriously as a writer, and we the editors want you to write the best content you possibly can. That means learning from your mistakes. It also means knowing and respecting grammar rules, no matter how fickle and unexciting they are. 

Let's look at the 10 errors that editors come across most often.

1. Not italicizing your game titles. 

This is by far the most common mistake we see, especially from new writers. Game titles are always italicized. Always. Every time you mention them. Even when you only use a word or two of the whole title. There are only two exceptions to this rule:

  1. When the whole sentence is in italics, the game title is left un-italicized so it's still visually different from the rest of the sentence. 
  2. If you shorten a game title like World of Warcraft to WoW, it doesn't need to be italicized. 

But games aren't always the only thing you're referring to. Sometimes you have to refer to DLC, movies, books, episodes, etc. What do you do then? Just remember this rule: If the thing you're referring to is a major (long) workthen it's italicized. That means the titles of games, books, movies, albums, plays, etc. are italicized. Shorter works, or works that are part of a whole, are put in quotation marks. Short stories, chapter titles, song titles, episode titles, etc. belong in quotation marks.

Example: "Quenta Silmarillion", the longest story in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, tells several tales about the First Age and the Silmarils.

There is one sort-of exception. Although DLC is part of the full game, DLC titles are italicized. Unless it's just an armor/weapon/skins/etc. pack, in which case you leave it as-is. 

Example: World of Warcraft just released another great expansion called Warlords of Draenor

2. Sentence Fragments, Run-Ons, and Comma Splices

Sometimes writers will construct sentences with either too much or too little information. Either way, it's bad. 

Fragments

sentence fragment is a group of words that cannot stand on its own.  For a sentence to be a sentence, it needs to have at least a subject and a verb. 

She played.

Short and vague as it may be, that's a complete sentence. It's a complete thought, with a subject peforming an action. 

There are a lot of reasons that a group of words may seem like a sentence without actually being a sentence. We won't dive much into the technicalities, but you can check out that handy link above if you're interested. 

Just remember that a group of words does not a sentence make. There must be a subject, and there must be a verb attached to that subject. 

It's possible to have a sentence fragment with a verb in it if the verb is not executed by the subject, or if there is no subject. Like this:

Grinding until the early hours of morning to get his level up.

The gamers shouting in the apartment above us.

See how that can trick you? It's not enough to have a group of words, the words have to be performing the proper actions before they can be considered a sentence. 

Run-Ons

Run-on sentences are the polar opposite of sentence fragments. Run-on sentences have too much information or too many clauses that have been improperly connected, making them confusing to read. Usually, run-on sentences use commas instead of actual conjunctions, creating comma splices (which will be discussed shortly). 

The game was supposed to release this month until developers found several serious bugs, they will need time to fix all of it, they're pushing the date back to March so they don't release a broken game. 

Isn't that downright exhausting to read? It's pretty confusing, too. But a run-on sentence doesn't have to be long, just like a long sentence isn't necessarily a run-on.

Get ready, this is a really tough boss.

That doesn't sound quite right, does it? That's because it's lacking conjunctions. Conjunctions are almost always the solution to run-on sentences. I say almost, because sometimes a run-on needs to be broken up with a period or semicolon. Watch how these two sentences transform when they're properly connected.

The game was supposed to release this month, but the developers found several serious bugs. They will need time to fix all of it, so they're pushing the release date back to March, because they don't want to release a broken game. 

Get ready, because this is a tough boss. 

Those sentences read much more smoothly now, thanks to properly placed commas, conjunctions, and periods. 

Comma Splices

Comma splices are the number one cause of run-on sentences. When you connect two independent clauses with a comma, but no conjunction, it's called a comma splice. You're just fusing a sentence together in a way that's confusing for your reader. When you're connecting two independent clauses, a comma MUST be accompanied by a coordinating conjunction. This is non-negotiable. 

For those of you who may be unfamiliar, an independent clause is any group of words that can stand on its own and create a complete sentence. Two or more independent clauses (two complete sentences) can be connected to create a complex sentence, as long as appropriate coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, yet, or, so) are used between clauses. In addition to using coordinating conjunctions, you can also use semicolons to separate two independent clauses.

The Evil Within was a fun game, I'm ready for Bethesda to release a new Fallout title. 

That sentence contains two complete thoughts, but they kind of run together (see how splices create run-ons?). Without a conjunction to indicate a positive or negative relationship between one clause and the next, the sentence feels disjointed. Let's see what happens when we put a coodinating conjunction in there. 

The Evil Within was a fun game, but I'm ready for Bethesda to release a new Fallout title. 

That completely clarifies the sentence and shows exactly how those two clauses are supposed to relate to each other. 

3. Misusing Commas and Semicolons.

Commas

Commas are difficult. They have always been and will always be pesky little pains in the butt. No matter how long you've been writing, commas are tricky. There are a lot of rules for commas - too many to put in this article. So we've created a GS Grammar Guide specifically for commas. 

Give that a read for the run-down on the most common comma rules and mistakes, and how to fix them. 

Semicolons

Aside from commas, semicolons are perhaps the most abused puncuation mark in the English language. There are very few cases where a semicolon is acceptable, and the rules in those cases are very cut and dry. If your semicolon doesn't serve one of the two purposes listed below, do not use it. You will make our editors cry. 

1. Use a semicolon to separate two closely related independent clauses. Remember that an independent clause is a complete thought when standing on its own. 

I prefer playing Smite to playing League of Legends; the community is a little bit more inviting. 

Remember those comma splices we went over earlier? You can use semicolons to get those in proper shape. 

2. Use a semicolon to separate wordy lists. If you're listing elements that already have commas in them (such as names and positions or cities and states), you can use semicolons in place of commas to separate each element. 

PAX has conventions in Seattle, WA; Boston, MA; San Antonio, TX; and Melbourne, VIC. 

The documentary contained interviews from Allen Jenkins, Head of Marketing; Anna Lee, Social Media Manager; Ali Graham, Lead Designer; and Natasha Burks, Project Manager. 

These are the only two times you should ever use a semicolon. Ever.

4. Failure to hyphenate compound adjectives. 

This is a rule that a lot of people don't know, but it's one that can make your writing look stellar if you follow it. When you use a compound adjective, the adjectives are connected with a hyphen. A compound adjective is an adjective that uses two or more words. 

Destiny is a fast-paced, first-person shooter. 

How did some nine-year-old kids just beat us in League?

Just remember not to put a hyphen between the last adjective and the noun. There's not much more to explain on this one, but nail it to your memory. Hyphenate your adjectives like the pros do. Your writing will look a lot better for it. 

5. Mixing up similar-sounding words

This is easily one of the most common mistakes on GS and in the world at large. Lots of words in the English language sound almost exactly alike, but mean very different things. And it's easy to get those confused sometimes. Let's go through the most common ones and set the record straight.

You're/Your
  • You're: a contraction that means "you are". 
    • "You're a team player."
  • Your: the possessive form of "you"
    • "Is that your favorite game?"
There/They're/Their
  • There: an adverb (sometimes a noun/pronoun) that denotes a specific place or state
    • "Go see what's in that chest over there."
    • "There is no easy way to win this fight."
  • They're: a contraction that means "they are"
    • "They're going to watch the live stream of the Smite chamionships."
  • Their: the possessive form of "they"
    • "My friends can get really attached to their characters."
To/Too/Two
  • To: a preposition that expresses motion or direction toward a point; an essential part of infinitives
    • "I need to go back to our base."
  • Too: an adverb that means "in addition to" or "furthermore"
    • "This area is too hostile for us to explore right now."
  • Two: a cardinal number
    • "We need two more people in our party to raid this dungeon."
It's/Its
  • It's: a contraction that means "it is"
    • "It's a good thing I stocked up on healing potions."
  • Its: the possessive form of the pronoun "it"
    • "Climb up on the dragon's head, then put your axe in its eye."
Affect/Effect
  • Affect: a verb that means "to act on or change"
    • "Will Unity's buggy launch affect Ubisoft's next release?"
  • Effect: a noun that means "a consequence, an influence, or a result"
    • "Studies show that playing Portal 2 has positive effects on the brain."
Who's/Whose
  • Who's: a contraction that means "who is" or "who has"
    • "I wonder who's going to release the next blockbuster game?"
  • Whose: the possessive form of "who"
    • "Whose house are we meeting at for the LAN party?"
Accept/Except
  • Accept: a verb that means "to take, receive, or agree to"
    • "Don't forget to accept my friend request on Steam."
  • Except: a prepsition that means "excluding, with the exclusion of, or but"
    • "Except for our tanks and DPS-ers, everyone needs to stay well out of the monster's range."
Loose/Lose
  • Loose: an adjective that means "free, released, or unrestrained"
    • "Loose-fitting armor can be a fatal mistake."
  • Lose: a verb that means "to come to be without something; to fail to keep"
    • "If we lose another match, I'm quitting for the night."

6. Misplaced apostrophes

Apostrophes are used almost exclusively in contractions and possessive forms of nouns/pronouns. There are four basic rules of placement when it comes to apostrophes:

  1. In contractions, the apostrophe always comes between the n and the tIn the case of "it is", the apostrophe sits between the t and the s
    • "I don't want to keep playing. I shouldn't. I can't. I won't."
  2. In the possessive form of singular nouns/pronouns, the apostrophe comes before the t. There is only one exception to this rule. See #3. 
    • "It's my brother's birthday, so I can't make it to Greg's game night."
  3. If the singular possessive form of a noun/pronoun ends with an s, the apostrophe comes at the end of the word.
    • "James' new setup looks really cool. His chair looks cozier than my boss'."
  4. In the possessive form of plural pronouns/nouns, the apostrophe comes at the end of the word. The only exception to this rule is when the plural word doesn't end in s. (Like mice or geese.)
    • "The cosplayers' vibrant costumes were really cool to see."

7. Mixing up not-so-similar sounding words

There are some words that don't sound alike that writers still mix up from time to time. These words are similar to each other, but they perform different functions and belong in different parts of a sentence. Let's go over the three most common ones. 

Who/Whom
  • Who: a pronoun that denotes a person. Who is always used as a subject. It is a replacement for nominative pronouns (I/he/she/it/they/we).
    • "Who wants to play some Warcraft tonight?"
  • Whom: also a pronoun that denotes a person; however, whom is always used as an object. It is a replacement for accusative and dative pronouns (me/him/her/it/them/us). 
    • "Whom should I take with me as a companion?"
  • The best way to see whether you should use who or whom is to replace the word with a pronoun. It's okay if you have to reword the sentence in your head. Whichever pronoun fits, pick the corresponding who-form and you'll know you have it right. 
I/Me

This follows exactly the same rules as who/whom.

  • I: a pronoun that denotes the self. Always used in the nominative case (aka the subject). 
    • "I'm going to be AFK for a little while."
  • Me: also a pronoun that denotes the self. Always used in the accusative and the dative cases (aka the object). 
    • "Someone please heal me so I can get back into the action."
  • Extra tip: saying "between you and I" is incorrect. Always say "between you and me."
Which/That

These two words may seem interchangeable, and most people use them as though they are. But sadly, they're not. This is another one of those obscure rules that can really take your writing from great to professional if you follow it well. Which and that can both be used to give extra details about something. The difference between them is the type of clause that you can use them with - that is, how vital the extra details are to that sentence. 

That is used in conjunction with restrictive clauses. Restrictive clauses are phrases/groups of words that cannot be taken out of a sentence because they "restrict" some part of the subject. The meaning of the sentence would change if you were to remove that information. 

Which is used in conjunction with nonrestrictive clauses. Nonrestrictive clauses are phrases/groups of words that can be taken out of a sentence because they do not restrict or impact its meaning, they simply add extra detail. When using which, it must always be preceded by a comma. If the clause appears in the middle of the sentence, it must be bracketed in commas.

If that's a little hard to understand, it's okay. Let's use both "which" and "that" in the same sentence so we can see the difference. 

We need to go to the city that houses the Thieves' Guild.

In this instance, the party needs to go specifically to the city with the Thieves' Guild. The Thieves' Guild is an essential piece of information that helps the reader identify which city, out of all possible ones, is the right city. 

We need to go to the city, which houses the Thieves' Guild.

The Thieves' Guild is no longer an essential piece of information. It is an extra detail about the city to which the party desires to travel. The Guild isn't necessary to identify the city, but it's nice to know that there is one nonetheless. 

If you're stuck, think of it like this: need-to-know info uses that, and nice-to-know info uses which.

8. Subject/verb disagreement

There are a lot of ways to mess up on subject/verb agreement, but there are a few distinct mistakes that appear over and over again on the site. Subject/verb agreement is a fancy way of saying that the number of subjects matches the type of verb you use. One subject takes a singular verb:

She needs to level up. 

Two or more subjects means you need to use a plural verb. 

They need to level up.

But subject/verb agreement doesn't always feel that straightforward, and it can sometimes be a little tricky to discern whether a subject should take a singular or a plural verb. Let's take a look at the two common errors in agreement. 

1. Indefinite pronouns like everyone, anyone, nobody, everybody, etc. always take a singular verb. Although indefinite pronouns often refer to a group, the group itself is considered a singular unit. Therefore, a singular pronoun is used. 

Everyone needs to get all buying/selling done before we go. 

2. Each always takes a singular pronoun, even if it's followed by a phrase that contains plural noun. Each is often used to talk about groups in terms of singular units. Writers are usually tempted to use plural verbs in those cases, because of the plural noun at the end of the phrase. But this is incorrect. Even if it's singling an item/element out of a group, each is still a singular word that denotes a singular thing, and therefore must take a singular verb. This will likely sound strange to you, because we often don't heed this rule in conversation, but it is the grammatically correct structure. 

Each of the players needs to make sure that all gear is up to snuff.

We can see here that even though players is a plural noun, the word each denotes individual players, and thus takes the singular form of need

9. Improper references to game companies.

This is a mistake that we see all the time. Even though we're writers, and we love games, and we love writing about games, most of the time we have no idea how to refer to game companies in our articles. Are they a group? Are they a singular institution? Let's clarify. 

When referring to a game company or developer by the company name, it is considered a singular noun, and therefore takes singular verbs and singular pronouns. 

Sony is dominating the market with its PS4 console. 

Although they're made up of lots of people, companies are considered a singular entity. Kind of like Frankenstein - lots of parts making up a whole. 

10. Making up words

Everyone has done this at some point or another. Common mistakes, such as imaginary words, get made during colloquial (conversational) expression, and then those mistakes are picked up on by others and passed around through speech. Certain words and misconceptions have proliferated nearly every person's vocabulary, and it's difficult to root them out. Although they may be colloquially acceptable, using these words in your writing is a serious no-no. 

  • Irregardless (Use regardless instead)
  • Supposably (Supposedly is what you want to say)
  • For all intensive purposes (It's actually for all intents and purposes)

And for my personal favorite...

 And there you have it, folks.

Those are the 10 most common grammar mistakes and conundrums that our editors run into on the site. Heed this guide, and you'll save our lovely editors a bit time and a lot of frustration. And hopefully, it'll make your next article a little less difficult to write. 

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Evergreen Basics: GameSkinny's Crash Course in Creating Killer Content https://www.gameskinny.com/7k01s/evergreen-basics-gameskinnys-crash-course-in-creating-killer-content https://www.gameskinny.com/7k01s/evergreen-basics-gameskinnys-crash-course-in-creating-killer-content https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/1ce0bbfc2946ad86befbd4c38f002d21.png 7k01s/evergreen-basics-gameskinnys-crash-course-in-creating-killer-content Wed, 24 Dec 2014 11:56:51 -0500 GameSkinny Staff

In the plant world, an evergreen is a tree that has leaves or pines throughout the year, and so is always green.

Evergreen content, in its most basic sense, is content that stays relevant for an extended period of time. As such, this sort of content has a hugely extended opportunity to gain views on your blog or website or here on GameSkinny.

This is the most simplistic way to refer to evergreen, but don't let the simplicity of the concept give you a false sense of confidence: this genre of writing is very difficult to master.

NOTE: The tips, tricks, and advice offered in this guide will be applicable to all industries and topics, regardless of GameSkinny's video game-centric leanings.

Before we dive in too much, there are three basic rules to bear in mind that will ensure your evergreen content will remain relevant for a long time:

  • Be the definitive authority on the selected topic 
    • YOU must be the expert, so do your homework and be the ultimate resource for your reader. They shouldn't have an excuse to go looking for more information elsewhere.
  • Write for beginners, while retaining your authority: aka teach
    • Being the authority doesn't mean filling your prose with jargon - it means explaining everything clearly, confidently, and without margin for confusion. Think of Bill Nye, or your favorite teacher: their authority comes from their ability to teach so well that you, the novice, actually learn.
  • Narrow your topic and pick a niche
    • Niche doesn't automatically mean small audience. Writing about 20 League of Legends Cosplays is very specific and niche-oriented, so is a guide on hidden Diablo 3 easter eggs. But the thing is: these are large niches with tons of interested gamers - both articles have achieved sustained success as a result. Niches are easier to write, because they are so focused, and are easier for readers to grasp and quickly understand.

Put it all together: Write an authoritative article about a niche, for beginners, that will stay relevant for a long time. Boom, that's your formula for successful evergreen!

What Makes Evergreen Content So Valuable?

Evergreen content has a long shelf life.

A typical news article will only last as long as the news is relevant and is still news - no matter how huge the event is. An evergreen article simply has a much longer life span than a pure news article, thus a much longer amount of time to potentially get views.

News Example: Germany Beats Brazil 7-1 in the 2014 World Cup. At the time, this was massive news! Every outlet scrambled to get that event covered and those who scooped it first got mega views. However, after the World Cup, everyone knew that Germany beat Brazil and the news lost relevance in a matter of days. No one needed to search for it anymore, so no one did... when was the last time you felt the urge to look up news about that game? Or any specific sporting event results?

The event brought in a news spike, but didn't have much longevity in the long term from an article standpoint.

Evergreen Example: What Are the Best Minecraft Seeds? We don't have to look past GameSkinny for an awesome example of gaming related evergreen - this article, written over a year and half ago, STILL outperforms most other GS articles (on a daily basis) and has been on our "Top Articles" page so long that we were beginning to think it was a glitch.

This article has been relevant, and will continue to be relevant, as long as Minecraft is played and players are still looking for a good resource for seeds.

Video game guides make up a large number of our most productive, high-view articles on GameSkinny.

Search Power: SEO

The other secret sauce to evergreen's success is how articles are found: searches and shares.

Google search referrals make up somewhere between 80%-95% of most websites' view traffic. Views are important because views = ad revenue = sustained website upkeep costs = ability to keep running the website. Direct links and referrals are usually low for all but the major outlets: IGN, Kotaku, Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, etc. These outlets have the necessary fanbases to rely heavily on social shares and the prestige for frequent direct linking. For every other outlet else, we all play Google's searching tune.

That is why SEO (search engine optimization) is so important. Researching trending search terms & related search terms and using those in your articles at a healthy level (not too much, but enough to register) of keyword density will help evergreen articles rise to the top of searches and compete with similar searches results.

SEO is something we'll cover in more depth another time. It's complicated. But one leg up that we have on GameSkinny: GameSkinny is a Google page-one search result. By default, our articles are not lost in Google's page 2-3 obscurity so we have an advantage over other smaller sites. Becoming a page-one website takes a large amount of web infrastructure in order to compete.

What Makes Good Evergreen?

So, we know the basics, but what do we actually DO here? The best thing to do is learn from the experts. There are plenty of other sites, full of experts who can explain this damn well - so I'm going to save myself time by parroting some examples and providing you with some additional reading material.

Remember this as you read the examples: just because a post is not evergreen doesn't mean that it's not still valuable in some way! Evergreen just happens to be the biggest view-bang for your buck.

We are big fans of the Buffer Blog at GameSkinny. In Buffer's Complete List of Evergreen Ideas for Your Blog, which is itself an example of good evergreen, the following are examples of almost every category of evergreen:

  • How-to posts and tutorials, such as:
    • How to Write a Professional Social Media Bio
    • Publishing on WordPress: Step-by-step from Idea to Article
    • How to Start a Newsletter Campaign from Scratch
  • Historical posts and origin stories, such as:
    • The Origin of the 8-Hour Workday and Why We Should Rethink It
    • How Facebook Got Its Start: Inside the Early Days of the Social Media Giant
    • What Copywriting Used to Look Like: A Trip to the Golden Era
  • Encyclopedic posts and informational posts, such as:
    • The Complete Guide to Finding and Sharing Better Content on Social Media
    • Everything You Need to Know About Blogging for a Niche
    • Best Practices for Growing Your Twitter Followers
  • Resource lists of curated content/Top tips, such as:
    • 8 Simple Copywriting Tips, Backed by Science
    • 10 Top Tips for Crafting Clickable Tweets
    • The Best Advice for Consistently Posting to Your Personal Blog
  • Answers to industry FAQs, such as:
    • Why Google Authorship is So Important
    • Getting to Know How Facebook Business Pages Work
    • Should Content Be Free? The Pros and Cons to Subscriptions
Examples of non-evergreen content

What is the opposite of an evergreen? A willow? An aspen? Call it what you want, these types of posts lack the longevity and timelessness of evergreen content, but they could still serve as helpful articles in a content plan.

  • Data and statistics, such as:
    • The 20 Most Important Marketing Stats of 2013
    • What the Latest Numbers on Facebook and Twitter Usage Mean for Your Business
  • Speculation and opinion, such as:
    • Why iOS7 Is a Bad Idea
    • Looking Ahead: The Future of Blogging in 2014
  • Event-specific content, such as:
    • The Top Ways to Tweet Your Winter Olympics Coverage
    • The Ultimate List of Christmas Vector Images
  • Breaking news, such as:
    • Complete Coverage of the Twitter IPO
    • What the Nintendo Wii U Announcement Means for Gamers

Also, I'm going to add reviews to the list of not-evergreen. Again: Non-evergreen posts do have value! But reviews are just not effective evergreen content.

  • Reviews, such as:
    • Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
    • Maker's Eden Review: Style Isn't Everything After all.

Recommended Readings (that don't suck)

Here is a quick handful of outside sources to get you started on further educating yourself on creating killer content that will actually stick around. Also, as always, we do recommend you take a look at our own GameSkinny writing resources.

Meta: A quick step back

This article is specifically meant to be an evergreen piece about evergreen for our GameSkinny readers. The only thing that I'm not doing is being the 100% definitive source: for the sake of education, I am giving you a number of outside resources so you can learn even more. But consider the principals of evergreen in relation to this article:

  • This tackles a niche
  • This is written for beginners
  • This is written with research and authority to act as a definitive resource
  • This headline designed to be easily searched for in Google

Thanks for taking the time to read this overview, let me know if you have any questions at all and good luck with evergreen! Now, if you aren't 100% sure what to write about, don't worry - we've got articles specifically about that coming down the pipeline!

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The One Golden Rule of Creating Shareable Online Content https://www.gameskinny.com/nraev/the-one-golden-rule-of-creating-shareable-online-content https://www.gameskinny.com/nraev/the-one-golden-rule-of-creating-shareable-online-content https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/54a76376b1489baa2cdf4d4834b945ec.jpg nraev/the-one-golden-rule-of-creating-shareable-online-content Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:55:52 -0500 GameSkinny Staff

Fun fact: your reader didn't make that, you did. But your reader is the one looking at it and sharing it... hopefully.

When you write, and when you decide what to write, ask yourself this one very important question: "Would I link this to a friend if I didn't create it?"

The pursuit of answering "YES!" to this question is likely the best and most genuine way to write quality, shareable content. We always talk about writing with your reader in mind, but put yourself in your reader's shoes eyes. Aim to create the sort of interesting and useful content that you and your readers (or viewers or listeners) love to share.

By pursuing this question, things will happen:

  1. You will likely gravitate towards topics you are very knowledgable about.
  2. Your writing will gain depth and authority.
  3. You will take greater pride in what you write.
  4. You will check yo'self and have more realistic expectations.
  5. You will get more views and comments and engagement.

Again: "Would I link this to a friend if I didn't create it?"

Write and rewrite until you answer "YES!" to that question because there is one ineffable Golden Rule to creating the most shareable content possible:

Create content that you would share even if you didn't create it.

Once you think you're done, take a step back. If you just stumbled upon the article you're starting at, what would you think? If it's not "Woah, this is sweet! I need to tell some one about this!" - then maybe you need to put some work effort in.

Put yourself into your reader's head as you read your own post and try to imagine if you can see someone saying, "This is really cool, I should link this to Matt!"

Get creative, iterate, research, provide more examples, rewrite, rephrase, delete, and proofread until you have a piece of work that you would be stoked to share even if you didn't make it yourself. If you would share something online, then your audience will likely share it too. Be your own audience, get shares.


Image Source: Huffington Post

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How to Avoid Writer's Block https://www.gameskinny.com/auf0g/how-to-avoid-writers-block https://www.gameskinny.com/auf0g/how-to-avoid-writers-block https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/7b074f3a42388d470fec60bc29631e96.jpg auf0g/how-to-avoid-writers-block Mon, 22 Dec 2014 10:07:14 -0500 GameSkinny Staff

With the combination of all the possible hiccups and productivity potholes of writing from home, ‘perfect’ work conditions are hard to come by in the best of times. There are a lot, and I mean a LOT, of ways to lose motivation and get stuck at writer’s blocks (or any form of productivity blocks for that matter).

It will happen eventually, and you’ll feel silly when it does: “This is what I do, this is what I’m good at, so why the hell can’t I get started?? How do I get past this writer’s block?”

Everyone on the planet will give you the same simple answer, even the famous and the respected: just write.

To which you are thinking: “No shit, Sherlock….”
Well, let’s keep digging, Watson!

‘Just write’ has merit, a lot of merit; there’s a reason this advice is so popular. You need to power through and force yourself to write because no one else will – there isn’t going to be a magic fairy godmother who will suddenly descend form the heavens and plop you in front of a desk and start feeding you the words because now, all of a sudden, you are inspired. Our society is plagued by the idea of the muse and of inspiration striking like lightning. Writing is up to you, moving forward is up to you. The reason you aren’t writing isn’t because your muse is on her lunch break, sorry. Real talk: the only thing stopping you for achieving what you want to achieve is you.

That said, ‘just write’ is uninspiring – here are some specific strategies that can help catalyze the writing process and motivate you to light a fire under your own ass.

Specific Strategies to Help Avoid Writer’s Block

1. Read.

Read the writings of authors you admire and aspire to be like. There are a ton of incredibly articulate and brilliant writers out there. Find the ones you love to read and soak yourself in their language. I think Pauline Kael is one of the best media critics to ever write, so I love to read her work and be inspired.

2. Write other’s words.

I’m not talking about publishing plagiarism here, this is purely an offline practice technique. Pick a something you like to read, that you admire, and copy it word for word: the act of writing someone else’s article or content will begin to walk you through the process of writing something you recognize to be great. You don’t have to think about what you’re writing too hard, but you’ll start seeing a structure and ask ‘how would I have done it?’ Then, once you have this great piece of content on your word processor, text cursor blinking to the right of the last word, you’ll realize that this is exactly what that writer you admire was staring at just before they hit ‘submit’.

In his early 20s, Hunter S. Thompson typed out the entirety of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby on his typewriter, just to understand to what it felt like to write a great American novel. You don’t have to write a novel, or even a massive feature; a small news piece will do if that’s what you have time for.

3. Write stream of consciousness.

Just start writing or typing, about anything. Anything at all. Rant. The mere act of writing anything that comes to mind will start to warm up your brain. Go wild.

4. Write on a throwaway page/notebook.

I have a throwaway notebook that I use daily, just to write out and organize my thoughts on a page. Putting words to a page, a page that you know you’ll never return to once you flip it, is a pretty liberating experience and helps you get words down.

5. Treat your writing like an experiment.

A lot of writer’s block tends to come from performance anxieties: will this next piece measure up to my last? Can I top myself, or have I peaked? What will the end result look like? How will that reflect on me as a person? To combat this anxiety, try treating your assignment or article like an experiment – don’t anticipate success, just write to see if something will even work. This will help you to stop judging the worth of your writing and just focus on the task of creating it.

If your experiment fails, then break out the ol’ scientific method: why did it fail? What could have been better? What did you observe happening? Think critically about your creative process.

6. Write an outline and slowly flesh it out.

If you know what you have to/want to write, then draw up an outline. Just put a word or two for each section or important piece of information. The write a sentence under each section you’ve outlined. Then check Facebook. Then write a second sentence. Then check your email, then another sentence. Keep going until you have something that vaguely resembles a draft.

7. Take a bio break.

Get up, get a glass of water, eat a snack, go to the bathroom, take a lap around the block, stretch. A bio break (biological) is a simple way to make sure that your focus isn’t being compromised by something as silly as “Oh, I haven’t eaten yet today, maybe that’s why I can’t concentrate on anything.” Pay attention to your body, even if you’re doing brain work. (Your brain is part of your body, dummy.)

As you give these seven strategies a bash, I strongly recommend you also keep in mind the following guidelines – these are all about mindset!

Also, Remember a Few Cardinal Guidelines of Writing:

  1. You will write shitty first drafts.
  2. You will probably write shitty second and third drafts too.
  3. Everyone writes shitty drafts, no one just craps out beautiful and flawless writing in one go.
  4. Your writing can’t improve unless you have a lot of final drafts (if you write a lot of shitty first drafts but not a lot of great final drafts, guess which you’ll be the expert on).
  5. Completion is a muscle, exercise it. Completing your first draft might be hard, but it makes completing your second draft easier and your final draft even easier.
  6. Achievement is contagious. Identify and surround yourself with people who are better writers and more motivated than you; aspire to learn from them and you will become a better writer with more motivation. Never resent others’ talents, feed off of each other’s productive energy.
  7. You can always rewrite, rework, re-edit, and redo a project before turing it in – but only if you have something to work with in the first place. Get words down; that’s always the first step.
  8. You’ll never be done being a writer. Even if your assignments are in, keep sharpening your claws on every word you can imagine.

Hopefully this post will give you a bit of a boost and help you on your way towards productivity land! Also, if it makes you feel any better: my first draft for this was absolutely atrocious. Good luck out there, and keep on writing.


Article originally published by author here.

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A Complete Introduction Guide to GameSkinny - Come Write With Us! https://www.gameskinny.com/tfrkz/a-complete-introduction-guide-to-gameskinny-come-write-with-us https://www.gameskinny.com/tfrkz/a-complete-introduction-guide-to-gameskinny-come-write-with-us https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/4c9471199d8d9615acbbf42461d32be3.jpg tfrkz/a-complete-introduction-guide-to-gameskinny-come-write-with-us Thu, 04 Dec 2014 09:08:43 -0500 GameSkinny Staff

These days, publishing great content online is not hard.. being heard is!

There is so much content online now that personal blogs, YouTube videos, in-depth forum posts.. they're getting lost, overlooked, drowned out.

We think that's lame.

So, we built a place for intelligent folks like you to have your opinion heard, shared, discovered and discussed. We believe in giving gamers a space, and we've already had great success with Guild Launch, where guilds and gaming groups can create their own websites, so....

We created GameSkinny.

A publishing platform built from the ground up that does a few very specific things, and does them very well: 

  1. Gives you a place to create a games writing portfolio
  2. Gives great content exposure to an established audience
  3. Gives serious contributors a chance to improve their skills through on-site info, tutorials, and interaction with GameSkinny Editors
  4. Rewards top writers with real, actual money through our Bounty program.

Write about video games, build your audience, and be as rad as you can be.

So there ya have it. It's that simple. Give GameSkinny a try. We think you'll like it. Below is a collection of articles and resources to get you started.

Level 1: Posting Basics

"Help, I'm new here!" That's ok, welcome to the madhouse! If you are new to writing or need a push in the right direction, this section is for you. Learn the basics of posting and writing on GameSkinny.

Level 2: Advanced Tactics

You've completed level one and you've got a good handle of how things work 'round these parts. Awesome! Now it's time to sharpen your skills and grab games writing by the thumbsticks horns. 

Level 3: Expert Mode

Oh boy, you're really grooving now! Once you feel like you've mastered level two and have honed your skills, now it's the tough part: gaining notoriety and recognition as a writer and boosting that view count. We want to see that dashboard grow and so do you!

Bonus Level: Learn More About GameSkinny

If you want to learn more about GameSkinny and want to get involved, here are some links to get you started. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook and check out our new forums (Coming soon to Community.GuildLaunch). Also, be sure to check out Guild Launch too! 

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Zero to Funded: Promoting Your Kickstarter Project on GameSkinny https://www.gameskinny.com/l4c1o/zero-to-funded-promoting-your-kickstarter-project-on-gameskinny https://www.gameskinny.com/l4c1o/zero-to-funded-promoting-your-kickstarter-project-on-gameskinny https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/2fd9ee82f32f6bd8fd4164e64adb8744.png l4c1o/zero-to-funded-promoting-your-kickstarter-project-on-gameskinny Mon, 10 Feb 2014 04:56:55 -0500 Ste Grainer

The key to a successful Kickstarter campaign is getting enough backers to meet your goal. Unless you already have an audience, reaching potential backers can be hard work. If you've got a great game or gaming-related Kickstarter project, we're here to help! GameSkinny loves promoting great games and gaming resources to our audience around the globe.

Here are a few great ways you can use GameSkinny to promote your project:

1. Write an article about your project

If you've already posted your Kickstarter project, this should be relatively simple. Cover the basics and summarize your project, then link to it so interested readers can easily get involved. Make sure to cover:

  • What is your game or product like? What is it similar to? How is it different? Who would like it?
  • Why should backers get involved? Why are you using Kickstarter? What are Kickstarter funds going to be used for?
  • What can backers expect? What are the rewards? When can they expect them?
  • When will your finished game or product be ready?

You've undoubtedly covered most of this in your Kickstarter project page so feel free to copy, quote, or summarize. You can also embed a Kickstarter widget in your article to show live progress on funding and provide an easy way for interested readers to convert to backers.

How to embed a Kickstarter widget

To embed the widget, look for the Embed link directly under your project video (near the top of the page). The widget appears on the right side of the modal that pops up - copy the code at the top and paste it into your article by clicking the HTML button on the article tools.

Add Bonus Points to help people find your project

You can also add Bonus Points to your article, which include extra information about your article like tags, platforms, and game name. These make it easier for readers to find your article. Add your game (if relevant), add some tags (including things like "kickstarter" and your company name), and add any relevant platforms your game or product might tie in with. (Hint: we even include platforms like Tabletop for you board game and card game creators.)

You've already got a video for your project so upload that to YouTube (if you haven't already) and add that as Header Media for your article. The Skinny lets you provide a short description of your project to entice readers to learn more; it's also what Google displays as the description of your article in search listings, so use it wisely. 

2. Spice up your game page on GameSkinny

If you're promoting a game, you can spice up your game's page on GameSkinny by adding images and extra details about the game itself. Get in touch with our editorial staff for help on how to do that.

Your game page can include:

  • A large background image (great for screenshots, wallpapers, or fan art)
  • Box art
  • Developer and publisher names
  • Release date (if you know in advance)
  • A long-form overview
  • What platforms it will be available on
  • What genres the game covers

3. Add your project timeline to our events calendar

Get your backers and readers stoked for specific events by adding them to our calendar. You can add your Kickstarter timeline so readers know when it opens and closes. You can also add open and closed beta events for your game as well as your official release date.

Will you demo your game at any upcoming conventions? Post a comment on the convention event page with details about when and where attendees can check out your demo.

4. Follow kickstarter and other relevant tags to see when new articles are added

Following things on GameSkinny helps you get tailored news related specifically to those subjects. Following the Kickstarter tag will help you learn about other upcoming Kickstarter projects so you can uncover what's working (or not) for other designers. Following your game or company tags can help you discover when others write about you or your game so you can ...

5. Follow up on comments and other articles about your project

You can do a lot of good for your campaign (and your business in general) by taking the time to respond to fans and critics thoughtfully. If someone writes a glowing review or excited announcement about your game or product, take the time to thank them. See a negative review or harsh commentary about it? Respond civilly and honestly, and you could turn a potential bad experience into something positive. At the very least, if you approach criticism with an open mind, you could find ways to improve your project.

6. Invite a GameSkinny writer to interview you or review your project

You're busy making your awesome new game or product. We get that. It's hard to find time to create something awesome AND promote it simultaneously. Our writers are awesome, and they love discovering new stuff to explore and promote. Get in touch with our editorial team and let them know you'd love some coverage. Here are a few suggestions for best results:

  • A basic news story announcing your project is a good start, but our writers love exploring in more depth. They'd love to produce an exclusive interview with you or your team, review your game in advance, or even write helpful guides for new players.
  • Our writers attend a lot of cons. If you'll be demoing at an event that any of our writers will be attending, let us know when and where and we'll sure to send a correspondent along.
  • Press materials make our writers' jobs easier. If you've got screenshots, video, and other press details available, include those in your message.

We wish you all the success in the world for your Kickstarter project. If there's anything we can do to help you succeed, let us know!

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The Beginner's Guide to Building an Audience Through Better Tagging https://www.gameskinny.com/69m0n/the-beginners-guide-to-building-an-audience-through-better-tagging https://www.gameskinny.com/69m0n/the-beginners-guide-to-building-an-audience-through-better-tagging https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/d4c8f8216f0dbd4d5ee949f23079da1c.png 69m0n/the-beginners-guide-to-building-an-audience-through-better-tagging Mon, 18 Nov 2013 16:40:45 -0500 Ste Grainer

Ashley made some great points in her article about using tags to enhance your SEO. I wanted to touch on some of the ways you can use tags to enhance your articles for readers as well.

Help your readers find other great content

When you add relevant tags (and games) to your post, GameSkinny pulls other related posts from around the site. Sure, many of those posts lead to other writers, but odds are that related links from their posts will lead back to yours if everyone is tagging correctly. In the game of tagging, everyone who plays is a winner.

Create followable tags

Did you know you can follow tags to find out when new related articles are posted? Following tags is a great way to keep up with the things that interest you that aren't tied to specific games or platforms. Want to know about the latest great Kickstarter projects? Tired of missing Humble Bundles or Steam sales? What's the latest news from Valve or Blizzard? Love all things Zelda?

Here are a few of MY favorite things.

We're making it easier for readers to get the news they want, and you can help by giving your article appropriate tags. What does that mean? Tag important companies or people involved in your article (examples: Sony, John Carmack, Mojang). If you're discussing specific technology or software, tag it! (examples: Oculus Rift, Kickstarter, Dualshock, Steam Box)

The first key to creating a great followable tag is to ask yourself if it's something you would consider following or searching for yourself. Another key is specificity: if your tag is too generic or bland, then it's unlikely others would look for or follow it. Finally, make sure your tags are relevant. If your article is only tangentially related to a specific tag, it's probably better to avoid using it. (The same thing goes for games and platforms.)

In fact, using tags inappropriately can come across as spam. Sure, more people *may* see your article initially (if our editors don't remove the tag spam), but repeat offenses will lead them to stop following you or your tags. So don't do it. Tag responsibly. A good rule of thumb is to add no more than 5-7 tags. If you find yourself exceeding that, consider whether any of your tags "break" the above rules (or whether your article needs to be broken up into a couple of articles).

Create your own column using tags

Always wanted to riff regularly on a specific topic or explore related concepts in more depth? Create a witty column name and OWN it! Tag every new column with your witty column name. This goes hand-in-hand with the above point about creating followable tags - tagging your column helps your readers follow and discover when you post new content.

Several of our writers have used tags for either ongoing or short-run series of articles. Mat Westhorpe posted a great introduction to Eve Online. TygerWDR regularly talks about the mechanics and communities of online massively multiplayer gaming as part of his MUD2MMO video series. Did you know you can find all kinds of useful guides to success for thriving on GameSkinny?

Foster discussions between writers

Sometimes you write something, and you just know that others will want to chime in. Perhaps you'd love to know what other writers think is the ultimate game mashup. Or maybe you want to cover a topic that's particularly inflammatory. Everything's better with friends, right? Why not invite your friends (and fellow writers) to participate by creating a new tag for your discussion? Think of them like hashtags for long-form writing and be creative.

This is just the start. Yes, tags are pretty simple, but they are also a great tool to help you build an audience and foster further discussion.

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