This is what being type-cast must feel like. Despite working for a website called Strategy Informer – a site who’s history and content historically originated from an obvious source, I seem to be the only guy who handles the strategy genre at the moment. They’ve been others, don’t get me wrong – if you look at a list of all the strategy games we’ve reviewed recently, there’s some other people in there as well, although one of them has moved onto PR now. Others though generally have to be coerced into it, as few these days seem to want to take up strategy projects willingly. Take this one, for example:
It’s a hardcore political-grand strategy game, one of Paradox’s titles. No one’s going to claim it – it’s just going to sit there until I get around to doing it myself because that’s always what happens with games like these. In fact, Susana Graham, Paradox’s Head of Marketing and a very lovely person, once told me that all the good strategy/PC writers (amongst the larger outlets anyway) were starting to move onto other things, and not being replaced, and I can readily see her point. On the UK side, thankfully there’ still a lot of ‘old-school’ games journalists, who have more of an appreciation of PC and Strategy gaming floating about, but even magazines like GamesTM, or popular websites like Videogamer.com lack full time staff with proper experience of these kind of things.
To be fair, this is mainly a problem the smaller or middle-of-the-road publishers (like Paradox, 1C, Kalypso etc…) have to deal with. AAA franchises get a lot more attention. Our news guy Simon, for example, is a Blizzard-nut and so did our Starcraft II review, and we have a fair few freelancers on our books who could easily handle the likes of Total War, or Command & Conquer (If we’re ever going to see that again), even Civilization. But for the rest, it’s usually me who picks them up.
Can’t complain too much – having an identifiable niche and good contacts amongst the key people in that niche is a plus to a resume, and could even be a deal-maker for the right outlet (you could almost say there’s a lack of decent PC writers in general these days, but that’s a point as fluid as the whole “PC Gaming is DEAD” phrase). I don’t mind being the ‘go-to’ guy for that sort of thing, although it does mean I play a lot of strategy games at the moment. You talk about Game fatigue in a general sense, but it can apply to specific genres as well if you play them enough. Still, it does become a problem when I end up with a game even I don’t really like. Supreme Ruler above, a game I did recently called Pride of Nations… they’re not bad games, don’t get me wrong, but they’re very stats and management based, with a focus on the micro as opposed to macro/action. Thos games are hard to wrap one’s head around, and to be honest I’m not that much of a fan. Heart of Iron and Victoria, two key franchises from Paradox, are about my limit when it comes to grand-strategy.
At the moment, as well as writing up everything from the Ubisoft showcase yesterday (good stuff), I’ve got a review of Storm: Frontline Nation to do (Supreme Ruler, less content, but more fun) and a preview of Sengoku (Crusader Kings set in the Shogunate era of Japan). Not only that, but I hear Tropico 4 code has just come in as well… although that one might actually get taken by someone, who know. Oh well, I like to think of it this way – I could be doing Le Tour De France or Cars 2.
I suppose there are worst things than being type-cast – enjoy your weekend! I’m going to be too busy to enjoy mine.