Writing for a Nintendo-specific website is great fun, but brings with it a huge amount of expectation: Nintendo Life readers are, in my experience, some of the most passionate, knowledgeable and vocal gamers I’ve encountered in my time on the web. They’ve stuck with Nintendo through its ups and downs, are happy to point out its mistakes and celebrate its triumphs and berate them for any kind of mistake. They’re my kind of people… well, apart from the self-acknowledged fanboys.
At the start of this month, we launched Movemodo, a website run by the same team to the same editorial standards for PlayStation Move. It’s had a slow start but is picking up considerably now, and you’ll see I’ve been a huge contributor to the site’s bank of news and reviews, something I’m proud of.
Now, Move obviously shares some similarities to Wii, so there’s a very fine line to tread between celebrating Move’s accuracy – it is far more than a Wii – and acknowledging the entire system’s debt to Nintendo’s motion-controlled risk. Move’s been in development for years, but it’s certainly possible that Sony held off on it until Nintendo proved it was a potentially huge success. Now Wii software sales are down and the console itself seems to be suffering, could Sony steal some of its audience?
The key to writing for fansites is being able to speak to fans of as one of them: you build up credibility not by being a fantastic writer (a bonus in my case) but by understanding the company, its ethos and its fanbase. I’ve got about three years under my belt as a Nintendo writer, and another two years writing about whatever I want; my Sony credibility is close to zero.
It’s really all about being careful what you write: you don’t want to say “Move is a Wii Killer” on one site and then say “Wii’s Line-Up Points to Years of Great Gaming”. Sensationalism is something my esteemed colleague Jon Wahlgren continually rails against, and it serves me well – some may object to me being “more neutral than Switzerland”, but it’s important to be reliable and sensible when reporting, lest you create even more fanboys. I think the Internet’s approaching maximum occupancy there anyway, actually.
Next month the neutrality tightrope gets a little thinner, as we prepare to launch Kinectaku, a site based on – you guessed it – Microsoft Kinect. Then all hopes of neutrality go out the window next year when I finally begin work on my life’s dream: Sega Fusion.
It’s a great time to be a multi-format writer, however closely you have to watch your words. I’d recommend it to anybody.