The Columnist at Dawn

Since I’m up unusually early this morning with nothing to do, I may as well put this time to use by explaining why this blog is going dark so frequently. You know the outlines of it, of course. I’m busier than ever and am trying to accommodate a new pace of work. However, now that it’s in black and white, I should talk about my new life as a PC Gamer contributor.

When Troy paid the boatman to ferry him over to the PR side of the business, Dan Stapleton asked me if I would take over the strategy column and review work that Troy had been doing, since he already knew me from 3MA. Most of my work has yet to show up in print, because of the way schedules work, but if you hit the newstands now, you’ll find my inaugural column.

Honestly, if you like reading my work, you should really subscribe to PC Gamer, because I am doing an absolute ton of writing for the magazine right now. This week alone has me putting together a wargame review, a guide, a preview, and a column. Although I’m biased, I would also have to say the rest of the magazine is pretty damned good, too. It’s far better than what I remember from when I let my last subscription lapse several years ago. The columnists are great (Andy Mahood remains one of my favorite game writers) and I abs0lutely love how the previews get beyond the sale pitch and raise questions about the games under discussion. My editor didn’t bat an eye when I explained in a preview for the website why The Darkness II was as repulsive as it was enticing.

This is good, because writing for the magazine has me doing the kind of assignments I’d always thought I would prefer to avoid. I don’t know how I’d write a blandly positive preview about something I really didn’t care about, and fortunately I’ve not had to find out. The biggest challenge is writing to the low word-counts of a print magazine. At the start of this week, I had to distill a crummy week with a game to less than 300 words. That’s a totally different experience than the web pieces I’ve done to date.

But it does mean that my time is more limited than ever. Still, enough people have been prodding me about this blog, and in particular some projects I’ve left unfinished, that I will set aside some time to write some long-overdue pieces. In the meantime, however, I strongly suggest checking out the “Work” tab in the upper right of this page for links to my latest pieces, and subscribing to PC Gamer.

    • Dan
    • April 6th, 2011 2:29pm

    This is great news! Congratulations, by the way. More Rob in more formats sounds good to me. I’m glad to hear you’re keeping busy and staying employed.

    And a 300 word game review shouldn’t be that hard for you, it’s just like writing for a certain favorite prof of mine back at Lawrence.

      • Flitcraft
      • April 6th, 2011 3:04pm

      Was there a more valuable assignment than the potted history papers? Assignment: identify the salient trends across 300 years of political thought against a backdrop of international disorder. You have 400 words and two days.

        • Dan
        • April 7th, 2011 9:51pm

        Right. I actually just finished with a similar project for a grant proposal. Boil everything you are going to do with your dissertation (which is going to consume the next three years of your life) in 150 words. Include the subject matter, historical setting, intended audience, and contribution to the field as well as your progress thus far.

        How much of what you write will be in the print magazine compared to the website? Sorry to say this, but the chances of me subscribing are actually pretty low. I would like to read your stuff, but don’t really want to pay for the paper copy.

          • Flitcraft
          • April 7th, 2011 10:35pm

          Honestly, most of what I write is going to be in the mag. They are still developing their site, and when crunch time comes, the mag still takes precedence, so most of what they need me to do is for print. Take a gander at a few issues over the next couple months, I think you might be surprised by how interesting PCG is these days. In part because I’ll probably have taken over several pages of it.

  1. Rob -

    You are getting to live my childhood (and adulthood) dream, writing at PC Gamer. The magazine is lucky to have you. And you are lucky to be joining just after the magazine has undergone a renaissance, really making it again into one of the premiere voices for the hobby and the industry. Awesome.
    - Matt

      • Flitcraft
      • April 7th, 2011 10:31pm

      Trust me, it’s my childhood dream, too. To be working the same beat that Bill Trotter covered in the magazine’s glory days of 400 page holiday issues? I feel incredibly lucky. I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised how good the magazine is right now. I stopped reading several years ago because I felt it wasn’t very good, and certainly didn’t hold a candle to the kind of stuff I was getting online or in GFW Magazine (sniff!). Having met guys like Evan Lahti in person, and spoken a lot with Dan Stapleton, I shouldn’t be surprised it’s a smarter, more incisive mag than remember. But I’m still caught-out by how much it has improved since I let my subscription lapse. I’m proud to be a part of it.

    • edosan
    • April 7th, 2011 9:05pm

    I really liked your first column and am looking forward to more.

    • Ruben
    • April 17th, 2011 2:19am

    Rob, any chance you could drop a note into the RSS feed summarizing whatever of yours is getting printed that week/month/season? I only know to look for something of yours when you mention it here.

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