Editor's blog: How stuff works mailbag

Questions answered. Or made fun of.

First things first, thanks for all the comments and questions on the end of the last blog - there's enough good stuff there to keep these going for at least a few more hours! As mentioned in the first post, I'll try to deal with complicated or contentious issues in lengthy posts that give you as much information as possible, but in the meantime I thought I would address some of the easier stuff in a sort of Editor's mailbag. Let's see how we do!

retibra asked, in response to the stuff about how the Top 50 works: "Any chance of having a listing each of respondent's top five of the year? Doesn't have to be everybody, but it'd be nice to get a read on who likes what as individuals."

And HolyJebus said: "I think it would be good to have a little bio on each of the writers with their favourite games of past, present and future (I'm in an Xmas mood) and maybe a little write-up on favourite gaming moments, consoles and developers."

Retibra, HolyJebus and others asked us to tell you a bit more about ourselves, and we'll definitely do that as soon as everyone's back from Christmas breaks (including external contributors). For a start though, I can tell you that my favourite games of the year were GTA IV, Trials 2, Braid, Gears of War 2 and WipEout HD.

As for my background, following a brief stint as an embryo I joined Eurogamer in February 2000 as an understudy to then-editor John Bye, a lovely man from Leicester with whom I was far too harsh and impatient. As the years wore on I wasn't promoted, but we grew from a two-man editorial team to include lots of other people who were technically below me in the hierarchy, and every new minion was a new sunbeam in the otherwise cloudy sky of my self-worth. I was made editor this January.

mazzl asked: "How are articles edited? How much freedom does a writer have to publish their opinion?"

I commission, schedule and sub more or less every feature on the site (so, sorry for all the errors - they all belong to me), and this usually involves trimming down and reordering sentences, occasionally moving the odd paragraph, and very occasionally going back to the writer to ask about things I think are missing or arguments I find unconvincing. Sometimes I don't think the score tallies with the text, so we discuss that too, but the score's never changed unless the writer agrees. Sometimes it's a more involved process with new writers, but we usually get a feel for each other quickly.

I don't impose any restrictions on how things are written, but there are things I'm not keen on, like hyperbole and anything on the massive list of clichs I store on the company wiki. Unless I'm in a very sunny mood I usually find it difficult to stomach elaborate metaphors, too, unless they're couched in self-deprecation.

mazzl also asked: "Do you have a casual Friday and bar in the building? How's the coffee?"

We don't have a casual Friday (some of us yearn for casual weekends!) and no, no bar, but our local pub in Brighton is The Victory, which is round the back of the office, and they need to clean the bloody toilets in there because it's disgusting. I can't comment on the coffee, because I don't drink it, but our lead developer Mark Kennedy is a bit of a connoisseur and often buys good stuff, or so I'm told.

mazzl, who is getting his money's worth, also also asked: "Where are the EGTV shows? Lately it's just specials."

One of the difficulties with the TV shows was the magazine format, which meant we were often forced to hold up a show to wait for assets on a particular game, and this made it very difficult to get them up in a timely fashion, so we changed our approach. It's still a challenge with single-item specials, but to compensate we've tried to increase the rate to one a week, and do more extras like videoed interviews and gameplay capture (of which there will be much more in 2009 generally). And sometimes the specials are pretty lengthy, like today's Atari Live effort, which I believe clocks in around 17 minutes.

Carrybagma asked: "Do any of you hate beta keys giveaways, but daren't say anything in case Rupert puts pins on your chairs?"

I only hate the fact they sometimes take down the site, and I rant and rave at our tech team about this, although they do their best to deal with issues and work around them. Hopefully you saw it improve as we got through a few in Q4. I agree that the site's performance was unacceptable there, however, and changes will be made for future giveaways. As for Rupert's role (our managing director, for anyone who doesn't know), I organise/sanction the giveaways, so it's my fault, not his.

Carrybagma then asked: "Do any of you have secret sock accounts with which to post rude comments about other reviewers?"

I don't! And I'm not aware of any among the other staffers. Then again, generally speaking I can just post rude things about them in public, since I'm the editor.

Carrybagma again: "How much dust is on your Wiis?"

Hrm, mine's been blinking for a while. Quick dust-check? A light glaze. That said, I have used the one we have in the office a few times recently.

ShakaCarnage said: "I'd like an editor's blog on what you have to deal with every day, from irate PRs to s*** contributors. They're all great, obviously."

I probably shouldn't do this one, but we might as well end on some juice. I don't have to deal with irate PRs very often - most of them understand that we're just saying what we think about their games, and that it's better to cooperate with us to make sure the good ones get the recognition they deserve, rather than shouting at me on the phone about the ones we don't like. But I do get a few. Probably the weirdest one was a company that refused to work with us on anything for over a year because of something I wrote in passing in a review of a game by somebody else. Upon which note, we're currently partially blacklisted by two publishers, but you'll have to guess who, because I'm not going to say. We buy and review their games anyway.

As for contributors, they are all lovely. Apart from when they're not.

Right, that'll do for today! Thanks again, and sorry if I didn't get to your question in this one. If you keep posting questions and topics, I'll try and keep dealing with them, and hopefully get one of the bigger subjects out of the way next week before we disappear for a bit over Christmas. Cheers!

Tom.

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