Welcome to the Electron Dance Advent calendar. Each day will bring another post from the archives.

Peter Andre on Sky News

Have you read The Ethics of Selling Children posted on 15 January 2013?

There are a couple of reasons I don’t like writing meta stuff. One is that, well, people come for writing about games, not for writing about writing about games. The other is that increasingly over the years the online environment seems more unstable, more hazardous and you’re just as likely to be stabbed in public by someone you thought was a friend as an opponent.

I was concerned about how writing – and not just in the games critic space – was turning into the ritual of baring your soul, offering your personal life for people to dissect.

I knew some writers would see this as a shot across the bows. And indeed they did. I stayed away from Twitter for a day to keep my sanity. There was some criticism of the term “confessional writing” which I wholly accept today as inaccurate and/or loaded. Some of the comments making comparisons with LiveJournal were considered brutal.

It blew over, of course. Most people continued what they were doing regardless of what I wrote. Is the essay still relevant? You tell me.

Go read it!

From the comments:

  • Jordan Rivas: “You’ve made me consider my own writing and that’s something I never want to stop doing.”
  • Michael Brough: “I talk about money, because it’s a necessary constraint, because there are massive inequalities that may be invisible from the outside, but it’s hard for it not to come across as begging for some.”
  • Eric Brasure: “Confessional writing is popular for the same reason gossip is popular. It just has a certain cultural reputation as being classier.”
  • Jonas Kyratzes: “I am bothered, however, by how confessional writing can give the impression of emotional and artistic depth where there is very little.”
  • Amanda Lange: “Whenever I read these highly confessional “gaming made me” articles, I try to guess what age the person was when they played the game in question.”

Download my FREE eBook on the collapse of indie game prices an accessible and comprehensive explanation of what has happened to the market.

Sign up for the monthly Electron Dance Newsletter and follow on Twitter!

6 thoughts on “Countdown 2016, 10: Social Work

  1. I’m really enjoying this advent calendar. I haven’t read most of these articles before but I love your writing more & more.

    Also… somehow, your comment section is good?

    How in the world do you manage that

  2. This is like the only place on the internet, where I have seen a good comments section. I never participate because I feel there’s a risk that I’d end up dragging it down by writing something less informed or badly argued 🙂

    Cheers for this advent calendar. Even though I’ve read most of the articles, it’s kind of nice to see those ‘old’ headlines on twitter 🙂

  3. I suppose, the personal and non-personal game criticism have their own right to exist. The key is creation and perception. Personal game critisism can touch a wounded zone of a readers/gamers soul. And this is good. Personal game criticism can be ego-oriented and narcissist. And this is kitsch.

    Non-personal criticism (if such exists) can be used for scientific reference due to its research methods (if such used). And that is fine. Non-personal criticism can bore readers if it’s just jejune fact counting. And that’s pity.

    There are countless gradations between both kinds of arts.
    This is good you haven’t sold your child for internet traffic (if you haven’t).
    And here – in order to improve my personal internet traffic I send you (as kinda Adven(/r)t gift) my meta-examination of intimacy in context of post-medial society (if such).


  4. Wow, I don’t know why I missed this article back in the day but I did.

    Having wrote a ton of confessional stuff and almost all of my writing being pretty personal in some form or another I guess I walked away from it going ‘good article, but I don’t know’.

    The funniest thing is that a lot of people that read a lot of my later Arcadian Rhythms stuff were very critical of it for the way that I detached myself from it more and more.

    Also, meant to mention – have been writing a lot of fiction recently in terms of short stories. If you want to see some of the personal stuff (as well as that Xbox Live pitch I threw at you), you can click on the link to my medium page.

  5. Droqen,

    Thanks! It’s not been too difficult putting this together although it has left with me with lots of new comments to keep up with (and I am failing at that).

    I used to talk up Electron Dance as having the best comment discussions but dropped that because our discussions don’t often burn as brightly at they just to. And I actually had to close a comment thread to stop things getting out of hand just a few days ago! I’m not sure what the magic formula for great comments is – I think a mixture of… the kind of people who like what I do (thanks everyone!), generally avoiding controversies which tends to polarize, attempting to take all comments seriously (my views can be changed) and perhaps never achieving critical mass 🙂


    Thank you! I felt it was important to cite the comments against each article because half of the action is actually down there in the comments. Arithmophobia II was partially a reaction to the comments although I was responding to tweets also.

    Thank you for sticking around.


    You are right, both the personal and non-personal have their strengths and weaknesses. Ethics was a reaction to a rise in the *perceived value* of the intimate over all other forms.

    But your video, I think, is essential and human. It speaks to all of us and the lines of your poetry touched me deeply. Thank you for this Christmas gift 🙂


    Great personal stories are great. The Aspiration yesterday is an intimate tale about how a game dominated my life for four weeks. There is no Potter in team? Incredible.

    I didn’t want to comment individually on pieces – that’s assassination of your peers – but the truth is there is no hard rule that separates the exploitative personal piece from the non exploitative.

Comments are closed.