Write Nice Reviews About Games

So you want to write a nice review? As I glide through a tremendous Steam list full of unique reviews, it’s actually pretty awesome that gamers are getting involved and writing thoughtful reviews even though some are, not inaccurately, blunt. Praising reviews and critical reviews both serve a purpose. Even a 5-word sentence that reads something like “Just spins me around infinitely” is actually helpful, because if the game costs $20, you might have a point. But let me tell you how, for me, nice reviews are still the best review.

I don’t want to teach a gaming audience how to leave nasty reviews for a bunch of games on Steam though! HECK NO. I won’t have you playing any of that foosball.

Here at Dave Pizza, we’re all about positivity, kindness, and optimism, because you know what? No matter what level of toxic PVP aggression you’re knee-deep in on your own times, indie developers are regular people with bold ideas and a lot of ambition. Yeah, I know, some of them are still learning, but that is not an invitation to tear anybody down.

So, let’s do this. How do you say something helpful and nice, in the most paradigm-shifting way?

Write a Nice Review: The Count Your Blessings Section

Playing indie games literally changed my life this past year. I made friends, learned how to hone my craft, and learned from my fellow peers. Incidentally, I also witnessed the abhorrent decimation of one of my most anticipated games ever: Cyberpunk 2077.

Write a Nice Review

As that game fell through for so many people in a way that quite frankly bewildered me, I was playing indie games and seeing people trying new things, sometimes failing, but also being supported. Now, I realize that the game I just mentioned had quite a pricey pre-order, but it made me want to consider what was happening in the public opinion ecology of the gaming community.

So, say you want to review a game like Cyberpunk 2077 that doesn’t have the kinks worked out. Only it’s a low-budget indie and someone is working on it with their brother in their basement or themselves. Did you pay money? Or did you get it for free? Was it early access, a beta, or hey what about a free Steam key for your blog? Honestly, I don’t even care, did you make the same game? Be a nice person and start off with a hefty bun of the love sandwich.

Write a Nice Review: The Short Review

This is what I’m going to call “The Short Review.” I am specifically thinking about Steam, to be honest. Itch.IO has a review system that’s fairly short format as well, but Itch.IO has one of the most supportive audiences on the web, and some of it, to be honest, is so boring you really wouldn’t be there unless you were the type of person who can use the honor system when donating for games. If you are pretty cool, which you probably are because you’re reading this, go check out Itch.IO, it is home to creative indie brilliance.

  1. Consider what you liked
  2. Then consider what you didn’t like
  3. Try to re-frame your gripes in a positive light that highlights the originality of the designer
  4. Scrap the insults
  5. Revise both the things you liked and things you didn’t like in a helpful context
  6. Realize that this process takes probably 30 seconds at most
  7. Make sure you leave some information that will help the developer and other readers
  8. Post
  9. Play more games, make new reviews, and enjoy being a cool nice person!
Write a Nice Review

Write a Nice Review: The Long Review

The long review is what you write when you do something like what I’m doing here at Mr. Dave Pizza. I regularly play indie games because I enjoy them, so I write about them. It is something that not everybody is probably going to be doing unless they have a blog such as this and are inherently wordy. But let’s say you are.

So, one of the reasons I know about reviewing games nicely is because you really won’t get a lot of traction in any realm–personal, social, professional–if you are not nice to the people who fuel your muse. You can talk shop with your friend Jim at the pub all you want, that’s fine, but when you’re writing something for the people who are doing things FOR you, maybe adhere to some reciprocity!

In the short review, I give some slack, but if you have a blog or soapbox to talk at length about a game unless you’re IGN, your job is to find the gems, not rake mud. I’m serious.

You see, people who want to find out more about a game on an official source actually already know what they want–you don’t have to tell them! I’m not saying don’t be factual, just… play it cool! If you are cool and nice, you might discover that doors open and new connections in the community arrive.

Example: I played a game about a hungry dog last week and the response was so awesome that it actually made me happy in an all-around memorable way. Plus, the dev was really nice to me and brought a lot of attention to my blog. Thanks!

Not every game is going to be your thing, but that’s okay.

Steps to Writing a Long Nice Review

So here’s my list for writing a longer review:

  1. Play the game (of course)
  2. You don’t have to play the whole game but play as much as you can to get a reasonable familiarity
  3. Either record a video or take screenshots, because this will help illustrate your point
  4. Take a break and think.
  5. Write an introduction and title. (you can change everything here later)
  6. Talk about the strengths of the game, everywhere.
  7. You can write about gameplay, aesthetics, features, entertaining parts, whatever
  8. You can write about frustrations, I can’t stop you there, but you also don’t have to.
  9. Format, hashtag, *raspberry*, whatever, post on social media.
  10. Have a slice day.

And yeah, I thought I was going to have to take a long time to explain this, but that’s it! It’s really not that complicated. If you know A LOT about games, you can probably translate that into your review, along with any other personal anecdotes. Anecdotes are actually one of the greatest tools of a writer because they actually make you (sort of) an authority on the topic. But frustrations? Everybody has problems, it’s called the human condition. Give us something new, don’t show us your Comic Book Guy, show us your Duffman!

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I don’t even really think of my posts as reviews anymore. Because who am I to judge something I can’t even do? Showcasing is something people in the community often do, and generally what I do. I just want to share my love of games though. And I know you do too! So, roll up your sleeves, load up some Call of Doomcraft, and get writing!

Thank you for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. If you found this interesting, funny, or whatever, please have a look around my website. I am currently trying to develop some how-to articles to follow through on some of my gaming ideas. If you like what you see, please come back! And thank you for being a kind reviewer! 🙂

2020, Goodbye, and Thanks for my Gaming Hermitage

What the delightful year 2020 was. I really can’t say enough for the levels of complexity and hardworking teamwork my community and the world have taken upon themselves to uphold themselves to the safety of their fellow man and the restoration of peace and order to a situation uncouth. That streamed from my hands like a biting witful shark attack but I actually kind of mean it in a wobbly but sincere way. It’s been bad, I know, real bad, but not all bad, just a little more bad and covering a broader spectrum of things to care about. I’ve accomplished more this year than I have in my whole life, although I do miss summer sidewalks and drive-thru impulse purchases.

But I really miss traveling. I have not expressed much of my history to readers, but one thing to know about me, is I have traveled all around this continent and want to continue. I’ve spent ages watching 4K walking videos on YouTube this year and I love live railcams, webcams. live casts. I like to go places and I intend to again. If I could magically avoid serious health interest conflicts, I could have rode a passenger rail sleeper car from coast to coast. At least now I know I want to though. Actually I appreciate everything now.

Insert Quarter To Continue–Oh wait, there’s a coin shortage!

Remember these

I am not literally trapped or restricted from partaking in my usual hobbies, but avoiding public incarnations of those hobbies is advisable and with extreme caution as is the norm for high risk folks, especially when they have the ability to avoid them. I’d love to scour a retrogame shop or shop Funko’s. The library here literally has over 100 Switch Games for check out. Having only semi-recently introduced console life to my repertoire once again, this is simply amazing. Yet, it’s not necessary. What dark irony could that possible stem from?

It really is okay though, because there are so many things in my world which really require epic quantities of downtime that were not possible in the pre-2020. Like this site! But it will remain onward by-glob.

Now What Else: Turtles in Time

That’s just game stuff though. How about going to bookstores or comic book shops, or live shows and events, parties, heck throw in some menial labor for you, or just going for a walk at the park. I’ve prevented most gelatifying with hard yard work and helping family, but I had a life before all this. It was pretty simple but it existed, or it was starting to. Every day I would go to the gym and walk for half an hour while listening to an audiobook, do some grocery shopping, and go to the library. I was starting to get things together. Not too long later, I could not do any of those things, and I mistakenly thought they’d return soon. They still haven’t. That was 9 months ago. What the heck 2020?

A Couple More Wisdoms About 2020

And no, guess what it got even worse for us early August. We had this horrible storm here. It was basically what you’d called a land-hurricane. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised, because neither had we. There were 90 MPH winds through a 40 mile stretch 1 mile wide. Our home took a lot of damage and we had no power, water, air conditioning, or refrigeration for a week. I just don’t understand how things got like this. It’s like going through war. It is war. It’s awful. And some have lost far more, still coping. 

Anyway, I don’t mean wax on about my inconveniences. This is a dark time, and we need to get through it. Vaccines are being rolled out, and people will be left to pick up the pieces from what their lives used to be. I don’t even know if I can handle any of it again. I’m just grateful at all the things I went out of my comfort zone to try before. And also YouTube! If you do not have a youtube enabled TV or roku, you need to, it will change your life!

Alright, let’s try something a little more chipper.

Flavorite Games of 2020

Some of my Wii and Wii U games

Mario Kart 8. Okay, it’s not startling–after all, this game rocks. Let me paint a picture for you though. Early pandemic, first stimulus check, spiraling into depression, got this check. I had really wanted a Switch, but I didn’t want to start dolling out wads of money. I actually ended up doing that anyway, and I have no regrets honestly, but I was very intrigued by the old Nintendo Wii U system. 

Just a heads up, if you are going to get a Wii U, buy the console AND the gamepad, as long as you do that, you’re fine. Also, I did spend quite a bit of time on Steam games before the Wii U. I don’t know exactly what I was going for, but I needed some way to find freedom in my recreation that wouldn’t focus on violent awfulness that dominates popular titles. Kinda sad how hard I had to look.

I want to thank Fall Guys for giving me hope though. Man, that game was so awesome and there’s nothing off color about it. It is hilarious and fun. Time go play, see ya… Okay, just kidding, but just thinking about it makes me want to play. If you haven’t checked it out, I have an article on my site you can get to by following this link.

Anyway, so then I got that Wii U, and I started playing Mario Kart, Breath of the Wild, LEGO Games, old Wii Games, Olympics, etc. I just parked on eBay and set up a conveyor belt into my game room with some serious sanitizing action. Many people packaged stuff in a very sanitary way which was much appreciated and I tried to leave feedback mentioning so.

Primordial Soup, The Main Course

That’s the beginning anyway. Fall Guys, Mario Kart 8, LEGO Games, and, oh yes, GOING UNDER… There are lots of nonviolent, friendly games out there. If you really want to find some I recommend Wholesome Games on Twitter. They’ve got that market cornered and I wish them well. And, you know what, I will never break outside of that category, I hate vulgarity, obscenity, violence, and gore as much as any person traumatized from it, and it just doesn’t belong here, or anywhere. I know it’s hard to come up with new ideas, but so many games are based on archaic DOOM models, which isn’t a bad game, but doesn’t really belong on a family console. That’s up to you, of course. I’m annexing that section of entertainment away from myself though.

I loved the Wii U, it was a WONDERFUL console, and if you’re going  for a wide selection of cheap used games on ebay with backwards compatibility as well as many of the same titles as the Switch, you should get it now, if you can afford it. I absolutely loved the simplicity of retro and forward compatibility with many games. For a family, I think this is probably a top contender. The hardware is cheap, and you can use your old wii remotes or games. Plenty for the adults too. All the new DLC packs usually work too. And if you want to resell it, there’s a market! However you game though, it’s not all about the money, it’s more about the experience and the escape. An escape which many of us need right now (or anytime, not just 2020.)

2020-2021: Now what?

Earth in Hands (Created by Midjourney AI)

My more specific goal these days is really mindful entertainment. It’s not enough to bounce some balloons around and ride a donkey to profoundly entertain the notion of meaningful gaming. Okay, that could be fun too, but that’s alright. To be mindful you have to kind of analyze. Not review. Not critique. Just throw the ball around. I briefly lived the college academic life as an English major and I learned all about literary critique. I rarely think about fitting narrowly into a social justice commentary, but I do think about putting things into a social me commentary, so that I can gain something myself from thinking about games or whatever else will be documented here.

I’ve had a lot of success on Twitter. I know what to post, how to post it, and, generally, what to tag. I think that that is something I want to focus into a more brief but meaningful support for this site. All I really wanted was to get this site going so that I could write about whatever I want in a way that wasn’t completely pointless. Surprisingly, I am getting there. I’ve found a lot of support in the indiedev and indie game development community.

What’s The Standard?

There’s a lot of beautiful games that don’t have the fanciest graphics or the most complex physics engines. It’s because art can happen anywhere with anything. I’d love to try out some more indie games, and throw together articles here. I am formulating an internet persona out of myself in a way, but I want to take so I can give.

There was a thread on Reddit or somewhere, sorry I can’t find it again, about how what many gamers want is cheap games with simpler graphics and require less playtime. Kind of like an old arcade cabinet. I thought that was kind of an interesting thing to say, but I saw the merit in it straightaway. Most of us are juggling so many responsibilities that we don’t have time to live through a sweeping $60 epic to make it worth it. Not all.

Actually, there is a market for both. Trying to review games makes me kind of apathetic about super humongous games. I don’t mind really. It’s all conjecture though, it doesn’t matter so much how mainstream the game is, the gaming community is a community of independent deciders mostly, which is great. Politics are not part of this commentary I’m giving, but people… please use some common sense and, also, use your heart. This applies to everything, including this, and is part of the 2020 experience for me.

Playmobil Wizard

The Crust Of 2020

“In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology. In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life.”  -Oliver Sacks

There’s been a lot of things about staying home and saving lives this year that have been kinda interesting. For one, there is a social component to game consumption that can directly correlate to affirmation by one’s peers. This is something I struggle with still in almost everything. I try really hard to find meaning in what I’m doing. I think “I really want to play this Mario game, but what good does it do?” I’m not talking about twitching for charity or anything, just a general hoodwinking of oneself to be tricked into enjoying something which doesn’t actually matter. It does good to your mind though and it does good to your heart, and that’s what’s important.

Two geeks can have no real similarity besides a common ground on Pokemon, Star Wars, D&D or anything, not even game stuff,  and become the best of friends. It’s happened to me many times. Why does this happen? Because when you express your thoughts on something which is already known, you actually allow a part of yourself to be expressed as well, for better or worse, but mostly better.

Feel free to Mad Libs this up with any topic, then plug it into 2020.

Tom Baker Funko Pop 2020

No Warning

I started 2020 with Ready Player One and I’m ending it with Ready Player Two. I’m sorry to say it but I don’t think a virtual reality escape (ala Metaverse or whatever) is the one answer to push back development schedules or any of that nonsense. Nah, that pretty much terrifies me now, as much as I wanted it. I actually don’t even really think games are the answer either, or at least not the only answer.

There’s a hot topic of science commentary floating around the public channels on a subject which is startling to me as an avid Sci-Fi geek as well as theoretical future ponderer. Here’s the fact folks, we are not going into outer space. We might not even be able to leave our solar system. I can’t give all the reasons because I do not understand all of them, but it’s a reality which kinda hurts but is also useful…

If you’re alive and reading this while I’m alive, well, we’re probably not going anywhere. We’re mortals. It’s so troubling, but it will also free you. We don’t need to have the best of anything. All we need to do is find something. If for you that’s games, then so be it. If it’s art, so be it. Food, TV, Books, Science, Blogging, YouTube, whatever it is, just go ahead.

That’s the Deep Dish Folks

We’re not going anywhere until we learn to treat each other right either. The other thing is, just because we can’t ever leave this planet, doesn’t mean we have to ignore that fact, accept it, reflect on it, and act in truth toward your fellow humans, animals, beyond. After all you can go anywhere in your imagination. From imagination sprouts manifestation. We might find a new way, but we have to get there first. Be mindful, plug in, plug out, wax out, drop in. Drop out. Game on. Respawn.

Yeah, 2020 has been terrifying, but it’s also brought me down to Earth again. And this Christmas has been one of the best I’ve ever had. Maybe I don’t need as much as I thought I did in terms of outside my home and close family and friends. I’m committed to the way though, and I will always do what I can to make my fellow brother and sisters of this planet live in peace. Yeah, we’re in this one for the long haul, so grab your instrument or tool of choice. Happy New Year, a sober and bizarre, mostly dry, Happy New Year.