A link to the past

I was talking to a fellow games journalist today via the wonder that is Google Chat, and during the conversation, the topic of past writing experience arose, in particular the time we’d both spent working on self-created fansites.

The person in question pointed me in the direction of a site I’d never heard of before: the startling Wayback Machine, which is an internet archive of sorts, with a handy search for long-abandoned URLs. To a mixture of delight, horror and embarrassment, the site I began over five years ago, titled Press Start Online (it was originally Press Start, but all the associated URLs were taken), was there in all – well, most of – its former glory.

Looking back at some of my old reviews was quite a sobering experience, but it was interesting to see how my writing has improved over the years. But while it’s a little raw and occasionally awkward, there’s not actually too much for me to be ashamed of. I certainly think my time at Press Start Online, and more importantly, my time working alongside other budding writers, helped me improve quite significantly.

It was also a nice reminder of the site’s unusual scoring system – an idea my colleague described as ‘charming’ when I explained exactly how it worked. We offered two scores at the end of each review – a ‘head’ score and a ‘heart’ score. The former was used as a more objective score; one awarded with the writer’s ‘reviewer head’ on, while the heart score allowed for a more subjective leaning. As an idea, it might have been a little naive, but I recall a number of readers being quite taken with the concept, while it also offered the opportunity for the site’s writers to get a little more personal than a standard objective appraisal otherwise might. Games which might have been fundamentally flawed would therefore get a lower head score than a heart score, while admirable titles which for one reason or another left the reviewer cold would invariably see a higher head score than its heart score. In truth, that rarely occurred, which perhaps shows the inherent flaws in such a setup; all reviews are, by some measure, subjective. But it was a neat experiment and perhaps helped get the site a little more attention than it would otherwise have received.

I still have fond memories of my time on Press Start Online, as I hope do the other terrific writers I worked with. It’s gone now, obviously, but today’s little nostalgia trip reminded me that it won’t be forgotten.

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2 comments

  1. I did the very same thing myself the other day! I too found it quite sobering, but then was also quite pleased that, five years down the line, some of our writing remains fairly decent. After a good few years away from gaming, I bought an Xbox 360 last month and am enjoying cherry-picking and playing through some of the best titles released over the past few years. Good to see you’re still going strong with your writing, chap – it’s always a pleasure to read your work.

  2. Great to hear from you, Craig! And thanks.

    I do think a lot of it stands up pretty well, actually. Some of it’s a little raw, but there’s some really good writing on there.


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