The Internet Thinks it is Better than You

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 by Alex R. Cronk-Young

Recent hubbub surrounding IGN's Greg Miller and his poorly written review of Dead Space 2 has got me thinking. Admittedly I laughed and thought "I can write so much better than this" when I first read his review. That's something I normally avoid doing, because it bothers me how quickly aspiring writers are bashed and put off from trying to improve themselves because of the inclusive world of writers.

Now sure, there is a bigger issue with the fact that IGN apparently has no copy editors to run their articles past, but that seems to be the way of things nowadays. I couldn't do it justice if I tried to tackle that monumental issue. I'm more concerned with the way the Internet reacted to it; by bashing his intelligence and making jokes.

Maybe Greg Miller is a bad example because he's been writing at IGN for four years now, but I've always been of the mind that everyone can always improve their writing if they have some help and put in the work. Unfortunately most writers don't seem to have this belief. A lot of talented wordsmiths see a poorly written article and choose to make jokes, and it always bothers me a little.

I'm not proposing they reach out to the author and tell them what they could do to improve, I just wish more people would remember where they came from. I know I have a lot of improving to do with my writing, but I've come lightyears in the last three years that I've been doing it regularly on the Internet. Every small step I've made was because of a desire to grow and the help of someone better. I've always crammed writing into the little free time I have, so scouring for answers myself or taking classes just wasn't feasible. It was only when I read a comment from one of the editors at Bitmob, or someone told me on Twitter, that I realized mistakes I had been making and corrected them accordingly.

Of course, the mocking of Greg Miller's writing is more a comment on the fact that IGN doesn't seem to have editors that can help their writers improve, so I understand it. I'm glad Miller has a thick skin and can handle the abuse. I guess this whole blog is just a long-winded way for me to say I feel bad for the guy because I've made all the same mistakes he made and I know how long it took me to stop making them.

If you want to make it as a writer but keep getting discouraged, hang in there. You can improve if you just hold on and try your best. A huge part of why I'm taking a break from my attempts to become a professional writer is because I feel like I need to slow things down a little. I got overwhelmed when I finally got hired in at Bitmob because instead of slowing improving over several years I was suddenly at a break-neck speed. I haven't so much given up as I have slowed things down. Some people take a little longer than others.

4 Response to "The Internet Thinks it is Better than You"

Brian S Says....

I feel bad for him, too. If someone has a problem with the way another person writes, I think it's better to politely give a suggestion or two (as well as point out what went well with the piece) rather than be a douche and pick apart an entire article -- or even worse: the person behind it.

I think a lot of people with strong grammar backgrounds aren't very understanding of those who've received a mediocre English education. Instead of being arrogant and lording their "knowledge" over other people, it'd be better for them to offer some advice. Anyway...I better stop since my brain is shutting down, but I like this blog, Alex.

Cody Winn Says....

Yeah, I felt bad for him too. I used to make fun of places like IGN and Kotaku a lot because of their bad writing, but then that same thing happened to me and I realized, hey, it hurts. A lot. Not constructive criticism either, but the worst-of-the-worst trolling trying to, basically, get me down enough that I'd give up writing.

So, I don't attack other writers anymore, or the things they write. It's just silly and pathetic to do so. I'm sure I slip now and then, but I do apologize to anyone if I ever do so or continue to. Sometimes it's hard not to be an ass.

Oh, and copy editors. Damn, we need more of them. Every industry does. They might just be the most underrated and under-appreciated group of people in the world, seriously.

Tom Heistuman Says....

I read a bit of it and was confused. I guess since I don't know the formal rules of writing, I just go by what "feels right". Reading his review felt "wrong" but I couldn't point out specific reasons why. Nobody has yet explained it me either.

Anonymous Says....

I'd say the uproar over the piece is more to do with an Internet giant like publishing it as a major review of a major release. They should have been delivering a flagship piece of games journalism; instead they gave us a scuttled schooner. Others have picked apart the review's grammar, and while it's true that the writing isn't very strong the problem for me is that the piece as a whole tells the prospective buyer little to nothing about the game itself. It's a review that could have been constructed from bullet points off the back of the game's box. In fact if you watch IGN's video review of the game - which uses much of the same parlance as the text review - there's no need to read the text, because it tells you absolutely nothing new. Any one of us can write a bad review of a game without playing it - we get enough information to do so by watching footage on Gametrailers or reading previews and press releases. For all the information he imparts about the actual experience of playing the game, Mr. Miller might as well have just done that.

Compare Alec Meer's article '5 Mistakes You'll Make In Magicka', which doesn't list the different attacks and locations in the game or talk about how 'awesome' it is, but which has been posted all over the Internet as an example of great games journalism and has doubtless sold a lot of copies to people who had no prior knowledge of the game.

And then you in all the bad grammar and such into the mix. And you say Mr. Miller's been a staff writer for four years, on arguably the biggest entertainment website out there? Is it any wonder so many people were angry and derisive?

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