Game Journalism Business Basics

6 Quick Tips to Improve Your Game Review Writing

Just like any piece of writing, a video game review should be concise, logical, easy to understand, useful, and above all, interesting. No one wants to wade through paragraphs of dull text, least of all random visitors to your site.

Game reviews are essentially a conversation about a game put into writing. They have an identifiable beginning, middle, and end, and they convey information about a title that screenshots or videos can't.

To help move your written reviews from ordinary to extraordinary, check out these simple, quick tips to improve your game journalism skills.

Start with the most basic aspects of the game and build up from there. Reviewing Excelsior Phase One: Lysandia? In the first paragraph, you’d better tell me the game is a decades-old RPG. Once I have that knowledge, add another layer of detail, like its basic camera perspective (top-down), main goal (save the world), and core mechanics (explore, fight, loot). Assume no one reading your review has heard of the game, but also assume your readers are intelligent enough to figure it out given a few core details.

Don't compare your game to other games. If you rely on conveying information about a game by saying it's "like X but different," you've communicated nothing. A Hat in Time isn't like Super Mario 64, it's a 3D platform game where you run, jump, and collect hats that give you different powers. And don't you dare say "Psychonauts 2 is basically Psychonauts 1 but with blah blah changes." This is lazy writing, and your review becomes useless if the reader hasn't played the game you're comparing it to.

Only hit the high and low points of the game. There’s no need to force a separate discussion of graphics, sound, story, etc. unless each of those categories stands out as extremely good (or awful) on its own. Focus on the particular bits that make this game interesting and tell me that.

Get to the point. Better writing doesn't mean starting your Breath of the Wild review with a story about the first time you played Ocarina of Time. Skip the anecdotes and get to the meat of the review.

Put special attention on the opening and closing paragraphs. Each of these should encapsulate your thoughts about the game. Assume one of these is all a reader will encounter, and do your best to make them count.

Edit. Edit. EDIT! Your first draft will be terrible. Your second and third drafts will also stink. Keep hacking away at your article, trimming excess wordage, moving paragraphs to more sensible locations, and refining the review until it’s gold. Both readers and your editors will love you to pieces.

Each review is a miniature story. You’re taking the reader on the same journey you embarked upon when you first played the game through to the end. Communicate your experience as clearly and simply as possible, writing interesting reviews that have the potential to get noticed.