Because I make the law. Don’t ever forget that.
The big one. There are many variations of this. The most popular would be to have previously written a paragraph detailing a couple of negative points, before claiming that “Overall, though, it’s a game worthy of your attention.” See also “Despite these flaws, however…” and – grounds for immediate execution – “In conclusion…” If you’re writing well, I should be able to tell you’re summing up. You don’t need to shout it in my face.
2. “(no pun intended)”
Aha HA HA HAR, no. This is shamelessly ripped from Maddox, by the way, who rightly states that writing “No pun intended” is basically akin to telling a joke, assuming the listener isn’t clever enough to understand it, so trying to subtly mitigate your explanation of it because you think they’re such an idiot and you pity them. I’d argue it has a second use, as well, which is when the writer wants to point out that he or she is so naturally fucking hilarious that they didn’t even realise they were making a pun! Aha! Ha! Except you obviously did intend it, because if you didn’t, you’d have gone back and erased the bloody pun instead of writing that you didn’t intend to make it. Death will come quickly.
3. “Fans of hardcore simulation games will enjoy this; everyone else should avoid.”
Great! I’m a fan of hardcore simulation games! I mean, I was getting this already, because I’m a fan of hardcore simulation games, but awesome! This review has confirmed that, because I am a fan of hardcore simulation games, I will enjoy this hardcore simulation game!
4. “The graphics are so terrible it looks like a bad PS2/Xbox/Dreamcast game.”
Ah, the old “compare its engine to a game of the last console generation” doozy. This one’s a timeless classic. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen this applied in a case where it was actually true. It’s one thing to come down hard on something and make a point with your language. It’s another to just fabricate nonsense out of the ether. Stop it. It’s the sort of thing you’d see in a bad PS2 review.
Actually, while we’re on graphics…
Not allowed, unless you’re saying something like “Graphically, the cut-scenes show your character dismembering the enemy’s limbs one by one, then dancing around while pouring the still-warm blood onto his tongue.” If you’re using this transition for anything else – for example, saying that you are going to now start talking about the graphics – you need to re-evaluate your purpose on this planet.
6. Ending an interview write-up with a ‘witty’ quote from your interviewee.
Okay, not a specific phrase. And okay, one that I’m guilty of all the time. To the point where I’m going to use one of mine as an example: ‘Worried about taking the plunge on such a surreal game? Carlos Bordeu has some words of encouragement. “Play the trial when it’s out and give it a try – I’m sure you’ll be surprised,” he says. “Where else can you play a game where the antagonist is a huge hermaphrodite creature, eh?”’ OH GOD I’M REALLY SORRY.
7. “The game has X different classes/game types/weapons/whatever.”
Unless you’re making a point about each and every one of them – and unless you’re writing a sort of general overview or a Wikipedia entry – I don’t care. If you are making a point about each and every one of them, you’re now required to have the common decency to work out a way of incorporating the features neatly into the prose, instead of doing this, which will now result in your having five different anuses.
Because, honestly, you mean “graphically,” don’t you? So not only are you breaking Rule 5, you’re also doing so with the aid of a thesaurus. Ever see that Friends episode where Joey signs a letter “Yours sincerely, Baby Kangaroo”? Yeah. Exactly.
9. “The problem is it tries too hard to be clever.”
Pinched from Quinns. Whom I might as well just quote: “A game cannot try too hard to be clever. What you’re saying is that the game somehow purposely devotes itself to being clever, and that’s a statement which tells the reader very little but does carry the obnoxious subtext that you hold no sympathy for people who try to make smart games.”
10. “For gamers, by gamers.”
If your publication’s slogan is any variation of this, no matter how far removed, it will be immediately be fired into the outer reaches of the universe. Because obviously, of course, people who work hard enough to make a living writing about games are clearly not gamers at all! This is doubly bad if you are professional journalists but use the tag anyway, and triply bad if you somehow imply that other publications’ reviews are not “real” enough for you. And that’s without even getting started on that egregiously positioned comma. Ugh.
More, I’m absolutely certain, will follow. What are your bugbears, people?