Gaming Lives – How To Create Something From Nothing With Only Words


Since posting this, the new article I wrote has been published on the Gaming Lives website. You can either read it there or here.

GamingLives is a magazine published on the web for gamers and written by gamers. Anyone can submit an article and, if it’s a good enough level (thoughtful, considered, fact and spell checked), then it will have some editing and be published. Sounds great except I’d never heard of them before. Kim found them and, knowing my love of writing about gaming, alerted me to their first ever writing contest. All the entries had to do was write an article about gaming, a look at gaming that gives as much detail about the writer themselves as it does about gaming. It was a challenge and one that I loved the sound of as my gaming articles are just that. I also loved the sound of the prizes. There would be one winner and one runner up. The runner up would get a £50 Amazon voucher (always a help) while the winner would get to choose between one of the following five prizes;

  1. Xbox 360 Console (250GB) with Kinect Sensor module and Kinect Adventures game.
  2. Playstation 3 Slim (320GB) and a £50 Amazon voucher.
  3. Black Wii Console with Wii Sports, Mario Kart, black Wii Wheel peripheral, Motion Plus and £150 Amazon voucher.
  4. Red DSi XL 25th Anniversary “New Super Mario Bros” Special Edition and £100 Amazon voucher.
  5. Acer Ferrari One 11.6″ HD LED Netbook ATI Radeon HD3200, AMD Turion 64 X2 Dual Core, 2GB RAM, 250GB HDD.

GamingLives is a portal for likeminded individuals to express their enthusiasm for gaming, and the effect that it has on them on a personal level. There are no roots in the gaming industry, no particular leanings or developers that have to be kept on side, and nobody to answer to, so this impartiality will serve to provide a sounding board without obligatory satiation. Put simply, GamingLives is a glimpse into the minds of individuals who spend a portion of their lives either playing games or thinking about games.

Some very good prizes there and I was torn between the PS3 for a new gaming experience, the Wii for trade in value and the Netbook for Kim if I won. I knew I had the quality of writing to get up there and at least get the runner up prize so I was happy to submit two pieces of writing to the competition, one newer article and one older one (Building A Better Sandbox which you’ve likely read here before).

So the deadline passed and it’s February 1st, lets see if I won shall we? The answer is complicated as I got this in my email.

Hi Mik
First of all, thank you for entering the first Gaming Lives Annual Writing Contest! We had perhaps ten times as many entries as we’d expected, even with the amount of coverage we’d given it throughout January. All of the entries were whittled down to a final 50 articles, then down to 20… and the plan was to then drop it down to a final ten before deciding on the last two… the winner and the runner up. Unfortunately, or fortunately I suppose, the standard of writing and content was too great and it was becoming more difficult as we crossed each barrier, to the point where the judging panel ended up with the same seven articles and couldn’t eliminate any more.

A decision was therefore made to state a case for each of the final seven articles to decide on an ultimate winner, and a runner up, rather than doing so through a process of elimination. Unfortunately, your article was not the winner or the original runner up BUT the final seven articles were so good that we decided to offer another five runner up prizes of a £25 Amazon voucher each and you were in that top seven. Your “Sandbox” article was also in my top ten, as it happens, as I also really enjoyed reading it… so thank you for both articles, both great reads.

So a mixture of commiserations and congratulations are in order… commiserations that you weren’t our ultimate winner, but congratulations that your article was so good that we extended the number of runners up! I hope you’ll stick around the site and submit articles in the future but, if not, then please enjoy your voucher and be happy that your entry made it… not only to the top ten… but was one of seven that turned the entire contest upside down! We’d still love to feature your article on the site over the coming weeks, as long as you’re happy for us to do so.

So there we have it, my Building A Better Sandbox article made it into the top ten entries, my new gaming article (Evolving Character Creation) made it into the top seven and it earned a prize that didn’t even exist when the competition started. After reading the winning entry I’m not all that disappointed that I didn’t win the top prize as it’s a worthy winner. Seriously, if you’ve ever enjoyed any of my articles about gaming then I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this one as it’s the same sort of article with the same easy style of writing. And if you’re interested in how the competition was on those who had to pick a winner, read this (and just for fun, see how often my articles or obvious insanity is mentioned on that page).

At the end of the day I didn’t enter this to win a prize (although I’m grateful for what I did win), I entered this to compare my writing to other people’s and see how good it is. I may not have been ultimately picked but I gave them a good run for their money and had both of my entries make it into the top ten after all the whittling down of hundreds of entries was over. That’s as good a prize as I could have hoped for and I’m counting it as a win.

Now, someone give me a console so I can say that with more certainty.


15 thoughts on “Gaming Lives – How To Create Something From Nothing With Only Words

  1. Too bad! Didn't get your PISSED-3, then.;) Your sandbox story was actually quite good. I'm not an expert on the subject, but I am after all a retired chief editor and journalist, and I know talent for writing when I see it. I only have one advice, take it or leave it: Keep writing, and write as much as you possibly can. It is the only way you can improve. The more you write, the better you'll get. You might want to challenge yourself once in a while by researching and writing stories on subjects that doesn't really interest you. I have done that a lot, myself. Great way of learning.PS: Mario Kart on the Wii is very funny! Tried it out the other day.

  2. What a good achievement. I also find it very cool that they actually take the time to write letters like that to the winners! Well done. :up:

  3. Aadil, the thing about gaming as a hobby is that it probably covers every level of society. Every age group, class and creed has had some experience of gaming since it first arrived, and some of those are bound to have thoughts on it. Now I know full well that the majority of those thoughts are articulated as "mayk it beta!!!" or "Make game X like game Z (as they're part of the same loose genre definition) and it will be better overall." (with no mention of which parts of game Z they actually like), but sometimes people are able to really hit the core meaning of what they're thinking about and explain it in ways that even non-gamers can understand. It's competitions like this that allow those people to float to the top rather than being buried under all the unfinished thoughts. We're no more talented or thoughtful than people with other hobbies. It's just that we're showcased better and our hobby is so intricate that there are so many things we can think about.Martin, I'm like every writer. I know I'm good but that I'll never be good enough for myself (the ultimate editor). I do have the benefit of knowing that flaws are just as important as technique when writing if you plan on keeping it honest. The hardest thing for me is writing about my past and I do so once or twice a year here, partially as a challenge for myself and partially as a kind of therapy I suppose.Kitten, I was really impressed with the personal letter too. A personal touch like that can really change how you view something. A site that takes that much care over a competition makes it worth submitting entries for publication there at some point as far as I'm concerned. I know for a fact that my articles were really read this way too as he mentioned the other one in the e-mail, as well as the other judge mentioning it in her breakdown of the judging process.

  4. Therapeutic writing… I am sort of devided in that area. Of course, every word you write has a therapeutic side, especially those you drag up from the dark grounds of your soul. However, opening every door and window and letting it all out, being as honest as possible, using the words that echo with your purpose and idea, can leave you in a state of absolute emptiness, when you have finished. This is really what the term 'writer's block' means. You have probably been there yourself one or two times. Best thing is to hold on and hold back, mastering not only language and technique but also your own commitment and enthusiasm. In this way the Well will not dry out, and you will be able to keep on writing, learning and improving. This is substantial for people who write on a professional basis and have stories to write every day. If a journalist comes to his editor one morning with a migraine and a terrible writer's block, his editor will probably turn into the J. Jonah Jameson resting deep inside every editor.

  5. We know you do.;)By the way: one of the tasks of a news editor is to re-write all the stories that blocked-up reporters havent been able to finish before deadline – while the press is warming up, as we say. Where does that leave your editor-you , if your reporter-you is in bed with a migraine?:D

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