The art and science of running a gaming website

So… I got my website into a “mid-beta” state this weekend. The forums are upgraded, the themes are configured, and I’ve had to re-code some nasty bugs out of the default scripts in phpNuke… but by God it’s there now. Hurrah.

Now I’m at the point where I need to decide on what sort of content I’m going to provide. Before you say “well, why’d you make a site then?” let me say that I have a few ideas already - but they won’t cover all the bases I’ll need by themselves.

Thus, I’m turning to the press people who do this and the developers whom I’ll be dealing with, and perhaps amongst us we can define what this website is going to do.

Let me first define what I don’t want to do - and that is to be a weblog site that snatches headlines from everybody else and such. We’ve got slashdot and shacknews pumping out headlines all day, so I don’t need to participate in that. I do, however, have the site set up so that readers can submit news items - so I’m ok with posting a “Here’s a link to someone else’s artle that I found” sort of thing. It is, however, bad karma to claim blogged stuff as your own, so I’m steering clear of that right off the bat.

As for reviews, I don’t think I need to cover everything that comes out. I’m going to take reader submitted reviews and play editor with them - so if you’re not already a reviewer but want to make an attempt at it, feel free. The people who do it for a paycheck won’t be interested, I’m sure - hell, I wouldn’t work for free when I could be getting paid - but for everybody else, if you get the urge, the option is there. (Tom and Mark owe me at least one article of their choosing each - I told you guys I’d get paid for the QT3 design one of these days :-) )

So, for review content I’m thinking about doing something that nobody else really is… and that’s putting the main focus on the multiplayer side of things and giving the solo experience the secondary slot. Sort of the inverse of your average site. I’m not really into MMORPG stuff, so it’ll be mainly the maistream titles and mods that get the attention. I’m still conspiring with the guys at insomniax.net to come up with a decent review template - because it’s certainly not going to be your standard fare.

One thing I definitely need to do is get myself back on the various PR lists, so I get corporate news from the source. I used to have pretty good luck with this when I was writing for gamesdomain - but since I’ve been off for a year my status on the PR lists has faded a good bit. Any suggestions for an easy method of getting back on the mailing list without having to pimp to each publisher individually?

Another thing I’m considering is having interviews and Q&A sessions with various industry people. Not just developers, but we might have “Ask Bruce Geryk 10 Tough Reader-Submitted Questions” style things. Rather than formal corporate-style inteviews, I’m thinking more along the lines of getting someone in ICQ, asking them what the readers want to know, BS’ing a bit with them about random topics, and then posting the chat log. A very informal interview format, to be sure. Other Q&A stuff would be via email, so they have a chance to answer at their leisure.

Beyond this stuff I’m also probably going to soapbox a little - because hey, it’s my house and I can. Pretty much at this point though, I want to kick some ideas around with “the boys” and see if I can refine my vision a little before I head down any particular path.

You could hire Wumpus and create a weekly column that is completely dedicated to him pointing out the various failures of most mainstream multiplayer games and how they could all be solved by employing a new technique called “micropayments” that debit a person’s checking account each time they log on the server; each time they start a game; each time they build a building; each time they make a unit; each time a unit fires; each time someone uses the chat channel; each time someone bitches about being debited for micropayments (this counts twice: one as a debit for bitching about micropayments, and two as using the chat channel); etc.

How about a site that only reviews manly, Tom-of-Finland approved games? None of this nancy lad Final Fantasy weepy crap or limp wristed “immersive” swishery; just rock hard, ass kicking war games, FPS titles, and stat-driven RPGs? You know, sort of the philosophical opposite of The GIA, where painfully geeky jokes about Squaresoft, fanfics/fanart, and a fruity love for all things Nippon ruled.

No Final Fantasy.
No pictures of Final Fantasy characters in various states of dress/undress.
No jokes about Chu Chu from Xenogears.
No inside gags about the foibles of popular Japanese-only mascots.
No moogles.
No philosophical musings about “story telling” in games; at least, about stories that involve anything other than Nazi or terrorist asses being kicked.
No talk about “immersion” as the penultimate accomplishment of a game; STAT WHORES ONLY.
No DDR. Ever.
No effusive love for “quirky” Japanese titles that’re only quirky because they have a wacky mascot, like Parappa.
No sobby letters section filled with useless anecdotes from the life of some hopelessly pandering geekling.

JUST MAN GAMING. CONQUERING. UPGRADING. LEVELLING. ALL STATS, ALL THE TIME.

Edit: Hell, the site should keep stats for all the posters, along with levels and “con” feedback. Like if I click “con” by Tom Chick’s name, and it comes back as “You could defeat this foe, with some effort” - man, that would rock.

Heh, that’d be pretty cool.

Maybe have users gain experience points by submitting reviews and stuff. heh. Lots of programming involved, but that’d be pretty sweet.

Pretty funny you mention that… I actually came across a website that tracked 3 bars on all posters… experience, hit points, and level. You could level up by getting good moderation scores, lose hitpoints from bad posts (not sure if your account got closed on death) and level up.

I’ll try to find it again, it was pretty novel.