While I have been doing weekly summaries throughout the course of my project, this final evaluation covers everything completed throughout my project and the quality I feel I have achieved in this project.
Original aims of the project (Unit 8 1.1, Unit 8 4.1)
What were the aims for this project?
My original aim when going into this project was to successfully begin the creation of a professional portfolio relating to games journalism. Due to wanting to progress down the career path as a games journalist, I thought this would benefit me both in terms of experience and give me a start at creating a professional portfolio showing versatility and professionalism.
My aim with this project was also to show versatility in both writing style as well as layout design. I wanted to show that I could adapt to different magazines and publications in order to give a wider range to my portfolio. It was due to this aim that I decided on creating 2 separate articles that were for different publications and covered different areas of the gaming journalism field as a whole.
My aim also included making sure all the work completed was suited to my target audience, this being males between the ages of 18-32 (Alexia.com, 2016)(Quantcast.com, 2016). This demographic was for both gamesTM and PC Gamer and therefore changing writing style based on age was not relevant. However, inside this demographic there were subsets, such as PC Gamer targeting itself towards those who use PC gaming compared with gamesTM who are a variety gaming publication covering modern, retro and PC gaming. Therefore while age and gender would not differentiate the two in writing style, there other factors and subsets of the target audience would play a part and this was integral to my creating a successful project.
The final aspect of the aim of my project was to create products of a professional standard. This was important when factoring in creating a portfolio of work that I hope to eventually build up and use as an entry into the industry.
Were the original aims of the project met and how?
(Unit 8 4.1, Unit 8 2.2)
All the aims I strove for were met to the quality that I wished to achieve. In terms of creating a portfolio this was very successful. I have create two vastly differing layouts that both incorporate significantly different design elements. The PC Gamer article for example is very tidy and organised such as the review by Kelly (2016, p.84-85) created specifically to the style guide (Edwards, 2010) supplied by PC Gamer for game reviews of this nature. This shows a good use of imagery and an ability to acquire relevant and good quality game images to tie into the review. The PC Gamer review also includes a personally remade graphic based on the source material relating to weaponry in the game. These style of graphics are often added into the reviews of PC Gamer and showing this skill set within the layout is a great addition.
With gamesTM the design shows good flow and tempo for the article itself traversing over the double page spread in a way that is easy to follow and read, as shown in the issue I based my double page spread on (gamesTM, 2015, p.12-13). This layout also incorporates a side table with something relevant to the article itself without being integral to the main article that gives the readers something additional. This is something that is done with many gamesTM articles in the discussion section. I also created a front cover to showcase my more design based and visual skills in terms of making something in the style of a publication rather than replicating something exactly and making alterations based on personal design choices. This also gives more variety to the portfolio as a whole.
In terms of showing versatility I would say I also achieved this to great success. Through the very nature of basing my project around the idea of creating a portfolio it was paramount to my success to provide a range of products. By creating two different layouts, for not only two different publications, but also two different genres within games journalism itself (review and industry discussion). The styles of the two publications are vastly different in terms of both tone and layout. By showing a competency at replicating these at a professional level I am able to accurately portray versatility by creating both of these layouts to a similar standard.
In terms of relating my products to the target audience I would also say this was very successful. By emulating my chosen publications I was certain to be able to be write both in the style the target audience wish to read and present in a visually appealing way to that demographic. I also ensured that what I was writing was something that I myself would be interested in reading, as someone who is personally part of the target demographic for both publications. Therefore by critically re-reading and applying feedback to my articles and layouts I could be sure I would appeal to my intended audience. By taking a layout from gamesTM, that I felt appealed to me the most, I was confident it would suit my target audience. I also showed my layouts and front cover to peers in my class who also suited my target demographic and got their opinions, these were all positive saying that the work produced appeared of professional quality.
In terms of creating products to a professional standard I would say that the front cover is definitely to a good standard, with all feedback on that piece being overwhelmingly positive. This also goes for the review due to it being so closely kept to the original design to millimetre accuracy. As for the gamesTM article, while I feel this is of professional quality, I do feel it is the weakest in terms of layout. This is due to not having access to an exact style guide in terms of font and therefore I had to emulate the best I could from a physical copy of the magazine and manually taken measurements. I am very happy with the outcome of the layout however without access to the exact fonts I could not recreate it exactly, this also goes for the size of the dotted lines incorporated in the design. Without the exact knowledge of line thickness I had to emulate it to the best of my ability through trial and error. While this was time consuming and did limit me somewhat, I was able to find similar fonts all of which is evidenced in my production log.
PC Gamer Review
Comparison to source material
(Kelly, 2016, p.84-85)
Success in regards to target audience (Unit 8 1.1, Unit 8 2.1, Unit 8 2.2, Unit 8 4.1)
In terms of how successful this piece is, I would say I have achieved the quality I was aiming for. This piece of work is of a professional standard and is a millimetre accurate recreation of the layout. The writing is written in the expected tone for a review that takes inspiration from other reviewers from PC Gamer without directly copying their style.
The tone is one that is comedic but does not shy away from discussion of more in depth mechanics and game plays elements while continuously expressing my own personal experience of the game. The review clearly reflects my own personal feelings about the game and clearly reflects my views and my views alone, this lack of bias ensures the article is written in a genuine way. This is what the readers of PC Gamer would expect to see from a review included in this particular publication.
As can be seen from the comparison above my recreation is nearly identical in terms of visuals, while having made changes to the images and text to use the layout for my particular review. This therefore an accurate reflection of the success of this piece. My layout is millimetre exact due to having taken all of the measurements myself using a physical copy of the source material. By having recreated something from the physical publication I can be assured that this would successfully appeal to my target demographic. This is due to the fact the publication itself is created with said demographic in mind.
Problems faced and how they were overcome (Unit 8 3.1, Unit 8 4.1)
Throughout the creation of this layout and article I encountered very few issues. There were originally a few teething problems with using InDesign. This was due to having not used the software recently prior to the creation of layout. This was quickly resolved by spending some time familiarising myself with the software and its capabilities. Since this was the first of the two layouts I created, this problem did not occur with the gamesTM layout. In terms of the creation process this was definitely the least problematic of the 3 products produced for the project. All research completed was primary and done in my own time outside of college using my personal computer. This was through playing the game the review is based on. The images were all screen captured by me from my time playing the game and therefore I encountered no issues with this aspect.
In terms of writing the article, due to having put over 30 hours into the game, I found it relatively easy to express my experience in the form of a review as I felt I had a significant enough knowledge of the game to do so. From my extensive research I knew the tone and style in which to write, which I found easy to emulate. Also from my having created the skeletal layout before writing the article I was able to use filler text to get a rough estimate of word count. This meant that I could effectively just add the article straight in. There were a few changes necessary to the article due to syntax and grammatical errors that were brought to my attention during proof reading but other than that the article required very few changes.
In summary this section of my portfolio was relatively easy to accomplish with only a few minor issues.
Changes made to the product and why? (Unit 8 4.1)
As discussed above very few changes needed to be made to the product. In terms of layout no changes were made as it was a recreation of the source material and therefore everything in that sense stayed the same throughout its creation, never veering off the intended final layout.
In terms of the article there were, again, very few minor changes made. Firstly I had the minor grammatical and syntax changes that needed to be made in order to improve the fluidity of reading of the piece. I also elaborated on a point I made at the end of the article in order to give an explanation to an observation I made about diehard fans possibly not enjoying the piece. Other than this one point, nothing was added or taken away from the article due to positive feedback to the review as a whole.
Comparison to source material
(gamesTM, 2015, p.12-13)
Success in regards to target audience (Unit 8 1.1, Unit 8 4.1)
In terms of creating a successful piece for my target audience, I would say this meets the requirements well. As seen from the comparison above my piece is an accurate recreation of the layout.
In the creation process for this layout in particular, I looked at several different issues of gamesTM to find an appropriate layout that suited the tone and length of my intended article. In this case I found that the issue of gamesTM in question I used was from the discussion piece of an article from last year. This issue in particular had a much more visual layout and, while being a discussion piece, visually suited the layout I felt would best reflect my article. The reason for this was the amount of visual elements used such as the pull quote, the use of imagery and the table to the rightmost side. I felt all of these would help to highlight my piece well, the images giving context to the layout and story before the reader even begins to read the article and allows for captions for further contextual information. The table at the side gives a brief piece of information which can be read on its own if nothing else and again draws attention and takes up negative space in a more compelling way than just images.
I feel these elements all reflect well on an understanding of the audience, the feel is very modern with a tidy layout as well as a bright, attention grabbing colour scheme that reflects the overall colour scheme of the magazine as a whole. The audience would appreciate this due to the fact that they would expect this as a typical design from gamesTM. I re-purposed the layout from a specifically opinionated piece for a feature piece predominantly based on knowledge and quotes gained from an interview. I fully believe this was a good move. The layout suits its intended purpose and all feedback on design elements have been positive.
Again I did not have access to the exact fonts used in the original publication. This is the main weakness I feel the piece has. Despite being millimetre accurate I cannot ensure a perfect recreation due to the limitation of the fonts available to me. As a result of this the titles are clearly differently styled. This is also seen in the ‘Discuss’ section at the top left. The sizing and placement in the box was very difficult to replicate with the particular font used. While this means the piece itself is not a 100% exact replication in terms of style I believe it was the best I could do due to limitations. Ideally if I were to do it again I would use a computer in which I could install the correct fonts in order make a perfect recreation. That being said I am still confident that this layout still maintains professional level quality despite the limitations faced.
In terms of written article I obviously did not base the tone and style of writing from the same story. This was due to this piece being an opinion piece with less real discussion in comparison to some of the other gamesTM issues discussion topics. Therefore I used a discussion article from a later issue of the publication. This was mainly to ensure I was writing in the same style as the publication writes currently. This was just as a safeguard in case anything has been changed in terms of the publication’s writing style in the time since that layout was published. I then applied the knowledge I had gained from the other articles to base my article on. I found for the most part the articles for discussion never really made statements and went more so with the quotes of a professional and their opinion rather than expressing the opinion of the writer. This is likely to avoid liable claims and therefore I made sure to stick to this style of writing closely with the creation of my article. I was given some minor changes again with grammar and syntax which were quickly rectified. There was also a matter of moderating the quotes shortening some and slightly rewording others for clarification. Once this was done the overall article read much more fluidly and cohesively. I feel that this was well written and evidence of knowledge of the subject is clearly shown as a testament to my extensive research. This was reflected in the feedback I received of those who have read the article.
Problems faced and how they were overcome
(Unit 8 2.1, Unit 8 2.2, Unit 8 3.1, Unit 8 4.1)
The main problems faced with this article was finding a suitable layout and then applying this to my intended article prior to it being written. As discussed above this was easily overcome by realising I could simply re-purpose a visually suitable layout for my intended article.
Another issue I faced that was slightly more of a setback during my project. This was during the research and image finding process. Due to doing the majority of the project at college I was under restrictions of the college’s internet filter system. One of the categories that the system is set to block is games. Therefore anything that had a tag of games was blocked by the system. This meant Steam itself was blocked and subsequently some sections of Greenlight. Therefore in order to do my research fully I had to use another method to gain information and images while in college. This essentially meant using my phone’s mobile data to research information and e-mail images to myself. I also spent a considerable amount of time researching and working towards my project at home, in order to avoid any restrictions of this nature. While this didn’t negatively impact my project it did limit the extent of what I could do during college contact time during the research phase. Due to my work around of using my phone and doing addition research at home I was able to easily side step this issue.
Another minor issue I faced with this article was fitting the drafted article into the layout. While I had an approximate word count I ended up going over this by around 100 words. Due to this I had to scan the project and remove anything I felt didn’t add much to the article and ensure everything was as airtight as possible in terms of wording. Due to redrafting and removing a quote and well as using less of other quotes I was easily able to cut it down enough to fit the layout perfectly in around an hour. This wasn’t too much of an issue and I had also planned for this in terms of creating my timetable when initially allocating my time.
Overall I felt, despite a few minor setbacks and issues, I had a relatively easy task of creating this layout and writing the article. This was due to extensive planning in both my pre-production and research phases allowing me to think of contingencies for any issues such as those encountered; such as allowing for more time when scheduling and using learnt problem solving skills to counteract said issues that had been learnt throughout this academic year.
Changes made to the product and why? (Unit 8 1.1, Unit 8 4.1)
While creating the product there were only relatively minor changes made, however during the pre-production phase I found that there were several major changes to the idea of this layout.
Initially this second article was intended for a different publication, that being EDGE. The main reason for this change was due to the copy of EDGE I ordered not arriving until about 2 weeks into the project when I needed to have started research. Due to this I instead decided to go with gamesTM, a publication I know well and have emulated before. However due to the change of publication I also was required to change the nature of the article itself. The original article being a discussion over video game addiction and whether this was a problem in modern society. For a publication such as EDGE a story such as this would have been a perfect fit. However this was too distanced from the gaming scene itself for gamesTM. Therefore I instead chose to discuss the Greenlight system inspired from discussions I had from my first project with indie developers. The idea was logical to follow through with due to having indie game developer contacts and a good base understanding and knowledge of both Steam and the independent development sector in gaming. This was by far the biggest change of course I had during the entirety of the project. Due to this change occurring so early, before research and production even started, it was easy to just scrap the initial idea and go in this new direction instead.
Other minor changes were the previously mentioning rewording of certain quotes from the developer. This was purely for clarification due to the interviewee in question not being as eloquent as desired in parts of the interview. Having slightly altered a few words to ensure clarity was relatively simple and only took a few minutes, once this was done the article was much easier to understand read a lot better. This is a perfectly accepted method in the journalism industry and does not have any issues with legality. This is due to the fact that the quote’s purpose and point were not changed or misconstrued. I slightly changed a few words for synonyms and altered sentence structure to provide a more cohesive and clear piece of information.
The final minor change was the re-editing of the article once I realised that the initial draft was slightly too long. This, as expressed above, did not take much time and was simple to fix due to the cutting down of quotes and streamlining wording and phrasing. I also removed one quote that added little to the discussion and I feel actually made the article flow better due to its removal. Therefore, despite this being a minor issue, it actually benefited me overall.
In summary while the concept was changed significantly before the commencing of the project, for the most part all the issues faced were minor and didn’t result in many changes and were simple to work around. Again helped due to good scheduling of time to factor in any issues that may occur problem solving was quick and simple.
PC Gamer Front Cover
Comparison to source material
(PC Gamer, 2016)
Success in regards to target audience (Unit 8 1.1, Unit 8 4.1)
In terms of success regarding the target audience I would say that I have been very successful with my front cover. My front cover is the piece of work I feel was the most professional for the portfolio for this project. Not only does it emulate a front cover in terms of style but also is different in several ways, showing a level of versatility. This also evidences an understanding of how to create a front cover based on the game the cover is centred around.
The cover itself is very attention grabbing due to its 3 dimensional nature through the layering of the image partially over the PC Gamer logo. This would draw attention to the cover by readers, as this is an expected design element PC Gamer use regularly. Therefore it succeeds in this regard due to it incorporating a design element that would be expected by the target demographic.
While creating a good looking professional front cover was important, being able to make it in such a way that it was clearly recognisable as the publication in question was one of the most important elements. This was paramount to the success of this piece of work. This is the main reason I focused the idea around an existing cover altering certain elements to be more relevant to the game being presented. I chose Fallout 4 due to the fact that it was the game that was reviewed for my article for PC Gamer. I felt this showed versatility by applying a link between the two pieces and this would be something that would be expected of readers. This is especially important due to the fact Fallout 4 was such a big release when it came out and had been highly anticipated for several years.
In terms of changes to the original design I am very pleased with how they have impacted the final piece. I found the original front cover that my piece was based off was very busy and hectic. While suiting the central game image for that cover, this busy nature would not work with Fallout 4. This is due to the colour scheme of the game’s box art as well as the themes of the game itself being very desolate and grim-dark in theme. I feel that the more minimalist design worked well and would be appreciated by readers showing a clear tidy design highlighting the game and providing other information in the negative space to draw more attention to the central image. I feel readers would appreciate this design because of this fact. I also have received very positive feedback both from college lecturers as well as peers, specifically asking peers who fit the target demographic, and giving them other previous covers to compare my final cover to.
Problems faced and how they were overcome (Unit 8 1.1, Unit 8 3.1, Unit 8 4.1)
The main problem I faced with this piece was conceptualising what I wished to do with the overall cover design. While I wanted to emulate the cover to an extent, I also wanted the cover to stand out on its own as a separate piece rather than an exact recreation. I knew from the beginning I wanted the cover to be based on Fallout 4 but finding an image to base the cover on was difficult. Through looking through previous covers I found the main theme focused predominantly on game box art. Again due to having restricted access to game related websites and imagery it was far more time consuming to find a suitable image of the box art; it was difficult finding an image that wasn’t blocked that was both in good quality resolution as well as excluding the game title and the game box information. However, while this was problematic it was integral to creating a professional piece of content. Therefore I allocated myself more time for this and made sure to put extra effort in at home in order to find a suitable image. Once I had the suitable image to design the cover around the rest of my idea fell into place. This meant during the creation of the image I could adapt design elements as I incorporated them.
Another main problem I faced was how time consuming the Photoshop program was. Doing small edits to an image took much longer than initially anticipated. However due to having allocated myself extra time for all areas of my project I was ahead of schedule at this point and had given myself extra time for this section as a contingency. Therefore this never became much of hindrance. I found using software tools such as the guide lines allowed me to layout the image in a much more methodical manner and gave me a solid skeletal structuring of where to place certain pieces of the design. This tool helped streamline the whole process and ended up saving me quite a bit of time when combined with taking measurements from the original source material to give a rough idea of how the layout would be presented.
The final problem I had was due to the white lettering for the title of the game. This made some of the letters very hard to see but is a design element used in all PC Gamer front covers, unless using the games official title artwork. I decided the title artwork would make the image too messy and detract from the overall design and would not go down well with readers by taking away from the tidy and desolate aesthetic. Therefore the simple fix I applied to this was adding a light inner shadow on the title text, this makes the lettering clearer against the light parts of the background image as well giving it more definition, while not taking away the professional look of the text. I considered adding a black border around the text but decided against it as this would look unprofessional and would not be a design element the readers would expect or likely appreciate.
Changes made to the product and why? (Unit 8 3.1, Unit 8 4.1)
While the product itself under went very few changes during the creation of this piece I did make a lot of design changes in comparison to the original. This is extensively reviewed in my production log as well as below.
The first major design change was that of the colour scheme, as can be seen above, the colour scheme for the line under the main title and the bar going across the top portion of the page are both light brown in the original. This colour can be found in the source material’s front cover and therefore suited that cover, however with a much darker and less colourful main image, my cover required a much darker colour scheme for this. Therefore I selected one of the background colours (a steel grey) and used this instead. It suits the darker aesthetic of the game and is something readers would expect to see with a Fallout 4 cover due to the game’s grim-dark themes and style.
Secondly was the exclusion of certain design elements all together. This included the exclusive banner (as I believed this too make the design too busy and detracted from the main image as it would appear just below the helmet’s eyes). As well as the small additional images at the sides of the page in the green boxes. I found these distracting and took focus away from the main central image which was intended to be the main draw for the readers. The green circles themselves did not, in any way, fit with the intended colour scheme and due to both of these reasons I decided to omit these details. I consulted my college tutor on this and was informed that in their opinion this suited the design theme I was going for and felt that it would detract from the overall style were I to include it.
Another design change was the changing of the green box on the left hand side towards the top. Again green did not fit with the colour scheme, therefore I re purposed an already existing PC Gamer graphic used on their website for a similar article to the one shown in the green box. By altering the image slightly I was able to round it out to make it fit the image better (which is very rounded and has a lot of circular elements). I did this by using the quick select tool and then feathering and rounding out the edges using the refine edge tool. I also used the spot heal tool to remove the website and logo from the image due to that not needed to be included. This is due to the logo already being present and the website never being advertised on the front of the physical publication. These two elements also would have made the image too distracting and not minimalist enough and therefore would not have tied in with the theme.
Overall I found that my front cover benefited greatly from these changes and I would not have done anything differently with these. I have found my overall cover of a professional quality that would appeal to the target demographic as evidenced through my feedback from peers. The cover is visually stimulating and suits its intended purpose of presenting an eye catching game image and providing further information about the contents of the publication.
How this project has fed into a future career path
(Unit 8 4.1)
In terms of feeding into a future career path, I specifically designed my project to be around feeding into a future career path. The whole point of my project was to be working on a portfolio of gaming journalism showcasing my skills as both a writer and designer, proving I can be versatile in writing and creating layouts for differing publications. By having started to create work that can be featured in a portfolio I can use this for interviews for future job prospects as well as for university interviews when carrying on into further education studying journalism and an NCTJ.
In terms of the success of this project feeding into a future career path, I feel it has been very successful. I now have a good base of professional looking work to start my portfolio and shows a range of skills in design, writing and understanding with analysis of the industry itself through my replication of existing publications. Having done work for 2 separate publications this really shows a range of employment skills and shows I can adapt well to different publications.
Strengths (Unit 8 4.1)
I would say my main strengths lie in my analytical nature of how I approach work as well as my work ethic itself. I am a perfectionist in all work I do and because of my analytical nature I can compare and contrast various sources and material to find differences in my work that I can apply to future projects. I am never satisfied with anything that I don’t deem to be below professional level work. Due to this I refuse to submit any work I am not entirely sure is of the highest quality I can produce. Because of this I usually end up creating work of a high standard and a high volume of research and analysis to go alongside it.
My ability to work to deadlines has been a vital strength I have found during this project. Being able to easily work to a deadline has meant that I have been under no stress or pressure to get work completed on time or at any point felt rushed. Due to this good ability for time management and planning I’ve found the project to be very manageable.
Adaptability is something I have continued to strive for in all my work. As is clearly evidenced by work from the beginning of the year, I find it very easy to take on board feedback and adapt it into my work to improve its overall quality. During this project, being adaptable has not only helped increase the quality of my work by also allowed me to problem solve quickly and effectively. Such as dealing with restrictions to game based websites and having to find work arounds at home and using my phone.
Another strength is my mathematical logic at approaching my work. While I find design elements difficult to comprehend from a stylistic standpoint, if I can measure it and break it down into a series of numbers such as offsets and measurements I can easily recreate any layout. This is clearly evidenced in my production log with my layouts having measurement tables in order to create millimetre precise recreations so I can re-appropriate the layouts for my own articles.
My research skills are definite one of my biggest strengths, having conducted so much research both at college and during my free time out of interest. I have a large knowledge base of the journalism industry and especially the gaming journalism industry. This has helped my project well as it has allowed me to create my articles quickly and efficiently with no major changes other than grammar and syntax to be altered. This is due to the fact I fully understand what I am writing through having completed so much research (my research pack being a testament to this).
Weaknesses (Unit 8 4.1)
In terms of my weaknesses, I would say my major one is over working myself. Sometimes I will work for hours incredibly efficiently, however I will then end up burning myself out often feeling quite tired and mentally drained. In these cases I often lose motivation and have had to allocate addition time in case this happens. Often this occurs due to my refusal to take breaks. This has meant that during the project I have had days were the latter half have been significantly less productive due to not giving myself breaks or time away from the project. In certain areas this affected my writing style and often found when I overworked myself my grammar and syntax would usually decline. This meant having to go back over work done when in this mentally drained state to ensure it was of the quality I have come to expect from myself.
Another glaring weakness I feel I have is also something I have also listed as a strength. This being my nature of being a perfectionist. I refuse to have any work less than what I deem to be of the highest quality I can produce. While this can be a good thing the majority of the time has led to some issues with me spending unnecessary amounts of time and energy on something that wasn’t necessary and end up being overly thorough. This is fairly evident in my project due to the high volume of work submitted such as my asset file consisting of 29 pages. While this means I have covered the work extensively this has fed into my previous weakness of becoming drained and sometimes losing motivation. I have tried to work around this by working in shorter focused bursts.
Another weakness I found that made the project slightly more challenging was that of grammar and syntax. As I have specified multiple times in this post, the main things that were needing to be changed in my articles were that of grammar and syntax. While for the most part this didn’t present much of an issue, it did mean that I had to ensure I proof read through all my project work multiple times to make sure my grammar and syntax were up to standard. This mainly revolved around ensuring sentences were broken up correctly and that commas were used accordingly. While this wasn’t a major hindrance to the project as a whole, it did mean that I had to take more time over what I was writing and ensure everything was proof read by others as well as myself. This is something I intend to continue working on in order to further my future career prospects as a journalist. Ensuring the use of correct grammar is vital for a piece to read well and is a baseline skill needed for the industry.
Improvements (Unit 8 4.1)
In terms of improving my skills the major way I intend to do this is through continual practice and research into further publications. The reasons I intend to do this are so that I can make my skills more natural to me and therefore show them off in future work.
Skills that could be improved on as stated above are definitely grammar and syntax, which I feel will be easily improved over time from doing more thorough reading of various publications and in general. This will give me a better sense of appropriate use of grammar and hopefully make it a more natural process for me during writing.
In terms of improving my skill set as a journalist I intend to consume more visual and written based media and take these as inspiration for future work. Due to my analytical nature when consuming these types of media I am naturally analysing how they have achieved that professional level or in some cases what could be done to improve it. By evaluating media in this sense, it not only allows me to further evaluate my own work, but also means I can learn from existing professional work.
Finally the last method I will use to improve my skill set as a journalist is to continue creating content in all forms of media. This will not only give me practice that will allow me to harness my learnt skills and improve upon them but also supply myself with more work for my portfolio. Doing this will also give me a wider range of material to receive feedback on, in order to better improve myself. This would be improved further by setting myself specific parameters such as with this project and then evaluating my work based around said parameter.
Skills learnt during project
(Unit 8 1.1, Unit 8 2.1, Unit 8 2.2, Unit 3.1, Unit 8 4.1)
Over the course of this project I have learnt several skills that have really benefited me and impacted my project.
The first major skill was proof reading efficiently, in the past I had found my proof reading was quite poor and I often missed typos and grammatical mistakes. I have found through being more critical and being more focusing on the reading of the documents allowed me to be much more efficient and accurate with my proof reading. I also found that printing the document and using a pen to highlight my mistakes made it much easier to rectify.
Another skill I found I improved upon significantly during this project were skills relating to interviews. During this project I saw first-hand how important having industry contacts can be with a project. Gaining primary sources of information was simple and easy for me to accomplish through contacts I have in the indie development sector, this allowed me to quickly and easily acquire information I needed through interviews and allowed me to shape my articles early on. I also found an important skill I learnt was using interviews and information gained from research appropriately was incredibly important. While some information may seem interesting it may not be necessary to include due to it not being entirely relevant to the story/feature itself. Therefore having the skill to pick out relevant information to use from an interview was vital for my Greenlight Article.
During the research of my Fallout 4 review I realised how important analysis is for this area of gaming journalism. This skill was paramount to my review being accurate and informed. Every time I took an action in the game I have to ask myself whether the game presented itself well, whether it was that visual presentation good, whether the voice acting was good etc… There were so many elements to think about and playing the game in this way was a very different experience, being able to look at the game from the perspective of a reviewer rather than a player was a very important skill I learnt during this project.
Good knowledge of the gaming industry as a whole was an incredibly important skill for this project. Not only the main industry but also the journalism and publication side of gaming. To accurately create a piece of professional quality I had to fully comprehend the industry standard that was expected. Learning all this information and apply this skill to my work was vital in creating a successful project in order to appeal to my target demographic. Naturally the entire project revolved around creating something of interest to my target audience and naturally an understanding of the industry who create content for that audience would allow me to do this in a much more professional manner. By emulating and learning from my research of skills such as interview analysis and gaming industry knowledge I was able to create much more cohesive products.
Additional training that would be benefited from (Unit 8 4.1)
Additional training I could benefit from would be revolving around skills such as problem solving during the creative process as well as the creating of more efficient contingency plans. This would allow me to never have to slow production on future projects based around minor issues and would allow me to be more efficient.
Other training I could benefit from would be games journalism training, such as how to write for a particular publication, what the audience wish to read and demographic analysis training. All these would be incredibly useful when combined with my logical way of thinking and would make me a much better gaming journalist as a whole as well as give me further knowledge of this sector of the industry and make me more employable in future.
Finally one piece of training I feel that would really benefit me is based around pacing my work load in order to avoid becoming demotivated or mentally drained. This would allow me to work more efficiently and make sure I never have issues were I’ve overloaded myself and have issues being productive after the fact. With this being the weakness I found most affected my project having training to counteract this would be incredibly useful for future projects and in any future work or job prospects.
Deadlines (Unit 8 3.1, Unit 8 4.1)
As outlined in all of my weekly summaries I have found deadlines to be a none-issue during my project, due to good time management and setting myself more time than I expected I would need, in order to act as a contingency if I ran into any issues. From the first week of the project I set myself a timetable for what would need to be done each week and I worked closely to these deadlines throughout the project. Due to this I found time management easy and allowed me to work through my project in smaller manageable steps. In my weekly summaries I also set myself weekly itineraries in order to further break down what was needed each week. This was very helpful when I found myself ahead of schedule or for changing the ordering of the expected plan of the original timetable due to technical difficulties or technology being available for example.
Working well with my deadlines was paramount to my successful completion of the project as well as the level of success I achieved. All deadlines set to myself in my proposal plan were followed accurately and because of this I was able to complete all work in a timely fashion.
Alexa.com. (2016). pcgamer.com Site Overview. [online] Available at: http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/pcgamer.com [Accessed 18 Apr. 2016].
Front Cover. (2016). PC Gamer, (291), p.1.
GTA V rises again. (2015). gamesTM, (#157), pp.12, 13.
Kelley, A. (2016). Night Clubbing. PC Gamer, (291), pp.84, 85.
Quantcast.com. (2016). Gamestm.co.uk Traffic and Demographic Statistics by Quantcast. [online] Available at: https://www.quantcast.com/gamestm.co.uk#demographicsCard [Accessed 18 Apr. 2016].
Due to the project coming to its conclusion a lot of the last 2 weeks have been similar in terms of content in what had to be completed. Therefore I have outlined and summarised what has been completed over weeks 7 and 8 together.
What has been done over the last two weeks? (Unit 8 3.1, Unit 8 4.1)
Over the past two weeks I have completed the majority of the work needed for my final project in terms of my final pieces. I first finalised the review layout adding in all relevant images and the article itself that I had written and redrafted based around feedback. In order to add the images in I had to first acquire them. Due to the nature of a review piece I needed very specific images, therefore using my own personal copy of Fallout 4 I played through and took HD screen shots of different sections in the game that I thought would fit with my article. I took the screen shots taking in mind what content was discussed in the article as well as bearing in mind the overall layout of screenshots from the original source material as well as in keeping with the darker colour scheme relating to the game in general.
Once the review was complete I focused my attention towards the gamesTM layout in terms of applying appropriate images, I then referenced these images accordingly in my production log. Following on from this I then added my finalised article once it had been proof read and redrafted accordingly fixing any grammatical and syntax errors and fixing some quotes through minimal rewording of certain phrases, due to feedback, in order to clarify the interviewees point. Part of completing this layout required me to make a section for the table on the second page. I decided the best way to put this section to use would be to highlight 4 games that had recently been Greenlight and a brief overview outlining the genre, expected release date and the current state of the game. This required minimal research which was done through the Steam Greenlight website and I simply went to the ‘recently Greenlit’ section and read up on the games and took one of their images/screenshots of the games in question. I then referenced this accordingly in my production log.
(Comparison image above for reference)(PC Gamer, 2016)
Then starting on week 7 and following through to week 8 I worked solely on creating my front cover. Creating the front cover was created in a slightly different way to the layouts. Firstly due to the fact I was using PhotoShop rather than InDesign, as well as the fact front covers are much more visual orientated compared with the layouts. Therefore it was not imperative to completely recreate the cover to millimeter accuracy. Due to this there were some design changes I made to the overall layout of the cover, different from the source material in question while still in keeping with the overall aesthetic. Due to the nature of a front cover design (especially in regards to PC Gamer and keeping the target audience in mind) the design was partially impacted by the front cover game chosen to be used. In order to link the front cover to my review piece I thought it fitting to make the cover image one of the box art of Fallout 4 due to keeping an overarching theme. It is likely what PC Gamer would do for the release of such a highly anticipated game as the review would have been highly anticipated by the target audience and it would draw attention. Some design changes I made were to omit green circles with small images inside as I thought there were too distracting and detracted from the overall aesthetic which was quite dark and somber with a very mechanical feel due to the nature of the image; I felt overcrowding the layout would compromise this. As part of this I excluded the image of the top left of a green hexagon and instead found another PC Gamer graphic from their website and altered it accordingly by spot heal tool over both the website and logo due to those not being necessary for the cover image. I also rounded out the image and neatened up the edges to give a more rounded feel, as the main image was very rounded and circular based. The only other two changes I made were to change the colour scheme of light brown for the top section due to this being based on the colour scheme used in the main image itself, therefore I simply selected a background colour for the appropriate sections. I received positive feedback to these changes and omissions and was told it suited the overall theme much better than the source material for my particular cover theme in general going with a much more grim-dark and tidy layout rather than the populated and busy source material based cover. While the overall process was very time consuming it was definitely worth the final outcome. I did face several issues while doing this due to having errors with Photoshop such as the quick select tool not selecting whole sections of an image I wished to cut out and therefore I had to do this manually (which took upwards of an hour to do to the quality I required). Also the feathering and smoothing tools were both quite difficult to acquire the desired results however through perseverance I was able to finally gained the effect I needed.
Was everything completed on time – if not why? (Unit 8 3.1, Unit 8 4.1)
Everything was easily completed on time and has left me in good stead for the final week next week leaving me with just final proof reading and slight alterations as well as the overall evaluation. Having an entire week to do this will be easy to accomplish and I am predicted to finish early. Despite several setbacks and time consuming tasks for the creation of the front cover I was able to compensate for this due to rescheduling of my time and committing extra time externally to my contact hours at college. Also due to last week putting me ahead of schedule these obstacles were diminished as a result.
Next weeks itinerary (Unit 8 3.1)
- Complete over arching evaluation of all work completed taking in accounter the original aims of the project; the end result; problems faced; how those problems were overcome; each criteria and how it was accomplished and to what level of success
- Make any final changes
- Proof read and ensure quality of work
- Submit under a final blog post comprising of links to all appropriate pieces of work
Skills practiced (Unit 8 3.1, Unit 8 4.1)
Over the past two weeks the skills involved were focused essentially around practical skills and the implementation of these skills as well as time management.
Firstly there were the skills associated with picking images for the layout, this required analysis in terms of what images were relevant with the article and overall theme and aesthetic of the layouts. This had to take into account the colour scheme and what the target audience want to see and would find stimulating, for gamesTM for example images of the games the interviewer mentions as well as images that give context to the article (such as the Steam Greenlight logo) which give inclination to the theme of the article. Whereas with the review it is essential to include only images specifically from the game in question being reviewed as this is what the target audience are expecting from PC Gamer reviews.
Secondly the skill set in terms of mathematical implementation of design elements. By this I mean that measurements of the source material must be used to give an accurate idea of a basic skeleton layout to be worked around. For example with the front cover, while I did not take exact measurements in a table format such as with the article layouts I did still take measurements. I implemented this information by creating guidelines in the document to give me areas in which to work in for each section so I could size images and text accordingly to keep everything in proportion while giving some leeway for design choices and changes. Being flexible in the design process in a vital skill to element in the graphic design industry especially relating to layouts and front covers for publications; this allows for changes to be made on the fly at the request of the employer.
Naturally as with the entire project time management has been a vital skill, thanks to good time management over the previous weeks. This meant that despite several issues and setbacks this did not affect me much in terms of completing self set deadlines or endanger the overall project’s deadline. Again this skill is vital in the journalism industry in all fields from photographers taking current event images and getting them sent in for editing and publishing in a timely manner, as well as with writers completing an article for publication. This is an especially prevalent skill for online journalists due to the competitive nature of the online industry where all sites are in direct competition to produce content before the other. Therefore having certain contingency plans are essential for completing a project on time, in this case it was having other pieces to work on while certain issues happened or giving myself extra time allocated just in case anything took longer than expected.
Front Cover. (2016). PC Gamer, (291), p.1.
Review for PC Gamer (Unit 8 3.1)
Discussion Article for gamesTM (Unit 8 3.1)
PC Gamer Front Cover (Unit 8 3.1)
What was done this week? (Unit 8 3.1, Unit 8 4.1)
As stated last week the primary focus of this week was the finish the first draft of my articles in order to receive feedback. This was vital due to the half term break being next week inhibiting my ability to receive feedback from my tutors.
Having received the feedback on my research and asset files with it being deemed distinction level, I was confident going forward using my research. Writing both articles were both very easy to complete and were done in a timely manner. Due to the large amount of information gathered through my asset file and research pack I had no issues with content with which to write my articles. Due to my research into tone and style of writing I found emulating the writing format very simply and easy to achieve.
Having received feedback both during and after the creation of my first draft for my review I was informed the tone was of a good standard. After having it proof read and receiving feedback on the content I was informed little changes needed to be made. After having added a sentence at the end to explain a statement I’d made and ensuring the grammar and spelling were all correct the final draft was completed the same day.
After having finally completed the other article I then added it into the layout. Noticing the text didn’t all fit I reworded a few sentences and simplified a few sentences. After which I then increased the size of the columns very slightly with not visually noticeable distinction except that the text now all fit perfectly. Once the page numbers and the images have been added the final version will be complete and ready to export as a PDF.
The second article in question was also quick to write up. Due to the nature of gamesTM, the article was quick and simply to write as it was primarily quote based. Again this was thanks to my research pack that this was so quick and easy to accomplish. Thanks to previous connections to a game developer with an extensive understanding of the greenlight system as a whole and the knowledge of marketing and advertisement this gave great insight and allowed me to have a solid basis for my article.
The feedback for this on the whole was positive, the main points being that a slight restructuring would allow for more fluid reading. The fully feedback has yet to be given back with the physical notes but I can expect this back after half term.
I looked into my front cover more in depth in terms of what I would need to change when creating the front cover for my piece. I realised the colour scheme would need to be changed for mine as well as some aspects of the layout would not work due to the nature of the cover image I intend to use. As front covers changes on a basis of what the title image is this is not an issue.
I was also able to easily write up the production log of what has been completed so far.
Was everything completed on time – if not why? (Unit 8 3.1, Unit 8 4.1)
This week was successful in terms of completing everything on time. While the initial change to my overall schedule worried me at first I quickly realised it would not be a problem. I am now back on track to complete the project on time.
Next weeks itinerary (Unit 8 3.1)
- Obtain images for fallout 4 review using screenshots
- Finalise review article layout
- Begin front cover piece
Skills practiced (Unit 8 3.1, Unit 8 4.1)
All skills practiced this week were related to the writing of my articles. This included taking facts and applying them in a manner that does not bore or overwhelm the reader, an important skill for a reviewer in the games industry and video game journalism as a whole.
The other skills required were the use of applying knowledge of my demographic to my writing style. This is a vital skill important to be implemented by all journalists in any field. It is important to write something that the target audience wishes to read. In my case I was able utilise my demographic research and apply this to my articles through the use of colloquial language and gamer friendly terms.
Naturally skills such as proof reading and basic literacy skills were required. As with anyone who works in the industry with any form of writing, being able to ensure what has been written can be followed is vital. The use of appropriate spelling and grammar is a base level necessity.
Finally as with every week time management has been key. A basic deadline for the work relating to units 8 1.1, 8 2.1, 8 2.2, was set for this week. Due to having my own personal timeline with weekly deadlines I had already completed this before the allocated deadline putting me in an excellent position in terms being ahead. Due to following my personal set deadlines I have ensured I will finish all work on time and that my deadline will be met. This is vital when working in journalism due to the deadline heavy nature of the industry. Being able to work to set deadlines is also vital with freelance work and when working with breaking news in the local media and worldwide news industries.
What was done this week? (Unit 8 2.1, Unit 8 2.2, Unit 8 3.1, Unit 8 4.1)
The primary focus this week was on ensuring the research pack was finalised and formally written up in its entirety. This was a lot more time consuming than initially planned, however due to the being ahead of schedule this did not affect me too badly.
The major research that was conducted this week was regarding formally writing up my analysis of the publications, this was done by using images of the physical magazines. I then analysed the layouts taking apart how and why they were laid out in that style, this related to the gamesTM layout, PC Gamer review layout and the PC Gamer front cover. I also looked into finding relevant images to use for my from cover.
Aside from this I also received feedback relating to my proposal, this related to the sentence structure not reading as fluidly as intended. Using the feedback as a prompt I reformatted the sentence structure of the proposal and uploaded a final version. There was also a query about Harvard Referencing however this was discussed and found to be a non issue as it was completed correctly.
I also discussed my layouts and showed the skeleton layouts to my tutor, I was told they looked professional and looked into changing the font for the game title in red on the PC Gamer layout. I also discussed similarities of Fallout 4’s companion mechanic comparative to games from the Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchise in regards to it being fairly behind in companion interactivity in previous entries to the franchise. This discussion proved very useful for my review. This feedback is documented below in a photo of my learning development plan.
I also was asked for my articles in order to be looked at to receive feedback, due to this I will be bringing forward the writing of both articles to next week and rescheduling accordingly.
Was everything completed on time – if not why? (Unit 8 3.1, Unit 8 4.1)
While I was able to finally formalise my final research pack I was unable to finish my production log. This was due to the research pack being a lot more time consuming to create, however due to what has already been completed of the production log it will not be an issue to quickly finish what needs to be done next week. I was able to begin the gamesTM article – this was more in formally planning out what needs to be included and doing further analysis in writing style and tone of the intended publication. Having brought forward when the articles need to be completed I have changed the overall plan of my initial timetable but since it is only bringing the article writing forward I am confident this will not impact my progress this week in terms of completing what is required.
Next weeks itinerary (Unit 8 3.1)
- Ensure both articles are written up in draft
- Receive feedback on articles
- Complete what is necessary up to this point for the production log.
- (Extension) – Begin work on front cover using photoshop
Skills practiced (Unit 8 2.1, Unit 8 2.2, Unit 8 4.1)
As this week was predominantly writing up my research pack all the skills used this week were solely relating to research and analysis.
The major skills used in this week were analysis. This is important as an skill in industry as being able to look at other work both from the same publication and competitors and gaining an understanding of what is popular and more importantly what sells to their target demographic. Regarding this I looked into the publications chosen layouts in order to take apart the layout and find the relevance of each section in order to construct my own layout to emulate those existing in the publications. This also went for the tone and writing style of those published by the magazine.
I found analysis for the reviews in PC Gamer much harder due to the fact that there are very different writing styles and tones for different writers. This is due to the personal nature of a review being an opinion piece.
I also did fact checking this week and Harvard referenced accordingly this is an important skill to use as it is vital for journalists both researching and writing in order to make sure what is printed is factual and does not misrepresent any information. This is imperative from both a legal standpoint and for distributing accurate information to the publications readership.