Beginner Article Types
Articles naturally fall under a few different categories. At Heavyshelf, we follow general guidelines for each type.
Lists: This kind of article has the unique opportunity to be more than just a “Top 10 Shotguns in Videogames.” A list should be a curated collection of items that speaks towards a greater theme or concept in gaming. Use the numeric first-to-last categorization of lists as an opportunity to make a procedural argument about a certain feature, setting, mechanic, etc., rather than just talking about what you do and don’t like in games.
Game Preview (Early Access/Beta): A mix between a review and a first impression, a game preview is an article that covers a game that is “subject to change,” so-to-speak. This type of article requires considerable familiarity with a game that has not yet been released (or else the article would be a review or first impression). It’s best for game previews to be written and published when an early access title hits a bump of popularity, but people are always looking for diamonds-in-the-rough, so don’t get too caught up in the timing.
For a game preview, you’re trying to convey the game in terms of “worth playing” rather than “worth the cost.” The game is an unfinished experience — should the reader bother with it now? Check back in a few months? Write it off entirely? Be wary of overselling or over-hyping: plenty of early access titles with promise have been abandoned without a second thought.
First Impression: This is an article that gives an early assessment of a fully released game or game expansion following at least 4 hours of gameplay, but still less than half of what the game has to offer (so, no 4 hour “first impression” of The Order: 1886). It’s best for first impressions to be written and published 3-5 days after the release of the game.
For a first impression, be honest about the gameplay experience. Are you excited to pick it back up and finish it, or is it becoming a bit of a drag? Imagine that you’re talking about the game to a friend over the course of a 5-minute bus ride. A first impression should serve as an early indication of whether this game will be a hit or an embarrassment.
Crediting the Dev Team
For Game Previews and First Impressions (and Reviews, covered in the Intermediate section), you should always remember to credit the developer and the publisher in the first line of every article. Copy and paste the following (everything within the quotes, but not the quotes themselves):
“[Developer: Developer Name | Publisher: Publisher Name]”
We do this for a few reasons. First, it gives credit where credit is due (after all, the purpose of these types of articles is to assess someone’s creation). Importantly, it also helps readers build and understanding of specific developers and publishers, adding to the value of the articles. As a cherry-on-top, it also sounds professional.
Maybe you’re writing a different kind of article and you want to credit the dev team still. Here’s the rule of thumb: If you’re talking about a single, specific game to talk about it’s quality and characteristics, credit the dev team. If you’re talking about a single, specific game as a case study for a larger topic in games (e.g., using Bioshock to talk about mixing fantasy and more modern settings), don’t credit the dev team: the article is about something more than that one game.
A Note on Profanity
Colorful language is generally accepted on Heavyshelf, but editors reserve the right to tone down language that comes off as excessive. As a general rule, use profanity when natural and earnest.
Writing a Title
Your title is the face of your article. It’s what entices people to read, so make it good. Don’t write up a “draft title” that you know you’re going to change later, as it causes some trouble on the back end. Keep a title short and punchy, with enough value that a reader could guess what they might get out of it. Finally, if you’re writing a game preview, first impression, or a review (covered later), insert what’s called a “pipe symbol,” shown here: “|” (it is shift function of the backslash “\” key), and put “Beta/Alpha/Early Access Review” (if a game preview), “First Impression,” or “Review” afterwards. Here’s an example: “Frog of War 3 | Alpha Review”
Article length is an art more than a science. It’s better to break these length guidelines than it is to write poorly in hopes of meeting them. Often times, if you write too much, an editor will come in and cut the fat, so don’t worry.
If you’re writing a short news update article or a very brief review, you’re looking at 200-500 words. There aren’t many instances where a length this short will be needed.
If you’re writing a standard review or any other intermediate-length article, where you need a bit more to say what you need to say (this is almost all article types), you’re looking at 500-1,000 words. A happy maximum for these kinds of articles is 1,500 words — beyond this, things start to drag.
If you’re writing an epic dissection or dissertation on game design theory, or some other magnum opus, be as long as you need without being downright exhausting. Excessively long articles can take a long time to edit, and editors will not review or publish any work longer than 5,000 words.
Formatting Your Article
Your paragraphs should be 4-6 sentences long, roughly 50-100 words.
Subheadings are an essential way of breaking apart your article and making it more readable. You should use a subheading every 2-4 paragraphs. For subheadings, use Heading 2 in WordPress.
Bullet points are the go-to way of organizing information into lists. They shouldn’t be too common in an article for the sake of flow, so it’s important not to overuse them. Try to only use bullet points for single sentences or short phrases.
Images are a great way to bring life to an article, but they can also be a bit tricky. Each article, depending on length, needs 1-4 images (more images for a longer article). Space these out like you would subheadings: don’t saturate one portion and leave another without a single picture.
When uploading images, you must ensure that the image is either a press kit image (just search the title of the game followed by “press kit” and click one of the igdb.com links) or screenshots that you take in game.
If you use a screenshot from a video (i.e. a screenshot from an E3 presentation), you need to follow specific steps.
Drag and drop the image as usual, then click on the image to get the Alignment and Edit menu popup. Click the “Edit” menu option. Select “Advanced Options” at the bottom, and insert the hyperlink of the source video in the “Image Title Attribute” section. After doing this, select the image in the article, and choose “Insert/Edit Link” from the toolbar above, then insert the hyperlink of the source video again in the box provided. This allows readers to click on the image and instantly reach the referenced video.
Image captions are a chance to add some personal flair to the article, but it’s better to have no caption than to restate something you’ve already said.
The “featured image” is the cover image that appears on the front of the website and at the top of the article. Featured images are fairly tricky. If you have a particular image that you would like as the featured image, ensure that the dimensions are exactly 1920×1080. You’ll find a “featured image” section along the right-hand sidebar of the word press site: this is where you can upload your image.
Please note that Heavyshelf editors reserve the right to adjust the featured image and create featured images if the image provided does not meet our requirements or no image is provided.
Formatting Game Titles and Features
Game titles are Italicized and Capitalized. Only capitalize what the game capitalizes (e.g. SUPERHOT is correct, while Superhot is not). The easiest way to make sure you’re doing this right is to check on Steam or another storefront. Do not italicize the titles of companies: just Capitalize.
Flying in the face of what conventional grammar rules state, keep your game titles italicized even if it is in an italicized section of text (such as an image caption). It’s easier to read.
When referencing specific buttons, menu options, or features within a game, Capitalize and, sometimes in addition, “Use Quotations.” Quotation marks are particularly handy if the name of the game option could still disrupt the reading flow when capitalized.