I am not sure if there is an entirely polite way to say this, but I think it is worth mentioning: I continue to cringe and wince at the manner in which many gamers conduct themselves in the online sphere, especially those who are supposedly trying to promote a project, establish a new website (or even a whole company), etc.
Entire other pieces can be written on the general rudeness of humanity, and the intentional acts of misconduct and even abuse, but I am honing in a little more specifically today: Rather than tackle rampant sexism on the scene, absurd specific feuds, or industry-wide practices, I am purely talking about people who seem to be completely unaware of how unprofessional they seem to others in their interactions, despite seeming like they would want to care about such a thing.
It has gotten to the point where I am considering offering consulting services for basic professionalism, marketing, public relations, and business practices. Not because I am an expert, but because I have common sense.
I will not name names; not because I do not believe that there is not an appropriate time to name-and-shame, but because the real tragedy is that there are many human beings with cool, worthy concepts out there who are risking not being taken seriously, or outright failing, only because they seem unwilling to tweak their presence. You do not need to be a genius, nor spend any money, to vastly improve your image and reputation.
Let me give four examples and see if you understand what I am talking about. You might already be familiar with some of these, as currently seen across the Internet.
1) Writing – You do not need to be Shakespeare, but if you write in text-speak ("how r u? lol") outsides of texts themselves, you are going to be perceived as being dumb. You should not be publicizing your social media, website, and "press releases" if they are written this way, or otherwise poorly. Are you actually stupid? If you are, then by all means, go ahead. But if you are not, then you need to show that to people, and a huge part of that is going to be determined by how you use your words. Tone is a big thing, too: You can have a huge vocabulary, great grammar, and impeccable mechanics, but too many people still use their words in pointless, negative, fruitless ways.
2) Kickstarter – Kickstarter is not a magical money machine. Kickstarter is a way for an interested audience to consider contributing funds towards a project they would like to see become a reality. That "interested audience" part is key: If you do not already have a block of friends/followers/fans waiting to throw money at you, then you have no business asking for five-figure fundraising goals. It is very difficult for a Kickstarter project to get noticed by people who are not already aware of you, so any Kickstarter you launch should be based on their feedback. Think about it: Do you ever browse Kickstarter in your spare time, just for kicks, looking around for stuff to donate to? Maybe you do, but 99% of people do not, and they will not suddenly decide to flock to yours.
Let me repeat that earlier statement again, for emphasis: Kickstarter is a way for an interested audience to consider contributing funds towards a project they would like to see become a reality. Every month, I see gaming projects go up on Kickstarter that have no hope, because the originator mistakenly believes that there is this mystical contingent of supporters secretly waiting in the shadows to donate.
3) Twitter – There are entire books' worth of things that can be said about Twitter, but I want to focus on one very, very specific practice: Starting a new Twitter account to promote something else, and expecting followers to come out of thin air. I see this all the time: Someone starts a new website/Kickstarter/YouTube channel/whatever, and they make a Twitter account for it. Then, they start tweeting several times every day, linking to their Thing -- but never promoting the Twitter account on their website/Kickstarter/YouTube/whatever. They have it backwards: They think that just using Twitter will generate traffic to their site, when in reality they need to promote Twitter on their site if they want any followers to begin with.
Despite it being so simple, they seem to not understand the basic principle of Twitter: Only your followers see your tweets. That means that, if you have 3 followers, but you insist on just tweeting the same self-promotional stuff every day, without ever growing your following... why do you think this is a good idea? Honestly, where do you think all these new visitors are going to come from? Why would thousands of random strangers suddenly miraculously become aware of your Twitter account? These questions may sound strange, but I see material popping up all the time from people who do not seem to understand very, very basic ideas on how social media functions.
4) Up-To-Date Information – Did your website URL change? If so, then you need to update that on your social media accounts, in your bio on any websites you appear as a contributor on, in your byline for anything you publish, and in any relevant directory listings your site appears in. You may even have to, oh my goodness, contact a few people and tell them.
Did Google stop supporting its Buzz function? Yes, they did; thus, if you still have a Buzz button on the quick-share bar under pieces on your website, you need to get rid of it. Does that sound like silly, extra work? Sure, but you will continue to look unpolished and out-of-the-loop otherwise, and that Buzz example is an actual one I came across today.
There are thousands of bits of advice out there, available for free reading, on subjects like professionalism, communication, current Internet trends, social media, and how to properly launch a fundraising campaign. The truly remarkable note, for me, is how even the big-picture knowledge seems to be lacking nowadays.
However, I suppose there is one grand encouragement: Gamers are clamoring to get to the top of the heap in increasing numbers, in different arenas, with enhanced fervor. If anything, I guess it is interesting that the rate of passionate involvement in the community and beyond is increasing at a greater pace than that of the spread of general common sense. Hopefully, though, the gamers that want to be taken seriously will realize that it takes more than zeal and joystick skill to get there.
Eric Bailey blogs at NintendoLegend.com, where he is reviewing every American-released NES video game. He also serves as Editor-In-Chief of retro gaming features site 1MoreCastle.com, and can be followed on Twitter @Nintendo_Legend.