The Gears’ Tutor

James Caron, also know by his Xbox Live persona as TLR ClouD1, dominated the opposition in Major League Gaming (MLG) while playing the first Gears of War.  Now that the sequel has rolled around, James has expanded his horizons on Xbox Live by teaching others the art of the curb stomp.  Through starting his own Gears tutoring service, he hopes to not only find the “next big talent” in the pro gaming scene, but also help the casual and pro alike improve upon their skills.  While James isn’t rolling in the money from his tutoring service, considering it more as a side project, he has won a “goodly amount of money/prizes/respect” during his MLG career.  However, James sees a bright future for himself but also the industry of game tutoring.  He believes that as the game industry as a whole grows and develops, more people would desire the “opportunity” to not only become better at games but also compete to be the best.

Matthew “Webnet” Moore
The full interview is after the break

The Press Vs. Community (Part 3)

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Blogs: I hate you!

Of course when the term “press” comes up the mention of blogs has the up most certainty of coming up as well. “Blogs are killing us” so many like to say. Where are my lead time’s at? They live in a world where every second could make or break whether or not you have a story up before that next link on some readers favorite/bookmark list. Unfortunately, if your a small outlet chances are you’ll be aped by a much bigger outlet that will hopefully source you, but if you look at the much larger picture you’ll get some traffic swung your way only to have that larger outlet get nearly all of the benefit. Why?

Chances are (most) readers of that other site will never click on that source link provided, in turn only providing more viewers of theirs to click an/or view their ads while they receive most of the love off the back of your content. Don’t get me wrong though, having your content receive recognition from a larger site isn’t a bad thing, but unless you have ads of your own that you’re serving it most likely doesn’t benefit you in anyway beyond a sudden deluge of new and also often “one time” readers. 

So, your a blog

There’s no secret that the word “blog” has some negative connotations that seem to always follow it around like a bad smell. It not only comes from what is considered the competition, but it comes from readers themselves. Ease of use is a wonderful thing in everyday life, but when it comes to content creation it’s the evil little version of yourself sitting on your shoulder telling you a blog can’t be legit only because it’s a blog. Unfortunately for some reason, the format of a site often means more than the content to some, but to say that’s a shame would be doing even that a disservice.

Now, how much sense does it make to be biased against a site only because it uses a blog format? Or, is it that it’s relatively easy to get a generic blog “up and running”? Whatever the case, it can be guaranteed that you’ve seen or heard someone disparaging a site only because it’s a blog. Nevertheless, the exceptions like Joystiq, Kotaku, and Destructoid are to few and far in between. Those three sites are blogs much the same as this site, yet they are considered press with everyone else who’s in the “press club”. So what’s the difference between us and them?

Site’s like 1up have recently switched to a blog news format, so, going along with the connotation above that means 1up’s gaming news coverage is no longer legitimate right? Of course not, so where is the bias coming from? Not to long ago a web designer told me that a blog is not a website. So going along with that (which is complete lunacy), what are blogs? Just as before, until everyone and everything is on a level playing field I’d have to guess I’m not only looking for a monolithic pie in the sky, but will most likely have to accept the sad fact that that pie in the sky will never be reached. EVER!

“Community”

The term “Community” is something I’d like to not care for. We are all in the community whether we are at the top of it or not. What do you think all critics are in the first place? They are ultimately just well informed “Superfan’s” with the ability to coherently convey their thoughts in a manner that’s considered professional. On the other hand, the celebrity culture we live in today decides that for some reason you have to super seed being a normal person to achieve any kind of respect or legitimacy. Given that, ever wonder why so many writers/podcasters at large outlets fail to actually have a conversation with their readers? Calling them all ghost writers wouldn’t be far from the sad state of reality. Speaking to readers is what makes doing this worthwhile sans money or not. Speaking into a pit of nothingness isn’t what I’d call being apart of the community.

Speaking to the choir

Whether your a writer/”blogger”/podcaster chances are you know what I’m getting at here. If your on the outside looking in I know your thinking “Awww, this is just a guy bitching and moaning about how it’s not fair”, and if that’s you you’ll be partially right. If your that same guy/gal that continually says that they don’t trust reviewers who are being paid to do what they do, then what do you say when their counterpart can’t give you the same or if not better content because they are not getting compensation for “what they do”? I’d like to kick ass and take some names as Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime say’s, but at the moment we have no money printing machine to fall back on, yet?

To continue this would be easy, but I doubt anyone would care enough to read it.

-William “thewilleffect” Bell-

The Press Vs. Community (Part 2)

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The Press

Who are we? Are we writers and/or podcasters with much less of a means while at the same time being treated as second class citizens? Sure, the truth never lies, or something like that. If you want to call someone press, then that automatically means that you’ve acquired a Ph.D in writing puns, right? Have you noticed how much the so-called “press” uses this? But of course I’m not excluding myself in this. I’ve done it here and there, but being prolific at it is not what I’d call great writing. “The highly anticipated Gears of War 2 is set to chainsaw it’s way through the competition”. If your looking for a ton of that then you’re ripe for what is called ” the press”.

Then again what is the press anyway? From my experience it’s a collection of writers who have for one way or another been indoctrinated into a league of PR contacts that have become “trusted by not who they are, but by the name attached to them”. If you have 1up, IGN, Gamespot, Edge-Online now, CVG, or such, your automatically ahead of anyone on the inside looking in. If you take anyone considered “community” instead of press and place one of those names along side their name I’ll guarantee if you’re in PR you’ll be looking for those names and not anyone else. If I call you up for some information and I don’t have that “goto name” attached to me chances are you’ll turn me down while one of those other guys will do the same much later and get the “scoop”. Now, you have to see the problem there.

Press R’ US

Transparency is something that should at the very least be seen from everyone and not just 1up as of late. Then again, you know what? There is no such thing as press. Press is a made up word for the have’s and the have not’s. Your either in the club or you’re not. Don’t go thinking that you’ll be treated the same when you haven’t been indoctrinated into the club.

So, what gets you into the club? It’s very simple. Financial backing. If someone with the increasingly less worth greenbacks feels you have value to them they’ll give you financial backing. The 1up Network with Ziff Davis, IGN with Fox, Gamespot with Cnet/CBS, OXM/Edge-Online with Future, Kotaku with Gawker Media, Joystiq with Weblogs,inc/AOL. Sure there are many more, but at the heart of all of these outlets is a budget. Something lots of us are in need of. Who are PR to trust when you have no “real” backing and easily could be just one of those fly by night blogs looking for free games.

PR be damned

Public Relations, who are they? If you don’t already know they’re the gate keepers of information. You want it, they won’t give it to you. It’s sort of like that girl you knew in High School that you wanted, but she wouldn’t give you the time of day. Much like Trina of Gaming Angels said in this recent GTR podcast, the PR musical chairs aren’t helping anyone at all. If you have a big name behind you chances are that’s enough to at least get you in the door. Why can’t we all be treated equally? Now, of course it’s all about return of investment. Tough decisions need to be made. I and hopefully we get that. Then again, looking at the freak of nature that is Destructoid, if they can get luckier than a Leprechaun why should it stop there? Listening to this episode of All Games Interactive (warning, it’s explicit) where Ron Workman speaks about this is a must.

Biting the hand that feeds you is one thing. Unfortunately that same hand is playing both sides while still card counting the hell out of you at the same time. No math genius’ needed here. Their in the driver seat and there’s nothing we’re going to do about it until gaming breaks out of the “in your basement for hours” stereotype it currently still has. General advertisers need to get off of their stupid asses and take notice. If gaming sites can only get advertising by the very products they discuss then a question of integrity is likely to never go away. Jeff Gerstmann comes to mind.

Free Games

If your in this for free games then your in for quite the shock. Free games aren’t going to make you a better writer or a better podcaster, or a better me too man. Yes, “me too man”. A me to man in this case is the person out there who has no soul and would whether say ” Hey, me to can have that content”, as this example of many shows. Who really thinks it’s okay to steal from each other? News is one thing as it’s not outlet specific, but taking original content really? A source link is greatly appreciated for sure, but if your flatout just taking content from other places that’s outright despicable. Stop!

Infighting between different outlets needs to stop! If you have nothing of your own, then why are you here?

Up next is part #3. Blogs versus non blogs. When it’ll be posted depends on if I still have a connection.

-William “thewilleffect” Bell-

The Press vs. Community (Part 1)

When I started doing this my goals were not to simply be just another writer/blogger that writes news just as every other person out there. Why should you come to this site vs anyone else? News is fine and all, but that is not what drives me to do what I do. When or if news breaks sure we’ll write about (not a much as of late and you’ll find out why), but nothing is more important “to me” than everything else that’s evolved with this job. As I said, news is not what drives me and it is most definitely a job of passion and immense work regardless.

If you’ve noticed what I’ve been doing here you should have noticed that I’ve been sprinkling in pieces like Rant Central and Beyond Xbox with many more other features to come. In a perfect “Will” world I’d never write about news unless the topic at hand directly correlates. News is news and you can get that pretty much anywhere. I’m not going to lie. If you want to get your news somewhere else have at it. That’s not why I’m here and it shouldn’t be the reason you might be reading this. After your done reading this you may think what does any of this mean to you? Well, what this means to you is everything.

We want this site to be the best site out there and that doesn’t mean we need ton’s of bells and whistles with dancing doggies and webcam girls flashing across your screen either. Content is what I’m in this for. Not ordinary content as I said above, but content that has an impact on you once your long done viewing it whether your sitting on this site waiting for that next update or not. The reason this site has been on the “down low” recently is to take the time to make this thing better for you, the reader, and our staff. ” Free Hats” are the start. We’re not making one red cent with this site at the moment and that’s not why I’m here now or why I’ve been here for the last two years now. Spinning my wit into a certain post isn’t what drives me either, even if it is fun.

Using the knowledge I have about this industry along with that “wit” is what drives me. That number up there could disappear and I wouldn’t notice. I haven’t cared about stats in well over a year and a half. I listen to and/or read other writers at other sites and quite often I’m left with a bewildering feeling, because I know I know just as much if not more and write just as well as any of them. Why aren’t people like us being picked up when clearly lots of us are obviously qualified. Then I look at someone like Leigh Alexander who is back at GameSetWatch now and I have no problem looking up at her knowing that’s what I want for myself. Am I in the league of the best? No, not yet, but that’s yet another thing that drives me. As far as the Xbox Domain, this may not mean anything to you still, but again it’s the route of the problem.

Speaking for myself only, I’d surely love to be in the same shoes as any of the guys and gals at any of the top sites. Unfortunately as the rest of the world works, everything is about “Mo money Mo money”, and there’s no escaping that. And to make matters worse, no one can do it by themselves (or two or three). Nearly every word I’ve written here has and will be for at least the foreseeable future be written in the time any “normal person” would be asleep no to mention my only time to sleep is during the day when all of the action is really happening. So, I hope you see the dilemma for myself. I’m no doubt hardly alone in this so when you persist to (I’m not accusing any of our readers) “let us have it for not updating more than it may be at any given time”, think before you question. Believe me every waking moment I have is trying to figure out how to stop living like a vampire in the time I currently do have to hopefully create content that’s unique. Would I like to see some of the best no matter who or how their labeled work together as one and not as a bunch of pea shooters trying to take down a giant beehive? Sure, if they’d accept a possible offer I’d demand it in less then a heartbeat, but yet again that probably won’t happen because of our good friend “Mo money Mo money”. Would you work for free when you know your not being treated the same as the competition?

As soon as I have a connection again part 2 is next. Are you pissed at me yet? If not, you might be after what’s next. The so-called “Press” are next.

-WIlliam “thewilleffect” Bell-

Introducing “What has happened here?”

If you’re reading this chances are you’d like to be informed on whats going on in the gaming industry, more specifically the Xbox sector. “What has happened here” is going to do exactly that. Every Saturday until the end of time, no really, we are going to defy all known logic and sciences to bring you “What has happened here” until the end of time so you’ll be graced with a quick rundown of the events of that preceding week. It won’t be a bulletined list (unless we’re lazy that week), but a funny look at what’s going on. Any and all who think they have something to say about what’s been happening should hit up our contact page, forums, or email me directly with whatever you have to say. If it’s funny or good (whichever comes first), you just might see yours published for all to see. A star on the Hollywood walk of fame is sure to be next.

See you Saturday.

-William “thewilleffect” Bell-

Rant Central #10: Glenn Beck and friends

Level 10 loaded……

Idiocy is a phenomenon that finds itself draped across all walks of life. Unfortunately that phenomenon seems to follow videogames around like a bad smell, hence the video below.

Continue reading

The Xbox Domain turns 2

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Anybody remember that image below? Thrills Killa aka the founder of this here site didn’t exactly want me to do this, so I’m going behind his back and doing it anyway. 😉 The anniversary for what is is now known as The Xbox Domain was on April 1st, but nevertheless 2 years it is. Sites like Destructoid have recently had their 2 year anniversary siting that most sites never make it to that point. This is as much of a milestone for the readers of The Xbox Domain as it is for the staff. Since this corner of the gaming space has also made it to its terrible 2’s it’s only fitting that we commemorate this with a few words from a few members of our staff.

TXD old page

“It’s nice to see how the community has grown over the past year. I know I haven’t been active for quite a while but I still follow the site everyday. I would have to say I first stumbled upon The Xbox Domain from other site like Unscripted 360, 360Sync (formerly DaKing240), Aeropause, and Xbox360Fanboy. I can’t recall the actual date I found this diamond in the rough but I was intrigued with the idea of writing for a gaming blog considering it would be the only opportunity I would get to actually publish any articles. I never expected my classes to become so overbearing and I look forward to writing more in the future if I can find some spare time hear and there. I’m glad to see all the usual suspects still frequent the site on many occasions and can’t wait to see what the next year holds. Michael and Will, you guys have been doing a fantastic job keeping the site updated and I would have to say Rant Central is one of my favorite features, although I think it’s time we get some feedback from the readers to see what kind of content they want to see more of in the future.”

Brandon “Hoosierdaddy812” Petesch

I can’t actually remember how I stumbled upon TXD, but I think it had something to do with a contest of one form or another (I’m such a slut for free stuff). I noticed that the people here were pretty cool and nobody flamed anyone else so it was a welcoming environment that got me to stay. After I won the Shadowrun contest, and vocalized my love for XBLA, Thrills asked me if I wanted to be the XBLA reviewer/PR contact in my spare time. I’ve been hooked ever since and I visit the site everyday. I haven’t been as active in my posts (because of grad school taking away my free time), but I’ll be back in full swing when the summer comes around.
Wurm

I found TXD by checking out Xbox.com’s community section. I was looking for community sites that gave a rip about whats going on but wasn’t as flashy and flamboyant about exclusives and review scores. TXD gave me a home to check out opinionated information about whats going on with not only the 360 and Live but as well as the community. The Xbox Domain is an awesome site that gives me not only news but something to think about with features like Rant Central. The internal community of the site is really tight nit and its a cool place to hang out when you want to avoid the usual web forum nightmare. Here’s to 2 years of The Xbox Domain and a bunch more to come.

Matthew Moore
Webnet

Finally, all there’s left to do is to give a big “Thank you” to the readers of The Xbox Domain. Even the PS3 fanboys that voice their opinion every once and a while get a thank you as well. Now the show must go on.

-William “thewilleffect” Bell-