Posted By Robert G. about 10 months ago
A re/Action to the Norm: An Interview with Mattie Brice,
If there is one thing I strive to do in my writings, it is to tackle news and editorials with frank honesty. I am as biased as any gaming journalist, make no mistake, but I am also as truthful as possible in my approach to reporting the news. Unfortunately, many “games journalists” don’t do that. Instead, we get a sea of PR spin and sensational headlines, which are little more than the internet equivalent of yellow journalism. Yet, many of us strive to etch out a living through this, often with no real return on investment for our efforts in both monetary value and respect.
re/Action is the brain child of Mattie Brice, game journalist and activist who believes that the state of games journalism is one that is ripe for a change. The newly launched website states that re/Action “aims to celebrate the amazing writing often turned away from the mainstream sites and left unpaid. We want to capture the conversations that need to happen and create a safe space for all to participate.” re/Action also offers new incentives for writers, including crowdfunding by the community to pay for the writers to publish articles, and fosters creative, critical pieces over the traditional milieu found in most gaming websites.
This is certainly a bold direction to take. Considering Brice and her previous efforts for outspoken change, it is not surprising to see her become the forerunner for such an initiative. I was able to reach out to Ms. Brice to discuss re/Action, and how gaming journalism has pushed her forward to this point.
Robert Grosso: First and foremost, tell me about the impetus of re/Action. What was the seed for this new initiative within the journalism space of the gaming industry?
Mattie Brice: re/Action is literally my last try to stick it out in games media. I’ve been writing for about two years, speaking at many conferences like GDC and IndieCade, having work being exhibited in the Museum of Design Atlanta, and consistently contribute to the critical discourse of games and play. However, the industry doesn’t support me; despite having a portfolio considered important and necessary, I don’t receive enough sustenance to stay here for very long. Pretty much, if I don’t get a livable wage soon, I’ll be forced to leave games.
RG: Because of the scope and style of re/Action, are you concerned that many potential readers may elect to either ignore or give a passing glance to the website? What then would be your most powerful weapon to combating indifference?
MB: We’re not gunning for the average consumer of games media, because they are primarily just that- consumers. Myself and others at re/Action believe there is more to games writing than feeding people news and information about what to buy. Games are a cultural phenomenon foremost, and its our philosophy that, overall, people want good writing. I think we will rely at first on those who already understand this, and when the wider audience sees re/Action as the answer to their complaints of more mainstream sites, then I think there will be a shift.
RG: What makes alternative writing “alternative?” Can you elaborate on the type of editorials and prose you are looking for, and in the same vein, what you would not accept?
MB: Mainstream writing is mostly about PR and gamer culture. I’m particular in what I mean by gamer there, basically the stereotype things we think of when someone says that. We don’t think that image is inclusive and applies to fewer and fewer people who play games. Alternative, in a sense, is basically more about the wide variety of things that have yet to be explored because gamer culture is so niche.
RG: You discussed how crowdfunding would be a key initiative to making re/Action successful, as the money will go directly to pay for the writer salaries. How will you be able to keep enough interest to sustain a strong, crowdfunding initiative alive to provide that support for writers? What plans are in the works to keep this going?
MB: We will be doing a yearly crowdfunding effort, mostly because people don’t like being harassed about money all the time. In a sense, we aren’t trying to sell this idea to people, this is a community project really. It’s making something available to the community that they already want and can make happen. We will be outputting only as much as the community wants, no more, no less. We will put out great work that the community wants and attempt to become a new cultural center in contrast to other publications. Once our crowdfunding starts, I’ll be able to give more details about some initiatives we have in mind!
RG: Will you reach out to other journalists and gaming websites about re/Action? And if so, how will you reach out to them so that they don’t ignore re/Action?
MB: A good thing about my current platform is that many game journalists are my peers and already interested in the work I do. To say the least, I’m sure people at most major gaming publications are aware of re/Action. I don’t feel a strong need to make my presence known to those who don’t, though everyone is welcome to join the surrounding community.
RG: Is there any concerns that re/Action may fail to deliver on its promises for both writers and the community?
MB: Not at all! We have a system that makes sure the writers will get paid for every bit of their work for a year. Essentially, a crowdfunding goal of our’s could be raising a certain amount of money for three posts a week. That money is locked in and never used or borrowed in any manner- it goes straight to the writer when they post their piece. And readers will always get their three posts a week! The only hiccup could be not having enough writers and too much money, which would be a good problem to have. We want to further involve the writers in the growth of re/Action.
The writers I have enlisted are top-notch. They are creative, wanting to grow as writers and personalities, and understand the tenants of inclusivity. That is already rare for the gaming media! Their work is already celebrated, and I know the community wants more of their unique writing. Providing this already puts us in the service of the community who has been wanting something like this. We’re also hoping to encourage other people to do the same- start up their own publications, possibly grow off our model and do better! None of this is about making profit, it’s about providing a service and gaining the resources to sustain it.
Currently, re/Action has a stable of writers already lined up to lend articles and editorials to the website, including Denis Farr, Cara Elison, and Brendan Keogh. Brice is also open to pitches from the community at large, and will offer $200 per post after July 1st.
re/Action is far from the first website to separate from the traditional journalism model, but considering how proactive journalists like Brice are, re/Action may become the most successful of them all.