Saturday, 7 June 2014

Alex-Spencer.co.uk is 300!

Just noticed that my published posts counter has ticked past 300. Six years after I started the blog, and almost exactly five years after I bought the Alex-Spencer.co.uk URL, it seemed like a good time to quickly celebrate the accumulated weeks of my life I've poured into it, and give a quick primer to everything half-decent I've written here.

Diving back through the site's archives, there are plenty of posts I daren't even open. Some because I know they contain badly thought-out arguments that would make 2014 Me wince. Some, even more terrifyingly, that I remember being really pleased with and don't want to be proven wrong.

The earliest post I'm happy to point you towards is 'The Scariest Game I Have Ever Played', from March '09 (nearly a full year after I started the site). It's me trying on New Games Journalism for size, with a tale from my time playing Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise, and tapping a theme that's key to pretty much every successful article on videogames that I've written since: death.

Other commonly recurring motifs: 
  • Cartoonish PC roguelike SpelunkyThe piece I'm fondest of is the Oral History, which I think is about the neatest bit of how-this-works exposition I've ever written.
  • Los Campesinos!, probably my single favourite band over the period this blog has existed. The best thing I've written about them, or at least the most involved, wasn't actually for here. It was the closing post on the side-Tumblr I maintained during my six months of post-uni unemployment. It's an almost listen-by-listen untangling of my feelings towards their fourth album, Hello Sadness. If that doesn't sound awful to you, it's probably worth checking out.
  • The output of animation studio Pixar, which made a remarkable five appearances on my Top 50 Favourite Films list. Up is a perfect film, by my reckoning, and was the backbone for the first piece of freelance work I ever did, a piece on Disney, death and videogames for The Escapist.
  • Spotify, which has fascinated me since I first used it as a Kate Bush listening machine back in '09 and now dominates the way I listen to music.
  • Long-running high-concept features. Whether it's 30 Days of Music (which kicked off my years-long bromance with longtime blogging comrade and now 9-to-5 colleague Tim Maytom), the aforementioned Favourite Films on Friday (which, for all its flaws, was partly responsible for getting me the 9-to-5 job that allowed me to employ Tim), Project 52 (the biggest collaborative project I've ever attempted, with Tim, Bret Canny and Michael Eckett joining me in an effort to review every single first issue in DC's New 52 relaunch), I've always been a sucker for a snappy premise that hands me a structure and a deadline.
Let's wrap up with a few assorted pieces I'm really proud of and that I think make a nice primer to my writing. 
And finally, 'Keeping the Peace in Los Santos', a feature about trying to play as a pacifist in GTA V that started life as a rejected pitch I once wrote after two bottles of wine. There's a really nice symmetry between it and the Viva Piñata post we began with. It's my game writing at its most anecdotal, leaning heavy on the fiction writing style I don't exercise much anymore - and, obviously, it's about death.

Thank you for reading. See you in another 300 posts' time.

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London, United Kingdom
Videogames, film, music, comics: feed them into the Alex-Spencer machine and out come neat little articles. Like the ones you're looking at here.