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    Leigh Alexander

    Person » credited in 7 games

    Leigh Alexander is a games and tech culture writer who has written for publications like Gamasutra, The Guardian, Kotaku, and EDGE.

    Leigh Alexander launches a kickstarter for a best of Offworld collection and steps away from Games Writing

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    Slag

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    After ten years it looks like Leigh Alexander is more or less calling it a career in Games Writing, but is also going out with a bang. She is kickstarting a hardcover collection of some of Offworld's signature pieces including some well known and emerging gaming voices like Gita Jackson & Laura Hudson among others.

    Leigh's extended good bye post from http://leighalexander.net/at-worlds-end/

    At World’s End

    Laura Hudson and I are Kickstarting a gorgeous hardcover book to celebrate a year of Offworld’s excellent features, both from our contributors as well as our own work. We’re keeping it simple — back the book, get a book (there are some stickers too!) — and we think it’s a super cool idea to have this lovely full-color physical object to commemorate what I seriously think is some of the finest writing people have ever done about games.

    It seems I’ve been writing about video games for nearly ten years now. It seemed to go by very quickly, and what an exciting time to have had a voice in this field. So much has changed.

    I started writing about games because I was at a point in my life where writing was the only work I could do on my own terms, and, oddly, games were the only thing I knew enough about at the time to claim some kind of authority on. I loved the damn things — as is common for many of us, playing games was a source of order in a disordered world, a place of self-soothing and creative stimulation. And moreover at that time I felt sort of alone in that love, like I didn’t really know anyone who was “like me” who played, and who thought about games in the way that I did. I wished to see that change.

    Over the course of my career I’ve tried all kinds of ways of shouting into the universe in the service of that wish. For years I quietly wrote about tools, game design and development at Gamasutra. I sat on publishers’ financial calls and interviewed executives and asked game developers how they did their jobs. But I was always attracted to the unusual and the non-traditional; I blogged about hentai games and horror games, I over-analyzed everything, I thought about what creators meant to say, and I took noisome stands whenever possible about all the ways I thought the commercial, calcified world of video game culture could be broken open, made stranger and cooler and more beautiful. Less gunmetal and neon, less merchandise and memes, more good colors, good music, good clothes.

    And louder, and sweeter: Less polish, more feeling. I believe in that.

    Eventually (albeit a bit late for those who’d been hoping I’d use my visibility to represent) it dawned on me that I would never get the world I wanted around technology and play so long as that world was dominated by the same kinds of people. I got interested in diversity activism in games not just because I thought it was right and fair, but because I thought a world led by new voices would be the best and the most interesting. The coolest and the funnest and the sexiest and the weirdest and the most beautiful. The most truthful.

    When Boing Boing offered me the chance to have a go at relaunching the Offworld alt-games label in its network, I wanted to demonstrate that vision. And you know something? It was annoyingly easy. There were too many alt games to cover, too many talented women and people of color to work with. The creative world around game-making has flourished. I mean, look at these stories. Look at these features!

    The ideas and conversations that were rare and revolutionary when I began are part of the daily dialogue now. It has been a long, long time since I could count on one hand the only women I knew in the game industry, or since N’Gai Croal tried to talk about the imagery of Resident Evil 5 and people weren’t ready to hear him.

    The appetite for what we were doing at Offworld turned out to be massive. We crushed our traffic targets, doing 750,000 visitors a month at our best and generating millions of page views, which is something that makes Laura and I super proud. I think it’s promising for the future of games culture, and I can be happy with that.

    Even though you all know these years have been at times heartbreaking and very difficult for me, I can be mostly happy with it all in the end. I am especially proud to have done Offworld with Laura, and I’d love to work with her again, and you should work with her, too. And whatever Boing Boing does next with the Offworld brand, we enjoyed the time we spent with it, and we finish it proudly. Even though there are all kinds of things that affect the long term possibilities for a web brand inside a major network besides whether you meet your goals, I can be really happy with Offworld and everything else I’ve done until now.

    What I’m saying is that I can be finished with this, and be really happy.

    Ten years is a long time to be doing the same thing at unrelenting spiritual cost. I think I have finally had enough. And more importantly, I think I’ve said and done everything that I wanted to say and do here. This is not to say I’ll never write about games again – so many of us try to say that and then we keep coming back — but I’d like to have fun playing again, and not have it feel like work. Or like a risk. I would like a new line of work. I would like to learn and grow and to do something different.

    I’m not actually sure what I’d like to do next, but I am lucky to have some room to explore. I’m good at all kinds of things now, and I’m excited to see what else is possible for me. I’ve been writing a regular tech culture column in The Guardian lately, and I’m going to do more things like that. I’ve contributed to one of my favorite universes with this upcoming Android: Netrunner novella, and I’m looking for more opportunities to do storytelling and world-building in new spaces. I might write an essay collection about the movie Labyrinth. It’s my dream to work on interactive fiction projects. I still do public speaking and I still do consulting of all kinds with Agency. If you have always wanted to work together, or if you have ideas for me, please do get in touch.

    Please continue to support women, people of color and other marginalized folks in games, not just when it’s time to hold their games up in academia or to have them giving unpaid talks on your conference schedule. Please notice that it is always the most vulnerable and the most marginalized people who stick their necks out first and then other people (even me) end up being heaped with credit for building on what they’ve done. That’s fucked. Please continue to champion a fresh, radiant and accessible vision of games both commercial and non-commercial. To the captains of industry, please think a little more about the kids of the future and a little less about getting your childhood fantasies back.

    Meanwhile, you can get a copy of Offworld’s beautiful features collection on Kickstarter now, probably my last contribution to game criticism for the foreseeable future. Laura has done most of the work of organizing this wonderful project and it would not have happened without her. I can’t wait to hold it in my hands!

    Some of the best things I’ve ever done are in that book, as are some of the best people I’ve ever worked with. Thank you so much for supporting me so heartily over my years in games. Please do it once more.

    Love,

    L

    PS: Some games resources that have become important to me: The curation at Warp Door and the tireless discoveries of Chris Priestman in general, Alice O’Connor’s work at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Paste Magazine’s quietly excellent approach to new writers, also Unwinnable’s. I also love the work Shut Up & Sit Down does to modernize, brighten and invite more people to the board, card and roleplaying space, but I’m biased because I’m marrying one of those dudes this year. I’m getting married this year! Yeah, you know, things are really good out there and in here.

    What it means for the future of Offworld at BoingBoing I'm not sure. From Leigh's goodbye post on her personal blog, it is somewhat implied that Offworld's fate is up in the air, something furthered by Laura Hudson's tweets that suggest she is leaving OffWorld as well. I'm not sure who if anybody is captaining the ship there now. If it does close I'd find it sad as they produced some pretty thoughtful stuff in its run. But it also was a site I felt got lost in the shuffle to some degree due to its layout and lack of Brand recognition. If Offworld does indeed close, Austin's freelancer program at Giant Bomb might be arriving when that sort of game writing niche could really use an outlet.

    Love her or hate her, (Leigh is certainly somebody who seems to invoke strong opinions) gaming criticism is definitely losing one of it's better known and distinctively unique voices in recent years. Personally I think we're all a little poorer off for that.

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    StarvingGamer

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    Best of luck to her, hope Offworld survives. I really should go there more often.

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    chocolaterhinovampire

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    I hope it doesn't cost 775 million, but I wish her the best with whatever she does next

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    Humanity

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    She is a talented writer but from some of her recent work you could tell she was tired of writing about games, so it's probably for the best.

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    thatpinguino

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    She'll find success in her next venture. She is way too motivated not to. I hope Offworld survives her leaving because that site consistently puts out quality work.

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    FinalDasa

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    #7 FinalDasa  Moderator

    Note, this is not a thread to express how much you dislike or don't "get" Leigh's work. This is a thread about her leaving game's writing and her Kickstarter. Please stay on topic. This is your only warning.

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    ragnar_mike

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    Not gonna lie, I thought that said Oddworld kickstarter for a second there. If she isn't in love with game writing anymore then it's silly to try and force it. It seems super hard to make a good living writing, even more so about games. If she has something that appeals to her outside of games, then good for her, go get it.

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    rorie

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    Let's not make this into a moderation fest. If you feel the need to gloat or pop champagne or whatever, maybe just resist that urge for a while or take it elsewhere. "Don't be a jerk" is still the guiding rule for these forums.

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    iamjohn

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    That's sad. She wasn't my favorite critic but she's a very talented writer and I always appreciated her perspective.

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    conmulligan

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    I'll miss her writing a whole lot, but at least she's going out on a high note. Offworld has been home to some incredible games writing over the past year, and that Kickstarter seems like a great way to highlight the best of it.

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    deactivated-61665c8292280

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    One of the most talented writers covering/observant of gaming culture. Not just right now, but, like, probably ever. Can't wait to see what she creates next.

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    Giantstalker

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    Yup

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    Akeldama

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    #15  Edited By Akeldama

    I hope it doesn't cost 775 million, but I wish her the best with whatever she does next

    I declare that to be an illegal amount of money.

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    thatpinguino

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    I really like that the stretch goals on that kickstarter are all about paying the writers more.

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    meissnerd

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    That's too bad, but 10 years is a long time! Best of luck to her.

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    abendlaender

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    I didn't particularly enjoy some of her writing but it's a shame nonetheless. Good luck to her.

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    johncallahan

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    Bummer, Leigh has been one of my favorite writers for a while now. That being said I know she's gonna do great in whatever she does. That woman has drive like very few in this biz do.

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    Mirado

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    #20  Edited By Mirado

    I'm genuinely curious; was/is Offworld successful (from a pageview/financial standpoint, not an intellectual one)? 750,000 peak pageviews sounds like a lot, but is it? Has Offworld remained popular up to this point, or was it only the launch that generated a lot of interest?

    I'm asking because I heard of it before it launched, totally forgot about it, and hadn't seen it mentioned much since. It feels like it got lost in the shuffle, but I'm wondering if that's my own lack of perception or the general consensus.

    Again, not judging how well it's written (I don't know as I haven't checked it out myself), just wondering if a lot of people tuned in, and if they continue to do so.

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    hassun

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    #21  Edited By hassun

    10 years is a pretty long time to do anything. Especially if you're regularly in the spotlight like she has been. I'd probably long to do something different as well. At least for a while.

    <>

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    WalkerTR77

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    It sucks how few professional games writers there are now, that world just keeps getting smaller.

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    PokeIkzai

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    I disliked her work but hope she has fun at whatever her new gig is.

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    ripelivejam

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    #24  Edited By ripelivejam

    @walkertr77: which is kind of why I appreciate what Austin's trying to do on this site. Hopefully it brings in some new blood.

    Best of luck to Leigh.

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    Roland_Leshaft

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    #25  Edited By Roland_Leshaft

    I have no ill will towards her but i am glad shes done. She made it pretty clear her heart wasnt into it the past year or so. I suppose she did give us some pretty memorable podcast monents however.

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    civid

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    Never read her work, although I have heard her name come up before and never visited Offworld. With that said, this book does actually sound really cool as someone who has become more interested with the art of games and especially the reporting on them more and more over the last year or so. This does seem like a really cool entry point into gaining some insight.

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    President_Barackbar

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    It sucks how few professional games writers there are now, that world just keeps getting smaller.

    I think its more that games writing is in a transition phase right now. Some of the people who have been doing it for longer are starting to transition to other stuff, while new people are coming in.

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    nickhead

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    I read Clipping Through and liked it, but didn't really follow anything else outside of the occasional guest spot on other sites - the Bioshock Infinite write-up for Kotaku was one of my favorites. Regardless, best of luck! 10 years is a long time and it isn't hard to imagine how making a living while being passionate has been rough.

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    DrDarkStryfe

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    Leigh has put out some of the smartest pieces of gaming and industry criticism and had some crazy range. I'll miss the hell out of her voice and will read whatever she does next.

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    Humanity

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    #31  Edited By Humanity

    @nickhead: I think that article in particular always highlighted for me that she was a great writer that maybe shouldn't be writing about games anymore. The whole problem with games writing is that there is always a point where you'll get extremely talented individuals devote thousands of words at a time to some heavy duty deconstructive thought analysis - brilliant work at times - and then realize it all pertains to a videogame. A videogame that more often than not, no matter how well written, doesn't really deserve or even require that degree of analysis or depth. Gaming is still a very niche, budding industry compared to other forms of entertainment. I imagine that for a talented writer it must feel like you're hitting a wall at times when you've crafted a really visceral piece deconstructing the antihero archetype in a post modern non-nuclear family.. and for outsiders it's "oh you write about.. a videogame?"

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    BBAlpert

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    @walkertr77 said:

    It sucks how few professional games writers there are now, that world just keeps getting smaller.

    I think its more that games writing is in a transition phase right now. Some of the people who have been doing it for longer are starting to transition to other stuff, while new people are coming in.

    For what it's worth, I saw Cara Ellison and some other writer tweeting today about how much more they've enjoyed actually PLAYING games once they got out of games writing/criticism/journalism. Like, they could just play what they wanted to for fun and not always be taking mental notes about everything.

    I wish her the best!

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    plan6

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    @meissnerd: Its also easier to not due pure games coverage, but dip back in every once and a while. I think we will see a lot more sites dip into other media to have a more robust viewer base.

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    JesusHammer

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    I personally won't miss her writing, but it's a bummer for the people that will. I still wish her well with whatever she does after this.

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    VincentVendetta

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    So who do we have left...

    Like seriously, Cara Ellison's gone, Leigh Alexander's gone, Carolyn Petit's gone, Tom McShea's gone...

    Meanwhile Greg Miller refuses to leave!

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    DougCL

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    ive never kickstarted a book before. maybe this'll be the one. sounds great.

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    hippie_genocide

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    AlmostSwedish

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    #38  Edited By AlmostSwedish

    Offworld had some really great writing. I especially enjoyed Gita Jackson's and Ryan MacLeod's pieces, and I will probably back this come payday.

    It's sad to see her go, but ten years is a damn long time to do one thing. I think I first heard about her about nine years ago, probably on the Brainy Gamer podcast and I've enjoyed her writing ever since. The medium is worse of now that she's decided to move on, but I'm sure whatever she does next she will do a good job of it. Hopefully someone else will come along and remind of why it is we videogaming.

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    Jesus_Phish

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    #46  Edited By Jesus_Phish

    I really like that the stretch goals on that kickstarter are all about paying the writers more.

    I wish more kickstarters would just do that. I'd be happier to back more projects then because I'd be more inclined to believe they'll succeed rather than them saying "if we make an extra 2000 we'll add these features that we haven't really planned for!"

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    Shivoa

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    #47  Edited By Shivoa
    @jesus_phish said:
    @thatpinguino said:

    I really like that the stretch goals on that kickstarter are all about paying the writers more.

    I wish more kickstarters would just do that. I'd be happier to back more projects then because I'd be more inclined to believe they'll succeed rather than them saying "if we make an extra 2000 we'll add these features that we haven't really planned for!"

    Yep, especially as these articles (depending on the contract) may well be legally BoingBoing content. So reuse and reformatting doesn't have to pay the writers again. The book could have been done just as a way of collecting the work (although as a crowdfunded thing, that could have backfired if any writers had gotten annoyed at the campaign). Assuming pretty standard contracts (I've not signed one since ~2009) then the writers probably did sign over all control to Offworld/BoingBoing (to use however they wished).

    It's good to see people getting paid. Although, given inflation/cost of living, I really do wish more places paid at least $150 per article for writing about games. As an absolute minimum (my understanding is Offworld did just reach that threshold for these long, involved pieces). I mean, I could get $100-200 back around 1999 for a piece (not even a very good piece, as I was pretty green at the time) and I think eg GameSpy was offering $300-500 for the longer more involved stuff like these essays. Plenty of places don't even get near that price for a well-research, detailed, original piece of writing and it's terrible. Really hope GB are paying suitably for the new freelance stuff.

    This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

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