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Anyone Can Publish Now

03/12/2009 Family Family Gamer Article
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Anyone Can Publish Now

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My posts are usually objective, mildly authoritative and thoroughly third person. Here though, I want to share something more personal - to track one particular journalism journey I've had the past year that started with an unusual idea and resulted in a BBC TV appearance.

As I write this, I sit back on my sofa having just watched Rebecca Mayes (rebeccamayes.htm) appear on Charlie Brooker's BBC Four video game show. Watching the show I had something of an epiphany. The Internet gives incredible power to everyday people - armed with some imagination, talent and dogged hard work anyone can get their ideas to the screens of thousands.

Let me rewind a little. Back before the information super highway had heard of Rebecca Mayes and her lilting video game review songs I was relaxing after dinner at a friend's house. A few of us sat around chatting, and I got talking about the fun of writing videogame reviews. As they were used to me rehearsing my favourite subject my hosts had some good questions. But tonight a new idea sprang to mind.

I knew that another of the guests was a great singer song writer, and although successful hadn't really found the audience she deserved. Having recently discovered the delights of Jonathan Coulton's (http://www.jonathancoulton.com/) Code Monkey song, and related rags to riches story culminating in his Still Alive song for Portal, I wondered aloud if my friend could do something similar.

After a bit more explanation about why Portal was cool, and Coulton's subsequent cross over into Rockband, real world performances and general Internet stardom I had her on side. As we kicked the idea around, we needed to find an angle. 'Why not review games with your songs?', I suggested.

Ignoring the incredulous looks, I continued. 'Yeah, you could be like a female Zero Punctuation', I enthused before realising they didn't know who I was on about. So out came the Macbook and we all watched the air turn blue around the cartoon visual delight of Yahtzee's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_Punctuation) ingenious video reviews.

Although still unsure, my singing friend agreed to give it a shot. Over the next few weeks we worked out an angle for her first song, and I created a fresh section on Game People(rebeccamayes.htm) for her. It all seemed hammy and pantomime-like but we thought we'd give is a shot anyway. She wove her magic, created a song and we published it and sat back to see what would happen.

The reaction was instantaneous and appreciative. Not only was she immediately in contact with her audience in a way she hadn't been before, but her audience also had direct access to her. Comments came thick and fast, as did emails from interested PR companies and game makers, so she readied her next song.

The ride continued over the next few months as the songs hit Game People one by one. Her Hotel Dusk(audio_ds_hoteldusk.htm) song stood out to many as a breakthrough song - her Code Monkey. The combination of her emotive style, clever lyrics and genuinely relating to video games as if they are meaningful (even when they aren't) made for ingenious and oftentimes moving songs.

Then came another watershed moment. Games Radar put her Flower review (audio_ps3_flower.htm) song to video footage from the game - and it worked really well. We realised that this instantly made the whole package more interesting, more like TV and less like Radio. Where people seemed to be turned off by the effort of listening to a Podcast like offering, they really got the whole idea of a regular TV style publication. So friends and family got roped in to help create videos for the next songs. Rebecca's dulcet tones and clever lyrics now existed in a more storied medium - and it worked really well. Just take a look at her Resident Evil 5 review (audio_ps3_re5.htm).

Then the big break - and for me this is where the Internet really wove its magic. We received an incongruous email from an editor at The Escapist, enquiring about the set up with the Audio Gamer songs. They were interested in helping getting her in front of a wider audience - almost as if they were in on the plan from the beginning. After some back and forth Rebecca scored a regular gig creating bi-weekly video's for The Escapist. What's more she was soon featured directly under the very Zero Punctuation videos that inspired us just six months earlier.

As Rebecca sets out her Escapist stall and builds an attentive following on twitter(http://www.twitter.com/audiogamer), the offers and opportunities are now coming thick and fast. And one of these turned into the next big step into the world of broadcast television - a whole new world.

Charlie Brooker was setting up a new video game show Gameswipe for BBC Four and he wanted Rebecca to pen an original song for them. So, filmed at the bequest of the BBC and with the gloss and glamour you would associate with that gig, Rebecca's Madworld review (audio_wii_madworld.htm) was born. Which brings me back to my lounge watching the song on the TV from my sofa.

Now, I know that there was a lot of work and luck and talent (on Rebecca's part) that got us here. But essentially, these Audio Gamer videos were created because the Internet makes publishers and creators of us all. The technology is genuinely at the stage where everyday people with a plan can get their ideas to market with very little barrier.

So what's next for Game People's unusual video game coverage? Well we have our up and coming Haiku Origami reviewer, Lottie Rose (lottierose.htm) as well as Animated Mouse Drawn reviewer, Noah Rodenbeek (noahrodenbeek.htm) and many more in the wings. But maybe you are our next new idea waiting to happen, all it takes is an email and a chat and who knows in six months maybe you'll be on TV too - or at least on the intertubes.

Written by Andy Robertson

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Andy Robertson writes the Family Gamer column.

"Videogame reviews for the whole family, not just the kids. I dig out videogame experiences to intrigue and interest grownups and children. This is post-hardcore gaming where accessibility, emotion and storytelling are as important as realism, explosions and bravado."

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