Dear Readers: The GameCola FAQ

Progress is what we're all about here at GameCola, by which I mean you should check out the neat stuff I've been adding to the site lately. And by "neat stuff" I'm only really talking about two things—and by "two things" I mean "one completely new thing" and "one thing I sorta changed a little."

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gclogo(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the May 2007 issue of GameCola, back when GameCola was published in a monthly online magazine format.)

GameCola Headquarters
College Park, MD 20740

May 1, 2007

Dear Readers,

Progress is what we’re all about here at GameCola, by which I mean you should check out the neat stuff I’ve been adding to the site lately. And by “neat stuff” I’m only really talking about two things—and by “two things” I mean “one completely new thing” and “one thing I sorta changed a little.”

First, the “sorta changed a little” thing is the search bar up there on the navigational bar. It actually works now, if you’re interested in looking back and finding the exact issue that featured a letter from Matt Gardner’s mom saying how proud she was of her little boy.

The “completely new thing,” though, is even cooler than the ability to easily search through our vast archives, if you can believe that. It’s also on the navbar, and it’s called Top Articles. You know how you’ve been rating every one of our articles after reading them? Via the little voting bar provided at the tail-end of every article? Those votes actually count for something, now! The top ten highest-rated articles are featured in the Top Articles section, giving us all the opportunity to read the absolute best of what GameCola has to offer without poring all over our back issues.

I’m also working on an FAQ for GameCola that ties our past to our present to our future and makes sense of the whole mess, and I think I’ll pad the rest of my column with my work in progress. If you have any comments or suggestions for questions that ought to be included, you know where the comments form is. (It’s at the bottom of this page.)


THE GAMECOLA FAQ (Version 0.5: Rough Draft)

General

What is GameCola?

GameCola is a monthly online videogame newsletter that—our readers may not agree, but it’s what we’re going for—has a killer sense of humor.

Wait, a newsletter? Looks like a Web site to me.

Well, the newsletter is published on a Web site—GameCola.net—but GameCola itself is definitely a newsletter whose latest issues are uploaded to the site near the end of each month.

So how much does this newsletter cost?

Absolutely nothing.

What if I can’t remember to visit the site when there’s a new issue out?

Then you should sign up for our mailing list! We send a friendly reminder out over it whenever a new issue is released.

What if I still can’t remember to visit the site?

Do you have a LiveJournal? We offer a simplified version of GameCola over at gamecola.livejournal.com. Just add that user to your friends list and you’ll be seeing one new article published every day right onto your friends list.

Why don’t you update more than once a month?

It’d kill the newsletter format! We’ve been pretty happy with our format over the last five years, and there’s no real way to pull it off and update more frequently without just publishing more issues per month, which, as we discovered, flat-out doesn’t work. We know we don’t offer much incentive to visit the site more than once a month, but we’re slowly adding features—such as our forums, our comments boxes and our Top Articles section—to alleviate that. If you have any ideas for content that would keep you on the site, send an e-mail to pfranzen@gamecola.net.

Why don’t you guys write more about current games?

There’s approximately 60,000 larger Web sites already doing that—what would one more voice offer? What reason would you have to read our review of God of War 12 over anyone else’s review of God of War 12? By writing modern-day perspectives of older titles, we’re trying to provide content that far fewer sites offer, thus increasing the chances that you’ll actually want to read us.

Why did you give [game] a rating of 7? I love [game]!

According to GameCola’s rating system, a 7 is actually well above average. We employ a five-is-average scale that compares games to games of the same genre and games for the same system. Your game got a 7 because it’s pretty darn good compared to other games of its type and other games for its system.

Why does your site use 5 as average? Most of the magazines/Web sites I read use 7.

Your magazines/Web sites need to use 7 because they have advertisers and people who send them free games to review to worry about. They need to employ score inflation in order to satisfy said groups of people so said groups can put big flashy graphics on their game boxes that say “IGN GAVE THIS GAME A 10!” We, on the other hand, have absolutely no advertisers to worry about, and, except for very rare circumstances, nobody’s sending us any games for free to review—we’re paying for the games we review out of our own pockets.

Using 5 as average gives us a wider range of scores to play with. Unlike your magazines/Web sites, where everything’s basically getting a 7 or higher (unless it’s really bad—in which case it gets a 6), we offer a range of scores so you have a more precise idea of how good or bad a game is.

How long have you guys been around?

Five years, as of April 22, 2007.

How many readers do you have?

Don’t worry about it. (Please tell all your friends all about us!)

Want to trade links with my site?

Probably! Shoot an e-mail to pfranzen@gamecola.net, and we’ll talk.

Do you ever put out any “special editions” of GameCola?

As a matter of fact, we do! Every January we publish our “New Years Awards Spectacular,” in which we generally debut a slew of new writers, debut a slew of new columns, publish an assortment of guest reviews and articles from former staff writers and publish our year-end awards.

Additionally, every April 22nd (GameCola’s birthday) we publish a issue that complies the best articles from the previous 12 months. Generally speaking, we publish the best review of anyone who’s written four or more reviews for us that year, the best edition of any column that’s appeared four or more times in that year, and an assortment of the best letters and artwork our readers have sent in.

I see your year-end awards have a “Readers’ Choice” section. How can I vote in this?

You just have to be a part of our mailing list. We send ballots out to our readers through that in December.

What is this Board of Directors that also has a section in the year-end awards?

A group of the most important and influential GameCola staff members.

Who is in the GameCola Board of Directors?

Don’t worry about it.

What does the GameCola Board of Directors actually do?

Don’t worry about it.

Writing for GameCola

Your layout/writing/newsletter/Web site/face is terrible, and you need me to come fix it.

The first rule of our selection process is to immediately reject anyone who says we “need” them, or anything to that effect, regardless of their talent. We try to avoid people with insufferable attitudes.

How much does writing for GameCola pay?

Absolutely nothing! We’re not taking in any profits, so we can’t afford to spare a cent for any of our staff members.

So why would anyone want to write for GameCola?

Mainly because of the experience it offers. It’s hard to get a writing job without any experience or anything on your resume, but GameCola doesn’t care about that. All GameCola cares about is quality writing, so if you’ve got that, then you’ve got a place with us. Having a place with us gives you something to put on your resume, something to brag about to potential employers, and a valuable reference in the Editor in Chief to show off when you’re looking for a real job.

Plus, with GameCola, you have the freedom to write about just about anything you’d like, which is more than you can say for a lot of other Web sites. You’ve got the option of reviewing any game you want (assuming we haven’t covered it yet), and you can also write a column based on any videogame-related idea you might have. We’re open to just about any idea you might have—all you have to do is ask.

OK, I’m sold. Where do I sign up?

Send an e-mail to pfranzen@gamecola.net stating your interest to write for us, including a sample of your writing either in the body of the e-mail or attached as a Word document.

Does my sample have to be videogame related?

No, but it helps, as a videogame review or related article will help us to assess your writing style as it pertains to videogames in particular. If you don’t have anything like that handy, though, we’ll accept basically any form of writing you have available. For example, people have sent us school assignments, fanfiction, blog posts…basically, we just need something that will give us an indication of how you write so we can see if you fit with GameCola.

What if I don’t have a writing sample?

Then we can’t accept you. We absolutely will not bring anyone on board without first seeing if their writing style fits with GameCola. If need be you can write a new videogame review and send it in to us; however, we try to discourage this because we feel bad when we have to turn down someone who went to the trouble to write something original for us, which has happened.

Can I send you more than one writing sample?

Absolutely! The more writing you send us, the more capable we are of making a solid decision.

What happens after I send you my sample?

We’ll look over it and decide if you’re a good fit for the ‘Cola or not. If you’re not, then you’ll get an apologetic e-mail saying so. If you are, you’ll be told “congratulations” and asked to supply a headshot for the staff section of the newsletter. Once we have your headshot, we’ll “officially” add you to the staff, meaning your picture will be added to the staff section, you’ll be added to the staff mailing list, and we’ll be e-mailing you with directions on how to set up your staff e-mail account.

Once accepted, what would I be writing?

Generally speaking, new GameCola writers start off writing just reviews for us. That said, if you have an idea for a column we’re always interested to hear it, and we have a backlog of column ideas and old columns that haven’t been manned in a while that you’re definitely allowed to pick through.

How often will I be writing for GameCola?

GameCola’s published once a month, so we’d expect you to write your reviews and/or columns once a month.

When are your deadlines?

Our deadlines generally occur around the second-to-last or last day of the month. Articles are due in to pfranzen@gamecola.net at 9:00 p.m., EST, the day of the deadline. The issue generally goes out later that night, so we can’t accept anything past 9.

What happens if I miss a deadline?

Nothing, if you let us know ahead of time that you’re going to miss it. If you don’t, though, you’ll get a slightly-irritated e-mail asking what happened. If you miss more than three deadlines in a year without prior notification, you won’t be allowed to write for GameCola anymore.

That sounds a little harsh, considering you aren’t paying us.

It is, but you shouldn’t be a GameCola writer if you don’t actually enjoy writing for GameCola. If you do enjoy writing for GameCola, then reaching its deadlines won’t be a problem for you.

The reason we have to be so harsh, though, is because we have to make absolutely sure we actually have content every month. We’ve let people be lax about our deadlines before, and it generally results in very few people sending articles in, which itself results in either a very small issue or an issue that gets sent out days after it was supposed to. You can see how this isn’t particularly ideal, so we have to do what we can do enforce our deadlines.

What if I want to stop writing for GameCola?

Just say the word. We have no problem taking you off the staff whenever you’d like, and you’d be welcome to make a return at any time.

I don’t want to be a regular writer, but I’d like to submit a review or article from time to time. Is there any way I can do that?

Sure. We feature “guest articles” as frequently as people send them in. Just e-mail what you’ve got to pfranzen@gamecola.net, and you’ll probably see it in an upcoming issue.

I want to be involved with GameCola, but I either hate writing or am absolutely terrible at it. Is there anything I can do?

There is, actually! We’re always looking for:

  • people to help with the site
  • people to help us get more readers
  • people to do graphical work
  • people to do comic strips

And just about anything else you could offer us.

Criticism

Why is your Web site design so terrible?

We can’t afford to pay someone to make it pretty. We’re also happy with a simple design like this—after all, our focus should be on the content, not on the presentation.

I can make your Web site pretty, if you’d like.

E-mail pfranzen@gamecola.net about it. But we still can’t pay you.

Why is your writing so unprofessional?

Professional is boring. Our primary function is to entertain, so we’re always playing around with ways to make our articles more fun rather than ways to make it more formal-sounding.

Why is so much of the artwork apparently made with MS Paint?

That’s the style our graphic artist prefers. You may think it’s ugly, but we think it fit’s GameCola’s casual tone pretty well.

How long are you gonna keep this up?

For as long as we have the time to do it, or for as long as the editor in chief doesn’t have a job that conflicts with it. At that point he plans to appoint a new editor in chief, if he can find someone qualified who’s interested in the job. If he can’t, then that’ll be game over.

I found a typo!

E-mail pfranzen@gamecola.net about it so we can clean it up.

Ever consider branching out to cover movies, TV or music?

Not really. There’s plenty to write about videogames, and plenty of people who want to read about them.

Why doesn’t anybody ever post on your forums?

Dunno. Why aren’t you posing there? Bet that would help it.

I think GameCola sucks.

I see. Well, we’re always open to constructive feedback—i.e., feedback that suggests ways we can be improved—but just saying we “suck” is pretty useless.


Love,

 

Paul Franzen
editor in chief
e-mail: pfranzen@gamecola.net

1 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 10 (You need to be a registered member to rate this post.)
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