Video game journalism is an essential part of the video game industry. But who are the gaming editors you are trying to reach to promote your video game?
This series of interviews presents passionate human beings and experienced professionals in the video game press.
Today, it is a pleasure to introduce you to Moses Norton “The Well-Red Mage”, Editor-in-chief of the eponymous site.
Moses Norton, co-founder and Editor-in-chief of The Well-Red Mage.
Editor, Podcater, Writer, Game critic… A really talented jack-of-all-trades!
Hello Moses, can you please introduce yourself briefly?
I’m Moses and I write under the name the Well-Red Mage. I’m a self-published writer, editor, podcaster, game critic, and student of theology. I’ve been writing about video games for the past four years, exploring subjects like objectivity in art, the utility of graphics, and testing the limits of nostalgia.
Would you please tell us more about the story of The Well-Red Mage?
The Well-Red Mage (TWRM) began as my third blogging attempt. I got into blogging with the goal of getting faster at writing by managing smaller writing projects, blog posts. I previously ran a theology/book review blog called Norton Literature, which is still online, and a short-lived comic book blog called Briffits & Quimps, which is not.
TWRM represented my attempt to welcome people into the writing experience, so I got two other friends to found the site with me and we started by writing reviews in February 2016. Initially, it was just game reviews, then we started playing around with articles about music, editorials, collaborations with other bloggers… that last one became a big part of what TWRM is now. We have done some book, film, and hardware reviews here and there but we’ve become aware of game reviews being our primary content.
How many Magi are gathered with you today and how are you organized?
We have over 60 independent writers around the world, whom we lovingly refer to as mages. A group of mages is an academy, of course. These writers are free to come and go whenever they want, there’s no writing quota for our site, and they pitch their ideas to me to be greenlit and eventually published. It’s a system that has allowed us to have nearly daily updates on the site. I primarily use platforms like Discord and Twitter to keep track of communicating with all of them.
Do you organize events to meet and chill out together in real life?
I have met a couple of mages in real life but I doubt I’ll ever meet those scattered across Europe or Australia since I’m in the U.S.! We do frequently hold events on Discord, typically collaborative efforts where we get together and collectively write on a subject.
As editor-in-chief, what’s a typical work week like for you?
We have a fairly regimented publishing schedule each week which has slowly evolved over time. It involves publishing podcasts and columns, scheduling posts in advance, and coordinating with my deputy editors to help get content ready for the public.
I spend a lot of time working on the infrastructure of my site since migrating to WordPress.org from WordPress.com, as well as managing our social media platforms and promoting the site and our Patreon campaign.
Do you have a specific editorial line set for TheWellRedMage.com?
Of course in a broad sense we appeal to those who are simply interested in gaming, but over time we’ve come to refine that focus to target a couple of key themes: promoting honesty and quality in games writing, expanding the definition of games journalism to include games criticism, championing long-form writing as a valid and occasionally crucial form.
I publish a lot of content I don’t personally agree with, whether that’s scores in a review or specific beliefs put forth by a writer, because I believe in diversity of thought and that sites like mine don’t need to represent an ideological echo chamber. I call it unity without unanimity. Disagreement is more interesting that a bunch of nodding heads and it allows virtues like civil discussion to be tested.
In summary, I try to make The Well-Red Mage a bastion against toxicity and the mind-numbing clickbait out there.
What information about a game do you look at first when you are contacted by a studio or public relations representative?
TWRM benefits from its diverse group of writers with a host of different interests, so I will typically run a game by our writing team first to see if anyone would be interested in covering it. Because we do long-form critiques, we believe that finishing or nearly finishing a game is key. It may take us a little longer than the fast but shallow turnaround of a few other sites, but we’ll provide a clearer and more comprehensive picture of the entire game.
In your experience, how can video game creators make your job easier when they contact you?
I think they already do a pretty great job but an attached game trailer is key for us, at least. I usually always get the core info about the game that I really need.
From a personal point of view, what’s your Top 3 favorite game?
Top 3 favorite games? I’ll say be Chrono Trigger, Journey, and Shadow of the Colossus to represent a range of what I enjoy.
Do you have any hobbies other than video games?
Yes! Besides for writing about games, I write fiction and I’m a self-published author with a novella called The Last Stitch Goes Through The Nose available on Amazon. I’m working on a second publication, a collection of short stories. I also have enjoyed public speaking, fishing, and hiking. Generally being out in nature is refreshing. I think detaching from all the technology and particularly social media is healthy now and then.
Thank you Norton for your availability for this very inspiring interview. Congratulations also for building such a great community and a great gaming website for all video game lovers.