I used to think that video games existed in a small vacuum, lacking a community worth acknowledging. I didn’t realize until I got older that the content made by fans far outnumbered (and many times outweighed) the original content itself. Many sites dedicated to video games and its subsequent journalism have risen to fame over the past few years like IGN, Kotaku, and Polygon. Articles on the games are very important in understanding and appreciating the context of the game itself. For me, it is important to understand something on a basic level before I throw $60 at it and hours of my time.
Gaming journalists constantly employ the skills a professional writing major would know firsthand. Using the knowledge gained from writing professionally, they are able to inform their audience of things both writer and reader care about. While some people may think that these websites only feature reviews, most gaming websites feature a plethora of different stories. This includes anything from news articles on different hardware sales, advice on certain game (i.e. guides on how to play them), even the impact of certain games in/on society can be found on these sites.
Sometimes these sites cover certain games to the point where they are so eagerly anticipated that the public consumes any and all journalism on the subject. This can usually be considered a good thing, but other times, it doesn’t end so well.
A few years ago, I remember a specific example where professional writing caused a game to crash and burn horribly-in sales and in the eyes of the gamers themselves. This particular game was called No Man’s Sky, and I was one of the people that was super excited to finally get my hands on it. I had read so many different articles on how amazing this game (which promised hours and hours of fun planetary exploration) was going to be.
And then the game came out.
I noticed that the articles started to show up less and less when I first began to play the game. The more time I put into it, the more I found myself disappointed. Not only was this not the game I thought it was going to be, I was lied to by the creators themsleves and the websites I had viewed the articles on. All the cool things (you know, the hours and hours of fun planetary exploration) we were showed were false. I haven’t been able to play the game since.
Since then, I have come to learn that professional writing is very influential even in the video game market. Without these thousand of articles and their writers, this explosion of positive content (and subsequent backlash) probably wouldn’t have happened at all. The power of creating content on such a profession level gives these games the ability and culture to perform well-or not so well.
Let’ be honest; we all want to fit in, and for a foreign writer, sometimes that can prove to be quite the challenge.
It should come as no surprise, an area where non-native-speakers seem to have the most anxiety is in their writing.
Entering the business world, many wish they could hide their accent or any sign that English is their secondary language, and that’s why software like Grammarly is appealing to so many!
Grammarly appeals to people who want their ideas to be heard, but don’t want to be bothered with the nitpicking that can often make or break someone’s writing or meaning.
If you’re unfamiliar with Grammarly, it’s a program that prides itself on not just fixing minor mistakes, but improving one’s writing as a whole by interacting with the user. Grammarly highlights detected errors, offers suggestions for corrections or substitutions, and ultimately it’s up to the user to decide for themselves.
But does Grammarly allow someone still grappling with the language barrier the confidence to operate their software effectively?
What happens if what is highlighted goes beyond spelling and punctuation, and leans more towards the trickier laws of grammar or even word choice? For the non-native-speaker, a demographic that Grammarly boasts has benefitted from their services, Grammarly’s suggestions can actually muddy up the voice in one’s writing. To make matters worse, medium.com reports that Grammarly
only finds 40% of errors in non-native-speaker’ writing on average!
The main area of concern lies in the program’s thesaurus, which attempts to improve a writers word choice to make the writer seem more eloquent and professional. This would be one of the product’s features that a foreign voice would hope to utilize, but reviews have shown that the suggested synonyms can either be archaic, or just plain weird.
An example of this questionable word choice is best seen in Writing-Skills.com’s review of Grammarly, where plain in plain English was the focal point. Rather than keeping the word plain (the software having deemed it
too generic), Grammarly offered words like basic or clear as substitutions. For a foreign voice still trying to assimilate to a more Western way of speaking, these are the moments that defeat their whole purpose for using the software in the first place.
A writer must have the confidence to be able to know when Grammarly may have made a mistake, and for a non-native-speaker already struggling with a transition between languages, this presents a real problem. The final verdict on Grammarly? As a product that claims to be a
powerful tool for…foreign students…English language learners, and non-native-English-speaking professionals, Grammarly has the potential to fail those who truly need it most.