The work behind selecting and arranging articles for our weekly roundup can seem somewhat opaque. All in all, it takes between ten and fifteen hours to work through all the article submissions, create descriptions for the selected pieces, and lay out a new post. Here’s a guide to how that’s done.
Stage 1: Gathering
This stage is partly automated, and the goal is to have all of it done by robots so that the humans can focus on the next two stages.
1a: Submission by email
Our readers send in articles that caught their eye by email. Unfortunately, this is not currently automated, so email submissions are sent to Diigo manually.
Alternatively, they send things in by Twitter, using the phrase “TWIVGB” to alert our robots, so that they can send any recommendations to Diigo.
Our Inoreader RSS folder automatically sends anything new from the almost 300 blogs that we follow to Diigo.
Result: Diigo library
The Senior Curator’s Diigo library is filled with submitted articles, ready for the next phase.
Stage 2: Curation
This stage is done completely manually, and takes up the majority of the Senior Curator’s time.
2a: Delete if unsuitable
First, the Senior Curator removes articles based on their headlines, if they are actually not about games or if they are clearly a report on a recent event rather than an in-depth feature or piece of critical writing.
2b: Identify suitable
One by one, the remaining articles are opened and read, and eliminated if they don’t fit the criteria for inclusion. These criteria include:
- Does it teach us something new about games? Or, does it teach us something new about the wider world through the example of games?
- Does it present a new argument, or a perspective that is rarely encountered?
- Does it go further than simply reiterating a game’s lore, bringing in ideas from other fields or other texts?
Whether or not a piece is well-written is almost irrelevant. A piece can be poorly structured, but if it presents a new point of view it is likely to be included. Conversely, a piece can be exquisitely written, a shining gem of creative non-fiction, but if it doesn’t teach us anything new then it won’t be included.
Deleted articles are not saved in Diigo anymore, so we don’t have a cache backup of them. To contribute to the conservation of games history, selected articles are archived twice: once on Diigo, and once on the WordPress site itself.
2b (i): Highlight choice quotes
A choice quote is highlighted and stored with each piece’s bookmark in the Diigo database.
2b (ii): Add description and tags
If a piece looks suitable, the Senior Curator changes the bookmark description to be a brief synopsis explaining why the piece is significant and/or what its main argument was.
2b (iii): Add to outliner
Each week, the Senior Curator creates a new Diigo outliner to store all of the selected articles and prepare the new roundup post. When a piece is selected, it is sent to that week’s outliner.
Result: Diigo outliner
At the end of this part of the process, the Senior Curator has a Diigo outliner containing all of the selected pieces, with their highlighted quotes and descriptions. Sometimes this outliner is given to a contributor so that they can cover stage 3.
Stage 3: Publication
Everything in the outliner goes through a lot of rearranging, but the tags provide a starting point for gathering articles on similar topics under the same subheading. After a lot of movement and editing, the outliner will have a few sections, all with a couple of sentences of introduction, each with between 2 and 5 articles listed as bullet points, the final article’s highlighted text brought out as a pullquote.
3a: Publish on WordPress
A rich text version of this outliner is copied and pasted into a WordPress post. The Senior Curator makes some final adjustments to layout and phrasing, and the post is published! Links to the post are shared on social media.
3b: Publish on Gamasutra
A rich text version of 1-2 sections in this outliner are selected for a Gamasutra digest. Sometimes digests are syndicated by other websites too, and the trick here is choosing the right section for each audience. We usually have a section that covers game development techniques, which is perfect for Gamasutra, whereas other sections on visual technique, psychology, or social justice would be a better fit for another site. Contact us if you run a site that would like to syndicate our content!