3 Feb 2014

In Memory: Judy Freeman

It seems like yesterday.

After blogging about MMOs for the best part of two years, I’d landed my first paid writing gig, producing features and the occasional bit of news for ZAM. It was a dream-come-true for me; a chance to learn how to create professionally, and to put those creations in front of a huge audience. I was alive with innocent excitement. The Editor-in-Chief at the time, Christopher Tom (now doing a superb job over at Riot), introduced me to the team.

Including Judy Freeman, the copy editor.

I was paranoid. Would my words be up to scratch? Would my distinctly British sense of humour translate across the ocean? Would my eccentric idioms be struck down by the stern gaze of this unknown entity? I needn’t have worried. In her own words:

As I see it, my job is to make my writers look great so I polish and burnish. My goal is to forever remain invisible to the reader. If he/she can see my work I have failed. I will never ask you to write in my style but will do everything I can to make yours glow.

Writers often say that they write for an audience, and mine was Judy. Over the course of a year and a half, I’d try out ideas on her. Test the waters, see if something worked. Sometimes it was a huge success, like the time I wrote a preview entirely using an in-game narrative. Other times it ended up being redrafted and refined, like some of my very first interviews. But she was always there, being encouraging and supportive. I never had much confidence in my own ability, feeling like a pretender, but Judy lent me hers.

She also taught me a lot about American English. People stateside are never keen, but they are sometimes eager. Groups of people – teams, corporations, studios – are singular, not plural. Drop the u here and there, slide in the z occasionally, and it all works. Even if she had to correct me regularly. There were the times when I was scrambling to meet a deadline or embargo drop, and she’d work late into the night to have it ready for publication in the morning.

Even after I moved on to pastures new, we still caught up occasionally. Sometimes by Skype, sometimes by email, just to shoot the breeze. She’d tell me what she thought of Downton Abbey, and I’d grimace inside at what she’d think of the UK as a result. But it was all good-natured. She was still working away with her collection of red pencils, sharpening articles as an unsung hero.

Last week, Judy died. Cancer has robbed the world of a good friend, mentor and muse. I have no words – and she’d probably laugh and gently mock me – but grief and loss. She touched almost everything I wrote, but her influence on me went far beyond it. Judy made me think more about the craft of choosing and placing words together than anyone.

Judy had been at ZAM/Wowhead for over 5 years, with countless writers on numerous games. It’s staggering to think just how much she worked on, yet always being fresh, inquisitive and passionate about the content she pruned and polished. I missed her when I moved on, and I miss her even more now.

Thank you, Red Pencils. For everything.

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20 Nov 2013

Luxuria Superbia: A Fontaine Fondle

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I’ve never wanted to wash my hands after playing an iPad game. That is, until I’d played Luxuria Superbia. At first glance it reminded me of rhythm roller-coaster Audiosurf, although perhaps with a seedy seventies vibe. The truth, it turns out, was even more peculiar, with my fingers playing as unwitting servants to the sultry demands of a digital flower.

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16 Nov 2013

Mister Sparkles Mini: The Winners (Part 2)

At the end of October, I asked for people to design me a golem in order to win a Mister Sparkles Mini. The response has been overwhelming, with so many incredible responses. I really was amazed by the work everyone put in, and it made choosing some winners incredibly difficult.

As I mentioned before, the incredibly kind folks at ArenaNet gave me some extra codes, so I’ve got five Mister Sparkles Minis to give away. Without further ado, let me share the winners with you!

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25 Oct 2013

Design a Golem, Win Mister Sparkles!


Earlier this month, I ran a competition where you could win a Mini Mister Sparkles for Guild Wars 2. But there was a catch: to enter, you needed to design a competition that someone else could win. It was a little fiendish and so very meta, generating a huge number of ideas. Well done to everyone that took part, and congratulations to the winners!

I still have five more Mister Sparkles Mini codes to give away. After taking the best entries from the previous contest, I think I’ve come up with a fair but flexible way that you could win one of the remaining codes.

Update: The competition is now closed, and I’ll be announcing the winners early next week. Thanks to everyone that took part!

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15 Oct 2013

Mister Sparkles Mini: The Winners (Part 1)

mister sparkles competition copy

Wow, a lot of you really wanted to get your hands on a Mister Sparkles Mini! And thanks to the kind folks at ArenaNet, I’m able to share even more of them. I’ve chosen five winners this time around, and one of those entries will be the basis for another competition.

That second competition starts later on this week and will run till the end of the month, so keep your eyes peeled if you weren’t lucky this time round. But before I announce who won, here’s some ideas that came close…

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