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Aiming for Improvement

by Sean Peters

There's been quite a lot of fuss lately about whether there should be grammatical standards for editorials here at RPGamer. So far, though, they have focused mainly about grammar in general, and not whether or not it need apply here. It's certainly a very debatable issue, but I believe I have some insight on the subject, having contributed to the section by reading, writing, and helping Mistress Nightshadow.

Many of the editorials contributed here fall under one of two broad topics: The quality of games, or of improving the image of gamers in the public eye. The nature of these topics are such that a poorly written editorial could very easily be damaging to the point or even hypocritical. Editorials which do not fall under these categories may not be so adversely affected by poor grammar, but that does not necessarily mean that they should not be judged according to the same standards. I, for one, would much rather read an editorial which is both well thought-out and well written rather than one which is just well thought-out.

I believe that it would be hypocritical for an editorial to criticize the quality of a game without being written in accordance with grammatical standards. How can one justify criticizing the localization, or story, or anything else about a game when they cannot be bothered to double-check their work to make sure that it conforms to whatever rules have been laid forth? I haven't seen a game where I couldn't decipher what was meant by a poorly composed line or two, but that doesn't mean that the mistakes shouldn't have been fixed. Typos are one thing, but obvious flaws in sentence structure, or confusing the meaning of homonyms, make a game feel sloppy and unpolished. It is nothing short of hypocritical to want a game to be error-free and polished while not holding your own work to that same standard.

As earlier stated, many editorials seem concerned with the image that video games and their players are given by society. Typically, video games are viewed as mere child's play-things, and not a form of art, as many of us consider them to be. However, if the largest RPG-focused website gets and posts editorials which demonstrate a lack of proper English (Which does not imply American spellings of words, by any means,) what does that imply about gamers and the genre as a whole? I know that if someone demanded that I take them more seriously, but yet they didn't even seem to know the difference between their, they're, and there, that would lower the respect I had for them. To misuse a language to that extent, and believe me, it happens in editorials more often than you might think, implies a lack of intelligence, whether that is true or not. Not only that, but they may end up damaging a noble cause.

As you can see, grammar does indeed have a place in RPGamer's Editorial section. It only stands to improve the quality of both the section and the site, and at the mere expense of a little extra time on the writers' part. After all, if Square sees that its customers can't write within certain standards, what reason would they have to fix their mistakes? I'd think that answer is obvious, off course.

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