Dead Prose 2: how Zinsser improves a video game review

A badly-written review of Dead Space 2 annoys fans

The internet isn’t exactly known for providing a consistently high quality of writing. And I don’t think most people have particularly high literary expectations of video game reviews.

So I was surprised to see a badly-written video game review elicit strong responses from readers, and prompt a discussion on the craft of writing that references William Zinsser’s On Writing Well and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.

All the fuss was about Greg Miller’s review of Dead Space 2 on IGN.

Some blogs pounced on the review, calling it amateurishly written, among other things, and the issue blew up somewhat on Reddit.

At least some of the indignation seems to stem from the fact that Miller is paid to write game reviews, and doesn’t appear to have put in a lot of time to edit and tighten his prose.

This is a point that another gaming site, GameRevolution, makes really well here. This is the site that cites Zinsser, and talks about the craft of writing. And then goes on to rewrite the original review, tightening it up and making it so much more readable.

I found it heartening to see people actually care about good writing, and I thought it was a good lesson in not taking your audience for granted.

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