About Us + FAQs
“There's something undeniably special about the way Jay writes.
Whether he's geeking out about video games, exploring the science behind our fascination with technology, or sharing heartfelt stories about being a father, he knows exactly how to draw you into a world of his own making, one that you can't help getting lost in.
His passion and (dare I say) almost child-like sense of wonder are infectious, and his authenticity comes across with every word he writes. He's simply a pleasure to read.”
About Game & Word
Welcome! I'm Jay, a lifelong gamer, occasional gaming blogger, professional writer, and now the publisher of Game & Word: the newsletter where virtual worlds and the "real" world collide!
Game & Word’s content dives as deep as possible into the hobby we love, highlighting individual games’ connections to humanity and the world. History, culture, psychology, literature, and even philosophy can all shape the games we play and fondly remember.
By exploring these links, not only do we gain a greater appreciation for these games, we demonstrate that—far from being a childish time-waster—a good game can be as creative, powerful, and worthy of recognition as a good book, song, or movie. In learning more, we enrich ourselves while also elevating the medium.
Please consider sharing this publication with a friend or supporting our work with a Game & Word subscription. Your support makes this newsletter possible.
And if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org whenever you feel like it. I love hearing from readers.
Thank you for visiting, and I hope you have as much fun reading Game & Word as I do writing it!
Jay, Publisher & Lead Author
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is Game & Word?
Who comprises Game & Word?
What’s different about Game & Word’s content?
Why did I start Game & Word?
What type of content can I expect from Game & Word?
What is Game & Word *NOT*?
How often do you publish?
So, what’s the TL;DR?
Stay awhile, and listen!
What is Game & Word?
“Informative and inspirational… Jay’s insightful writing on geek culture and society celebrates games and illustrates the draws they bring to the table. Not just for gamers, but for everyone.”
~Dr. Anthony Bean | CEO of Geek Therapeutics
Game & Word is an email newsletter that uncovers and explores the links between games—usually video games, but occasionally card, board, dice, and tabletop games—and the world they exist in.
Countless external forces—cultural, historical, technological, commercial, philosophical, and others—bleed into the games that people make. And then, in turn, the people who play these games pick up on these markers, the subtle clues hinting at the countless worldly influences that synced and fused together to leave their mark on it, as with any work of art. Ever since we learned how to paint on cave walls, creative works have served as humanity’s mirror and scrapbook.
Game & Word’s editorial mission is to explore the connections between games and everything they absorb from the world around them. In doing so, we hope to enrich players’ appreciation for these games, as well as bolster the case for games as an art form on par with paintings, sculptures, literature, music, and film. We hope for a future where games elicit awe and admiration, not scorn, from mainstream society.
Game & Word's editorial philosophy is to always ensure our articles are informative, thought-provoking, and fun to read. They must be deep enough for expert gamers to ponder and learn from, yet accessible enough for new gamers (and even non-gamers) to effortlessly follow along and enjoy.
And unlike most online publications, we at Game & Word actually take pride in our work, and doing so is one of our guiding principles. We only publish content that we’ve extensively researched, expertly written, thoroughly vetted, and meticulously edited.
Who comprises Game & Word?
We are a husband-and-wife team, and we each bring different strengths to our work.
Jay, Game & Word’s publisher and lead author, is a professional writer and lifelong, passionate gamer. Writing about gaming has always been his life’s dream, and everything he’s worked on has led to his launching Game & Word. His distinctive writing voice is equal parts professional, authoritative, conversational, warm, and empathetic, and his love of games and gaming beams from every word.
Jenny, Game & Word’s CKO (Chief Knowledge Officer) and lead editor, is not a gamer. But she is highly knowledgeable on history, literature, social dynamics, philosophy, and the spirit of humanity. She enhances our content with facts and trivia, and combs each finished article to ensure it passes editorial muster (more on our editorial standards and principles later).
In addition, we often collaborate with subject matter experts—including scholars, journalists, insiders, and analysts—to enhance our articles and fill gaps in our knowledge. We also bring on freelance writers, editors, graphic designers, and researchers on an as-needed basis.
And last, but certainly not least, is quite possibly the most important piece of the puzzle: you, the reader! Without you, Game & Word would not be possible. Your readership gives this publication its sole purpose (to inform and delight you). Your subscription, whether free or paid, directly contributes to its existence. And as a subscriber, you are the Game & Word community’s beating heart, and your feedback and comments help shape future content and the direction in which we take this publication.
Become a part of our community, and support our mission to elevate the discourse around gaming, by subscribing to Game & Word:
What’s different about Game & Word’s content?
“Jay’s writing skills are impeccable, and he packs his highly informative articles with fascinating details that help you understand the deeper meanings behind the topics he covers.
He’s an outstanding writer and communicator who excels in taking exciting concepts and elevating them to a whole new level!”
~Bryan Datu | President of Level Up Media
Yes, I know the internet’s already home to several gaming publications; some of them even have significant corporate or institutional resources and clout to back them up! So why should you read this gaming newsletter, written by some regular Joe Schmos? What can I find here that I can’t get from any of the other gazillion gaming publications, blogs, YouTubers, and Twitch streamers?
I’ll tell you: Game & Word is a home for content that explores our favorite games from a uniquely human-centric perspective.
Other gaming outlets—with the occasional exception—tend to only examine games within the context of… games. Game & Word, on the other hand, approaches games as products of an intricate web of historical, cultural, psychological, interpersonal, and technological forces that influence their development. In turn, I also like exploring how games add to that same zeitgeist that shaped it. And I particularly like tuning into the echoes that games leave in players’ minds—for better, and for worse.
After all, games don’t exist in a vacuum! The people who plan, write, code, manufacture, sell, and play games have lives. They have values, needs, goals, fears, likes, dislikes, beliefs, memories, routines, hobbies, and relationships. And they consume media, just like you and me—which includes games!
How could all these factors not bleed into games, just like they seep into novels, paintings, ballads, and movies? And what can a game tell us about the people who birthed it, the culture that incubated it, or the era that fertilized it?
All these questions—and many more—form the foundation of Game & Word’s editorial mission and philosophy.
Why did I start Game & Word?
Because there are no gaming publications in the world quite like Game & Word. Believe me, I’ve looked.
Games are but a product of an intricate dance between people, art, culture, technology, ideas, and economics. I find this concept fascinating! And I can’t be the only one (gaming scholars are now a thing, after all). So where are all the gaming outlets and writers you think would be exploring it?
I’m genuinely shocked more writers don’t look at games in this manner. Sure, some major gaming publications occasionally run features in this vein, but not nearly enough. And yes, some YouTubers do take this approach, and some of them are very good at it. But there’s no true equivalent—in subject, scale, and scope—for written content.
It’s a shame, because we can learn so much more about the games we play if we take even a little peek between the pixels. There’s so much to a game beyond what we see on the screen, which can instill whole new layers of appreciation in us.
Furthermore, by examining games in the same human-centric framing as we already do with art, sculpture, literature, music, and film, we can help chip away at the frustratingly, stubbornly persistent stigma surrounding gaming.
Perhaps upon seeing that games’ creative, storytelling, and contemplative value equals that of any other artistic medium, greater society will finally drop the tired, shallow, and long-outdated perception of games as juvenile, time-wasting power fantasies for little kids and emotionally stunted, basement-dwelling, middle-aged slackers. One day, and I know this is a long shot, but maybe… just maybe… games will finally be seen as… *gulp*…
And yet, far too few gaming commentators seem willing to take the closer look needed to unlock these illuminating and powerful insights.
And so I created Game & Word, for all the other gamers out there who share my deeper curiosity on games and my desire to elevate them towards the long-overdue mainstream acceptance they deserve.
This newsletter is for everyone who’s ever played Super Mario Bros. and wondered how Miyamoto came up with its wacky premise (and get really annoyed when people jest about hallucinogenic substances being involved). It’s for everyone who’s gone down a Wikipedia history hole after playing the latest Assassin’s Creed. It’s for everyone who spends more time reading the Civopedia than actually growing their empire in Civilization. And it’s for everyone who’s ever been bullied, dumped, lectured, or awkwardly stared at on account of their love for games.
Put another way, if the fields of ludology and narratology interest you, yet you reflexively gag from reading those words, you’ll enjoy Game & Word.
What type of content can I expect from Game & Word?
“Jay’s so good at firing up curiosity with nothing but words. [His] writing is compelling, well-crafted, and persuasive, and he’s opened my eyes to how deep and interconnected games really are. His subscribers are in for a treat!”
~Theo Slater, JD | Gamer; Founder and Vice-Chair of the California National Party
I’m going to address this question in two parts: one detailing the topics I like exploring, and another describing the formats I tend to write in.
Let’s start with topics. Every Game & Word article focuses, first and foremost, on games and gaming. Each article zeroes on individual games, franchises, or genres that share interesting commonalities. Occasionally, an article takes an industry-wide view, but those are fairly rare—most articles end up much leaner in scope (even if not in length).
After deciding which game(s) to focus on, I like to highlight the links between said game(s) or genre(s) and one (or more) of the following subjects:
History & Anthropology: Countless games are inspired by historical events, and quite a few take a broader look at humanity’s entire history. How accurately do these games depict their chosen era’s people, setting, and events? Do biographical characters have even more fascinating stories beyond those depicted? For games set in alternate histories, how plausible are they? What’s an acceptable degree of trade-off between historical realism and streamlined gameplay? Why do particular historical eras—like World War 2, Medieval Europe, Prohibition, the Victorian Era, and Feudal Japan, among others—resonate so strongly with gamers? And how does the history of video games affect current game design trends?
Science & Technology: Being the information age’s archetypal creative medium, as well as the world’s first fully digital art form, video games are inextricably tied to the march of science and technology. Some of the world’s greatest games were developed for far less powerful hardware than today’s machines. How did these hardware constraints force developers and designers to get creative, and to what effect? Could more powerful hardware actually hamper, not improve, a game’s quality? What determines whether a technological novelty succeeds (like the motion-controlled Wiimote) or fails (like every pre-Oculus VR headset)? How will gaming machines and their manufacturers adapt to the imminent plateauing of processing speeds and computing power? Will “console wars” become a thing of the past? Have they already? Or will they heat up again?
Culture & Society: Culture is an all-permeating, unfathomably (if subtly) influential, and unstoppable force. One cannot overstate culture’s role in shaping the values, beliefs, ideals, fears, ethics, desires, taboos, and tastes of individuals, groups, and even entire nations. Culture is slow to change, hard to resist, and impossible to avoid. As such, culture is reflected in all its members, including artists—and, by extension, the art they produce… including video games. How does a developer’s native culture influence the games she makes? What cultural symbolism does a designer add to his game, if even subconsciously? How have shifting cultural norms changed how retro games aged, and how does culture determine which games succeed, fail, or are even published? What can games teach us about the culture they were developed in? Culture is also the source of mainstream society’s stubbornly persistent and irrational stigma against video games; why has the “gamer myth” proven so hard to displace? And how would our culture need to change in order to exorcise it once and for all?
Psychology & Neuroscience: People are complicated creatures. Culture may broadly and subtly shape a game, but a human being will carve it into an entirely unique creation. And not just the game designer! Everyone working on (and, increasingly, playing) a game will invariably leave their mark—some larger than others. And the worlds these people create reflect the inner depths of their minds (Psychonauts perfectly nailed this concept visually). Also consider the too-numerously-reoccurring-to-be-coincidental archetypes, settings, and plots that constantly appear and reappear in games from all over the world. Why do they pop up so often? And on the coin’s other side, society’s always anxious about how video games affect people’s minds. Do video games really cause, or at least normalize, violence? Are video games inherently addictive? Can video games actually be good for you? How do video games enhance creativity, dexterity, persistence, and (especially post-COVID) social bonds? Could video games even have therapeutic potential—a possible cure, instead of something to be cured of?
Economy & Industry: Video games aren’t just a hobby. They’re the end products of a gigantic, multi-billion dollar industry that dwarfs the music, film, and sports industries combined. Commercial considerations and industry trends trickle down to influence individual studios, teams, and developers. Don’t take The Midlife Crisis of Monkey Island’s cancellation personally—there’s just not enough of a market to recoup development costs. It’s just business. And then there are economies within games themselves! Several games—particularly MMORPGs (especially EVE and World of Warcraft)—have developed healthy, sophisticated in-game economies, complete with stock markets, commodity bubbles, Ponzi schemes, and extortionary trade syndicates. These markets aren’t always confined to the game world! And even when they are, these virtual economies present new opportunities to examine how economies rise, operate, and fall—with promising and ominous implications for our own global economy.
Art & Literature: Culture, as mentioned, is unbelievably powerful. But the only thing more powerful than culture is media. In fact, media creates culture. Great artistic works in every medium have sparked and driven seismic cultural changes—which is why today’s “culture wars” elicit such passion, pathos, and even vitriol from those engaged in them. Individual artistic works and media pieces influence each other, as well. Every creator can list the media and art that influenced their work. Games are no exception, drawing from humanity’s rich architectural, artistic, literary, film, TV, musical, and gaming canon. Unlike historical or philosophical influences, which tend to manifest more subtly, artistic influences tend to be more overt, and often quite obvious—making this an excellent introductory topic for those just starting to look deeper into the games they play.
Philosophy & Spirituality: Some games aren’t content providing simple gameplay and basic narratives. No, some developers feel compelled to go deeper and ever deeper, towards the very limits of human understanding, until they can almost touch the ephemeral fabric of reality. Players and reviewers usually describe these games as “trippy,” “weird,” “indescribable,” “digital acid trips,” or simply “out there.” Unsurprisingly, these games can be polarizing. Most players will walk away from these games with a headache… if they play for more than 15 minutes. But the games reward those that appreciate them for what they are and stick around, with perspective-widening journeys beyond time and space and into the human mind’s deepest, unexplored depths. These journeys will seldom answer any questions; if anything, players will walk away with even more questions. But they’ll contemplate these spiritual, cosmic riddles on life, the universe, and pixels for years, if not decades, after turning the game off. And although these questions may never be answered, they’re perfect fodder for a Game & Word article!
Now, as far as formats go, these are the ones you’re most likely to encounter:
Features: This is it, Game & Word’s bread and butter. When planning and writing a feature (3,000 to 15,000 words, at the very least), I pick a topic and dig as deep as I can with all the resources and information available to me. Any game, from any genre, studio, or console/PC era is fair game, as are any of the topics listed above. It’s hard to predict how these articles eventually end up, but they’re almost invariably wild, fun, informative, and highly shareable rides.
Commentary: Sometimes, it’s not a particular game that compels me to write, but rather some significant external event or industry trend that could affect the gaming landscape. These articles tend to be shorter, quicker, and more to the point. Well, compared to the features, anyway.
Guest Voices: Sometimes, we interview experts or even invite them to write entire pieces for us! We only select the best subject matter experts who are willing to contribute, so you can be sure to learn many amazing things from them.
The Story Lab: The place for “experimental” stories, like first-person narratives, fanfictions, headcanons, or other novel storytelling techniques. If the newsletter grows enough, the lab could also incubate a podcast or even a streaming channel. I highly welcome any ideas or feedback you may have!
Community Posts: These fairly basic posts serve to facilitate discussion between subscribers, and provide a place to do so. The post itself will consist of only a brief prompt, with all the action happening in the comments. This is where AMAs, Q&As, and content/feature votes take place. (Free for now, but will soon require a paid subscription)
Quick Thoughts: Quick, informal shower thoughts on video games, the world they occupy, or breaking industry news. These posts are short (well, shorter), sweet, and to-the-point, but I highly encourage civil discourse and debate in the comments. (Free for now, but will soon require a paid subscription)
What is Game & Word *NOT*?
Glad you asked! Another way Game & Word are different from far too many gaming outlets is how much more seriously we take ethics, quality, and producing content that’s actually enriching and valuable to our readers. Here’s how:
We are not a “timely” publication. While we do abide by a publishing schedule, we are not a news site. We don’t concern ourselves with any given “controversy-of-the-week” unless it’s really pertinent to our editorial mission. Our reviews drop weeks, months, or even years after a game’s release. There are plenty of other outlets—some of them quite good—that publish timely reviews and breaking news. Our content, by contrast, is timeless.
We do not live, nor die, by the click. We do not concern ourselves with publishing low-effort content just to harvest clicks-by-association from whatever topic is riling up the fanbase this week. We do not care about, cover, or feed into gamer or streamer drama. Yes, we know we’re leaving clicks (and therefore money) on the table. But that is NOT what we’re about.
We do not engage in standard, yet shady practices. Advertising-centered business models are the reason so many media outlets are untrusted, dying, and beholden to shady interests. Meanwhile, we’re just an ordinary, curious couple who love to write about games and ideas, and sell nominally-priced subscriptions to cover our costs. While we’re open to advertisements under the right circumstances, we do not use affiliate links nor write about any games or studios which would present a conflict of interest. And obviously, we do not sell or share your email address or other information you share with us. Occasionally, we might do cross-promotions with other publications or game publishers—but only with publications we read, games we’ve played and enjoyed, and people we can vouch for. And even then, only if such a promotion is editorially appropriate and of benefit to our subscribers.
We are not a content mill. We do not rush our content production. We take our time so that we only publish content that meets our high standards. Because we aren’t beholden to the digital news cycle for revenue (meaning: we don’t get paid by the click), we do not chase headlines (“newsjacking”), steal content, or post clickbait. We take our time to properly research, write, edit, fact-check and test our articles. Even shorter articles, like commentary and quick thoughts, go through a simpler (but still rigorous) editing process that allows for those formats’ more frequent publishing schedules, while still ensuring quality content. Just like Miyamoto famously quipped that delaying a game is better than rushing a game, we apply the same principle to our articles.
We do not abide by sloppy writing. We are a team of lifelong, professional writers. Unlike most gaming articles on the internet, Game & Word articles undergo a rigorous revisioning process. Each and every draft undergoes several revisions—sometimes over a dozen!—to make sure the final piece is structured properly and is as free of typos, grammatical mistakes, awkward style, filler, redundancy, cliches, unintentional repetition, and loose threads as possible. Game & Word’s writing is several cuts above what passes for acceptable in games writing.
We don’t propagate misinformation or bad takes. We know what we’re talking about. Our publisher is a lifelong gamer with a rich knowledge bank of all things gaming. Our CKO (Chief Knowledge Officer) draws on her encyclopedic knowledge of the world to enhance and fact-check our articles. And whenever we run up on a wall of our knowledge, we reach out to the myriad researchers and subject matter experts we regularly collaborate with. We do not publish rumors or hearsay—only facts and trends that available data and testimony readily highlight.
We do not tolerate toxicity in any form. Gaming is a wonderful hobby, flush with wonderful niche groups filled with wonderful people. Unfortunately, a minuscule yet highly vocal minority likes to spread toxicity, ruin others’ day, or even threaten people’s safety, thinking it will somehow make them feel better about their own miserable lives. Sadly, too many gaming spaces tolerate this, and a minuscule (but still too large) number even encourage this boorishness. But not us. Game & Word is a toxicity-free publication. We heavily moderate comments (which will soon be limited to paid subscribers). Slurs, harassment, doxxing, threats, and personal insults are immediately bannable offenses. We created Game & Word to uplift our hobby and the people who enjoy it, not add to the venomous undercurrent that sadly continues to poison so many gaming spaces.
So, there you have it. If you want deep, thought-provoking, well-written, and non-toxic deep readings on your favorite games, you will love Game & Word!
How often do you publish?
At least once a week! Here’s how it works: first, we pick a “theme” to guide us for the next few months. On the first Monday of each month, we publish a new chapter that touches on the theme in some way. We do this over the course of two or three months before wrapping up the feature and starting the next one.
To fill the gap between features, we’ll publish shorter commentary pieces, reviews, guest pieces, community discussions, podcasts, and other content throughout the month—but I’m getting ahead of myself here. First things first!
I feel I should mention that our publishing schedule isn’t static; if it makes sense for the newsletter and its readers, we reserve the right to alter its publishing frequency and editorial calendar as we see fit.
So, what’s the TL;DR?
To recap, Game & Word’s content:
Thoroughly dissects and examines the human elements that influence and are influenced by video games, gaming genres, and even the games industry as a whole—an editorial approach unique amongst gaming publications;
Comes jam-packed with exhaustively researched facts, trivia, and inter-topical connections that deepen one’s appreciation for the game being covered, and for gaming as a hobby;
Is masterfully crafted by real professional writers and researchers, and isn’t beholden to the Twitter age’s dizzyingly fast news cycles or nuance-starved, one-dimensional discourse. The resulting content is substantive, layered, informative, and entertaining to read—its quality leagues above the typo-addled, awkwardly written, and barely edited clickbait-farmed articles more typical of gaming media.
Can educate and enlighten gamers and non-gamers alike. Gamers will appreciate learning about how interconnected their favorite games are to the people and planet surrounding them, while non-gamers get to peek into the mysterious, nearly incomprehensible world of gaming fandom, perhaps gaining a new appreciation for the medium.
Is friendly and unpretentious. Our content’s signature writing voice—knowledgeable and authoritative, yet humorous and conversational at the same time—is written for everyone to enjoy. Reading a Game & Word feature might be a lofty and meaty experience, but thanks to our style, it will bring up the same, warm feeling of casually musing by the fireplace with a lifelong friend.
Deeply resonates with gaming audiences, with articles having gone viral, been gilded on Reddit, generated over 10,000 views on Medium over a single weekend, and been endorsed by experts and influencers both within and outside the fandom (read the block quotes sprinkled throughout this FAQ for proof!)
Stay awhile, and listen!
"Jay consistently offers up informative, detailed, and above all accessible gaming reads that keep diving deeper and deeper each time. Forever a compelling read."
~Chris Brandrick | Editor of Switch Weekly
If all this sounds great to you, I invite you to stick around and read about Breath of the Wild as a tool for therapy, the Jungean symbolism undergirding Celeste’s tale of personal growth, or the method behind the madness of Lovecraftian horror games, among other explorations of the deeper meanings behind popular games.
Plus, you can cancel anytime, no questions asked. So what are you waiting for? You know you want to subscribe. And lo and behold, there’s a convenient “subscribe” button right below this paragraph. You know what needs to be done—click the button below to subscribe to Game & Word, and in doing so, fulfill your destiny: