Cara Ellison is creating
transmetropolitan game criticism

"A sexually-charged aggressive writing style" - kotaku commenter

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Milestone Goals
Embedded game journalism
$1,000 per article
If I reach this amount per article, I will leave my country of origin, Blighty, dear old Blights, the Great Britaindom, and travel to stay for a time (perhaps up to a week if I can) with a different important game auteur of our times, and write about their life, the culture that influences their games' work, and look at how their immediate environment affects their outlook and design philosophy. 


I am Cara Ellison, a Scottish critic who writes about games and pop culture. First paid to write on the website “The Rock Paper Shotgun Dot Com”, I have since had a very reckless attitude towards word counts. I recently was on the writing staff for Channel 4's How Videogames Changed The World with Charlie Brooker. You can find most of my work here at my website.


Edinburgh Old Town, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH1, UK

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I write about games for many places. Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, Kotaku, PC Gamer, Unwinnable, The Guardian. You can see most of my work here on my website.

But I want to write you the things I often feel like I can't get paid to write anywhere. There are so many things I write or want to write that are completely unpitchable: they're downright weird and sometimes indescribable next to other writing about games. I like to embed fact into impressionistic fiction: I like to give you an impression of what is in my head as I absorb games or what people are saying. This is not usually what you are supposed to do in reviews or previews. You are meant to Do The Facts and Get The Bulletpoints and Do The Seven Out Of Ten. Nothing is wrong with wanting writing like that, I just occasionally want to do something else. This account supports my spending time on something else. Stuff like this.

I want to tell you how and why journeys through game mechanics press buttons in me. I want to open up games and dissect them like milky-warm cyborg parts. If you want to come on a strange and sexy journey through these LED-seared places, you can pledge as little or as much as you like and I will write you what is tattooed on the concave of my head. 

I'll aim to write something for you every month and I'll put it on a blog so everyone can read it. You can stop paying me any time you like - you can make a one off payment and stop - and I won't be shirty about how much you pay me. But please be forthcoming and vocal about what you want and whether what I am doing is suiting you. But be aware this is self-directed: I am weird and silly and you might occasionally feel like you have attached a leash to an eternally excitable Great Dane.

If we get to a certain amount per article - (I looked it up and flights are rarely under £600 to the US in particular), I'll do what I always threatened to do. I will do embedded game journalism. I will give up my nice comfortable cottage rental in Brighton and use the money to journey to the most exciting auteurs of our medium, stay with them, explore their outlook, ask how their environment affects their design. This is a thing that game journalism usually cannot afford to pay the travel for or the time for and so we don't get this in-depth content. Or perhaps it is that no one is interested in this. But I am.

I hope you will gain insight into their life and work with me as a lens. I am very serious about this 'embedded game journalism'. I feel like everyone's art comes from somewhere, and I am determined to find out where. It's something I don't want to rush, either. 

Some of the game designers I will try to ask for this privilege are:
Doug Wilson
Emily Short
Michael Brough
Brenda Romero
Christine Love
Bennett Foddy
Rami Ismail
Darius Kazemi
Terry Cavanagh
Mitu Khandaker
Jane McGonigal
Richard Lemarchand
Liz Ryerson
Tim Rogers
Zoe Quinn
Ian Bogost
Heather Kelley
Harvey Smith
Brendon Chung

You may recommend other developers that I might pitch this idea to, however I cannot interview all of these people within the year, I will depend of course on gaining their kind permission, and will have to use my flights judiciously to supply you with words that don't come from a body so exhausted I might be flopped in a gutter. I will begin this mission from March 2014 if the goal is reached (which I expect it not to be, to be honest) and it will be an intermittent, ongoing project of personal importance to me. I hope to have at least 4 in the bag by the end of the year, life permitting. I don't know where I'll put these articles up yet. If a website is willing to give me a fee to host them I will likely accept, but right now I think I might put them up on my blog.

The origin of this 'embedded' thought was when I realised that game developers in the USA were particularly affected by the expensive health insurance system; many indie developers in the US make games with the explicit remit of making their games commercially attractive - games that *have* to sell for their survival, but often this means compromising design or putting on a platform previously unfamiliar. In the UK the culture is different, where the NHS currently provides a safety net for freelance developers that may get sick working on their projects, allowing them to take more design risks. ....Isn't that interesting? That capitalism might limit art and design to an extent? That it might instruct it? IT IS SO INTERESTING. Maybe it's not but I think it is. If you think so too then you can force me to knock on developer's doors and ask them questions about it.

If all goes well I might think of going further afield: seeking developers in Africa, Japan and Russia. But babysteps first. Although I'm a well-travelled person and I can survive on very little sleep and money in countries where I don't speak the language, I still might burn myself out in a magnificent catherine wheelesque daze. But I'm single, young, excitable, and I haven't got any long term health problems apart from my heart occasionally appearing on my sleeve, so I want to abuse this wrench of a body for all it's worth before I get old and content. 

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