Welcome to PAR 2.0! Come inside and explore what we’ve changed, and let us explain why
My name is Ben Kuchera, and I’ve been thinking about the way we do things at the Penny Arcade Report for awhile now. You might have heard me grumbling about this or that on Twitter or in comments, and we've had long internal discussions about the future of the site. The amazing design team at Penny Arcade took a bunch of our feedback, including the great comments left by you during our last survey, and came up with this new design.
I’d like to welcome you to PAR 2.0.
The number one complaint was the color palette. Too many people said it was hard on their eyes, and since we tend to write longer content and ask you to stick around and really dig in, that was a problem. So now it’s black text on a white background, and I think that’s a significant improvement.
Images have been enlarged, so you can really see what you’re getting with our custom artwork and screenshots. There are more stories on the page, and more places to find them. There is less text explaining what each story is, because if we can’t get your attention with an image and a headline then we messed up. The new PAR is easier to browse, easier to read, and there is way more of our content on display. You don’t have to click to a new page to read more than six stories, you can now simply scroll down through the past seven days of content.
There's also a new meta-tagging system in place so we can offer you stories we think you'll like based on the story you're reading. Or you can take matters into your own hand simply click the “The Walking Dead” tag and be taken to a list of stories about The Walking Dead. Finding content you're interested in, or following a story, has never been easier. More importantly, we wanted to adjust the tone of the site and our mission statement. Leading with the idea that game journalism is broken now seems like a nasty, negative way to make a first impression. The mission today is much simpler: to present content we think is great, and keep you coming back because of our stories, in a wide variety of topics. The emphasis on long form, original reporting and analysis will remain, but we’re going to enlarge the scope of what we offer and why.
There are always a few comments when we run a story about a TV show like King of the Nerds saying that this doesn’t belong here, and some people are upset that we’re deviating from the world of video games. The fact is that whenever a post about the latest episode was late, we’d hear about it. The comments were always great, and readers emailed asking what we thought about each installment. I think engaging with the wide world of popular culture is a good thing, and we’re going to be doing much more of it.
If you read Penny Arcade, or the Penny Arcade Report, I bet you also watch Game of Thrones. It’s very possible you’re into comic books. I bet you’re going to see Iron Man 3. You’re likely interested in real people who make real weapons for movies and television. I bet you had opinions about the Veronica Mars Kickstarter, for good or ill. I think the Penny Arcade Report is a good place to talk about these things, and more.
The backbone of the site will remain video games, because that’s the main passion that brings us all together, but I want to make the fact that we’re going to be moving into other areas of pop culture and pursuits with a link to video games explicit. You might not love every story, but these things are a big part of my life, and I’m guessing many of them are a big part of yours. It’s a waste not to share our enthusiasm with each other.
You’ll also notice that from time to time we’ll report on smaller pieces of news, as well as the long form, original content that brought you here. There have been many times I’ve had a leftover from an interview that didn’t fit into another larger story, or had something to say about a topic that many were discussing but I couldn’t stretch it into an 800-word story. The “News” topic will allow us to post shorter, topical posts about what’s going on in the world of gaming in a timely manner. We’re not going to abuse it. We’re not going to get stupid or waste your time. But we’re also not going to limit our coverage due to an arbitrary word count.
We’ve also updated one of the best parts of the site, but a section that I think was getting out of hand. This is how we’re going to handle The Cut moving forward:
The Cut’s goal was to share great stories, writing, and information with you, but there were people who had some issues with how we did that, especially when it comes to the Twitter feed. Before, we were only offering a landing page with an image, a headline, and a link to the story. Now we’re going to offer much more.
Each story in The Cut will get an image. We’ll list the story’s author and the outlet it came from. We want to reward good work, and drive traffic and exposure to the sites and people that do it. Now you’ll get more information about where each story came from, and who wrote it.
This is the important part: The Cut will no longer be a link and run. We’ve often featured content in The Cut that we didn’t agree with, or stories with great research but conclusions we thought were faulty. Sometimes it would be something we didn’t like at all but thought it raised an interesting point and wanted to start the conversation. This was never clear, and there was no room for us to explain why a story was in The Cut. No more.
We don’t just want you to read better content, we want to discuss it with you, and ideally aid in your understanding of what the story was saying, and link to our own coverage of these areas. We don’t want to just point to the neat stuff, we want to sit down, pour a cup of coffee, and talk about it with you. The added context and discussion at the bottom of each Cut will allow that to happen.
With this added content and beefed up presentation, we’ve moved The Cut from the corner of the site with its rotating stories to the main feed. Each Cut will now be a persistent story, mixed in with our features, news articles, and reviews. Some people loved the scroll, others felt like they couldn’t comfortably keep up with it, and at the end of the day we just hate hiding good content. Now it’s much more visible, accessible, and there’s more reason than ever to click on a Cut story.
The new categories
We’ve also re-organized the content into a set of new categories for easy browsing. You’ll notice that big, beautiful hero slot on the top of the page: Those are the stories we think you absolutely need to read, the really good, in-depth stuff.
From there, content will be organized into “Features,” which are the long form reporting that will make up the bulk of our content. Those are the stories that got us this far, and we’re not going to mess with a good thing. “Reviews” will bring you to all the game reviews we run. Don’t worry about scores, we’re still not going to touch them. We think the best way to share what we think about a game is with words, and we’re going to focus on those.
“News” will be the shorter, more timely stories. “Play” is where we keep some of the stuff that might used to seem off-topic. Movie reviews, toy reviews, thoughts on TV shows, comic book news, and board game content. It’s going to be fun stuff that keeps with the tone of the site and the things we love. I’ve already explained “The Cut,” and I’m very excited about the direction we’re taking that.
Next is something brand new, and I think you’re going to love it. It’s called the Game Guide.
The Game Guide
We take the first two words in our name very seriously, and until now there’s been no way to easily check to see what Gabe and Tycho thought about a game without going back through old news posts on the main Penny Arcade page. Now we’re going to collect their thoughts in a straight thumbs up or thumbs down format, and share them with you in the Game Guide.
You’ll be able to see what Gabe, Tycho, and myself thought about each game, and then read stories about that game. If you’re bored and looking for something to play, head in and click on “Only good games.” You’ll be able to see what games the three of us agreed are great, and then read reviews and stories about them.
Feeling pissy? Click on “Only bad games” and read up on games the three of us agree are utter shit. Either way, this is a wonderful place to see what Penny Arcade as a whole thinks about a variety of games. We’ll be updating it frequently.
I’ve been talking for too long, go enjoy it!
It’s been an unbelievable first year at the Penny Arcade Report, and I couldn’t be happier with the amount of content we’ve been putting out and the growth of the site. Sophie Prell has been a wonderful addition, and I’m always amazed by the talent at passion of the Penny Arcade team. Working on this site is a dream come true, and I want to thank everyone here for helping to make it possible.
The good news is that there will be more content, and that content is going to be better. If you have any questions or concerns, I’ll be in the comments, you can feel free to email me as well, BKuchera@penny-arcade.com, or contact me via twitter, @BenKuchera. I’d also like to thank Erika Sadsad, Levin Sadsad, and Kenneth Kuan for putting in the hard work to create this site, I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out. Kristin Lindsay also does an amazing job editing stories, and she never gets enough credit for her hard work. Dabe Alan is going to continue to provide his awesome custom images and art for the site.
Now it’s time we all work together to fill it up with the best content in the business.