It’s been a long time since I’ve written an article with a byline (November 2009, in fact!), but I was hit up by MSN Lifestyle to contribute two pieces this holiday:
The Guide to Gaming With Your Kids is designed to help grown-ups who are not gamers learn enough to get started and bond with their kids over videogames. The piece starts with the benefits of gaming, shares some common lingo, examines all of the major gaming platforms, offers guidance for online safety and then suggests a few hot games that are family friendly (these were my choices, not any sponsor’s). I received a lot of positive feedback on this article (which turned into a slideshow). I really hope it helps a lot of parents find common ground with their kids and, potentially, enjoy games for themselves.
Hilarious Gifts for Male Friends and Coworkers is basically just a gift guide, but one that is intended more to provide laughs than actual guidance on presents to buy. Some of the items are exorbitantly priced, a few are really gross and I’ve had reports that a couple items are already sold out indefinitely. But, again, that’s not the point. Just knowing that these things exist was enough for me (well, except for the plush Portal turret – we really did buy one of those to guard the Christmas tree!). I basically scoured the Internet for products that made me laugh, and then wrote up descriptions that I hoped would extend the laughs even further. The assignment actually morphed from one that was a general guide to funny gifts for guys to one targeted specifically at coworkers, so I had to make a few edits to make it work. One of my favorites, the toilet mug, had to be altered most. My original caption was written from the point of view of a spouse or live-in mate, not a fellow employee:
Sure, this thing is pretty disgusting, especially when it’s filled with his favorite dark brown beverage. And, if you’re his significant other, he’ll definitely bring it out when your parents are in town. If you’re really lucky, he’ll delegate it to the bathroom and let the dog drink water out of it. (That never gets old!)
You’re right, there’s no really upside to this present after the initial peals of amusement wear off. You’ll have no other recourse but to destroy it and blame the dishwasher. Again.
It’s worth noting that both of these are slideshows, and both have lengthy intros and captions. I wrote as long as I felt was needed to tell each story – or in the case of the gift guide, make it entertaining. I typically write much shorter copy (headlines and captions, mostly) in my everyday work, but I left the topics dictate length here and made it modular enough that the editors could easily cut elements without damaging the whole if they felt it didn’t fit the space. I was actually surprised at how little changed from my final drafts.